Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I mentioned this a bit in my last post, and you may have noticed the new menu item at the top of my website.  I'm happy to announce that I now have a Tutorials section.  I love a challenge in my knitting life, so I don't shy away from some possibly unfamiliar techniques in my designs.  Now I'm offering help with some of those techniques right here on my website.  

My first published tutorials were for the lace edgings on Whittingham and Issa's Bloomers, and those were already available on my blog.  But as I was getting ready to publish Resin, I realized I wanted to offer my own tutorial for Judy's Magic Cast on.  Making a batch of tutorials has been on my list for quite awhile, so I took the opportunity to get it done.  

I've used Judy's Magic Cast On for toe-up socks for years, and only doing a little research for the tutorial did I discover that I pretty much do it backwards from how the original is done by Judy Becker.  It comes out the same, but I figured I might as well share my way as well as linking to the one most folks are familiar with.  

I've also added tutorials for how to knit in a hem (useful for Kalaloch, Heartwood, and Estela), and a few helpful techniques for placing pockets - using lifelines and seaming pockets.  I've got a list of other topics that I plan to cover too, so keep an eye out for new additions.

Please let me know what you think of the tutorials, any questions you have, and suggestions for new tutorials.  

Monday, January 28, 2013


One accessory that's indispensable for spending time outside is a good pair of wool socks.  Most hand knit socks are made with fingering weight yarn, but I love the extra thickness and durability of a DK weight boot sock.  

For this week's pattern, Resin, I chose a tightly-spun 4-ply sock yarn, Hazel Knits DK Lively.  Most of the patterns in Woodsmoke & Ash are worked in fairly muted neutral colors to avoid being too flashy, but I think a little bright color hidden inside your boots is just the thing to brighten up a winter day.

Photo Copyright Kathy Cadigan 2012

 Resin is the perfect boot sock for active guys.  They knit up quickly, with a geometric stitch pattern that creates extra warmth, and a dense gauge in DK weight yarn that makes for great durability.

Photo Copyright Kathy Cadigan 2012

They're simple but interesting to knit, with an engaging and easily memorized stitch pattern that excels at showing off hand-dyed yarn.  Resin is knit toe up with a short row heel, which means the height is customizable.  Use exactly half your yarn for socks that match perfectly.  The hemmed cuff provides a clean, comfortable top.

Photo Copyright Kathy Cadigan 2012
Along with this pattern, I'm excited to announce the new Tutorials section of my website.  I'll write more about it soon, but I wanted to make sure you all have the link to my Judy's Magic Cast On Tutorial.  As I was putting it together, I realized that my way of doing the cast on is actually a little bit different than the one by Judy Becker.  I must have looked at her fantastic Knitty tutorial years ago and then just made it up after that.  

There's only one more week left to pre-order Woodsmoke & Ash: Knits for Men to get your signed copy of the print book, so order soon!  

Pattern Info
Sizes & Finished Measurements
Foot Circumference: 7.5 (9, 10.5) in/19 (23, 26.5) cm

290 (325, 390) yd/266 (300, 358) m DK weight yarn
Shown in Hazel Knits DK Lively (90% Merino, 10% Nylon; 275 yd/251 m per 140g skein)
Color Ruby Love; 2 skeins

27 sts/48 rows = 4 in/10 cm in Horizontal Parallelograms Stitch Pattern

Needles & Notions
* Needle Sizes are recommendations only. Always use needle size necessary to obtain gauge.
Use double pointed needles, 32 in/81 cm or longer circular needle for magic loop method or 2 circular needles; use your preferred small-circumference circular knitting method.
US #3/3.25 mm needles

tapestry needle
place markers

Judy's magic cast on, shaping, knit-and-purl textured stitch pattern, short row heel shaping, sewing down a hem

Buy the pattern

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Seaside Village

Signs on the way to Cowichan Bay say "Seaside Village Route", and I love that.  It's really quite accurate to say we live in a seaside village, so now and again I go back to the water for more photos.  Recently I've noticed large container ships in the bay, which seems ridiculous - they seem so big to be in our tiny bay, but apparently the water is very deep, and the sight of container ships isn't uncommon.  They wait there (and all along the coast) if there's a line to get into the harbor in Vancouver.  

