Saturday, March 31, 2007


My blogging and I have moved - look for me now at

Please change your bookmarks, Bloglines, and links accordingly. :)
I hope to visit with more of you over there!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Potential Ivy modifications

(From the Ivy photoshoot - of course I look this cosmopolitan every day, why do you ask?)

In the six months (whoa! six months already? where has the time gone?) since Ivy arrived at Knitty, I have continued to be amazed at how much feedback I have had on the pattern. I still get emails every month from knitters who are enjoying the pattern or who need help with a certain step. It's very gratifying.

I also know that not every pattern is suited for everyone identically, so based on the six months' worth of various blogosphere murmurings, emails, and progress over at the Knitalong, I thought I would make a note of possible ways you can adjust Ivy to make the pattern your own, if...

1. I don't like bell sleeves.

A couple of knitters over at the Knitalong have simply avoided the bell sleeves by working the 'twisted rib' stitch even on the whole cuff, casting on fewer stitches as though both the decrease rows had already happened and simply working with that many stitches for the whole cuff. (I hope that makes sense.) I think this would produce a slim, fitted cuff.

2. The pattern's too short for me.

(a) If it's too short in the torso, your easiest fix is to add length on the back and front pieces after the side shaping increases and before the armhole decreases. As long as you add the same amount of length on all 3 pieces, you'll be fine. A good time to test out if you need this extra step is to hold up the back piece against your body right before you would start the armhole decreases, and see where the waist seems to fall. If it falls too high, go ahead and add a few more rows in stockinette before starting the armholes.

(b) If the sweater is too short across the hips, you can extend the length by working more repeats of the 'twisted rib' Ivy pattern before beginning the decreases. This is something you'd have to anticipate before beginning the sweater, I'll grant you. Adding one extra repeat will give you a little less than an inch more in length. I'm considering this option myself for a 3rd Ivy (when? who knows...someday....) to give it more of a jacket feel.

3. I'd prefer a pullover instead.

I've not tried this option, but I have received emails from knitters who want to try modifying Ivy into a pullover, and honestly I can't think of a reason not to try it. If you were to work with 2 "back" pieces, and make the second "back" piece into a "front" piece by working some neckline shaping, that could work. You could fashion a collar by working a long thin single-repeat of the ivy pattern just as the collar on the wrap has, and then seaming it into the open neckline of the "front." I imagine this could be attempted easily with a v-neck collar. You'd have to know your way around neckline modifications to do this, but I don't see why it couldn't be attempted. BUT, you might also want to consider finding a pullover pattern that you like and modifying it by adding the Ivy stitch along the hem and cuff.

Lastly, if you're making any modifications that involve length, be sure to have some extra yarn on hand - I'm sure this goes without saying, but hey, you never know ;)

(Wait, I can get this right, gimme one more shot...)

For most people, the biggest challenge seems to be working around the concept of the "at the same time" instruction for the front pieces, alerting you to work the waist shaping/armhole shaping at the same time as the neckline shaping. All this means is that you have to remember to occasionally increase stitches at one end (for waist shaping increases) while you also remember to decrease stitches at the other end of the piece, in a different way (for the neckline shaping decreases). For most people, this is just a matter of figuring out a notation system or memory system to help them keep track of how far they are in each set of shapings. I know I'm not the only knitter that uses the "at the same time" instruction, so if you're coming across it for the first time with Ivy, then rest assured this knowledge will serve you well for other patterns.

I had one knitter suggest to me that I should modify the pattern to write out row-by row stitch counts to help track these things. Um. All I'll say is, if someone else wants to spend the time doing this for several dozen rows on each of the nine pattern sizes, they can feel free to give me a call. ;)

I've been working on a few other designs in the mean time and I have to say I'm disappointed not to have any complete submissions yet...but hopefully soon! I am never in a shortage of ideas, I'll say that for sure. If only there were more knitting hours in the day...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ivy yarn

Y'all are an impressive bunch of knitters. Did you know that Elann sold out of Quechua in Saxony Teal within 2 days? I'm still reeling from this. I inquired with the lovely Elann people and they will be getting another shipment of Quechua probably around Christmas time, so if you're wedded to the teal and can hold out until then, just be patient. If you're ordering one of the other colours you're probably still OK.

