Monday, September 26, 2016

Introducing: The Windsor Vest

Sure, it might seem a bit early for Christmas posts and planning for most people, but for any knitters planning Christmas knitting, it's a good time to at least start browsing for your knitting queue. Interweave Knits Holiday, available via the Interweave Store (here: print edition or here: digital edition ), has you covered whether you want to treat someone (including yourself) to a gorgeous shawl or socks, whip up a quick hat or set of mittens, or make something special for a child. I was particularly delighted with the set of designs based on Jan Brett's illustrations in her children's books (The Hat, in which Hedgie the hedgehog has a run-in with a sock that blew off the clothesline of winter woollies, has been a favourite with both my kids), and I'm tempted for the first time ever to knit up a Christmas stocking as a result.

Photo by Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Used with Permission.

My contribution to the collection is the Windsor Vest. When I sat down to play with colours and motifs on the computer, I asked myself, what would Ernie, from Sesame Street, favourite Muppet of so many children, wear if he had a traditional Fair-Isle inspired vest and wanted to dress up a little? Certainly he'd still want to wear some of his favourite colours!

Photo by Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Used with Permission.

I had some SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock in my stash in the Ginger colourway, and I knew right away that I wanted that to be the colour for the trim. I enjoyed looking through all the delightful saturated colourways available, and set up a palette that I feel works well for a slightly more formal yet still exuberant Muppet, or indeed for a cheerful child who feels that if she or he must dress up, let it at least be colourful and bright.

Photo by Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Used with Permission.

The Windsor Vest is worked in the round from the bottom up, with steeks worked for v-neck and armhole openings. Stitches are then picked up around the armholes and neckline for trim.

Finished Size 23¼ (24¾, 26¼, 27¾, 29¼)” chest circumference. Vest shown measures 23¼”

The pattern can also be purchased individually via the Interweave Knits Store here: Windsor Vest Pattern

Photo by Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Used with Permission.

Friday, September 09, 2016

What I Knit on My Summer Vacation

Next week will be my first full work week since June. It's not that I haven't worked during the summer, but things have slowed down quite a lot for while the kids were off school. Before we went camping, I shared what I was bringing with me to work on.

Here's what happened with that:

So, left to right:

-Socks knit with my handspun that I couldn't finish because I ran out of yarn too soon. Also, found it's not suitable for socks for a variety of reasons (which I suspected but ignored, since hey, they're just for me and I want to make them anyway). Any ideas what I should make with pink striped yarn? I could use a few suggestions!
No pattern for these, mostly just wishful thinking. I did swatch, but I didn't weigh the swatch or do any calculating, so I guess that's how it goes.

-Thrummed mittens. Still just one mitten. I prepared enough thrums for the second mitten, but brought the wrong needles with me, and still haven't gotten around to casting the next one on.
Pattern: Thrummed Mittens by Jennifer L. Appleby

-Chihuahua mittens: Cast-on second mitten, finished the braid (I changed the cuff slightly by adding this), stopped there.
Pattern: Tiny Dogs mittens by Therese Sharp

-Nephew's sweater: Finished! I wove-in the ends, and sewed on two buttons. I brought it with me to last week's knitting group session, and when I jokingly suggested one of the other members could sew on my buttons if she was between projects, she surprisingly enough said that she loves sewing on buttons, and did so. I am very grateful!
Pattern: Calaway by Jenny Wiebe

-Other Socks for me: Finished! I've even worn these a few times since. I'm running low on socks, so it's nice to have made some for myself. I even finished these on time for Carolyn's Summer Socks Kal, which made this even more fun.
Pattern: GG by Carolyn Macpherson 

What's up next? There's a whoooole lotta swatching going on:

Also, in the meantime, for September, I'm doing a drawing challenge in which I draw a sheep a day and then post them on Instagram using #sheepsketchaday. You can find my Instagram feed under @jessiemckitrick

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Smoky Lake

My Grandpa grew up near Smoky Lake here in Alberta, and I love when he tells the story of the time he and his brother came home with what they thought was a big fluffy dog that was only too happy to follow them. My Great-Grandmother was less than enthusiastic about any intent to keep the creature, and my Great-Grandfather brought the bear cub back to where the boys had found it.

The last time I was in Smoky Lake (the town, not the lake), it was rather an icy day in February, and I could have used a warm, sturdy, cozy cardigan to wrap myself up in. Smoky Lake, my design for Twist Collective Fall 2016, is a cabled and double-breasted cardigan with a shawl collar that totally fits the bill for warm, sturdy and cozy.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission
This cardigan is worked in Briggs & Little Atlantic, which is a bulky 3-ply wool that shows off cables nicely, even in a relatively darker shade like Grape, which Smoky Lake features. Of course, Briggs & Little Atlantic also comes in an excellent range of colours, both in heathered (like Grape) and solid. I think if I was knitting Smoky Lake again, I'd be tempted to also try Grey Heather, Fern, or Rust.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission
For warmth, I can tell you I tried this one on one warm summer day, and would have melted if I had kept it on any longer than it took to snap a few photos. I feel Smoky Lake would be perfect for a fall (and spring for that matter) coat. If I had been able to wear it while camping with my family this summer, it would have also been just the thing for chilly mornings in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission
The wool is not only warm, but hard-wearing, and will keep your knitting in good form for a very long time. Briggs & Little Atlantic relaxes slightly with a wash, and plumps up a wee bit too; it keeps its shape and definition while making the drape and handle come out just right.

