Posts Tagged ‘knitting patterns – mine’

MISSION: Design, knit and complete a shawl in less than 48 hours.
START: PST 9:00 a.m., Thursday, September 23, 2010
END: PST 9:00 a.m., Saturday, September 25, 2010

– Number of times I casted and re-casted on: 5
– Number of times body rows ripped back: 2
– Number of stitches fudged prior to working border: 3
– Number of times border design changed: 3.5
– Number of times border ripped back and restarted: 4
– Approximate design & planning hours (pattern unwritten): 3
– Approximate actual knitting hours: 17-20

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My dear friends will wholeheartedly tell y’all that I am crazy for coughing up this idea in the first place. The idea came up when I realized that I hadn’t gotten anything for my godmother, who is visiting from Taiwan. I don’t have to give her anything, but I usually want to. Whenever she comes, I try to take her out or spend some extra time with her. However, this year, we were both busy and we could only arrange to see one another on Saturday for an early lunch. So, I thought that a nice handmade gift would be very nice and appropriate, but I only thought of it very late Wednesday night and I was planning to meet her for an early lunch on Saturday. Thus, Operation: Two Day Shawl was born!

I dug around my stash and came up with some 40% cashmere/ 60% merino fingering yarn that I had hand-painted a while back.  Since the yarn is so variegated, I wanted to keep the shawl design simple. Any intricate patterning would be immediately lost otherwise.

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The shawl is constructed with 5 panels worked in garter stitch with yarn over increases. I chose garter mostly because of the time factor. While I can knit and purl relatively fast, my knits are definitely speedier than my purls. I worked the shawl on US 9 needles for 2 reasons: I wanted a more open look to the fabric to show off the colors, and it also kept it light and more airy for Taiwan’s tropical climate. After lots of hemming and hawing, I chose to work a continuous border as opposed to a knitted-on edging, also in the interest of time.

I didn’t spend much time knitting or working on the project on Thursday and I only managed to get about 3 inches, which meant that the majority of my knitting occurred on Friday, and not without some setbacks. I finally finished knitting at around 5:45 a.m. Saturday morning and only had time to steam block  the sucker before I crashed for about 3 hours.

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By 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, the sun was already really bright, so I really couldn’t get any really great photos of the shawl, and of course I didn’t have time to even attempt a photo shoot.  And in my haze, I also forgot to measure the shawl.  Oh well. I definitely don’t think that it’s my best work, but it certainly isn’t bad for a 2-day shawl. The good part is that I finished and completed the mission. My godmother seemed happy to have received her gift (and I hope she likes it).

I am planning to write up the pattern with some changes and then I’m thinking that since I haven’t offered a free pattern in a long while, I might offer this one up for free. Well, maybe at least for a limited time. Some of the tweaking that I want to do for the shawl include working the body in stockinette stitch with lifted increases instead of yarn over increases, making small changes to the border’s patterning, and of course, I’ll have to reknit it. People like freebies, once in a while, right?


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I know I promised this post a while back, but better late than never, right? Here are some ideas and tips for customizing your Issara.

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Issara is rather bulky and heavy, which can make blocking challenging, especially with the pleat. Before wet blocking, I suggest basting the pleat closed and in place with a high contrast waste yarn. Then, to shorten your blocking time by several days, I would put it in your washer on spin cycle. Do not actually run it through the washing machine. Once your machine has done all the work of sucking off the excess water, you can block the coat as you would normally do.

I was a bit impatient when blocking the sample, especially for the stubborn pleat, which remained damp when other parts of the coat had dried. This is due to the thickness of the multiple layers. Thus, I sped up the process in the pesky areas with a hairdryer. You can also face a fan towards your garment, which will shorten the overall time considerably.

After the coat had dried both naturally and with the help of my handy hairdryer, I fine-tuned blocking some of the other elements, such as the pleat and the edging, with my steam iron. When you steam-block with an iron, make sure that you are not touching your garment with the iron, especially if your yarn contains synthetic fabrics. You don’t want to melt your yarn! Instead, hover above your garment by about 0.5″ to 1″.

