Category Archives: pattern design

To the frog pond, happily

I knit the hat on the left, while developing the hat on the right (pattern next week; I just need pictures). The first hat wasn’t what I wanted, so I frogged the crown and re-finished it as a cowl. Yes, you *can* frog brioche and get it back on the needles!

Side conversation: I’m working up a Brioche Doctor version of my Tink Drop Frog fixing mistakes class; I’ll let you know when that goes live.

Done. I love these leaves, and I had enough yarn leftover to knit one more cowl. I decided to play with the smaller leaf that I worked out for the blue hat. But! What if I made it a longer (wider) loop, too? That’s really my preferred cowl style, long and hanging down, not so much up around my neck. I’d need this yarn back to do that, though.

To the frog pond! You know that brioche is a two sided fabric, in separately worked layers. Did you know you can frog one color at a time, leaving the other color behind? This looks so cool, like a frilly petticoat peeking out under a skirt.

Almost there…

I have the new cowl about halfway done, which means it’s the traditional time where I start second and third guessing myself. Should I make the leaves even smaller? Do just I add this version on to the existing cowl pattern, or make a new pattern? I think the answer to that depends on how much extra work goes into it. Right now it’s just using the new smaller leaf from the hat, but if I make the leaves even smaller, it would be a ton of work to redo the chart and written instructions *again*, so it would want to be a separate pattern. Diminishing leaves, diminishing returns?

Really, I just need to finish knitting this so I can move on to a couple shawl ideas that are buzzing in my head. It’s time to get 2021 on the road!

One thing leads to another…

Leafy Origami test knitter Debbie Braden told me that she was wearing her small cowl like a pony tail hat. Hmmm, I thought. It would be super easy to close up the top and make a hat. So I did.

But I didn’t love it. It looked a bit bucket-like, and it was a little too big. It felt like it wanted to slide off my head. I turned up the bottom, and lost a good deal of visible leafiness. Humbug! Fixable? Challenge accepted.

If I removed a 24 stitch repeat, it would be too small. So I reduced the size of the pattern repeat to 20 stitches to make a smaller leaf, which removed 16 stitches overall. It was still going to be a little small, so I went up a needle size to change the gauge. Close enough!

Of course, removing 4 stitches meant removing 4 rounds per leaf, which meant the hat would be too short. So I added one more vertical repeat. More leaves! I had to finesse a bit at the beginning of the hat to end up with approximately the number of rounds I wanted, and it worked. It was a balancing act, and it was fun to puzzle it out.

The fit is definitely better. I think the added leaves make it easier to see them on your head, even if you turn up the brim.

So what began as a simple addition of a closing to the original Leafy Origami cowl pattern ended up being an entire re-chart/re-write. I finished it on the last day of 2020. It goes to the tech editor this week to kick off 2021. I’m looking for a couple more test knitters who are up for some challenging brioche!

I looked back at my Ravelry project page and see that I finished 28 items in 2020. Many of them were multiples for design projects and KALs: 3 Half the Knit Sky shawls, 3 Minerva cowls, 2 Deep End hats, 2 Deep End cowls. And 3 Love Note sweaters! I definitely knit a lot last year.

This year? I have several design ideas percolating in my head; we’ll see what comes of them. And I’m still knitting away on DH’s sweater, and my Katie’s Kep. Did I tell you I started that one over? My stitches were so much more even after I changed to a new needle, I decided that it would be worth it to start again. Here’s to new beginnings in 2021! Happy new year!

Multiple WIPs, oh noes!

I usually have one or two projects at a time; that’s plenty for me. I work better when I’m a bit obsessive. But my two current projects are both stranded colorwork (Dreyma and Katie’s Kep), and that means paying attention to a chart, all the time. Sometimes that’s not possible.

So here we are with brioche again, a perfect multi-tasker project for me. I decided I hadn’t had enough of this color combo yet; Malabrigo Rios in Volcan and Azul Profundo. I gave two friends the previous cowls in this color combo, and I decided I liked it so much I wanted to use it again.

