Elizabeth Street

This + That | No. 10

Creative InspirationLiz Tubman1 Comment

This + That is a regular feature collecting making - related bits and pieces from around the web for your browsing pleasure.

This week's This + That feature is all about brioche - I'm completely in love with both these shawl designs that feature this stitch.  Have you ever tried brioche?  It's a stitch technique where you knit the row twice before turning your work, creating a thickly textured, double sided fabric that has a similar feel to fisherman's rib.  It's luxurious and warm especially when it's knit up in a yarn like a merino wool. 

This shawl from Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits: Rose Gold, now available on Ravelry

That crescent shawl design from Mara Licole of Mara Licole Knit Studio, coming soon!  

I'm dreaming of casting both of these designs on someday, and if you're into brioche patterns, be sure to check out the rest of Andrea's designs - many of them feature brioche, even if it's a new technique for you! 

Queue Check: February 2017

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The few weeks of February just flew by, didn't they?  My knitting queue has only grown to be honest, with only one project being finished from last month.  The finished project was my Hygge Hat & Mitts (and I'm really proud of how the pattern turned out) which can now be purchased on Ravelry!  Here's what was happening on my needles in February:

1. River Light Tee swatch in Quince & Co. Tern: this was an interesting swatch; normally I don't knit swatches this large but the Irish moss stitch really pulls on the bias while you're knitting and Marie suggested a large swatch to see how the stitch blocked out.  I'm really glad I did - the difference between the blocked vs. unblocked swatch was crazy!  I'm planning to down a needle size for the sweater but other than that I'm loving the way it's looking after a good soak.

2. New design!  I'm super excited about this guy; I'm in love with the texture and reversible stitch pattern I've got going on.  It's knit in Brooklyn Tweed Quarry and I'm debating working up a worsted weight swatch to see what that looks like as well.  More details to come!!

3. Find Your Fade shawl: Cannot. stop. knitting. this.  I thought a fingering weight shawl would be so fiddly and slow but seriously, I can't put this down!  There's just enough variety with the alternating sections and I'm so excited to see how the next color looks that I just want to keep going!

What's on your needles this month? I'd love to hear!

New Pattern: Hygge Hat & Mitts

MakingLiz TubmanComment

I'm thrilled to announce the release of my newest pattern, the Hygge Hat & Mitt Set!  

I don't know about you, but right around this time every year, I get really tired of winter.  Last year, I came across the term hygge,  pronounced (hoo-ga), in an article about how Danes have a different mindset about their long cold winters in the Northern hemisphere.  This Danish word (with no direct English translation) evokes a sense of coziness, comfort, friendship, and the enjoyment of simple moments. It’s a celebration of the little traditions that see them through the dark winter months, like lighting candles or gathering around the fire with a hot drink and good friends.  For me, hygge is knitting. Curling up with yarn and needles by the fire is the epitome of coziness and comfort in the middle of winter.  As soon as I discovered this new word, I knew I had to design something around it for the long Midwestern winters that celebrated the idea of knitting as hygge.

The Hygge Hat and Mitts are designed to be total comfort knits, both in the making and the wearing.  They're knit up with just 2-3 skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Arbor (shown in Tincture), a beautifully springy DK weight yarn.  Both the hat and mitts feature a simple cable pattern that’s easy to memorize and perfect to try if you're new to cables.  The cable texture creates a warm fabric to keep your hands and head cozy all winter long.

I've been wearing my own Hygge hat & mitts all week in the snow, freezing rain, and cold we've had here in Wisconsin.  I think you'll love this pattern at least as much as I do!   After you cast on, tag your knitting with #hyggehatandmitts and #elizabethstreetknits so we can all see your beautiful work!  Happy knitting!   

Get your own copy of Hygge Hat & Mitts on Ravelry!

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This + That | No. 9

MakingLiz TubmanComment
This + That is a regular feature collecting making - related bits and pieces from around the web for your browsing pleasure. 

I have a new installment of This + That for you today!  I've become slightly obssessed with Erica Smith's design style (minimal, intentional, and forever classic), and she just released a new pattern, Apogee.  It's pretty much the most beautiful basic pullover I've yet laid eyes on.  This got me thinking about some other pullover patterns that I really love, and it became this  basic vs. cabled pullovers game.  So here they are - what do you prefer?  Cables? or simple stockinette?  Or, as in my perfect world, one of each?

These basic patterns (left to right): Apogee by Erica Smith & Beckett by Marie Greene

Those cabled patterns (left to right) : Stonecutter by Michele Wang & Adamantine by Erica Smith

Which would you knit? (or knit first, anyway?)

The Price of Design

Creative InspirationLiz Tubman3 Comments

I'm currently knee-deep in testing and prepping my second self-published knitting pattern, and through this process I've hit a stumbling block: the high price of designing knitting patterns.  I'm wondering if any other knitters or self-published designers have felt this same frustration at times.  You see this beautiful new pattern (or have killer idea for a new design) and immediately know you have to cast on...until you add up the price of the skeins of yarn being called for.  You cringe at the total, knowing there's no way you can afford to spend that amount of money on something that's not an absolute necessity.  You might be able to go stash-diving, but what if what you have on hand doesn't fit the pattern requirements?  How do you move forward on a project without sacrificing the quality or integrity of the design?