I've been told that some of the locals aren't very fond of these huge ships and find them to be an eyesore, but I think there's something intriguing about them.  Maybe I've been influenced by Ann Weaver and her Container Ships pattern club.

Lots of days have been winter-y northwest style: dripping rain and just-above-freezing temperatures (like today), but now and again, the temperature dips and the clouds part, and we get one of those bright, shiny days.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Bring on the chill.  Sphagnum, this weeks pattern from Woodsmoke & Ash: Knits for Men is designed to coordinate with last week's pattern Plantago.  Worn together, the cardigan and hat create a practical barrier against cold and wet weather.  

Using thickly spun yarn, Sphagnum knits up quickly to create a super bulky ribbed beanie that will keep a guy cozy in any weather.  

Sphagnum is worked bottom up with 1x1 ribbing throughout, making for a stretchy fabric that provides a more personalized fit.  In addition, the ribbing creates extra pockets in the fabric for warm air to get trapped.  It's a versatile hat that's sure to get plenty of use.  

This was the very first pattern I designed for Woodsmoke & Ash, and its clean practicality led the way for all the other designs in the book.  

This is the kind of pattern that can be used again and again, and is especially ingenious as a gift since it's such a quick knit, and can be customized by color and yarn to suit many different wearers.  (Try working it up in Malabrigo Rasta for some intense color!)  The pattern includes instructions for three sizes; just choose the size closest to the desired head size (a little negative ease is better than positive ease), and the ribs will adjust to fit the wearer perfectly.  

The ebook and print book + ebook are both available for pre-order right now.  If you order the print book + ebook before February 4, you'll be able to download each of the patterns as they're released, and you'll be among the first to receive the print book.  And your copy will be signed!  

Pattern Details:
Sizes & Finished Measurements
Unstretched Brim Circumference: 18.25 (20, 21.75) in/46.5 (51, 55) cm

80 (90, 100) yd/75 (85, 95) m Super Bulky Weight Yarn; Shown in Brown Sheep Burly Spun; (100% Wool; 132 yd/121 m per 226g skein); 1 skein; Color Oregano

14 sts/15 rows = 4 in/10 cm in 1x1 Rib Pattern

Needles & Notions* Needle Sizes are recommendations only. Always use needle size necessary to obtain gauge.
US #10.5/6.5 mm 16 in circular needle
Set of US #10.5/6.5 mm double pointed needles, 32 in circular needles for magic loop, or 2 circular needles; use preferred small circumference circular knitting method

tapestry needle
place markers

working 1x1 rib in the round, shaping in 1x1 rib

Friday, January 18, 2013

Distaff Day

While I was home over Christmas, I learned the word, "distaff" from my brother who is in the military. There was some cooking and cleaning to be done, so he helped out with the distaff (specifically by cooking bacon.)  His wife attests to the fact that he does lots of distaff at home, and when I asked what that was, (a little embarrassed not to know a vocab word) I was told it's traditional women's work.  Apparently this is a word used in the army.  It's a word I really ought to know, though, because it comes from spinning.  This is one kind of distaff:

It's really any kind of holder for fiber while spinning.  This amazing lady told me that this tall coat rack is necessary for spinning flax because the fibers are so long that you would have a really hard time just holding it - the other ends of the fiber would get caught in the current spinning, making a jumbled mess.  Remember those fairy tales about the maidens with the flaxen hair?  That's what they were talking about!  (Apparently the term "tow head" has similar origins.)