Debbie Braden, one of my Leafy Origami Cowl test knitters, said she was wearing the small cowl as a hat with her ponytail coming out the top. Hmmm. I think I can actually make this close up on top, gracefully. I’ve gone so far as to chart it, and now I have to see if it works in real life. If not, I’ll rip off the top, and finish as a cowl for Mom-in-law. It’s a winner, either way.

Here’s another non-charted project from the weekend. I made a little bow with my other 32 ft strand of fairy lights. US 9 needles, again. I made a stitch holder for the live stitches, using a piece of guitar string. After that I realized that I probably have a stitch holder somewhere that would have worked! Oh well, it’s all good.

I’ve got a lot of food gifts to make in the next few days, which will be a good changeup from knitting. My forearms are still reminding me that I knit too long on Dreyma last week, so it still looks like this:

DH wore the hat over the weekend, so I guess we’ve done our gifts early! (Mine is the board in the leafy hat-to-be picture.)

Are you a mulit-WIP or monogamous knitter? Are you scrambling this week, or completely chill?

Gauge hat, free recipe pattern

What’s this? It looks like a hat, and it is. But more importantly, it’s a gauge swatch. Double dipping here!

Dreyma cover page in KnitCompanion

I want to knit a yoked sweater for DH. I’m planning on Dreyma by Jennifer Steingass. I’ll change the neckline to ribbing rather than the rolled one. Maybe I’ll even learn a tubular cast on. Maybe. There are some short rows on the back, after the yoke patterning, so I’m set for that after the short row classes I took this weekend!

I chose this yarn for DH, Berroco Vintage Worsted, because it’s machine washable, 57% acrylic/40%wool/8%nylon. I want him to get maximum use out of it, without waiting for me to hand wash it on a regular basis. Know your gift recipient! This is slightly lighter in weight than the specified yarn, so my gauge is going to be a little off. I can adjust for that. A hat is a great way to make a gauge swatch. (Yes, I know that Vintage comes in a bulky weight, but I think worsted is more versatile for indoor wear.) And yes, I bought an extra skein of yarn for swatching, and just in case I run out of yarn. Better to have too much than too little for a sweater.

Of course, a gauge swatch for a sweater should be washed and blocked. Treat your swatch the way you plan to treat your FO! Bisquee is helping with the blocking train here.

Hats are pretty simple. Here’s a recipe. Measure your head. You want your hat to measure 1-2“ less than that. Negative ease keeps your hat from sliding over your eyes. Take your estimated gauge (I’m relying on the ballband guess of 5 sts/inch on a US 7. Multiply that by the number of inches you want (20” in this case). That gives me a cast on of 100 sts. I wanted to add this colorwork pattern from Dreyma, which has a repeat of 8 sts, so I cast on 104 instead of 100 (13 x 8 = 104). That would make the hat between 20 and 21”, which is fine. I could have used 96 instead, which would make the hat 19.5”. Same same. I’m using a 16” circular needle.

I like a K2P2 ribbing on the edge, which means my cast on should be a multiple of 4. 96, 100, and 104 are all fine for that. Use a needle 2 sizes smaller than the needle for the body of the hat (US 5 in this case). Knit K2P2 ribbing to desired height. Change to larger needles and knit stockinette until piece measures 5.5” from the cast on (I tried 6.5” first, based on the common wisdom that a hat is as tall as your hand before you start the crown shaping, but it was too tall. 5.5” is plenty.)

Start crown decreases. I like a crown divided into 8 wedges. Ooh, look, my cast on was a multiple of 8! Perfect. (If you don’t have a multiple of 8, decrease some stitches on the first decrease round so that you do.)

I have 8 sections of 13 sts each. I’ll decrease with a k2tog for the last 2 sts of each section.

Rnd 1: *K11, k2tog, place marker, rep from * to end. (You’re just knitting the last 2 stitches of each wedge together to decrease.)

Rnd 2: Knit all sts.

Rnd 3: *K10, k2 tog, slip marker, rep from * to end.

Rnd 4: Knit all sts.

