IRL – Colorblock Tank

My contribution to the Spring 2013 of knit.wear was the Colorblock Tank knit up in Flax. This is one of those pieces I have just as much fun wearing as I did designing and knitting it.


(image courtesy Interweave/Joe Hancock)

But more awesome than that are the other versions I’ve seen out there in the world. Of the projects listed on Ravelry, maybe half use the color combination of the original which incorporates 6 different shades of Flax.

Katie decided to go her own way with her version of the tank.


This turned out so great, I love it! Katie used 15 black, 08 purple, 07 lilac, 104 wild lime, and 105 natural; so just 5 shades instead of 6. And it worked out fine! I love the colors Katie chose to go with her red hair. She is obviously a purple lover, and shades of purple are so in right now, too.

Free Pattern Friday – Color Block Scarves

It’s Free Pattern Friday!

Three Color Scarf B 1 blogToday, the Three Color Scarves in Cotton Supreme DK Seaspray.

Three Color Scarf B 2 blogIt’s hard to believe that something so simple can look so stunning.  We use the phrase “let the yarn do the work” a lot, but it’s very applicable here.

This is a very basic four row pattern consisting solely of knits, purls, and slipped stitches.  It creates a pebbled texture – not quite a stockinette, not quite a garter stitch.  A subtle pattern to match a subtly variegated yarn, Cotton Supreme DK Seaspray (230yds/100g).

Three Color Scarf B 3 blogThis 100% cotton drapes beautifully.  The DK weight means it’s light enough to work for warmer weather, and to wrap around with adding a lot of bulk.

This scarf was a delight to style on our mannequin (we call her Molly), to the point that I had to stop myself from finding more ways to wear this.  Three coordinating colors brighten up any outfit – mix and match to suit your style.

Three Color Scarf A 1 blog

Happily, each scarf only takes about 40 grams of each color – less than half a hank.  So you could easily get two scarves out of your color choice.  Above, we use  306 Storm,  305 Ink Blue,  and302 Sun Lime.  Below we use, 301 Carmine, 304 Blue Skies, and 302 Sun Lime.

Not only is this going into my queue, I’ll also be recommending this to the newer knitters I know.  There’s nothing like an easy project that looks smashing to build confidence.

Happy knitting!

Three Color Scarf A 2 closeup blog



rocked knitalong – working into a double yo

Rocked Knitalong Graphic

As I was knitting along on my Rocked, I was working a lace pattern row with its double yarnovers. When I reached the next (WS) row and was working the [k1, p1] into each double yarnover (yo), it occurred to me that this could make for a good video.

When there is a double yo on your needle, it can be confusing just how to knit or purl into it. If this is your first time dealing with double yarnovers, give this video a try. I hope it helps!



Rocked Knitalong – ready, set, cast on!

Are you ready to cast on for your Rocked yet? I have a confession to make – I just couldn’t wait until our official kick-off date and cast on over the weekend. I’ve made it through almost my first ball of Garden 5 and am about 5″ into my piece.

Amy Garden 5 section 1 hi-res

But actually I’m more than 5″ in, because my work thus far is UNBLOCKED. If I refer back to my blocked swatch, I can see that 8 repeats of the pattern (32 rows) = 4″. Currently, I have 12 repeats done of the pattern, which should block out to 6″. So, yay! I’m further along than I thought.

Sandi cast on using Flax and has finished her first pattern repeat.

Sandi Flax section 1 hi-res

If you’ll remember after her swatch post, she ended up with a gauge of 22 sts x 32 rows/4″. Compare that with my gauge of 26 sts x 32 rows = 4″. My yarn and needle size (Garden 5 & US Size 2) are smaller than hers (Flax & US Size 5), yet our row gauge is the same. I find that fascinating!

Heather has opted to go for Bamboo Pop in her Rocked. Heather is unselfishly knitting this for her teenage daughter – lucky girl!

Heather Bamboo Pop swatch hi-res


Heather swatched in color 107 Ocean and got the gauge listed in the pattern on US Size 4’s. I was surprised by this, because Bamboo Pop is just a bit heavier than Cotton True Sport. But again, everyone’s gauge is unique!