Adding More Waist Details:

If you would like to add a more substantial and visual waistline than the single purl ridge, then I’d suggest omitting the purl ridge and instead, work in about 4-5 rows (or more, if desired) of seed stitch right after the folding of the pleat. You can also do a reverse Stockinette stitch band, though I think doing the seed stitch will be more unifying design-wise with the rest of the garment.

If you’d like to add a belt that’s 1.5″/ 4cm wide, CO 5 sts. Row 1: Sl1, [k1, p1] twice. Repeat Row 1 until desired length and BO. Then, for the belt loops, I’d crochet 3 or 4 chains that are a little longer than the width of the belt and attach the loops right above or over the waist ridge. Don’t forget that you’ll need to allot extra yarn for this.

Shortening the Coat:

If you’re a bit short, or would just like a shorter coat, the best way is to reduce the number of Stockinette stitch rows between the skirt shaping. The gauge works out to 4.5 rows per 1″/ 2.5cm. Thus, if you’d like your coat to be 2″/ 5cm shorter, then I would omit 8 or 10 St. st rows in the skirt. I would disperse throughout the skirt to maintain the gradual A-line shape.

If I had more ample assets in the hip area as well, I’d probably work the omissions closer to the top of the skirt. This way, I’m shorting the skirt, but also do so in a way that gives my hips more room. For example, if I was working size 39 3/4, instead of working the Decrease row every 10 rows in the 6th and 7th repeat, I’d work the Decrease row every 6 rows.

Making it a Jacket:

I you are in a warmer climate or just prefer a jacket over a coat, you can omit the pleat and make it a shorter, hip-length jacket. The following instructions will get you a jacket that measures about 5.25″/ 13.5cm below the waistline of Issara, which would give you a length of 17.25 (17.5, 18.25, 18.75, 19.25, 20.25, 20.5) from shoulder to hem. Of course, you should modify it further as desired to accommodate your needs and preferences.

CO 125 (133, 137, 149, 153, 161, 169)
Set up  1 (WS): Sl1, [p1, k1] to last st, p1.
Set up 2 (RS): Sl1, [k1, p1] to last st, k1.
Rep Set up rows 1 and 2 again.
Using removable markers, place marker after the first and last 31 (33, 34, 37, 38, 40, 42) sts.
Row 1 (WS): Sl1, [p1, k1] twice, purl to last 4 sts, [k1, p1] twice.
Row 2 (RS): Sl1, [k1, p1] twice, knit to last 4 sts, [p1, k1] twice.
Rep Row 1.
Dec Row: Sl1, [k1, p1] twice, knit until 2 sts before marker, ssk, sm, k2tog, knit until 2 sts before next marker, ssk, sm, k2tog, knit to last 4 sts, [p1, k1] twice.
Work as established, working Dec Row every 6 rows 3 more times. – 109 (117, 121, 133, 137, 145, 153) sts.
Next (Waist Ridge, WS): Sl1, [p1, k1] twice, knit to last 4 sts, [k1, p1] twice.
Next: Rep previous row.
Work Bodice and the rest of the of Issara as instructed in the pattern.

Tutorial & FAQ:

In case you are not aware, I try to post tutorials/FAQ pages for many of my patterns, especially those that require some special, unusual or more intermediate techniques. Click here for an index of all the tutorials on this site. Click here for the Issara tutorial/FAQ. If you have a question that’s not addressed in the tutorial, you can post your question in the comments or go to my Ravelry group.

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Thanks to all of y’all you played and showed interest in the contest and in my patterns. I entered each entry into a spreadsheet and then used the PsychicScience random number generator to first generate 10 random numbers for Cocoon and then 2 random numbers for Lillian.

