Double or Nothing Patterns: Waterford Crossing

This is week 4 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.

Waterford Crossing is worked in Plucky Knitter Oxford, a heavy fingering merino and cashmere blend. Huge thanks to Charles Parker for knitting this one for me.

Waterford-PGI’m a big fan of cables and cable-like motifs. I also love working in multiple colors, as you may have noticed in my previous book and standalone patterns. While I have not done many designs in multi-color double-knitting for this book, I thought it would be a good idea to cover one or two things I hadn’t really done in Extreme Double-Knitting. While the multi-color patterns in that book are, by and large, in the round, I have since honed my techniques for working flat multi-color double-knitting. The body of the work remains much the same as, say, the Struktur hat, but because you are working flat, you’re going to be seeing both sides as you work, which means a slightly different way of following the chart. In addition, you will need to process the edges differently to make sure that all strands are linked into the edge. These are techniques that are covered to some degree in my standalone patterns 52 Pickup and Parallax v3.0, but having them in a book gives me more room to really cover them in-depth. I’m also covering a row-end cast-on and a partial-row bind-off, although those are not specifically multi-color techniques. There are a couple of other little tweaks to the pattern as well, but I’ll leave those as surprises.

Waterford-GZI already told the Plucky Knitter story, and this is done in another of their yarns (and despite the similar fiber blend, this one looks and feels completely different). Instead, let me explain about the colors. These 3 colors are not, at first glance, particularly compatible. Perhaps they’re even a little jarring, or would be if they were any brighter. I wasn’t sure when I picked them up why I thought they worked so well together — but every time I looked at them I thought about Kristin Nicholas, who taught me that “chartreuse goes with everything!”. So this piece became a homage to Kristin Nicholas, and that’s all the justification these colors need.

Waterford-AWThis pattern was originally called “Knots & Crossings” — but that didn’t make much sense since there’s no knots & crosses pattern involved. There are Celtic-style knots and colorwork crossovers all over the place — but the wordplay just wasn’t as deep as I generally prefer. So I cast about for a new name. I thought about the pattern and the knots and realized what was unique about them. Celtic cables in knitting don’t often change direction in the middle of a row, but the adapted Viking patterns do, as evidenced by Elsebeth Lavold. Since part of the pattern’s name was already “Crossing” I started researching Viking crossings and found out that Vikings actually founded the first city in Ireland, named Waterford. It’s a fact that Scandinavian crafts influenced Irish folk art, but I am not a historian and I can’t be sure that the cable motifs so prevalent in Irish illustration were an evolution of this early infusion of Viking aesthetics. But I’ll take some poetic license and acknowledge the similarity between some of the art of the two cultures with this pattern’s new name, “Waterford Crossing”.

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Double or Nothing Patterns: Hesperos

This is week 3 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.

Hesperos is worked in Plucky Knitter Primo Sport, a superwash merino, cashmere and nylon blend

Hesperos-AWYou may already know the story of my pattern “Victorian Raffia” but I’ll begin it here. Before my last book came out, I had begun double-knitting Kieran Foley’s pattern “Scandinavian” as a way to practice my increases and decreases. I had made some changes and figured I’d ask Kieran if I could include the pattern in my book, with attribution. He turned me down, kindly but in no uncertain terms. I was a little hurt, but to be fair I was a little-known designer at that point. True to form, I instead took what I had learned and applied it to a pattern of my own — the enigmatic Silk Road tie. This tie was the result of a bunch of sketches I had made in which I played with the different ways two horizontally-mirrored sets of chevrons could interact. The simplest was the spiral I used in the tie — but there were plenty of other options. I wanted to show them all off, but I didn’t want to make a huge number of patterns to do it. Instead, I opted to show them all in one scarf and Hesperos was born. In this scarf, the underlying chevrons show in the middle, but they begin to shift around as I work the next set of chevrons subtly offset from the previous one, in one direction or the other. Using only the clearest, cleanest versions, I generated mazes, Greek keys, diamonds, and, yes, spirals. To further show off the reversible nature of the fabric, I worked the increases and decreases into a more widely-spaced pattern, unlike the dense 1×1 patterning in the tie.