Keep decreasing every other round, until 8 sts remain. Move work to dpns or magic loop or 2 circulars when it gets too tight on the circular needle. (Don’t knit the final plain round after the last decreases. Pointy.) Cut yarn, use a yarn needle and run yarn tail through all sts, twice. Drop yarn to inside of hat, cinch up tight, sew in ends. Done!

When the hat is dry, I’ll check my gauge to see if it changed after washing and blocking. It’s the post-blocking gauge that decides the ultimate measurements of the sweater. But you also have to know the pre-blocking gauge, which you’re going to match while knitting. Measure twice, knit once! Apologies to This Old House.

If you’d like an easy to print pdf of the Gauge Hat pattern, click here.

I don’t get this picky about gauge for cowls and hats; they’ll fit someone. But a sweater is a much bigger commitment of time and yarn, so it’s important to get it right. Ask me how I know.

I knit this sweater for DH, twice! Once in 2006, then completely frogged and reknit the next year. I had made a tiny gauge swatch the first time, and of course it lied to me. The finished sweater was HUGE. The entire sweater served as a giant gauge swatch, and the second knit was a success.

Need to knit a quick gift? There’s still time to knit a hat!

Introducing: Leafy Origami Cowl

large cowl

The Leafy Origami Cowl is a 2-color brioche cowl, knit in the round from the bottom up. It features a stitch pattern that falls into mountain and valley folds, just like origami. The result is a delightfully three dimensional fabric. It’s knit with 2 colors of worsted weight yarn; I used Malabrigo Rios.

small cowl

The beginning of the round moves forward and backward on several rounds to keep the center vein of the first leaf as the first stitch of the round, making this a challenging brioche pattern. The results are worth it! I’ve made several video tutorials to guide you through the increases, decreases, and moving the markers. The stitch pattern is adapted from the Under Dutch Skies stitch pattern in Nancy Marchant’s book, Knitting Fresh Brioche.

A better view of all those leaves

This pattern is available through Ravelry and through Payhip for 10% off through December 16, 2020 with coupon code FOLDS. Newsletter subscribers, see your special offer in your inbox.

large cowl

Thanks to tech editor Meaghan Schmaltz, and test knitters Ann Berg, Debbie Braden, Elizabeth Forester, and Wendy Sakai.

small cowl, with colors reversed

I hope you enjoy knitting this as much as I did! Four cowls later, I’m still smitten. You know I love leaves, and you know I love brioche. This is a perfect combo for me.

This is my last pattern release for the year. 2020 has been strange, but ultimately productive. Hunkering down and knitting has had some benefits. I hope you’re making the best of 2020, too. Carry on…

A little frogging

Yes, you *can* frog and recover your brioche knitting.

I accidentally added an extra couple rounds of brioche rib after finishing the leaves; I was wondering about that as I was binding off. Oops.

I had some help. If you don’t remember how to frog and get your brioche back on the needles, you can check out my video tutorial here. And there are lots more tutorials of all kinds on my tutorials page.

All done! Now it’s mimosa time…

The Leafy Origami Cowl pattern is coming in December. I think I may knit one more, withe the colors reversed, just for fun. Knit on!

Leaf season

The leaves on my maple tree outside my studio window are nearly gone. It’s been a glorious season. I still have leaves on my mind, though.

Coming soon: Leafy Origami Cowl. This worsted weight project is flying along!

The stitch pattern makes the fabric fall into mountain and valley folds, like origami folds. It’s a fun rhythmic brioche knit.

Blocking makes a big difference on this piece!

I’m looking for a few test knitters who are experienced with brioche increases and decreases. This project takes some special attention on a few of the rounds because the markers need to move forward or backward by 2 stitches to keep things orderly. Of course, I made a video tutorial for moving the markers!

Let me know if you’re interested! I’m hoping to publish this pattern in early to mid-December.

Introducing: Deep End Cowl

Taller cowl

When I designed the Deep End hat as a teaching piece for my brioche classes, a knitter asked if I would also design it as a cowl, because she doesn’t wear hats. Voilà!

The Deep End Cowl is a 2-color brioche cowl, knit in the round from the bottom up. It features a large staghorn motif flanked by an adaptation of the gull stitch, echoing the curves of the staghorn.