When designing Smoky Lake, I wanted to use cables that would be sculptural enough to stand out even on a darker wool, but that would work well with a bulky wool without distorting the overall fabric. I settled on two cables that would play nicely with each other in columns. I wanted a Pea Coat feel to the sweater, a sense of being wrapped in wool against all weather and ready for outdoor exploration over lake, sea, woodland or field. A double-breasted coat with a voluminous shawl collar had the right sort of feel too it, and so I sketched this up:

Of course, with bulky wool and a good sized button-band in the front meant that there would be less density of cables than in my sketch (I also don't think I got the eyes quite right, but that has very little to do with the sweater, right?); but the sketch conveyed the feel I was looking for, and once calculations and adjustments to assure a good fit for all the sizes in question for men and women were worked over and approved, I set about crunching numbers and making sure that the sweater worked up into a cozy and beautiful garment. I really enjoyed working up the shawl collar; no matter how often I use short-rows, they feel like magic, and the bands worked up particularly quickly in the bulky yarn.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission

I am so pleased to see my idea fully transformed into reality, even better than I had imagined it. I really enjoyed working with Twist Collective on this project; much thanks to all of the Twist staff! Twist Collective, as always, has beautiful photography, and I recommend even to the non-knitters who read this blog to go take a look through this issue (and back issues as well)!

Thanks and love to my Grandpa, who, by the way, always looks great in a double-breasted jacket.

The Smoky Lake pattern is now available for purchase here through Twist Collective.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission

Friday, July 22, 2016

Actual knitting content!

I've just last week finished a long series of work projects that started back in December, and I'm very much ready for a vacation. Very, very much. So much that even planning fun things, or adding anything to the to-do list fills me with dread, and enough that making simple decisions is difficult. Obviously I need a proper break, so I'm taking one. I've promised myself and my family that for the following week, I am not doing any work knitting, not even swatching. The fun knitting for the next while is this:

Left to right: Handspun (socks to be), thrummed mittens (1 of 2), stranded mittens (1 of 2), Nephew sweater (needs weaving-in ends, also needs buttons), socks (1 of 2). Will check notes so I can have all pattern names available here on a follow-up post in a few weeks once I've recuperated a bit more!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fall Knitting is for the Summertime: Presenting the OXO Pullover!

As a knitter, I say it's never too early to start thinking of Fall. I also say that Summer is the time to start knitting up sweaters so they're ready to wear in the Fall, not to mention the odd chilly day out camping during the summer. Luckily, Love of Knitting seem to be in agreement on the subject, as they have just released their Fall 2016 issue. I am also very happy to say that I have a design included in this issue!

Presenting the OXO Pullover!

Photo by  Carmel Zucker for Love of Knitting. Used with permission.

I was so excited to see these photos when they arrived in my in-box. The model is just so adorable, and they did such a lovely job!

Photo by  Carmel Zucker for Love of Knitting.
Used with permission.

The OXO Pullover is a classic child's pullover with a bold X and O cable pattern forming columns.

Worked in Patons Classic Wool DK Superwash, the wool is warm, cozy, soft, durable, and machine-washable; all things that are ideal for a child's sweater. This yarn comes in a variety of colours that will appeal to kids and grown-ups alike, and I had many comments on the beautiful emerald colour as I was working on the sample.

Photo by  Carmel Zucker for Love of Knitting.
Used with permission.

The single-rib side panels give the sweater extra stretch allow extra room as your child grows; this and the modified drop-sleeve style allow for a comfortable relaxed fit without a lot of extra fabric to get in the way of a day of play. Finished Size: 25½ (27, 28, 29½ , 31)" chest circumference. Shown in size 28".

Photo by  Carmel Zucker for Love of Knitting. Used with permission.

Photo by  Carmel Zucker for Love of Knitting.
Used with permission.

The Fall 2016 issue of Love of Knitting is coming to newstands very soon, but in the meantime, you can order a print copy here:

or a digital copy here:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Jasper Trip

A week ago, I went on a knitting retreat to Jasper.


We stayed in cabins near Miette Hot Springs, and had a lovely dinner Friday night, and met with knitters and spinners from Edmonton, Jasper, Hinton, Edson, and other areas. I had a great time meeting so many great people, and enjoyed my first ever event as a vendor. I sold my patterns in hard-copy format, and really enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere and all the support from my fellow knitters and spinners.

I mostly indulged in spinning on the weekend (after all, knitting really has become my job, so spinning felt like more of a vacation), but also went for a nice little hike up to and beyond the source of the hot springs with Alison of Dandelion Fuzzies. There is nothing quite like hiking with an indie yarn dyer to explore all the colour and texture in our surroundings! She dyed the pink silk that I started spinning Saturday night.