Now to get to Distaff Day.  In ye-old Europe or somewhere, they celebrated twelve days of Christmas in late December and early January.  At the end of those days, the women had to get back to work, specifically spinning.  Somehow the thirteenth day became known as Distaff Day, though why they didn't call it Spinning Day or Yarn Day instead is a mystery to me.  It used to be that this work was necessary to clothe and feed the family, but these days, it's for fun and craft.  So spinners all over the world celebrate Distaff Day together.  

Last week I got to attend the Tzouhalem Spinners and Weavers Guild Distaff Day Potluck, and it was definitely a celebration!  I have never seen so many spinning wheels in one place, and the artisans that peddled at them were incredible.  

This photo shows about a fifth of the room.  So manny spinning wheels!

I also loved how many ladies were walking around in their hand-knit stocking feet!  Most of them prefer to spin in their socks and my, their sock were beautiful!  

I brought my little drop spindle, and was happy to see several other spinners doing the same.  I even got to learn a little about those spindles that balance in a tiny and beautiful bowl.  Writing this gives me the urge to pull my spindle out again and give it another whirl. 

Did I mention how this was a meeting of the Spinners and Weaver's Guild?  Yes, much of the yarn that is spun on these wheels is woven into incredible fabrics.  I wish I could do more justice to this piece, but it was just stunning.  I don't know a thing about weaving, but I have no doubt that this scarf is impressive.  

I rode my bike to the meeting in sub-zero temperatures and am pleased to report that my Kalaloch Leggings and Nerine Cowl kept me toasty warm.  I love that several ladies asked me if I'd brought my wheel on my bike, assuming that such a thing was totally do-able, which I'm told it is.  If I buy a spinning wheel, it will need to be able to be carried on my bike.

Did anyone else participate in Distaff Day festivities?  Any show-and-tell to share?  

Thanks to the Tzouhalem Spinners and Weavers Guild for a fantastic potluck!

Monday, January 14, 2013


This week's pattern release from Woodmoke & Ash: Knits for Men is Plantago.  

This sweater was designed to the exact specifications of a Pacific Northwest outdoorsman who wanted practical, durable, winter wear.  Because of the design features - heavy ribbed fabric, a generous collar, and a long zipper - Plantago can provide several layering options all by itself, making it perfect for wearing during outdoor winter activities.  

Zipped up with a folded-over collar, it has the warmth of a coat and scarf.  Unzip just the collar to cool the back of the neck, or open the zipper completely for more ventilation.  Using this tall collar instead of a scarf means you won't ever lose your scarf or even have to find a place to put it as you heat up.

Super bulky wool and tightly-knit ribbing create a very warm and insulating fabric.  That's not only because wool is inherently warm, but because the ridges in the ribbing create more places for warm air to get trapped.  It's those pockets of warm air that keep you extra toasty.  As well as providing warmth, wool is water resistant and can absorb a great deal of moisture before the wearer feels it.  It's also much safer around the camp fire than popular synthetic outdoor fabrics.

Comfortable and practical, Plantago is slim-fitting with enough stretch in the fabric to give the wearer ease of movement.  The fit also allows for a waterproof shell to be added in the case of a real downpour.

And for your knitting enjoyment, it's worked at a huge gauge.  It knits up quickly and seamlessly, with easy raglan yoke shaping.

And here's a little sneak at an upcoming pattern too.

The yarn I chose for this design in Brown Sheep Burly Spun, which recommends a gauge of 10 stitches = 4 in/10 cm in Stockinette stitch.  The pattern is actually work more densely than that, but in order to get a firm fabric, choose a yarn with that recommended gauge.  And of course I recommend working with wool for this one.  There's just no substitute.

You can get this pattern individually or as part of the ebook or print book pre-order.

Pattern Details
Sizes & Finished Measurements
Chest Circumference: 36.75 (40.75, 45.5, 49.5, 51.75, 55.75, 60.25) in/93.5 (103.5, 115.5, 125.5, 131.5, 141.5, 153) cm
shown in size 36.75

771 (855, 955, 1039, 1086, 1170, 1264) yd/705 (782, 873, 950, 993, 1070, 1156) m super bulky yarn
shown in Brown Sheep Burly Spun (100% Wool; 132yd/121m per 226g skein)
Color: Oregano; 6 (7, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10) skeins

14 sts/15 rows = 4 in/10 cm in unstretched 1x1 rib using larger needle
* Given gauge is tighter than recommended on the ball band, so choose a yarn that recommends a gauge of 10 stitches = 4 in/10 cm.

