Back in 2008 I whipped out a design for Knit/Purl’s inaugural sock club—and I do mean I whipped it out, because those socks were imagined and knit in the space of a week. Luckily, it was one of those Athena designs that springs out fully formed without a lick of fiddling or frogging.

I knew I’d be working with a variegated yarn, a specially commissioned colorway from Koigu. Variegateds can be so very alluring on the skein, and if you handle them right they can be a lot of fun to knit and wear, too. But I’m someone who gets a little twitchy when the colors start to pool and my ankles look like barber poles. So I’ll do whatever it takes to break up that kind of patterning. In my personal experience of knitting socks with variegated yarns, I can dodge pooling on 2.25 mm needles and on 2.75 mm needles, but 2.5 mm’s are a sure ticket to big spirals of color. I really prefer to knit socks on 2.25’s (that’s US #0) for durability, but when I was planning this sock club project I knew I didn’t have time for a really fine gauge. So US #2’s it was. Also good for busting up colors that want to be cliquish: garter stitch and slipped stitches. So I quickly sketched a motif of slipped-stitch serpentines over a fabric of garter rib. (Actually, I can’t even remember if I took time to sketch it. I may have just cast on and sailed as close to the wind as possible on this occasion.) And it worked. I named that little sock andamento, Italian for ‘flowing’ or ‘coursing,’ a term used to describe the visual flow of elements within a mosaic. And five years later, the rights to it are back in my hands and I can re-release it into the wild under my own label.

AndamentoMSTurner (small)

This new sample is knit in Malabrigo Sock “Turner,” which is honestly too fine a yarn for this pattern in terms of longevity. M. Sock wants a tighter gauge, in my opinion. I couldn’t resist these subtly shifting olive and spring greens with splashes of iris purples. But I recommend a heartier yarn, something plump, with bottom—more of a sportweight, really—if you want a sturdy sock at 7 stitches to the inch.

AndamentoMSTurner (2 of 6)

We grabbed some photos at the Marquam Nature Park south of town in between rain showers. Here’s a detail of the toe:

AndamentoMSTurner (1 of 6)

And of the slightly lacy cuff (who says a sock needs ribbing at the top?):

AndamentoMSTurner (4 of 6)

I’m astonished to tell you I used a mere 225 yards of wool in these. There’s so much of the skein left over I’ve decided I need to try to knit a very wee vest for a cousin’s any-minute-now baby out of the remnants. I’ll let you know if it works out. In the mean time, Andamento is now available for purchase in my Ravelry store; you can grab a copy via the button in the sidebar. Happy sock knitting!

AndamentoMSTurner (5 of 6)


Counting the number of tiny stockings left in the children’s Advent calender for the Tomten to fill with persimmons, cinnamon sticks, and little wooden animals (yes, we’re exuberantly mashing winter traditions… it just kind of happened and I’m rolling with it… besides, you know the Tomten and Baby Jesus would have gotten along just fine because they both sleep in the hay with the animals), I see I’m down to eight measly days to complete the Christmas crafting. So naturally I’m making frequent excursion into Denial, aka Ravelry, to troll for new projects I’d like to cast on. And if you’re doing the same, you may have seen that Winter Garden is live at last!


I’m glad to report that Ada loves the sample I knit in her size so much that she asked to sleep in it last night. It’s already been worn to school a couple of times, warmed her on a few outdoor excursions, and… um… it was accidentally dampened during a nap. No matter, wool washes quite beautifully with a quick soak and squeeze in the sink and Brooklyn Tweed LOFT dries rapidly.

The pattern is written for sizes 12-18 months, 2/3, 4/5, 6/7 and has been tested in every size. It’s got a schematic I’m absurdly proud of, a chart for the colorwork, links to video tutorials for the Channel Islands cast on, and even photo support for the button band—you may notice there’s a new page called Tutorials under the blog header and it’s home to a blow-by-blow account of my own progress through Anna Zilboorg’s perfect buttonholes, which I’ve directed knitters to use in the Winter Garden pattern.


I’m so thrilled to have this pattern available for you all. It’s not a quick and easy knit, but I hope it will challenge you in satisfying ways and give you the chance to try some new techniques. I like to stretch myself in my craft and appreciate patterns that expand my skill set, and I hope you’ll find that Winter Garden is one of those. You can get it from the link in the first paragraph or by clicking the button in the sidebar, and I can’t wait to see other versions sprouting up around the globe. I love the buttery, autumnal colorway my tester Anita dreamed up, for instance. And note her substitution of Blackberry Ridge Fingering Weight wool, which comes in a beautiful full palette and can be purchased in 1-oz. hanks, making it a far more economical choice for the contrast colors than LOFT. Blackberry Ridge’s wool is American grown and milled in Wisconsin, so it’s another great option to Knit Local if you’re in the Midwest, although they ship all over the globe.