I took almost no pictures of actual knitting and spinning, mostly because I was too busy spinning, visiting, laughing, and enjoying myself, but I did get some nice (phone camera) pictures outside, including a few snaps of Bighorn Sheep, and one of a Black Bear that Alison snapped for me (from the safety of the car and a good distance of the bear, who thankfully showed no particular interest in us. Trust me, if it had, we would have continued driving without a pause).

The best bit was definitely the potluck dinner on Saturday night; lots of thanks to the wonderful women that hosted!


Friday, April 22, 2016

Zephirine Tunic Re-release!

The Zephirine Tunic that I had designed for Knit Now Magazine issue #50 is now available for purchase in my Ravelry store

About a year ago, I was putting the finishing touches on the sample and pattern. Now, the tulips are starting to bloom in my garden again, and it's time to think about Spring and Summer knitting (and Fall and Winter knitting, but I'm not sure we ever stop thinking about those). Zephirine is knit with Yarn Stories Fine Merino 4ply, which is an excellent yarn with great stitch definition and a lovely drape.

You don't have to be a Ravelry member to shop on Ravelry... just head to my patterns page and click the "buy now" button.

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Romney Swatch

Back to the Breed Swatchalong with Romney!

First, the sheep (so lovely!):

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Found via Wikipedia.

This swatch took a little longer than the others due to interruptions.

First, I ran out of yarn. As I had spun the yarn, it was a little more work to get some more, as I had to find spinning time before I could try to find knitting time.

Then, I had several work projects on the go, which is good, but doesn't leave as much time for swatching just for fun.

After that, my only excuse is that I kept forgetting to do up the notes, so I'm giving it a go today, though I'm afraid they won't be as thorough as usual!

Here are my initial notes:

Breed: Romney from New Zealand, coloured Romney (listed as light grey, but I’d amend that to nice warm brownish grey).

| Wool Category: “Medium”

| Brand (if applicable): my handspun from sliver bought from A Curious Spin.

| Form (fleece, fibre, yarn): Sliver; spun semi-worsted

| Preparation (if known): Sliver, woollen prep

Feel: slides nicely through the fingers, and, while not my most consistent spin, is decently even on average. Not precisely soft, but I keep using the word “nice” to describe it; I like it rather a lot.

Cast on: 58 sts, working in a 2x2 Garter rib

Today's notes:

The swatch was a pleasing pattern, but I maybe could have gone up a needle size for better drape. Road-test wise, I could see the spot where I switched yarn batches a little more clearly after the second wash, but that's more to do with my spinning than any inherent properties of the wool itself. I did find this one mostly too itchy for next to skin in more sensitive areas (so, not really for scarves or for garments without an undershirt), but it wore well, and feels nice enough on the hands anyhow. I'd be inclined to use it for hats, outer layers, maybe a nice bag, mittens. Nice stitch definition, and I enjoyed spinning and knitting it.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring Break

Just a quick post to say that it's Spring Break over here, which means people living in my office, which means I'm keeping work to the very basics so I can enjoy spending time with the family (and I have been enjoying that very much). Luckily I can work on sample knitting while doing other things at the same time, but on the whole, next week will be a busy one for catching up!

Carrot update: I've gotten as far as to start a swatch, only to find that I'll need to switch to the needles that are currently occupied for sample knitting, so I'm now using spinning as a carrot until this sample is done. (Nearly there! Hoping to finish up this weekend!)

How's your week going?

Monday, March 21, 2016


Sample knitting and pattern writing are keeping me busy enough that I often don't have much else to share in terms of projects, but I'd like to make more of an effort to get both things done. I don't mind that work knitting keeps me so busy that I don't have a lot of personal projects on the go, but I don't much like it if I have absolutely no personal projects happening. So, I thought I should apply that 15 minute rule here too. If I can get through my goals for the day in sample knitting, then I can have 15 minutes after the kids head to bed to work on a personal project. Perhaps if I use it as a carrot, then I can both meet my goals and get a few things done that I've been neglecting.

The current carrot that I have in mind is a project for my younger nephew. I want to knit up Calaway by Jenny Wiebe for him, and I wanted not only to use superwash wool, but I wanted a particular look to that yarn. So, I ordered Knit Picks Bare Wool of the Andes Superwash, and, I few weeks ago, tossed it into the dye-pot. I've just stuck with the food-dyes so far in my dyeing efforts, though I'd love to work from plants someday.

In the meantime, I started with 3/4 tsp of Wilton's Kelly Green, along with rather a lot of vinegar added to the water (a good cup to start, but I went through more than 4 cups throughout).

The first result was disappointingly minty-looking rather than vibrant, so I did it over with another tsp of the dye. After the wool was dry, I checked with my sister if she liked the colour, and she confirmed my suspicion that it was still not quite green enough, so another tsp of green it was. The results are much better, and it does look a touch more vibrant in person than in the photo below.

I didn't meet my goal last night (I was close, but found a mistake that would take just long enough to fix that I was done for the night), but if I can make it tonight, I will at least have a read through the instructions, find the right needles, and set up a project bag. If I have extra time, then swatching, and revising my notion of "the right needles" if need be.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with today's 15 minutes of spinning: Alberta-grown Texel wool.