Yarn substitutions
(Edit - Overall, I recommend looking for sport weight yarn that will drape well. DK-weight will still work, but will also provide slightly firmer fabric and stronger stitch definition (these aren't necessarily bad things, I just thought I'd mention it ;) )

These are some likely warm weather candidates. I don't recommend 100% cotton, but if you have something that is blended that should still give you some nice stitch definition and drape.
Knit Picks' Shine Sport (cotton/modal blend, sport weight)
RYC Cashcotton DK (cotton/viscose/cashmere, DK weight)
Diamond Cool Linen (cotton/viscose/linen blend, sport weight)
RYC Luxury Cotton DK (cotton/viscose/silk blend, light DK weight)
Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (cotton/wool blend, DK weight)
James Brett Kool Kotton DK (cotton/acrylic blend, light DK weight)

Rowan Wool Cotton (cotton/wool blend, DK weight)

As far as Cold weather yarn substitutions, I think there are probably plenty of options out there. If you're sticking to Elann, they have the Devon sport weight 100% wool, which I haven't tried but would meet gauge, and they have the Highland Silk which is DK weight but would be snuggly and feel nice. As I say, my friend K is using KnitPicks' Telemark for hers and having success. But as always, with any yarn I recommend usual practices of swatching first, and getting an extra ball just in case. (Edit: Here's a list for people who need lists:)
Elann's Devon (100% wool, sport weight)
KnitPicks' Telemark (100% wool, sport weight)
KnitPicks' Elegance (wool/silk/alpaca blend, DK weight)
Lavold Silky Wool (wool/silk blend, DK weight)
Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport (100% wool, sport weight)
Brown Sheep Top of the Lamb Sport (100% wool, sport weight)
Elann's Highland Silk (wool/silk blend, DK weight)
Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (wool/cashmere blend, light DK weight)

{EDIT #2:}Here are some yarns that have been used successfully over at the Ivy Knitalong (Looks like Ivy is a pretty versatile gal!):
Elann Highland Silk
Harrisville Shetland
Nashua Worsted
Knitpicks Andean Treasure
Knitpicks Telemark
Patons Diploma Gold
Bergere de France Ideal
Inca Silk from Ram Wools
Elann Quechua

The knitting goes on
I have my 2nd Ivy staring at me from my knitting bag right now, but then I've also been working on my first pair of Fetching, which really are the best instant gratification. I'm already done the first one and am onto the 2nd one and cast on on Wednesday night.

And then I have the basic pair of socks I was knitting all the while on my trip, which is 3/4 done, and of course the Simple Stripes fair isle socks that I started back in August.

So much to knit, so little time, as always ;)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ivy, oh Ivy! I think I have whiplash...

...from the response I've had to Ivy since its release... *checks calendar* 2 days ago. I only wish I hadn't been away from home at the time! (Note to self: In the event of any possible future pattern designs, try not to be gallivanting around London at the time of their release. Or if gallivanting around London, try to have internet access more frequent than occasional internet café visits.)

First up, let me give the mad props to the fine people at Knitty, in particular their technical editor Mandy who, in my opinion, improved upon Ivy’s pattern instructions and made them even clearer. And, of course, I thank them for accepting my wee pattern and taking a chance on the new kid in town, so thanks Knitty!

What a difference 2 days make
Soooo, yes. Ivy, she is out in the world now and what can I say but I am thrilled, humbled, overwhelmed, etc at the response I received and so quickly. I think I’m going to just save up all these congrats for when I get the blues and they will give me an instant lift.

