Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fun with Meg and Elizabeth

When people hear about my pattern indexes on Knitfinder, they often ask "isn't that an awful lot of work? and isn't it boring indexing all those patterns?" The short answer is, yes and no. Yes, it's an awful lot of work. Boring? Well, you see, I choose which publications and designers I want to index. And I don't choose the publications and designers whose patterns make me gag - because I don't want to spend that much time with those patterns.

Which brings me to our newest index. Just published - ta daah! The (almost) complete list of patterns by Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen. I've been working on this for months; it isn't a huge number of designs (around 300 in all), but it presented several technical problems that had to be solved before I found a workable way to display the index on the site. Many of the patterns have appeared multiple times in different places; also, many are known by more than one name. You'll also find a resource list, including complete information on Schoolhouse Press yarns past and present.

Anyway. This index was pure pleasure to work on. It was a blast to reread every issue of Wool Gathering and every book by Elizabeth and Meg. In order to write the detailed pattern notes, I have to read every pattern carefully so I understand the design and construction details, and then summarize them for you all. Sometimes this wasn't easy, with these designers! Try explaining the Surprise Jacket or Round-the-Bend Jacket to someone else, especially if you haven't knit it (I must be the last EZ fan on earth who has not made a baby surprise jacket yet).

Much has been said about EZ's writing style. I can only add that her droll way with words cracked me up many times as I worked. Her written patterns express endless curiosity, intrepidity, and joie de vivre - qualities I admire greatly. Happily, Meg's writing style and approach to knitting are not so different and equally charming. I'm glad to have spent a few months living with their words, and pleased to make the index available to you.

In honor of its publication, try a free demo of the full subscriber version. Just log in with the username demo and password knit on for access to detailed pattern notes, Ravelry links, and the search by tag feature. The demo is good through January 4, 2010.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quick gift patterns: final miscellany

To wrap up our quick gifts series, here are eleven more patterns for you that I couldn't resist, but don't seem to fit anywhere else. Putting this series together has reminded me how much fun it is to knit small projects - playing with different yarns and techniques, and finishing something in a day or two, is just the thing for a short attention span, or a break from a big shawl or sweater project. So, off I go in search of oddballs, beads and other bits and pieces to cast on for one or two of these.

Read the intro to this series here, and don't miss the other lists (links at bottom of this page).
  1. Pence jug from Knitty (free pattern). Franklin Habit's re-creation of Miss Lambert's Victorian design: a tiny pitcher in sock yarn remnants, designed to hold coins. So pretty, I'd just drop a few pennies in it and leave it where I could see it every day.

  2. Exploring Stripes beaded bag by Holly Webb (free pattern). Available on Ravelry; originally published in Interweave Knits Winter 2001/02. Round-bottomed beaded drawstring bag uses one skein of Koigu or other fingering-weight yarn (175 yards). I knitted a green version of this bag with copper beads years ago--it's lovely.

  3. Mrs. Beeton wristwarmers by Brenda Dayne, from Knitty (free pattern). Luxe, feminine wristwarmers in scraps of DK merino/cashmere and Kidsilk Spray or Kidsilk Haze. Simple ribbing with frills and a few beads.

  4.  Thrummed fleece muff from Lionhairs (free pattern, available on Ravelry). Live where it's cold? This simple stockinette muff with i-cord strap is just the thing. Uses 120 yards of bulky wool yarn plus an ounce of roving. Here's a beautiful colorful version knitted in two and a half hours.

  5. Dumpling bag by Sharon Dreifuss, from Interweave Knits. One-day knit: round felted bag embellished with needlefelting. Uses 272 yards Aran-weight wool, but worked with the yarn doubled. This would be a great bag to hang by your wheel for spinning accessories. Take a look at this bag trio.

  6. Sea lace necklace by Sarah Punderson (available on Ravelry). Unique, delicate necklace knitted in Habu silk/stainless steel or Lion Brand wool/stainless. Uses 20-30 yards of yarn and a few beads.

  7. Oddment hedghog from Little Cotton Rabbits. The cutest stuffed toy ever. Pattern available on Etsy or Ravelry. Uses 15 yards DK yarn for the body, and scraps for the rest.

  8. Tricornu pincushion by Jody Pirrello from Knotions (free pattern). Pretty stuffed pincushion with a knitted counterpane square for the top and a fabric bottom. Tutorial for the sewn part is here. Uses 50 yards of kitchen cotton.

  9. Emerald beaded bracelet  by Heather Murray (free pattern). One ball of no. 8 pearl cotton and 15 grams of seed beads make a lovely vintage-looking bracelet you can knit in an evening or two.

  10. Fairy star chair mat from Tiny Owl Knits (free pattern). What a good idea - uses 100 yards of super-bulky wool (written for Debbie Bliss Como). Knitted like a pair of circular dishcloths, crocheted together for a double-thickness pad.

