The Better Sweater Series #3 Body, Swatch, and Sweater Measurement

Episode #3 in this series focuses on issues of measurement for bodies, swatches, and sweaters! We’ll chat about how to measure your body, what swatches can tell us, and how to read the knitting of a sweater for clues about construction. Please leave questions, comments, and suggestions here or in the Ravelry thread for the Re-Make-Along! Thanks all!


Show Notes

You can find me:
On Ravelry as knittingthestash
and via email at

Ravelry group:

The Great Idea: We all have a sweater (or four) that we picked up from a big box store, a thrift shop, or our granny’s basement . . . we love something about it, but there is also something left to be desired: it doesn’t totally fit us, it’s falling apart, or it’s made from some strange acrylic brew. So, let’s Re-Make these gems into something we love!

The Project: Choose a sweater and post a picture in our Ravelry group. I’ve opened up a thread for you to get things started. There, we’ll discuss what we like, what we hate, and HOW we’re going to make the big change in 2018!

The Process: Beginning in January and then each month of 2018, I’ll post a video about how to Re-Make a sweater. I’ll use one from my own shelves and, hopefully, by the end of the process I’ll have created a step-by-step how to via YouTube. I’ll be taking comments and suggestions, ideas, and questions! We’ll make this happen together! This is the first video in the series.

What about You? You can follow along, work at your own pace, offer suggestions and/or post sister videos about your own process! We’ll have a blast learning from each other. And in the end, we’ll all have a better sweater!

**Anyone can join in at any point in 2018. We’ll surely have some prizes along the way for progress and I’ll do a giveaway at the end of next year for anyone who has finished a garment 🙂

Won’t you join us?

❤ xxoo


Posted in Better Sweater, episode, gauge, inspiration, instruction, knitting podcast, podcast, seamed sweater, swatch, sweater, sweater math, techniques, tricks and tips, video | Leave a comment

Episode 33: Keep Calm & Carry Yarn

Episode 33 features a cameo by Spencer! I discuss the calming effects of knitting in public; my Laitis sweater is finished; and there is a crochet dog bone to boot! Plus, a project bag review and giveaway from Bags by Awesome Grannie–not to be missed! In the mail: two Knit Together Project squares

To enter the GIVEAWAY for the Bags by Awesome Grannie, tell me what you would put in the bag?? You can leave a comment HERE, on the YouTube video for this episode, or in the Bags by Awesome Grannie Giveaway Ravelry thread.


Show Notes

Ravelry group:

Knit Together Project Info:
Lots of maker communities collaborate or play “tag” with fun objects, ideas, materials, or FOs. Right now, for example, there is an ice pick making the rounds with YouTubers . . . each person who receives the ice pick makes a video about using the object. I thought that we fiber-fellows could make up a collective project of our own. Won’t you join us?


Posted in Better Sweater, community, episode, fleece, knitting, knitting podcast, Laitis Sweater, LB Handknits, Seven Sisters Farm, shearing, sweater, top-down, video | 7 Comments

What are your superheroine names?

Hello good people of the fiber and yarn world! This weekend I have a special treat: a follow-up interview with Adache and Marce–the Dyenamixx Yarn duo mom and daughter team. You asked . . . and they answered! They even told us their superheroine names!! I tried to pick a sampling of questions that were representative of the giveaway thread . . . and you may even see your question (and your Ravelry handle) listed below! It’s always so fun to learn more about our indie dyer friends out there! I hope everyone finds a good place to cuddle up this weekend and watch for signs of spring!

Whenever it’s a team effort, I like to know how they go about tasks. Does one mainly dye while the other does the admin? Do both dye separately or do they come up with colors together? Curious minds would like to know. 🙂  —rocassie

[Adachi] Our main tasks are coming up with colors, dyeing, marketing and social media, and packaging and postage. I think we are good at collaborating on colors together and when we’re doing acid dyes, we do many of the tasks together. Mommy has a deep interest in natural dyeing so she often plays in the pots with plant dyes on her own (I do have to do my homeschool assignments sometime hahaha). For the “business/admin” items, we trade off based on who has the most time. When Mommy travels for work, I handle it, and when she’s home, she does it or we share the load. She’s the IG heavy user though, so much of our marketing there is done by her. Much of our Etsy shop work is done by me.