The astute among you may have noted that Elann has already changed their Quechua yarn page to show photos and a Knitty pattern link for Ivy. Ahahahah. I just about fainted when I saw they’d changed their ad on Knitty to reflect the exact Ivy yarn and everything. I SO did not anticipate that one! But sure enough, within less than 48 hours (nay, less than 24 hours, even) I had an email waiting in my inbox from the fine Elann people asking for permission to include a pattern link on their site, and since Elann already owns my soul, how could I possibly say no? ;)

Also in the 48 hours post Knitty release, my blog site statistics fairly exploded – I think I had more visitors in 1 day than in the entire first 4 months of my blog! Whoa! Let me once again say hello and I hope I will entertain you for at least a millisecond with my knitblogging. Maybe even two milliseconds. And what really and truly flatters me is that there is already an Ivy Knitalong up and running! That one deserves credit to the Crazy Fiber Lady, she has set up a blogspot account for it and everything. Kudos.

More about ye olde Ivy pattern…From what I’ve managed to absorb from some very kind emails, comments, and general buzz, there have been some thoughts and inquiries along the lines of:

"Thanks so much for including the plus-sizes!"
You are so very welcome. I hope the pattern works well for all sizes concerned. In fact, let me thank YOU for your kind words. Seriously, I never intended to stop just at Size L or XL, I figured that was a given by now in this post-Big-Girl-Knits world that we’re living in. In fact, if I had had the time to write up more sizing I would have happily gone up to 4X or 5X. Wait, let me just pencil that in on my to-do list for a rainy day after the rubble has cleared.

"About that yarn you used..."
I chose Quechua because it comes in pretty colours (there are more, I think, than what is currently up at Elann, but the ones that are there now are so covetable…The red and the lavender are calling to me…), it is soft, it has a modest sheen to it, and oh yeah, it’s WARM. It’s a tough endeavour, trying to remain warm in Canadian winters without adding a bazillion layers, but this sweater is at least 1 attempt on my part to do it in moderately attractive style. And it’s a yarn that’s priced to own. And Elann is based out of Canada. And did I mention also that Elann yarns practically own my soul? I mean, all they have to do is re-stock any of their Peruvian Collection colour selections and I’m a happy camper all week long.

If an alpaca-blend yarn isn’t your cup of tea, whether because you prefer wool or you’d like to stick to non-woolen-related fibres altogether, then for yarn substitutions your first task is to find something that works up to Ivy’s stockinette gauge of 6 sts per inch. So, sport weight or something on the lighter side of DK is what you’re looking for. Your best bet if you’re unsure is probably just to do a swatch of the ribbing pattern in the yarn you’re thinking of and see how it holds up before and after washing, and if it looks good then go for it! My friend K is currently making one in KnitPicks’ Telemark, and from all reports it is going well so far.

"The pattern calls for straight needles. What if I want to use circulars?"
I knitted each piece of the sample in the photo flat using circular needles, I just worked them in the back-and-forth style in the manner used to work flat pieces on a pair of straits. Just don’t join the stitches for in-the-round knitting and keep turning at the end of each row and you’re fine.

I like using circs because they’re easier on my hands. I don’t think this pattern is suitable for modification for in the-round-knitting, though (But if you figure out a way, feel free to let me know and I’m happy to be proven wrong) – all cardigan-style aspects aside, the pattern asks you to leave a gap in each of the side seams to form a hole for the sashes, and that would be tougher to manage if you were knitting the whole thing in one piece.

So, to sum up, allow me to say THANK YOU to everyone who has responded so enthusiastically to Ivy, and I hope she will be a good knit for you. I’d be thrilled to see pics when anyone gets to the FO stage. Or before that. Heck, I like photos of anything that’s knitting-related, let’s face it. Even stash photos are good. And I like knitblogging, so I’m looking forward to getting to know more of you who have commented. Knitters are, after all, the best folks ever. ;)

Happy knitting until next time! I now have the job of de-jet-lagging and propping myself up (with some knitting no doubt) and trying to stay awake until it is at the very least dark outside. My best to all...