Needles & Notions
* Needle Sizes are recommendations only. Always use needle sizenecessary to obtain gauge.
US #10/6 mm 40 in/100 cm circular needle for hem of body (not worked in the round, but circular needle is helpful to accomodate weight and bulk of body) 
US #10.5/6.5 mm 40 in/100 cm circular needle for main body section & yoke 
Set US #10/6 mm double pointed needles, 32 in/80 cm circular needles for magic loop, or 2 circular needles; use preferred small circumference circular knitting method
Set US #10.5/6.5mm double pointed needles, 32 in/80 cm circular needles for magic loop, or 2 circular needles; use preferred small circumference circular knitting method

shaping in 1x1 rib, grafting using Kitchener stitch, sewing in zipper

Friday, January 11, 2013

THE DUDE: a retrospective

As I'm working to publish my book of men's knitwear designs, I want to look back at one of my very early designs for men: The Dude.  

This pattern was created on a dare and was my very first published sweater design, as well as being my second published pattern ever!  (Yes, I was arrogant and a little bit crazy.  I'm much more humble now.)  

Above all other considerations, I wanted the pattern to look as much like the one from the movie as possible.  When working on most of my designs I think, "How can I make this more pleasant to knit?"  and "Maybe there is an equivalent technique that would be more fun."  Not so with this design.  I was very conciously a slave to the image I was looking at.   

So, the fabric I chose was the insane 1x1 rib with stranded color work.  I really thought it looked more like the original fabric than anything else I swatched (and OH the swatches I swatched!)  I also worked the whole thing back and forth in rows and in pieces instead of the more reasonable and traditional steeking after working in the round.   

That is why so many of you intrepid knitters have expressed what a huge pain this thing is to knit.  And I won't deny it.  The hundreds of fearless knitters who have made their own Dude sweaters have proven themselves to be dedicated and persevering people, creating a much beloved garment with quite ridiculous construction.  I think you all deserve a medal!  So I made one for you.  

If you successfully completed an entire Dude sweater, I encourage you to add this graphic to your Dude Ravelry project, print it out and wear it on a piece of yarn around your neck, make stickers!  You earned it.  (If anyone makes buttons out of this, please send me one.)

Despite how difficult and irritating the whole thing is, I think I captured the spirit of the sweater pretty effectively.  The collar really could stand to be a bit more generous, but the rest seems fairly true to the original.  

If you have created your own Dude, but haven't knit from my other patterns, I need to tell you something:  I promise that my other designs, including those in Woodsmoke & Ash: Knits for Men, do actually take into account t the knitter's thoughts, feelings, fingers, and sanity.  The color work sweater is kindly worked seamlessly in stockinette stitch as is logical for such things, and the ribbed sweater is worked at an enormous gauge and also seamlessly.  The Dude is by far my cruelest pattern.  

I have really loved the comments I've received about this pattern - it's great to be able to bring joy to knitters and their Labowski-loving friends and family.  

Here are a few snippets from pattern's Ravelry comments:

I showed this to my boyfriend and he said, “Make me this sweater. I will not break up with you."  
- justineka

That cardigan really ties the room together. I’m all over this.    
- vanillademille

You are so, so awesome. 
- weaverknits

This is the most amazing thing I have ever laid eyes on. I love that he’s holding a white russian in the pictures. :D I made the mistake of showing this to my fiancee who immediately said “Oh my god, ITS THE DUDE MAKE ME THAT”" 
- HaventGotaStitch

I'm also constantly amazed at the stream of new projects - some worked just like the pattern and others modified in wonderful ways.  Here are a couple:

Photo © Tom Zeller Jr.; knitter: jeannetao

Photo provided by knitter Pamela Northrup; model: Christopher Marsheck

There are 272 projects listed on Ravelry, so I encourage you to go have a look at the rest.  They're pretty inspiring.  You can also discuss and commiserate about the pattern over the Dude Knit Along in my Ravelry group.  