I love plant based dyed yarn. I would love to know how you chose the plants. I love flowers but also have seen beautiful colors from other plants. Also do you pick/grow the plants you use? Is there a lot of prep to the plant before dyeing?         —RealYankee

[Marce] We do too! We choose plants that are already available to us based on what we eat often, and what’s found easily in our yard here in South Florida. We have successfully used avocados, pomegranates, onion skins, elderberries from our fridge and pantry and we’ve used pine cones and  needles, and croton plants from our yard.  Soon we will dye with some dried goldenrod sent to us by a friend.  These are all plants that work well whether or not heat is applied to the plant material before you soak the yarn.  We find this easy because we can set up the yarn to soak and leave it for hours or overnight.  This is a lower stress approach that we love, and it’s effective. For the perishable/food items, we tend to freeze peels and seeds (with some of them chopped up into small pieces before freezing) until we accumulate close to 100g or more, which is a good amount for dyeing 100g of yarn (or more). As for the plants, we mainly break them up into a pot with the water and mordant (alum sulfate or soda ash or vinegar, or a combination).

Does mordanting make all plant-based natural dyes equal or are there some plants that are best avoided (in terms of light/colour fastness) —suzizoo

[Adachi & Marce] So far this has been mostly trial and error for us, and we have not tried ALL plant-based natural dyes.  In fact, we’ve noticed that the most effective mordant is actually citric acid. We use organic, food grade mordants including alum sulfate, soda ash and white vinegar — all with mixed results in terms of color depth, and color fastness.  This is an area where we are doing more measuring, research, and comparison so that we can find the right plant-to-mordant combinations. The research is a lot of fun.

Do they knit colors they like/want for themselves or is it trying to make/guess what others may like? —vshaw7

[Adachi] When dyeing we make the colors that we like most often; when we research on Etsy and consider what people have liked in the past, we incorporate that inspiration in at least a few skeins per update. What we like tends to be the primary though. We can’t help it — it’s what makes us gasp and grin when the dye takes hold 🙂 We love that others love these colors too.

Do they dye first and then name the colorway or name it and then try to match their vision for the color? —pinsandneedles

[Adachi &Marce] Dye first, name next. A couple of times though we have used photos as inspiration and challenge ourselves to match the strongest elements in those photos. Our Maker Muse series is an example of this. The fun part of natural dyeing is that often the dominant color of a plant is NOT the color that it gives when dyeing yarn. For example, dark black avocado skins make a lovely pink yarn, and bright red pomegranate peels make a sunshiny yellow 🙂

What are their superheroine names? If they created a two-skein bundle, one representing each of them, what color(way)s would they be? –KittenWhiplash

[Adachi & Marce] We love this question!! We pick WakandaForever Hahahaha

Our superheroine names would be The Baconator and NeedleNinja

Our two-skein bundle colorways would be an amethyst purple for Adachi alongside a wine-red maroon for Marce.

I would ask what really is the safest way to dye fiber. Some say natural dyes need mordants that are toxic. Some say chemical dyes are toxic. So…..what’s the scoop on dyes? What really is the safest dyes to use?  -Cdambrow 

[Adachi & Marce] Based on our reading, when using powdered dyes (of any kind), the greatest safety measure is to keep your dyes, dyeing equipment and yarns separate from your kitchen items.  Also, for preventing inhalation, wear your mask and even goggles if your eyes tend to be sensitive.  Gloves are key for protecting your skin from dye pigments and from hot water and non-natural mordants.  For our natural dyeing, we still use separate equipment, but we have not found a need to use masks as we use whole plant materials for now (not powders) and all of our mordants are organic food grade materials.  Our best advice is to do what we do – read read read and ask questions of those who dye the way you’re looking to dye so that you can gain from that data and experience.

* * *

Thanks so much, Marce and Adachi!

I love meeting new people (and sheep!): if you are an indie dyer, a hand spinner, a shepherdess, a small flock owner, a mill operator, or a wool trader, I would love to feature your work on this site. Please get in touch via email or Ravelry by clicking the “About” tab (above)

Posted in community, dyeing, Dyenamixx Yarn, family, indie dyer, interview, natural dye, unicorns | 1 Comment

Camouflage Knitting

Just checking in folks . . . have you all seen the Guardian article on camouflage knitting? You can check out the full article here–complete with great photos!