Hesperos-SMOne of the first patterns I discovered after the spirals was a sort of Greek key pattern, also known as a “meander” which is a synonym for “wander”, referring to the way that the path wanders but ultimately ends up going in a particular direction. The name Hesperos is ancient Greek, both a god and of one of the “wandering stars” that were eventually determined to be planets — in this case, the planet Venus. Venus is also the name of the Roman goddess of beauty. So the name Hesperos for this pattern is meant to express the beauty of wandering, getting lost, finding yourself, and getting to your destination in the end.

Hesperos-PGPlucky Knitter is another yarn company I stumbled across while at one of my teaching gigs. I was lucky enough to be teaching at Stitches South, the only such event that Plucky Knitter vends at, and their booth was mobbed — and rightly so. A fellow designer introduced me to the owners and they told me what makes them special: unlike many independent dyers, they don’t use bases that are commercially available — all of their bases are exclusive to them, so their yarns are unique. In addition, they have a stunning range of colors, and most of their bases can be dyed in any of these. Spoiled for choice, I picked an unconventional combination, and have never regretted it. The one thing I do regret is that I have not managed to attend another show where they were vending — but I’m sure our paths will cross again and more amazing things will come of it.

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Double or Nothing Patterns: Ranelva

This is week 2 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.

Ranelva is worked in Rauma Finullgarn, a 100% Norwegian fingering wool

Ranelva-JLI haven’t made, let alone designed, very many mittens. However, growing up in Vermont I’ve worn a fair few. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle (pun intended) on how they’re normally constructed. However, I do like to add my own style to things, and in my previous mitten design as well as this one, I’ve done things a little differently from your average mitten. One of these will be immediately obvious: the fingertips are not centered. Instead, they’re centered roughly on the middle finger, which is most people’s tallest finger. In other words, the decreases for the body of the mitten begin sooner on the outside edge than on the edge closest to the thumb. Speaking of which, the other major difference is the thumb style. The Eastern Thumb (as named by Robin Hansen, at least) is quite underutilized in mittens, but I like the elegant lines of it, the way the increases follow the muscles of the hand, and the way the thumb feels like it’s part of the hand, rather than an afterthought. Also, although it’s not alone in this, the Eastern Thumb is worked symmetrically, so there’s no need for a left and right mitten — either will work. There’s also a really neat trick used to close the top of the body, the thumb and the gusset.


When I first started teaching at the big knitting shows (Stitches, Interweave, and Vogue), I found myself face to face with one of my own patterns in a booth I didn’t know at the time. It was my “Open for Business” sign which had been done in the booth’s yarn. Called “Wall of Yarn”, they were very enthusiastic about my designs and it turned out that they have a very interesting story. They are the sole US importer of a line of yarns from Norway called Rauma. Rauma has an amazing variety of colors and, as it turns out, their Finullgarn matches up nicely with Kauni Effektgarn, which I use in many of my standalone patterns. One of the shop’s proprietors, Jeffrey Wall, has been translating Rauma’s patterns from Norwegian to English and boosting their yarn sales with unique colorwork patterns. They were happy to have me design something in their yarn, and I have plans to continue using their yarns in the future. They have begun to help me by selling my books and patterns at many of these shows, and have even begun to stock Kauni Effektgarn.

As I began designing these mittens, I first Ranelva-AWsettled on the all-over colorwork pattern they were going to use. Like many of my other charts, the noodling and doodling in Illustrator generated a fascinating but very simple pattern that reminded me of rivers or rippling water. Since the yarn is Norwegian, I looked up rivers in Norway to find a good name — and what a surprise! It turns out that Rauma, the name of the yarn, is also the name of a river in Norway. Clearly it was meant to be. I chose another river’s name for the mittens. I found two spellings: Ranaelva and Ranelva; both seem to be correct and accepted spellings for this river, so I chose the one less likely to be mispronounced by English speakers.