I knew as soon as I started designing that I never wanted to design something that:

1. I wouldn't want to wear myself and

2. that I couldn't afford to knit myself.

This has become a much bigger challenge than I thought.  I never want to sacrifice yarno quality but I also want whatever I design to be approachable for knitters of any income level.  On the other hand, I love being able to support small businesses and domestic yarn companies working hard to keep the fiber industry alive.  It feels like a bit of a tightrope walk trying to balance all of these elements with a single design.  I face the frustration of not being able to bring a vision in my head into reality the way I want, since the price of high quality yarn and supplies are sometimes prohibitively high for me.

I should also say that I'm a very new designer and all of my design work so far is completely self-funded purely as a small side business.  I imagine that a full-time designer works very differently and perhaps doesn't face these challenges in particular.  And I will admit that I have probably only scratched the surface of possible yarn and supply sources and maybe my taste just tends toward the more expensive side. 

All these thoughts have been floating around my head as I've been laying out design plans for the rest of 2017.  While I acknowledge these challenges, I also have to acknowledge the fact that I'm so grateful to be able to fund any kind of hobby period.  I'm also happy to have found a couple of go-to companies that produce an extremely high-quality product for a very reasonable price that (in my opinion) is worth every penny: Quince & Co and Brooklyn Tweed.  These are my go-to sources for yarn at the moment but I'd love to be able to expand that, especially to include some indie dyers and small(er) yarn companies. 

Have you ever experienced this frustration?  I'd love to hear your thoughts or suggestions for yarn + supplies!  

Queue Check: January 2017

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February is already here, but I want to recap my January knitting / making queue.  Time goes by faster every day, and I want to refocus my mind and energy with these queue check posts this year!  It feels so good to finish projects, but as soon as I finish one, I always find myself starting at least three more.

1. First Watch Cardigan:  I'm just past the sleeve divide!  This is going to be ridiculously cozy to wear in this long WI winter, I can't wait to put it on!

2. Design #2: I'm so close to being ready for testers; I had to rip this hat out completely and start over, but I know it'll be worth it!

3. Cardamom Coffee Hat: I've had this sitting around all month, just waiting for a few moments to cast on; I think the hardest part was choosing colors!

What's on your needles?  As much as winter can seem long and dark, I really do love this season of wearing and making all these warm hand knits and cozying up in the evenings with my yarn.  Cheers to another month full of knitting to keep us warm!

Knit: Ondawa Sweater

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This sweater was my last finish of 2016, and my favorite hand knit item I've ever made to date.  It took me almost the whole year to finish this project, but not because it was particularly hard.  This sweater is really just two rectangles and two sleeves all seamed together, it just took me lots of time with all the cables and twisted ribbing.  It also got set aside in favor of other projects a couple times.  All that time was more than worth it, though, I've lost track of how many times I've worn my Ondawa since I finished it.  At least two or three times a week! 

The design is just beautiful, the cables and ribbing complement each other and the bracelet length sleeves and slightly cropped body make it a perfect piece for layering.  I decided to use the recommended yarn, BT Shelter in Fauna and it's perfect.  I love the color in person and I can tell it's going to be a work-horse sweater.  Spending the extra money on BT yarn was completely worth it in my opinion.  

I feel like this sweater has become a sort of embodiment of the past year for me personally; 2016 was a year of real ups and downs and there were times I just didn't feel like doing my usual routine - I felt like hiding away from the world somewhere - but I didn't.  I kept plugging away and showing up.  It wasn't always fun but I'm glad I did.  The same happened with this sweater - it got long, and I didn't always enjoy the knitting, but I knew the finished product would be beautiful so I kept showing up.  And then suddenly, it was done  - and I had something incredibly beautiful made by my own two hands.  That's what life kind of feels like too; it was a hard year but I feel like I've turned a metaphorical corner and suddenly realized what a beautiful life I actually have.  Thanks, knitting for teaching me a life lesson while sitting on my couch, haha!


Pattern: Ondawa by Michele Wang

Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Fauna

Size: 51 3/4"

Mods: knit about 2" extra on the body pieces and bound off the sleeves in pattern with a normal bind off rather than the recommended bind off method (this was to avoid decreasing stitches to make sure they didn't fit too tightly) 

Make Do & Mend: Darning Knits

Wardrobe BuildingLiz TubmanComment

Writing about mending holes in a sweater feels wonderfully counter-intuitive to this busy holiday season of shopping.  Don't get me wrong, I love the Christmas season and gifting for my family and friends, but there was something so satisfying about doing this mending instead of buying something new between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  

Two of my Dad's sweaters had massive holes in the right elbow, so I offered to see if I could fix them up for him.  Both sweaters originally belonged to my grandpa, one was hand knit by my grandma and the other was (I'm pretty sure) bought on a trip to Ireland (and it also looks hand knit).  Two beautiful sweaters that had seen a lot of life, but just needed a bit of TLC to keep them going.  I gave both a long soak with some wool soap before starting any mending.  