You’ll learn both of the decreases on the first patterning round and have the option of one more; it’s like jumping in the deep end of the pool!

Shorter cowl, like a mock turtleneck

Cowl requires 80 (100) yards/73 (92) meters dark color, 60 (80) yards/55 (73) meters light color worsted weight yarn for shorter (taller) cowl. I knit both of these with the leftovers from my Deep End hats. They’re knit with Malabrigo Rios.

Taller cowl allows tucking top or bottom, or not, if your neck is longer than mine!

I love knitting these; they’re my comfort knitting. Most of the rounds are just plain brioche rib, and the increase/decrease pattern is easily memorized. I may knit a couple more!

The pattern is available through Ravelry here, and also through my Payhip shop here. It’s on sale for 10% off through November 17 with coupon code DEEP.

Thanks to tech editor Meaghan Schmaltz, and test knitter Ann Berg.

Rockaway Beach birthday

The family was scheduled to go to the coast in September to celebrate my birthday, but wildfire smoke (and fire at the coast) meant we had to postpone. We finally did go last week…I like to joke that I celebrate my birthday all month, but this has been a two month birthday. Why not, 2020?

We’re still distancing from the kids; they’re a bubble and we’re a bubble. I rented the house I usually rent for Crafty Moms weekend. They had the downstairs unit and we had the upstairs. The house has 5 bedrooms/5 bathrooms and sleeps 16, and there were only 4 of us.

The weather cooperated beautifully, which meant we could have all our meals out on the deck. Otherwise, we would have been dining separately on two levels.

One rather large jellyfish

We had lots of beach walks and good conversation. (And my boots finally cracked and leaked. Sorry to see these go.)

Deep End Cowl

I finished the cowl version of Deep End. I love, love, love it. Pattern coming soon. I knit this with the leftovers from the first Deep End hat.

Don’t knit with the tail, really

I wanted to knit a shorter version (I have a short neck) so I cast on another, with leftovers from the pink Deep End hat. I noted that I should cut the tail so I wouldn’t knit with it. Well, you know what happened…of course.

I managed to make some progress before going home. And it was so warm on the last day, I could hang out with no sleeves at all. Pretty nice for almost November!

It was a perfect birthday celebration.

Twin Rocks at sunset
Rockaway sunset

Carrying that peace forward as we await the results of Election Day here in the USA. Just breathe!

Evolution in class planning

My new and improved Brioche Increase/Decrease class is set to debut this Saturday. I designed my new Deep End hat especially for this class, so you can get a lot of practice with both left and right leaning decreases during the 2 hour class. 

Deep End brioche hat
Deep End

I was chatting in a Petite Brioche class this past weekend, and someone asked if there would be a cowl version of this hat, because she didn’t wear hats and would rather knit a cowl. Well, there’s not a cowl yet, but I could see doing one. Not in time for this weekend, though!

Madrona Cowl

But! My Madrona Cowl uses the same kinds of increases and decreases, and it would be perfect for this class, too. So I’m expanding the class projects to be a choice of either the Deep End hat or the Madrona Cowl. I like that there are options in this class; that makes it better for more students. I always want to improve my classes, and this one has been especially fun to develop.

If you’re already registered for this class, I’ll be emailing you with the added option. And if you would like to register, the link is here. If you’re registering for class through Twisted, the pattern is already included in your class fee.

In order to make this work, I’ve updated the Madrona Cowl pattern with easier-to-read charts (thanks, Stitchmastery!). I’ve also changed the pattern language to use the more standard sl1yo terminology, which matches the language in the Deep End hat. No confusion in class! The pattern is available on Ravelry, and also on Payhip. Also, if you previously purchased the Madrona Cowl pattern through Ravelry, the updated version is in your library, as well as the older version.

I’m having a lot of fun teaching on Zoom. These pictures are from my Petite Brioche classes this past weekend. I took them near the end of class, so some people have already left. We had fun!

Petite Brioche is a great first step in 2-color brioche in the round. From there, increases and decreases are a logical next step. Come knit with me!