  11. And one more for good measure - Lacyflakes snowflakes from Heartstrings Fiber Arts. Inventive and truly beautiful - a storm of these silk snowflakes would be fantastic hung in a window or on a tree.


Monday: patterns with color
Tuesday: lacy patterns
Wednesday: patterns with texture
Thursday: plain & simple patterns

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quick gift patterns - plain & simple

Today: ten eleven fabulous plain and simple patterns. Check back tomorrow for a few final ideas. Read the intro to the series here.

All these patterns use less than 300 yarns of yarn; most of them much less. That means you should be able to get them knitted in a week without too much trouble. All are easily available, either instantly online or in magazines currently on the newsstands. Many are free; others cost a few dollars. Some are widely known, others are unsung gems or rediscovered from past years. Enjoy!

  1. Quincy hat by Jared Flood. This jaunty hat is garter-stitch with a twist - literally. You knit a flat strip of garter stitch, give it a twist and join the ends, then pick up crown stitches and knit them in the round.  174 yards bulky-weight yarn.

  2. Storm Cloud shawlette by Hanna Breetz (free pattern).  Simple but lovely semicircular garter-stitch shoulder shawl with optional ruffle. Worked at an open gauge for sheerness. 150-210 yards fingering weight yarn, but can be worked in any weight. (This would be a great pattern to show off handspun.)

  3. 75-yard Malabrigo fingerless mitts for men, from Life in Cleveland (free pattern). Completely plain mitts with ribbed edges - but in a luxurious yarn, what could be better? 75 yards worsted-weight wool.

  4. Tea Mitten by Elizabeth Kleven (free pattern). Ribbed tea cozy fits your pot like - well, a glove. Uses less than 100 yards DK wool (and another great use for handspun.

  5. Magic slippers for babies from SockPixie (free pattern). Cute garter-stitch slippers use a walnut-sized ball of sock yarn leftovers for a newborn size; can easily be made bigger. I like this version, with pompoms.

  6. Robin's Egg Blue hat by Rachel Iufer (free pattern). Chic close-fitting stockinette hat with wide seed-stitch brim and buttoned tab. Less than 120 yards chunky-weight wool.

  7. Snug baby hoodie by Hinke (free pattern, available on Ravelry). Almost-seamless sideways garter-stitch hoodie jacket for newborns - 6 months, in Cascade Ecological Wool. Uses 219-273 yards.

  8. Susie's Reading Mitts from Dancing Ewe Yarns (free pattern). Fingerless mitts for women in stockinette with eyelet and purl-ridge accents, picot edges. 200 yards worsted-weight yarn.

  9. Urchin beret by Ysolda Teague from Knitty (free pattern). Garter-stitch beret worked sideways on two needles with short-row shaping. 77-110 yards bulky wool. This version added a few stitches to make a nice slouchy hat.

  10. Huckleberry Ascot by Kat Coyle, from Interweave Knits. Short garter-stitch scarf worked sideways. Short rows widen the ruffled ends. 220 yards DK yarn (written for alpaca).

  11. And one more for good measure: Ribby Slipper Socks from Interweave Knits (free pattern). Ribbed alpaca slippers with folded cuffs - feet in bulky weight, cuffs in worsted weight. 145-190 yards, sizes for children and adults. Knit them in a day!

Monday: patterns with color 
Tuesday: lacy patterns
Wednesday: patterns with texture
Friday: miscellaneous gems

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Quick gift patterns: texture

Today: ten twelve fabulous patterns featuring texture. Check back tomorrow for my top ten plain & simple patterns, and Friday for a few final ideas. Read the intro to the series here.

All these patterns use less than 300 yarns of yarn; most of them much less. That means you should be able to get them knitted in a week without too much trouble. All are easily available, either instantly online or in magazines currently on the newsstands. Many are free; others cost a few dollars. Some are widely known, others are unsung gems or rediscovered from past years. Enjoy!


  1. Larus & Ardea fingerless mitts from Knitty (free pattern). Been wanting to try twined knitting? Be brave and knit these handsome mitts in one skein of Cascade 220 and a bit of contrast color yarn for the braided edges; two versions, one for men and one for women.

  2. Miller's hat from Through the Loops. This great hat has a wide herringbone-stitch brim band shaped to cover the ears and a not-too-tight boldly-cabled crown. 220 yards of worsted-weight wool plus a bit for contrast trim.

  3. Wave cowl  by Rebecca Hatcher from Knotions (free pattern). Simple but interesting pattern uses short rows to create undulating purl ridges on a stockinette ground. Less than 220 yards worsted or Aran weight. I'm tempted to try this in some Muench Touch Me I have in stash and full it a bit. Nice in yarn with long color changes, because of the short rows. Can't make the Ravelry project button work, but here's the link (56 projects).

