I wonder how many years you have to spend knitting colorwork before your instincts are really worth trusting? I’ve had to make a course correction on my new Winter Garden after it forced me to admit that my initial sense of how to shift between reds, purples, and greens was just flat-out Not Going to Work.

From the moment I knit the first Winter Garden, I had a vision of an alternate colorway for my Ada: a friendly brown dress with the flowers done in greens and reds with purple accents. I had the yarn in hand. But then I started lining up the colors I’d chosen and doubting my wisdom. Artifact had too much black and too much yellow. Homemade Jam looked oddly dull against the other colors in anything less than full sunlight. I swapped them out and still there were problems. Birdbook didn’t contrast with Nest sufficiently, while Long Johns was too potent against Woodsmoke, and Plume bisecting anything was as disruptive as ants scurrying over your picnic cloth in the direction of the cake. Argh. Of course, I only admitted to myself that it had all gone awry after I’d cast on a few hundred stitches and stubbornly knit four fifths of the chart in the hopes that it would somehow all come together. Rrrrrrrrrip!

I went back to the original colorway (which had fitted itself together as neatly as you please) …


… and lifted half of it. You can always do something with green and purple, I believe. I upended my progression to keep the greens on the lighter background (Woodsmoke). And as a final touch, I restricted the red to the peerie bands and related the purple half to the green half by lifting Sap to divide the purples, Thistle to divide the greens. And then it worked. Oh, it’s not very traditional, and you could argue that Sap really is a bit jarring and ought to be darker to pair well with Birdbook, but it makes me smile.


I’m still not giving up on the dream of a colorway featuring Birdbook and Homemade Jam. Tent-Birdbook-Homemade Jam-Camper might be the way to go, maybe on Fossil and Postcard with Blanket Fort accents?  Here’s the Loft color range so you can see what I mean. What progressions would you try?


Almost two years ago, I designed a little woolen jumper for my niece, Lucy, in Brooklyn Tweed Loft. Ada obligingly modeled Winter Garden back in January of 2012. (It doesn’t sound all that long ago, given that this is only 2013, but oh my heart, look how little she was!)


(This expression has endured, I’m happy to say. 100% Ada Lillian right there.)


Close-ups of the Fluted Rib bodice and the colorwork:



I had every intention of getting the pattern done soon after these photos were taken. But the sizing and, oh yes, the growing baby on board scuppered that plan. I’m happy to say I’ve finally righted the ship and Winter Garden is now ready for testing in sizes 12-18 months, 2/3, 4/5, and 6/7. I’ve altered the fit a little so it’s more of a bell skirt than a bubble, and it’s a longer length in the upper sizes. If you’re game for a project at 8 7 sts/” with some techniques that are probably new to you, leave a comment and I’ll be in touch! UPDATE: I’ve got folks willing to be formal testers for all sizes now. Thanks, everyone!




There’s nothing like finishing a wool sweater at the height of summer, is there? Lucky me: I laid mine out to block and woke in the morning to the idle patter of summer rain. (Well, that sounds more pleasant than the reality, which was that I’d already woken twice to Jolly’s wails for milk and company in the dark, so the raindrops found us dozing together and more than a little bleary.) The Pacific Northwest doesn’t do summer showers, those sudden drenches that briefly break the soupy heat in many landscapes. This light dampening was, I heard one San Juan local saying in the coffee shop, the first rain in 47 days. It certainly ended the spell of clear sunshine and stage-whisper breezes we’d enjoyed during our visit. But as much as I love the summers here, nothing beats a misty morning with the hills still swathed in cloud and the roadside wildflowers greedily sucking the dew.


Verge environments. Who’s really looking at the profusion of Queen Anne’s lace, chickory, and hardhack toughing it out along the fencelines when the view across the valley offers the Olympic range over the straits to the south, Mt. Baker lording it in the east, Mt. Dallas hulking on the western horizon and framing the Sundstroms’ doughty oak with the gnarled leafless arm quirking skyward? On wet days the sky closes in to sequester those vistas. The saturated colors near at hand leap against the gradient of green and tan: mauve, rust, cornflower blue, shocking yellow. I knew just where I wanted to photograph my new pullover.

This is Moroccan Nights, and she’s all about verges. Her simple, current lines are a canvas for architectural shifts in texture.


The designer who calls herself Rililie artfully places fields of different stitches and delineates the transitions between them in ways that hook and trick the eye to flatter the figure. Slanting welts emphasize and narrow the waist even while the A-line conceals it. Playful cables draw the eye upward, combining with the boat neck and reverse-stockinet shoulders to balance what would otherwise be a bottom-heavy shape. This design does everything right to make the trend for wide bodies and narrow sleeves wearable by those of us who usually try to trade on our curves. I think Amy Herzog would have to admit it’s a trompe l’oeil masterpiece, even if it’s theoretically quite wrong for my body type.

The yarn is Imperial Stock Ranch Tracie, which comes in just the lavender I’d been imagining, a color they call “tufted primrose.” (This shade doesn’t seem to be available on their website and I hope they haven’t discontinued it; I got mine at Twisted in Portland, but their web shop is down today… I’ll check back later to see if I can add the link.) I like it a lot. It’s very softly spun and my skeins had a number of knots where one ply had broken; this is inevitable in a woolen-spun yarn of Tracie’s character and no big deal. I just sucked and rubbed the afflicted areas to lock down the ends without removing the knot. The fabric is airy and soft but cohesive; the sweater is cozy but practically weightless. Brooklyn Tweed Loft has similar qualities and would be a very handsome choice, too.


Happy, if not yet night-weaned or caffeinated, knitter. Someone’s going to wonder about my funky pants, so I’ll just tell you: Rebe. They aren’t cheap, but I mean that in the quality way as well as the pocketbook way. They’re handmade by a woman who went out and found just the right linen blend when I said I wanted a light neutral rather than the black she had in stock, and I’ve been living in them all summer. I can’t wait to get them out again next summer, and this one’s not even over. You can’t really see in these photos, but they have the most marvelously capacious pocket on the off side. Roald Dahl could have written an adventure story to take place inside this pocket. My kids love it. Sometimes I find little unexpected treasures in there.

And don’t you love the soaring sense of possibility that comes with finishing a big project? What to cast on next? Boardwalk for fall? Imagine When for mostly mindless fun and stashbusting? Raiun, because summer’s not over yet? Actually I need discipline not to start them all. I am a few licks of ribbing from finishing Jolyon’s short-sleeved Pomander, and I’m not sure I’ve even told you about the mini-Boreal I’m knitting for Ada to wear as she heads off to her Big-Girl Preschool next month…