The numbers that came up for Cocoon were 37, 42, 63, 19, 57, 62, 6, 77, 23 and 34. The numbers for Lillian were 45 and 72.  So who won and how?

Cocoon Winners:

6 – Ellen Margulies – Facebook
19 – HeySweetGeorgia – Twitter
23 – Tallpolishgirl – Blog comment
34 – Awkwardgirl – Ravelry
37 – Knitterotica – Twitter
42 – Lydia Tilus – Facebook
57 – Kklemann – Blog comment
62 – InJuneau – Ravelry
63 – MyaLMG – Ravelry
77 – tapmouse – Twitter

Lillian Winners:

45 – Indigomuse – Twitter
72 – Heather Hodgins Lam – Facebook

Congrats to the winners! If you won, you should be getting your download link soon! Sorry to those that did not win. Perhaps you’ll get lucky next time!

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After a few failed submissions, I finally made it into Twist Collective, and I couldn’t be happier! Yes folks, I had tried to submit to Twist 2-3 times prior, but unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for me at the time.

I finally achieved my goal with Issara, which was published recently in the Fall 2010 issue. What made this even more exciting for me is the fact that Issara is the cover for my particular storyline, Roxham Farm. I was already a fan of Twist Collective and of the artistry and designs in each issue. Now that I’ve experienced a small taste of what it’s like to be a designer in Twist, especially with the multiple layers of review that goes into each pattern, I am even more impressed.

Named after a good friend’s daughter (a Laotian name), Issara is a snuggly coat worked in bulky yarn with simple lines. The WOW factor lies within the back pleat and the oversized reversible cable collar that can be worn up, down, or somewhere in between.

The Idea & Design Process

Usually, when I design, I like to incorporate a feature element and/or versatility.  And since I’ve been on a reversible cables kick lately, I really wanted a garment with a dramatic reversible collar. Thus, Issara was conceived. While I had a clear idea of what I wanted, some of the key elements in the concept required some tweaking and experimentation during the actual pattern-writing and design process.


In order for the collar to lay nicely on the shoulders when worn down, it needed to flare a little – I really didn’t want a straight funnel collar. To make a nice flare, I knew that I would have to work increases into the actual cable pattern instead of bunching it all into the beginning or set up section of the collar. I experimented with a few types of increases into the cable pattern. Lifted increases won over other types of increases because it met 3 main criteria: (1) increases had to be as invisible as possible, (2) they had to compliment and work with the stitch pattern, and (3) they had to look good on both sides.


Initially, I had intended the waistline to be a true empire waist. However, as I was working with it, I realized that the weight of the yarn in the skirt of the coat (especially with the pleat) may pull the waistline in a less than desirable way if I raised it to a true empire.  So, I change the plan a little and worked the waistline roughly about 1.5″ above a natural waistline so that there is still an elongated silhouette, but without having to carry the extra weight if it was set much higher.

p2-1 Issara sketch

Issara sketch


Because the coat is worked in a bulky yarn, Twist editor Kate Gilbert and I had some concerns that the pleat might be a little too thick and cumbersome in the back with all the layers. I really wanted to keep the pleat because I think it gives a nice balance to the dramatic and slightly flared collar; thus, I was determined to make it work. I experimented a little and I figured out a way to thin out some of the bulk in the pleat folding process: I bound off every other stitch in the center panel of each side of the pleat 2 rows prior the pleat fold. The photos below show the differences (click to enlarge) between a regular pleat fold and my thinned out version.

Issara Swatch1 - front Issara Swatch3 - back


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Photos above, clockwise from top left (click photos to enlarge): (1) work-in-progress shot of the skirt shaping; (2) the finished pleat from the private side (WS); (3) collar detail from the public side (RS); (4) collar detail from the private side (WS); (5) waist line and back pleat; (6) back view of coat with collar worn down

Overall, I found the sample a relatively fast knit. Seriously. I’m not just saying that because I’m the designer or as a fast knitter. It goes much faster than one anticipates because it’s worked in a bulky yarn. The slowest part of it, IMO, was the blocking, which took forever and a day to dry.  Next post: Tips/notes on modifications, blocking, etc.