  4. Ripple beret by Wendy Bernard. Ruched beret alternates concentric rings of stockinette and garter stitch. Garter-stitch brim. Less than 220 yards worsted weight wool (there's also a fingering-weight version using about 300 yards).

  5. Bella's mittens by Marielle Henault. As worn in Twilight: wonderful bulky-weight mittens with almost elbow-length ribbed gauntlets and a bold cable down the back. 220 yards bulky wool (Cascade 109).

  6. Bodhi mittens or fingerless mitts from RiverPoet Designs (available on Ravelry). Unusual feminine cable patterning on back of hand, seed stitch cuff, and optional beaded accents. Three sizes, 100-200 yards worsted weight wool.

  7. Trilobite hat from Knitty (free pattern). I love the patterning on this snug-fitting hat - four panels use cables, bobbles, and garter-stitch texture to suggest trilobite fossils. 184 yards worsted weight wool.

  8. Helix gloves by Kira Dulaney. OK, very simple texture. Stockinette fingerless gloves with long cuffs and an elegant spiralling line wrapping around the wrist and hand, created by a decrease ridge and adjacent yarnover. 160-180 yards DK-weight yarn; two sizes.

  9. Winding River cowl by Kathleen Cubley from Interweave Knits (free pattern). Loose moebius cabled cowl knitted lengthwise. As written, pattern calls for 325 yards DK yarn, but this version used just 220 yards of bulky alpaca. Or, use whatever you have - provisionally cast on 8" worth of stitches, work 25" in whatever cable pattern you like that looks good on both sides, give the scarf a twist before joining the ends with a three-needle bindoff.

  10. Heritage baby booties from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2009 (on newsstands now). Absolutely gorgeous cabled booties with garter-stitch soles, knitted flat. Complex but worth it. Less than 230 yards fingering-weight wool.

  11. And one more for good measure - Chevalier socks or mittens by Mari Muinonen (free patterns). Worsted-weight socks or mittens share the same beautiful cable patterning. 250-300 yards yarn for the socks, less than 220 yards for the mittens (pattern is written for sportweight yarn used double).

  12. Added 12/10/09: Give a Hoot mittens from Kelbourne Woolens (free pattern). Little cabled owls with button eyes are turning up everywhere - here they are on a pair of simple mittens in worsted-weight wool (200 yards). Or, you could use lighter-weight wool at a smaller gauge for a child.

Monday: patterns with color 
Tuesday: lacy patterns
Thursday: plain & simple patterns
Friday: miscellaneous gems

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Quick gift patterns: lace

    Today: ten eleven fabulous lace patterns. Check back tomorrow and Thursday for my top ten texture, and plain and simple patterns. Read the intro to the series here.

    All these patterns use less than 300 yarns of yarn; most of them much less. That means you should be able to get them knitted in a week without too much trouble. All are easily available, either instantly online or in magazines currently on the newsstands. Many are free; others cost a few dollars. Some are widely known, others are unsung gems or rediscovered from past years. Enjoy!


    1. Snowdrop beret from Marya Speton (free pattern). There are lots of lacy beret patterns available. This one is very pretty but underappreciated. It uses 200 yards of worsted-weight yarn or 150 yards of DK weight (pattern is written for one skein of Cascade 220).
    2. Fayfay scarf from Popknits (free pattern). This lacy little scarf with an un-grandmotherly look uses one ball of Rowan Kidsilk Haze but could also be knit in heavier yarn. Another underappreciated pattern.
    3. Ice Queen cowl by Rosemary Hill from Knitty (free pattern). This beaded lace cowl uses one ball of Kidsilk Haze, and it is gorgeous. You could knit a quicker version without the beads (you saw mine in last week's blog post). I explained my modifications on my Ravelry project page.
    4. Easy lace fingerless mittens from Kathleen Taylor (free pattern). Mitts in a pretty lacy rib with ribbed cuffs use 220 yards of worsted weight yarn.
    5. Linga beret from Gudrun Johnston of Shetland Trader. Uses 210 yards of DK wool; interesting design with a wide band of Shetland lace motifs around the wide part of the hat.
    6. Veyla fingerless gloves by Ysolda Teague. 160-185 yards of fingering weight yarn. Stockinette hands with little lacy details, and a beautiful wide sideways lace cuff that buttons closed. Two sizes.
    7. Fallen Leaf Frilled Triangular Scarflette from Cotton & Cloud. One ball of Kidsilk Haze, a pretty undulating lace pattern, and a frilled edge.