And now, let’s talk a little more about the gauge swatch. I’ve been knitting for several years and have done a bazillion gauge swatches. Okay, maybe not quite that many, but I’ve done lots. Being an experienced knitter, I sometimes overlook things that I assume everyone, even newer or less experienced knitters know. Case in point: the gauge swatch.

Yonca (as in the lovely lady in this week’s IRL) came to me last week and told me her gauge swatch was not working out. Yonca is a very smart woman and is not new to knitting, but is somewhat new to swatching. There it is, I’ve outed Yonca as a typical non-swatcher. (Sorry Yonca!) But apparently she’s listened to my harping long enough that she decided to take the plunge this time and buckled down. But she ran into a snag with her swatch.

In the Rocked pattern, the gauge is listed at 21 sts x 27 rows = 4″ in the Mesh pattern. It is standard practice to list gauge in a pattern over 4″ (or 10 cm).



Most stitch patterns require a certain number of stitches in order for them to work out. In the case of the Mesh pattern, you need a multiple of 4 stitches plus 6.



If you look at the cast-on numbers for each size in the pattern, you will see that they are all multiples of 4 stitches plus 6. This means, multiple a number by 4, add 6, and you will have a number of stitches that works with the pattern. For example, for my gauge swatch I cast on 30 stitches, which is (4×6)+6. Sandi’s gauge swatch consisted of 38 stitches (4×8)+6.

Yonca, however, thought that the gauge listed in the pattern (21 sts x 27 rows) meant that she should cast on 21 stitches for her swatch. It is easy to see why she may have thought that! I forget sometimes the things that are second nature to me now are not necessarily common knowledge for all knitters. When Yonca started working the Mesh pattern over her 21 stitches, it did not work out because 21 is not a multiple of 4 stitches plus 6.

So let me break down the gauge swatch once and for all:

Before beginning most projects, particularly a garment (that needs to fit!), it is very important to know your gauge, or # of stitches/rows per inch. Knitting is pure math. Well, it’s also a lot of other pretty things. But math is what makes things a certain size.

In order to figure out what your actual gauge is, you must do a gauge swatch. To choose a needle size, try starting with the recommended needle for your pattern and/or yarn. It’s a good idea to cast on enough stitches for around 6″. You want to be able to measure in the middle of the swatch avoiding the edges. If you are swatching in stockinette stitch, then any number of stitches will do, as long as your swatch is big enough to get a good idea of your gauge. When swatching in pattern, you must cast on the appropriate number of stitches relative to that pattern, as described above.

For my swatches, I cast on with a smaller needle size than the needle used in the pattern stitch. Because Rocked begins with a stockinette stitch rolled hem using a smaller needle, I wanted to test my stockinette gauge at the same time as the Mesh gauge. I followed the hem pattern as written, switched to my larger needle, and then continued in pattern.


After I bound off my swatch, I wet-blocked both and pinned them on a blocking board. I plan on hand washing my finished top, so this is how I blocked my swatches also. After the swatches dried, I unpinned them and then measured.

Have any more questions about swatching or anything else? Leave your question in the comments section or join us on Ravelry! I’ll be  back here on the blog over the next month discussing other aspects of our knitalong.

IRL – Goldleaf Tank

Spring has definitely sprung here in Charlotte, NC. The grass is green, the dirt is red, and everything outdoors is getting covered in pollen. As a result of this seasonal change, our knitwear here in the office has switched from wintery sweaters to warmer weather alternatives.

Yonca in Goldleaf Tank

This past week I spotted our sales director, Yonca, wearing her Goldleaf Tank designed by Moira Engle which is part of our Cotton Supreme Book 5 collection. This piece was originally knit in Cotton Supreme DK color 703 Beige. Yonca’s version is in color 708 Celery which really enhances the leaf motifs. It’s a beauty – nice job, Yonca!

Free Pattern Friday – Kauai Cardigan

It’s Free Pattern Friday!

Kauai cardi_blogToday, the Kauai Cardigan in Alana.