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IMGP4360 - Whatcha doing, ma?

Swatching with BBR yarn with my supervisor checking my process. Swatch shown is a test swatch for Mahika.

In addition to Mera, I designed two other patterns for Bijou Basin Ranch — differently styled color work hats: Mahika and Spectacle.  It just absolutely delightful contributing so many designs to their Fall 2010 collections, which debuted at The National Needlearts Association (TNNA) trade show in Columbus this past June. And of course, I surely can’t complain about having to play with such luscious and delectable yarn. All of BBR’s yarns have yak down in it! I’d like a bed made out of yak down, baby llama, superfine baby alpaca, cashmere and qiviut fibers. A girl can dream, right?


The color work pattern in Mahika is based on inspiration I found in some of the traditional hand-painted tile work on ancient and historical buildings I’ve seen in my travels. In selecting a name for this design, I wanted to something that embodies the design and its inspiration. I scoured several sources and finally came across “Mahika,” which means earth in Sanskrit. It’s also a Nepalese name, where yak-herding is a trade. Rather appropriate, I think.

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Photos in the top row used by permission from, and are © Copyright of Bijou Basin Ranch.


The beanie is worked using the stranded color work technique from the brim to the crown. It uses Lhasa Wilderness, a very quality bamboo and yak blend yarn. The printed pattern is available at your local yarn store. For PDF downloadable patterns, they are currently available through the Bijou Basin Ranch site. If you are on Ravelry and would like to favorite or queue the pattern, click here.


From the more traditional inspiration in Mahika, I moved towards something a little more modern in the patterning for Spectacle. For this beret, I took inspiration from mid-century modern furniture and design. Rather appropriate, I think.

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Photos in the top row used by permission from, and are © Copyright of Bijou Basin Ranch.

The beret is worked using the stranded color work technique from the corrugated rib brim to the crown. It uses Himalayan Trails, a merino and yak blend yarn. The printed pattern is available at your local yarn store. For PDF downloadable patterns, they are currently available through the Bijou Basin Ranch site. If you are on Ravelry and would like to favorite or queue the pattern, click here.

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Have you seen Interweave Knits, Spring 2010 yet?

This photo is copyright by Interweave Press, LLC.

I am proud to say that I have a pattern in this issue: Rose Window Beret. Favorite it or Queue it on Ravelry here.

This is a relatively easy lacy beret that is worked from the top-down. It features a floral lace pattern that expands as the circumference of the beret grows. The pattern for the lace motif is charted and it’s worked in a DK weight yarn. When working the beret, I recommend placing markers between each pattern repeat.

The original sample in the magazine is worked in Reynolds Rise & Shine, a cotton yarn. Because the cotton might be difficult on those of you who may have hand problems or who simply just find it hard to work with cotton, I’ve listed some suggested yarns that might work well as substitutions here. I usually like knitting my own patterns, but I have to be honest in saying that due to the tendonitis in my own hands, it was bit hard and a little frustrating working with a somewhat splitty cotton yarn. Nonetheless, I am still quite happy with the results and I simply loved the color the editors selected.


A redacted copy of my submission to Interweaves.

When I first pitched the idea to Interweaves, I had no idea what to call the design, so I tentatively titled it “Amsterdam” because the motif I came up with reminded me a little bit of the tulips I saw during a trip to the Netherlands (went to Amsterdam and a couple of smaller towns). I correctly suspected that IK was probably going to rename the pattern ro something that probably fit better with the issues’s theme and probably with a name that would not conjure up images of hash for folks. 😉

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In addition to my pattern (of course I like my own pattern!), I also really like the looks of the Double V Cardigan by Melissa Wehrle and the Lattice and Hollow Cardigan by Kim Hamlin.