A further note on the sizing: Ada is wearing the 4/5 size with about 2.5″ of ease. She’s almost three and a half and could still wear the 2/3 with 0.5″ of ease, but she’s a robust little person and I wanted her to get a few years out of this dress. It’s knee-length on her now, so not so long as to be cumbersome, but will probably still fit her tunic-style when she’s five. I’ve made the skirt proportionally shorter in the smaller sizes for toddlers’ ease of movement, but you can easily lengthen or shorten your skirt by adjusting the spacing between the decrease rounds. Also, while we’re talking potential modifications, if you’d like more colorwork and less plain ol’ stockinet, you could repeat the bottom half of the chart again without running into the decreases in all but the smallest size (and even there you could probably fudge it successfully). I’ve even been tempted to embroider flowers on the skirt above the truncated stems. (But there’s the Christmas knitting and sewing to attend to. Must satisfy the urge to embroider by finishing a pair of stockings first.)


A few ladies have written they’d like an adult version, and I do hope someone will try this by scaling up the pattern with SHELTER or other worsted weight yarn! It would be an unflattering style on me, but I could see it working for other body types. Personally, I long to boost the colorwork motif for a fitted pullover, maybe with a boat neck and buttons at the shoulder… so many possibilities. I can’t wait to see how you’ll make Winter Garden your own!


In gratitude for your company in this space and for the league of knitters worldwide whose generosity invites newcomers into the fold, I’ve added a new free pattern to the Whistling Girl collection today! Meet Kulshan.


She’s definitely the coziest hat I’ve ever made, and just the ticket for the blustery wet outdoors. I used a heavy worsted farm yarn that my friend Betsy sent from Bridge Farm in Maine, but the construction makes it simple to use lighter or bulkier yarns and to tailor the fit to the recipient’s head size. (Brooklyn Tweed Shelter would be a great substitute if you wanted less heft without sacrificing warmth; The Fibre Company Terra would make an amazing silky version…) The cabled band is knit sideways, then stitches are picked up for a crown in slouchy fisherman’s rib. The oversize crown traps heat and allows versatility in styling. Those buttons? Not just for decoration:


Now it’s… a snow bonnet? I’m not sure what this shape of headgear would rightly be called, but it’s useful if you need to guard the back of your neck against drafts or if you don’t wish to flatten the front of your coiffure. As for the giant pompon…well, why not? It was a bit of fun I couldn’t resist.


The contrast color in the pompon was a happy accident. I wanted to use every last inch of my 250-yard skein, but it’s really a large hat and a wimpy pompon simply wasn’t going to suffice. So I mixed in some Madeline Tosh from the stash that exactly matched the buttons from Jenny the Potter, and I quite like the balancing effect it gives.

I want to tell you about the stitch pattern on the brim. I’m calling it single honeycomb because it’s like the classic Aran honeycomb, except a single stitch is traveling rather than a pair. I spied it on a friend’s cardigan, a wonderful garment knit by her great-aunt in Ireland. (Let’s all pause for a moment to indulge in a bit of envy, shall we?) Every woman in their family has a sweater featuring panels of this motif, which they think of as the family cable. I cast on my Kulshan hat in part to swatch the single honeycomb for use on a little jacket for my new nephew (that pattern is probably next in the development queue once Winter Garden is out), and it turned out to be a perfect match for this yarn.


Koma Kulshan, or simply Kulshan, is the original name for Mt. Baker, the snowy peak that stands sentinel over the islands where I grew up. It’s only the fifth highest mountain in the Cascades, but it’s one of the snowiest places on the planet. The Mt. Baker Ski Area recorded 1,140 inches (2,900 cm) of snowfall in a single season in 1999, which set a world record. That’s worth an eponymous hat, I’d say.

I think you’ll find Kulshan knits up quickly enough that it’s not a completely unreasonable late addition to your holiday gift knitting roster, should it catch your fancy. But you may want to queue it up for decompression knitting once you’ve survived the frenzy, too. I’m told it’s going to be a long winter. Mr. G’s cousin in Arkansas says the oak trees hurled down bushels of fat acorns like shot this fall, and the last time that happened it was a granddaddy of a winter. My neighbor says there are birds coming in from the hills that never venture into the city—a brown creeper here on our very street, if you can believe it!—so there’s sure to be thick weather. So bundle up!