The Dude is a free pattern that will always be free.  Tell us about your Dude experiences!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Clotheshorse Winter 2013 is here and Nerine, a new cowl pattern, is in it.

Photo © Clotheshorse 2013
It's a generous and squishy doubled cowl that looks the same on the inside and the outside, so no matter how it slouches you see the right side of the beautiful geometric color work pattern.  

Photo © Clotheshorse 2013
It's worked as a long tube, then folded in half and grafted.  The color work pattern is engaging, intuitive, and easy to memorize.  Work it in a gorgeous hand dyed sock yarn like Hazel Knits Artisan Sock for extra beauty and interest.  The sample is worked in Lichen and Jam Session, two of my very favorite Hazel Knits colors.  

Photo © Clotheshorse 2013
This is an accessory that will warm you up in the darkest winter.  The lush double fabric keeps out the wind and cold and the bright colors liven up even the dreariest of days.

Check out the rest of the issue for more great knits.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Meet Char, the third pattern from Woodsmoke & Ash: Knits for Men.

Photo Copyright Sean Rangel 2012
Char is a classic-looking glove designed for maximum durability.  One of my challenges in designing for men is to keep the knitting interesting and the design purposeful while still maintaining the clean, un-embelished look that men so often prefer to actually wear.  I think these gloves fit the bill perfectly.  

Photo Copyright Sean Rangel 2012
The braided rib cuff looks similar to 2x2 rib, but it's constructed in a unique way and has a subtly engaging look that's especially stretchy.  Sock yarn and a textured slip stitch pattern create a strong fabric that remains sophisticated enough for daily wear.  

The cuff pattern also draws in to keep wrists snug and warm, while the left and right hands are worked differently for the best fit possible.  The slip stitch pattern being only on the hand creates extra durability where you need it - the palm - while stockinette on the fingers allows for more dexterity and avoids any extra bulk.  

The gloves are visually attractive without being too ornamental, and the slip stitch pattern is the perfect showcase for hand-dyed yarns, so I encourage you to support a hand dyer.  As I've done for many of my patterns, I chose to knit these in Hazel Knits Artisan Sock.  It's a bouncy, sturdy, and soft sock yarn that comes in an incredible range of colors.  Here are a few colors recommended by my fella: Arroyo, Equinox, Portabello, Blueberry, Bronze Age, Blacklight, Lichen, and Shady Verdant.   

Simple but engaging stitch patterns and clear instructions make this a very accessible pattern.

You can get this pattern individually or as part of the ebook or print book pre-order.  

Photo Copyright Sean Rangel 2012

Pattern Details:
Sizes & Finished Measurements
Hand Circumference: 7 (8, 9) in/18 (20.5, 23) cm

230 (265, 300) yd/210 (240, 275) m fingering weight yarn
Shown in Hazel Knits Artisan Sock (90% Wool, 10% Nylon; 400 yd/366 m per 120g skein)
Color: #246: Sassafras; 1 skein

30 sts/40 rows = 4 in/10 cm in Stockinette Stitch
36 sts/38 rows = 4 in/10 cm in Braided Rib Pattern
32 sts/40 rows = 4 in/10cm in Pebbly Slip Stitch Pattern

Needles & Notions
* Needle sizes are recommendations only.  Always use needle size necessary to obtain gauge.
Set of US# 2/2.75 mm double pointed needles, 32 in circular needles for magic loop, or two circular needles; use preferred small circumference circular knitting method

waste yarn
tapestry needle
place markers

small circumference circular knitting, slip stitch pattern, braided rib pattern using increases and decreases, shaping, picking up stitches

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