    8. Cowgirl Slipper Socks from Interweave Knits. Stockinette anklets with feather-and-fan lace cuff, worked from the top down. Uses 240 yards worsted-weight yarn (pattern is written for Buffalo Gold; these would be wonderful in any luxurious worsted weight). Note: pattern correction here.

    9. Mineco market bag from Tidewater Knits (free pattern). Seamless mesh bag with solid bottom uses 240 yards of worsted-weight cotton.

    10. Wisp (free pattern). This simple scarf in laceweight mohair may be buttoned to itself and worn as a hood, cowl or capelet also. Uses 230-300 yards of Elann Super Kydd or Kidsilk Haze. Also lovely in fingering-weight or heavier yarn.
    11. One more for good measure: Ivy Vines cowl from Knitspot. Lacy cowl pattern in two sizes uses 120-150 yards of sport or DK weight yarn.

    Monday: patterns with color 
    Wednesday: patterns with texture
    Thursday: plain & simple patterns
    Friday: miscellaneous gems

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    Quick gift patterns: color

    Every year come November, I swear not to commit to knitting holiday gifts. But come December, I inevitably find myself casting on for at least one gift that must be done by Christmas. Just can't resist. If you are in the same boat this week, thinking you could still cast on one or two things and get them done in time, here are 50+ ideas for you. There's something for everyone - men, women and kids; color, lace, texture, or plain and simple. Today: ten twelve fabulous patterns featuring color in one way or another. Check back each day this week for my top ten lace, texture, and plain and simple patterns.

    All these patterns use less than 300 yarns of yarn; most of them much less. (Double that amount for stranded colorwork - because that comes to the same thing). That means you should be able to get them knitted in a week without too much trouble. All are easily available, either instantly online or in magazines currently on the newsstands. Many are free; others cost a few dollars. Some are widely known, others are unsung gems or rediscovered from past years. Here we go!

    TODAY'S TOP TEN: COLOR (in no particular order)

    1. Thorpe hat from Through the Loops (free pattern). Chunky-weight wool, uses 130 yards each of two colors. Stylish unisex earflap hat with bold stranded colorwork crown in stockinette stitch, solid-color garter-stitch brim and earflaps. Worked from the crown down.
    2. Selbu Modern beret from Kelbourne Woolens (free pattern). Uses two 175-yard skeins of Koigu or other fingering-weight yarn. Lovely, feminine stranded colorwork pattern.
    3. Little Entrelac Bags by Susan Lawrence, from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2009 (on newsstands now). These little felted drawstring bags each use half a skein (55 yards) of Noro Kureyon. I cast one on this morning.
    4. Adult vertical stripe Noro hat from Chicken Stitches (free pattern). Uses two skeins of Kureyon (220 yards total). An undiscovered gem - the garter-stitch crown is knitted flat, sideways, and joined; brim is picked up from crown and knitted downward in the round. There's also a baby version.

    5. Furrow mittens from Through the Loops in three colors of worsted-weight wool. Boldly-striped hands in two colors, cuffs in a slip-stitch pattern with a third color added.
    6. Red right hand stockinette fingerless mitts from Weaverknits (free pattern). Uses 100 yards each of two colors of sock yarn, one solid and one striping, for an edgy mismatched colorblock effect.
    7. Scandinavian footlets by Marilyn van Keppel (free patterns). Two versions: Faroese footlets in solid color or with simple stranded colorwork; Eli's Footlets constructed from multicolor garter-stitch squares and felted. Uses a small amount of unspun Icelandic or other worsted-weight wool.

      Easy house slippers are another version of the Eli's Footlets pattern, also free.
    8. Kate (free pattern) This cute, simple, Japanese-looking stuffed kitty toy from Knitty uses worsted-weight wool in three colors.
    9. Short-row Hat by Véronik Avery. I knitted one of these with 150 yards of Patons Soy Wool Stripes - love it. It's knitted flat on two needles, using short rows for a diamond entrelac effect.
    10. Athena's Owl bag by Laura Andersson. Available on Ravelry (originally published in the newsletter Stranded). Stranded colorwork owl design reminiscent of ancient Greek vases - in sport or DK wool. OK, this might be more work than anything else on this list, but beautiful! Be the first on Ravelry to knit one up.
    11. And one more for good measure: Alpaca Baby from Pamela Allen - a super-cute baby hat in sportweight alpaca with a modern polka-dot colorwork band.
    12. Added 12/8/09: Here's one more great fingerless mitt pattern - Diamondback mitts from Westknits (pattern available on Ravelry). Colorful stockinette mitts with contrast-color diamond trellis overlay and garter-stitch edges. Great for men, or anyone. Uses 120 yards total of worsted-weight wool in two colors.

    Tuesday: top ten lace patterns
    Wednesday: patterns with texture
    Thursday: plain & simple patterns
    Friday: miscellaneous gems