But you may also want to visit the awesome website of the knitter in question, Nina Dodd, who is also known as the Duke of Woolington. Yes. For actual real. I ❤ her already.

What’s so cool about this? Oh my, the hours and hours of knitting and planning to create a single effect? The strangeness of the commissioned projects? The question of what will Nina knit next? Sometimes, I think we knitters can get caught up in garments or techniques or community building . . . but there is also this: FUN and WEIRD and STRANGE all wrapped up in knitted fabric. Lovely.

I so badly want to share some of the images . . . but I’ll leave it to you to take the leap and have some fun checking out Nina’s work and Joseph Ford’s excellent photographs of the knitted objects, people, and landscape 🙂

How do you find the cool knitters of the world?

Posted in community, found, illusion knitting, Knit in public, knitting, unexpected, unicorns | 6 Comments

Episode 32: What’s with the Weird FO?!

Episode 32  is packed with maker madness! My new book is out!!! And there is a Targhee spin to discuss! Plus, two, yes, two sweaters!  In the mail: Shakleton Yarn from Fiber Trek, a Knit Together Project square; and some indie Irish dyers. Plus, two giveaways!!Episode 32  is packed with maker madness! My new book is out!!! And there is a Targhee spin to discuss! Plus, two, yes, two sweaters!  In the mail: Shakleton Yarn from Fiber Trek, a Knit Together Project square; and some indie Irish dyers. Plus, two giveaways!!

To enter the GIVEAWAY for the free coupon pattern codes from Kephren Knitting Studio, leave a comment HERE, on the YouTube video for this episode, or in the Kephren Knitting Studio Giveaway Ravelry thread: which of Kephren’s designs would you want to knit? Check out her site here:



Posted in book review, books, community, episode, fiber, FiberTrek, FO, giveaway, handspun, homespun, Instrumental Intimacy, Kephren Knitting Studio, knitting, knitting podcast, Laitis Hat, Laitis Sweater, LB Hand Knits, LB Handknits, spinning, Targhee, test-knit, unexpected, video, WIP | Leave a comment

Designer Dialogues: Kephren Pritchett

I have a real treat for you today! While looking up a knitting technique recently, I stumbled upon Kephren Pritchett’s website: Kephren Knitting Studio and, well, stayed a while. I loved what I was seeing: beautiful patterns, excellent tutorials, and tech editing savvy. Kephren does it all and does it well. And, as it turns out, she has a pattern (the Diamond Lattice Pullover) in one of the most recent KnitPicks cable collections that I absolutely love. It was simple serendipity! So, I wrote a fan letter to this lovely lady and she agreed to an interview and a GIVEAWAY! Yep, that’s right, you can win a pattern for one of Kephren’s original designs! I have THREE to giveaway here 🙂 ❤

To enter the giveaway, click the link above, check out her patterns, and tell us which pattern would you choose and why? You can post a comment HERE or in the Ravelry THREAD for this giveaway! The giveaway will be open until Feb 24th Feb 26th!

And read on for some fun insight from Kephren who is a designer AND a technical editor for patterns. She is one of the folks who keeps the knitting world running smoothly and I’m guessing many of us can tell the difference between a tech edited pattern and one that hasn’t been truly tested in this respect. I do think it can make all the difference!


Your path to design–and tech editing–sounds like it began by working with customers and patterns at a knitting store. How did you make the leap to designing your own patterns for shawls, sweaters, and accessories? Were you at all nervous about the shift? Did you keep your day job or just go all in?

I was already designing my own shawls and sweaters when I started working at the yarn shop, in fact, I think it was the reason I was hired. I had only been knitting for about a year or two, but I was self-taught from reading books by Elizabeth Zimmermann and Barbara Walker. Their experimental, design-it-yourself attitude was the way I approached knitting. Imagining a design and figuring out how to create it was part of the fun for me. I liked to read other designers’ patterns, and I got to read a lot of patterns when I was helping customers with knitting questions and problems, but I didn’t really knit from them. Although I took notes, I didn’t write patterns, and even though I loved designing I wasn’t yet interested in pattern writing.