Summertime… and the livin’ is easy.  This cardi makes me feel like I should be strolling on the boardwalk in my sandals with a frosty beverage in my hands.  Maybe  I could wear a giant Yashi Sunblock hat with it.

It’s made in Alana (164yds/100g) , a tropically colorful viscose blend.  It’s a great choice for bright color with a sheen.  Speaking from personal experience, I haven’t noticed pooling or flashing – just bright colors and happy hues.

And since we’re talking about free patterns, here’s one that flew under the radar!

The Butterfly Scarf is also in Alana.  We released this fun broomstick lace design a couple of weeks ago, but never actually made it part of a Free Pattern Friday.  Consider it a bonus wish for warm, leisurely days.

Happy crafting!


Rocked Knitalong – another view on swatching

Today, I have the pleasure of handing over the proverbial mic to Sandi Rosner, the creative director for our sister company, Premier Yarns. Sandi elected to participate in our knitalong using Flax.

From Sandi:

I’m thrilled at the opportunity to participate in this knit-a-long! I’m happy to have the chance to knit something for myself, and this versatile summer top is just the thing.

I’ve chosen to use Fibra Natura Flax for my Rocked. Why? Linen. I’ve recently moved from the mild, arid climate of Northern California to the steamy heat of North Carolina. With its lightweight absorbency and easy care, linen is a big part of my survival strategy as the dog days of summer loom. I asked Amy to choose a color for me, and she picked this lovely blue gray called Mineral. Over jeans and a tank, or a black cotton skirt and a cami, this top will be in heavy rotation all summer long.

I cast on 38 sts with size 5 US/3.75 mm needles, and went straight into the Mesh pattern stitch. I worked 9 repeats of the 4 row pattern and bound off.

flax swatch 1

The first thing you’ll notice is that this swatch has a distinct bias to the left. Since the stitch pattern involves a Right Twist every 4 rows, this isn’t really surprising. That little maneuver is consistently pulling the fabric in the same direction causing the whole piece to slant. If this hold true through blocking, then the side seams of my top will want to twist around my body – not something I’m willing to try to pass off as a design feature. But I’m going to withhold judgement until after blocking.

I chose a rather unconventional blocking method – I threw my swatch in the washer and dryer with a load of laundry. Since I intend to machine wash and dry my finished top, I wanted to see 1) how the fabric transforms, and 2) how much shrinkage to expect.

flax swatch 2

My swatch came out of the wash looking like a sad, rumpled little thing. What you can’t see is how much softer and more supple the fabric became. Flax can feel a little stiff and wiry in the knitting, but it softens up nicely in the wash.

You can also see that the bias problem was not entirely resolved by the wash. On to Step 2, a gentle steaming.

I took the swatch to my ironing board and applied a healthy shot of steam, without letting the iron actually touch the fabric – I didn’t want to flatten the texture. The steam relaxes the fibers and makes the piece malleable. I used my fingers to gently nudge, push and pull the piece into shape, then let it cool.

flax swatch 3

As you can see, the piece straightened out nicely. The fabric is smooth, with good stitch definition, and the bias is nearly gone. This will do.

My gauge came out at 22 sts and 32 rows = 4” in Mesh pattern. Not quite a match for the gauge called for in the pattern, but I like the fabric, and I’m willing to do the pattern modifications required to make it work.

Unlike the lovely model you see in the pattern photographs, I’m well past middle age. My body tells a tale of motherhood, gravity and many fine meals. I’d like 4-5” of ease for this top, so I’m going to aim for the largest size. I know I need a multiple of 4 sts + 6 for the pattern repeat, so I’m going to cast on 150 sts. This should give me a finished bust measurement of 53 ¾”.

For this style, I prefer my tops long enough to hang past the curve of my belly. Looking at the schematic, I can see that I want to add length in two places. I’ll add 2” before I begin the sleeve shaping. I also want the sleeves to fit loosely around my upper arms. I’ll add another 2” between the sleeve shaping and the neck shaping, making the sleeves 4” bigger around. With a total of 4” added length, and the bigger sleeves, this top will be both comfortable and flattering on my less-than-model-perfect body.

Hmm…I’d better ask Amy to set aside a couple more skeins in this lovely color, just in case.