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Double or Nothing Patterns: Abaciscus

Today I’m starting a new weekly post series! For the next 14 weeks, I’m going to post 1 pattern from my new book (in order of appearance) until they’re all posted. As I post them, I’m going to drop them into my Ravelry projects, my Instagram feed, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. What I’m trying to do is to get people to join my Double Or Nothing preorder mailing list. This is a list which will be used once or twice as soon as I’m ready to take preorders for the book, and then deleted — so you’re not going to get spammed. Also, please feel free to share this post or any of the places it shows up on social media. This isn’t private; I want as many people to hear about it as possible!

Of course, I’m going to let everyone know about the preorders eventually. So why join this list? I’m glad you asked! First, this will be the first list that will hear about the preorder availability. Second, I’ll ship roughly in the same order I receive orders, so the sooner you hear about it, the sooner you can order and the sooner you’ll get the book. Third and possibly most important, if this list reaches a pre-selected arbitrary number of members, I will sweeten the deal for members of this list only (the reward is kept purposely vague so I can decide exactly what it will be later).


Abaciscus is worked in Dirty Water Dyeworks Clara, a 100% Blue Faced Leicester worsted-weight wool.

Abaciscus-GZWhen I’m working on a new idea, sometimes I’ll open a new file in Illustrator to start playing with shapes and see how they interrelate. In this case, I was playing with a hollow oblong, and how it could be made to look like it was linking up with others like it. As the tiling progressed, I was reminded of a carved Chinese wooden screen. My father lived in Taiwan for about a decade when I was in my adolescence, and when he finally came back he had a new wife, fluency in several Chinese dialects, and a large collection of Chinese art including a number of these screens which he mounted in his windows. So when I cast about for a name for the new cowl pattern, I wanted a Chinese word. The working title was “Yingzao” which refers to a sort of ancient building-standards manual. But here’s the thing about Chinese — a word’s meaning can change depending on inflection. I didn’t know the correct inflection and I didn’t want to be caught saying (or making you say) something rude or nonsensical due to the wrong inflection — so I put out a call for naming suggestions. The winner was Nathan Taylor (aka sockmatician) with “Abaciscus” so that’ll be the name going forward.


Something I’m doing differently in Double Or Nothing than I did in Extreme Double-Knitting is that I’m trying to use yarn I’m really excited about for some reason, not just yarn that’s easy to get. If I understand my audience as I think I do, you’re not the type of people to be put off if you can’t get the exact yarn in the exact colors I knit it in. You’re willing to go to some length to use awesome yarn, but you’re also willing to substitute when necessary. So I’m going to talk up the yarns I chose — with the hopes that you’ll also get excited about them, search them out and use them. But I’ll understand if you don’t.

One of mAbaciscus-AWy tenets is “buy local” whenever possible. That doesn’t mean I never order stuff from Amazon, but if it’s something I can get from a local business I try to do so. It also means that if I know someone who, like me, is trying to keep a small craft-based business afloat, I keep them in mind when I’m deciding on those sorts of materials or products. Dirty Water Dyeworks is one such company. Stephanie has been an active member of the Common Cod Fiber Guild, which I cofounded with a couple of friends back in 2008, for quite some time and it’s been great to watch her build her business from a small Boston-area brand to a yarn line popular all over New England and beyond. Unlike many up-and-coming indie dyers, Dirty Water branches out of the solely Superwash Merino blends and takes risks with breed-specific wools as well. Granted, it’s not much of a risk — people are getting more and more into yarns from breeds like Cormo, Polwarth, Targhee, and Blue Faced Leicester (or BFL for short). The yarn I chose for this pattern is one such 100% BFL base, and the lovely hand and slight shimmer are more than enough reason to search out this or some other worsted-weight BFL.

Interested in this pattern? It’ll be coming out in my new book “Double Or Nothing: Reversible Knitwear For The Adventurous” in December of 2016. Get the news first when it’s ready for preorder by joining the mailing list! Thanks!