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I’ve been a little behind in my blog posts lately. I am so smare that I managed to injure myself in my sleep – I somehow injured my trapezius and perhaps deltoid muscles on my left side. The injury has been rather painful and debilitating to say the least, but I suppose things could be a lot worse. Nonetheless, thus for over 2 weeks now, I have not been able to move much, let alone type or knit.  The only thing that kept my sanity is that prior to the injury, the hubby passed on his 1st generation Kindle to me and I’ve at least been able to read and manage the Kindle with one working arm. If it weren’t for the Kindle, I could not have been able to escape staring at the ceiling and finished those fat books from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Visions of the adventures of Jamie and Claire have also saved me hours of infinite frustration and boredom. (Ahem, so okay, I admit to having fantasies of Jamie Fraser, but little good it did me since there was little I could to do enjoy my fantasies since I could barely even move my head, arm or shoulder without excruciating pain.)

Anyway, I finished the last 3 books during this time: The Fiery Cross, Breath of Snow and Ashes and Echo in the Bone. Now that I’ve finished the entire series, which is a departure from my normal reading list repertoire*, I am not quite sure if I want to reread them now or to reward myself later after I’ve caught up with some of the things that got delayed as a result of my injury, which is still a long ways from being 100% recovered. (* I’ve been know to read mostly nonfiction and fiction works by Asian-American and foreign authors and none of those books have ever been categorized as “romance” though I’d say the Outlander books aren’t exactly easily classified as that either.)

New Pattern Release

I have a knitting update. I released Eleanor Roosevelt, the 5th pattern in the Liberation collection. The hat named after the 1st lady, is a slouchy beret-type hat with a visor. It features 2 shirred panels and is worked flat.

More TNNA Updates

I’ve also be remiss in my Winter TNNA updates.  I mentioned before that I was on a Designer’s panel at TNNA. The experience was rather interesting and being that this was the first panel of its kind, I think that it went well. We received quite a lot of interest and positive feedback, as well as a request to continue the panel in June at the Columbus trade show, which is much larger and better attended than the Long Beach one.

My friend Kristie (also my helper and awesome sample knitter), was kind enough to allow me to share a photo she took of the panel:

Panel Members, from L to R: Chris DeLongpre, Anne Kuo Lukito, Kate Gilbert, Clara Parkes, Eunny Jang and Laura Bryant (click on image to enlarge)

One of the many exciting moments of walking the TNNA trade show floor is meeting new and old friends and acquaintances. Another giddy and silly excitement as a designer is when you unexpectedly spot one of your garments in a booth. Granted, I had some samples in booths of which I was aware, such as Alice Paul and Septima Clark at The Fibre Company booth and Orinoco at the Frog Tree booth, which is exciting in itself. However, it’s not the same as an unexpected good surprise – two in fact!

First, something that I had not expected to see was flyers of the Spring 2010 issue of Interweave Knits featuring the Rose Window Beret (Pattern page link for Ravelers here). Unfortunately, I forgot to take and scan a copy of the flyer to show you all. There was also a galley copy of the issue at the Interweave Press booth.

Image Copyright by Interweave Press. See Spring 2010 preview: http://www.interweaveknits.com/ preview/spring-knits-2010.asp

Another unexpected sight was seeing my tunic on display at the Interweave Press booth. This tunic (I don’t know what the official title of the piece will be yet) was originally supposed to appear in the Spring 2010 issue of Interweave Knits as well. However, just last week, I received an email from editor Eunny Jang (and fellow panelist!) that due to space issues in the Spring issue, she’d like to move it to the Summer 2010 issue. So bar any other delays, consider the following a super sneak preview to the Interweave Knits Summer 2010 issue. 🙂

One of the Interweave staff members luckily didn't think I was too wacky in my excitement (thank goodness!) and volunteered to take a photo of me with my garment. Click on image to see Flickr notes.

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