After I left the yarn shop I moved from Wisconsin to Louisiana, and I was able to spend about a year studying knit design, pattern writing, and tech editing before I published my first pattern, the Madeline Shawl. I found that it was easier for me to write the pattern first, then knit the sample, so I changed my whole design process. I also developed a style sheet and pattern templates so my patterns would be consistent. For the first few years I was able to focus on just designing and tech editing, but I do have a day job now, and I’m back in Wisconsin.

Your designs have a delightfully vintage feel to them. Where do you find inspiration for the shawls and sweaters you’ve designed?

That’s an interesting observation! I wouldn’t say that I try for a vintage look, but I’ve always been interested in fashion history, so I’m sure there is some historical influence in my designs. For the first several years that I was knitting I was fascinated by historical knitting traditions, like Fair Isle and Fisher Ganseys. The Keeley Gansey is my interpretation of the traditional Gansey sweater. These sweaters were traditionally made for men, but I thought that some of the elements could be adapted to make a very feminine silhouette, and I think it worked! That sweater was designed in response to a call for submissions from Interweave Knits magazine, and most of my published sweaters have been designed that way, but my shawl designs are a bit more abstract; inspired by nature or my environment. I designed the Red River Wrap when I was living in Louisiana, near the Red River, and the lace patterns in that shawl were chosen to represent the river and the cities on either side of it.

Do you have other favorite designers or mentors that have helped you (literally or figuratively) along the way?

I already mentioned Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker, but two of my favorite current designers are Ysolda Teague and Isabell Kraemer. I don’t have a mentor exactly, but Stephannie Tallent and I have been trading tech editing for a few years, so I am very familiar with her work and I’ve learned a lot from her. Tabitha Dukes is another designer/tech editor that has helped me along the way. I belong to a fiber photography group that she moderates, and she always seems to be there with advice and encouragement when I need it.

As a technical editor, you also help other designers. What is your favorite part of the technical editing process? 

As well as looking for technical errors, I try to look at patterns from a knitter’s perspective and foresee possible problems or areas that could be confusing. It makes me really happy when a designer says my suggestions were helpful, or that I pointed out something they didn’t think of. I also love seeing new designs pop up on Instagram and Ravelry and thinking, “I helped make that happen”.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin designing?

I think it’s important to understand that designing and pattern writing are two different things. You can have a lot of fun designing your own patterns, custom made just for you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can write a pattern in ten sizes that other knitters will be able to follow. Just as designing takes time and practice, so does pattern writing. I also think it’s worth writing the pattern, or at least the basic outline, first. Thinking through to the end of the design before you start knitting allows you to make design decisions that will make the pattern easier to follow. Sometimes I get impatient and want to cast on before the I’ve worked out all the design details, but I know that having a clear idea of the design before I begin makes the knitting and writing easier.

What’s new on the horizon for you? 

I have a few patterns in upcoming Interweave magazines, and I’m planning a collection of shawls inspired by the night sky. I started studying photography a few years ago, and I’m really happy with how much I’ve improved, so I would like to do a lot more pattern photography, and maybe even update some of my old pattern photos. I’m also planning to do some night sky photography to accompany my new shawl collection.

Where can folks follow your work and find out more?

I’m @kephrenknitting all over the internet, and my website is You’ll find my patterns for sale on Ravelry and Love Knitting

* * *

Thanks so much, Kephren!

I love meeting new people (and sheep!): if you are an indie dyer, a hand spinner, a shepherdess, a small flock owner, a mill operator, or a wool trader, I would love to feature your work on this site. Please get in touch via email or Ravelry by clicking the “About” tab (above)


Posted in blogspot, community, design, designer, found, giveaway, interview, knitting, pattern, tech editing, technique | 5 Comments

“Nettles for Textiles” w/ Allan Brown

Brilliant video about the process of making fiber from nettles. The methods are simple and really, just take time. This film tracks the process from plant to finished fiber. Enjoy!

<p><a href=”″>NETTLES FOR TEXTILES</a> from <a href=”″>Allan Brown</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The video was shot and edited by Dylan Howitt

Posted in community, found, handspun, nettle fiber, plant fiber, spinning, unexpected | 4 Comments