I saw this post about darning (the fancy word for fixing holes in knits) from Louisa of Worn Values a few months ago and I definitely used it as a guide for this darning project.  Her instructions are really clear with lots of photos to follow.  Since the holes were pretty large with the original fabric completely missing, I did a weave darn to recreate the missing fabric.  It worked like a charm - and it's almost invisible on the darker sweater.  I bought some suede patches from Joann's to sew over the top, but didn't even feel like I needed to use them.

Above is the before & after of the sweater knit by my grandma, and the one below is the before & after of the Irish sweater:

I will definitely do this again whenever my own sweaters (or socks!) start wearing out.  I also highly recommend bookmarking Worn Values and reading through it for some great thoughts and posts on slow fashion! 

Knit: Authenticity Shawl

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I've had this beautiful local wool sitting with me since the summer, and a couple weeks ago I picked up another couple of hand dyed skeins at my local farmer's market.  (Read about this beautiful farm to skein yarn in my Swatch Stories post!)  I wanted to knit them up together, and after scouring Ravelry for something just right I came across the Authenticity Shawl.  I cast on, and I knew right away it was the perfect yarn/pattern match.  The lace in this pattern is just so gorgeous in a larger gauge - it was so addicting to knit.  I had to keep doing one more row just to see how it would look.  It also shows off the texture of the yarn perfectly - I wanted a pattern that would let the yarn "breathe" and just kind of do its thing, and it worked perfectly.  I also like the way the garter section gives a nice contrast to the complicated-looking lace.  I stayed up too late one weeknight just to finish binding off and blocking my shawl - I couldn't wait to see what a good soak would do with the yarn.  Magic, every time.  The lace opened up and the whole thing relaxed into a wonderfully cozy shawl.  I'll be wearing this one all winter long; my one future goal is to someday wear my Wisconsin-raised Shetland wool shawl IN Shetland. 

Pattern: Authenticity Shawl by Sylvia McFadden

Yarn: 100% Shetland wool from Wheely Wooly Farm

Size: wingspan (after blocking) - 65 in; depth - 30 in. 

Mods: I just did as many chart repeats of the lace section and garter section as I could to use up all the yarn I had; it was about 4 of the lace section (the pattern suggested 5) and a couple rows shorter of garter stitch than called for.  My shawl is still a generous, easy to wear size after a good blocking.  Since I switched colors at the beginning of the garter section, I started with a knit row rather than a purl row for a smoother color change.  That meant I was purling the whole garter section rather than knitting it, but I didn't mind.  

Swatch Stories: Wheely Wooly Farm Shetland Wool

Creative InspirationLiz TubmanComment

Happy November!  I've been thinking about the idea for this new column I'm introducing to you today for months.  It seems especially appropriate coming on the heels of #slowfashionoctober with discussions about known-origin clothing, fabric, and yarn.  Ever since I discovered yarn like Brooklyn Tweed and Quince and Co, both proudly producing US-sourced yarns, I wanted more.  I fell in love with this new world of beautiful, high quality yarn I was slowly discovering thanks to blogs and podcasts like Woolful and the Fringe Association.  As I starting thinking about designing, I knew finding and supporting small batch US farmers, dyers, and spinners was something really important to me.  As a maker myself, I want to support other makers who put all of their love and effort into creating the materials I pour my heart into as well.  Out of all these thoughts came this idea to feature a different small batch, locally sourced yarn every month.  I wanted to explore, research, and swatch these yarns to build up my own knowledge as a knitter and designer, but also to simply share and promote these people and their work!  

I'm beyond excited to start this new column with a yarn that's raised, sheared, spun, and dyed right here in my home state of Wisconsin, 30-ish miles from my home: Wheely Wooly Farm's Shetland wool.

Where does the yarn come from?

This yarn comes directly from Wheely Wooly Farm near Omro in east central Wisconsin.  I came across it at my local farmer's market this summer for the first time and was delighted to take a couple skeins home with me.  I got to chat a little with one of the owners of the farm and her daughter, who were just delightful and so friendly and excited to share their yarn.  Each skein is labeled with the name of the sheep the yarn came from (my skeins came from Misty and Honey!) - this is about as known-origin as you can get.  Wheely Wooly Farm cleans and spins the wool as well as dyes some of the skeins.  These folks do it all! 

What does the yarn feel and look like?

Wheely Wooly Farm raises purebred Shetland sheep (along with other animals), so the yarn is beautifully strong, yet still soft.  I really loved knitting up the natural, un-dyed wool from Honey.  It's a light to medium worsted weight that's easy to work it.  The yarn is definitely more "rustic" than other larger, commercial wool companies; you'll definitely find a few bits of grass and things here and there, but that just means it came from a happy sheep.  The color has a beautiful naturally variegated quality to it, with subtle shifts from ivory to tan to an almost brownish shade.  The hand-dyed skeins are lovely, too with a bit heavier weight, more like an aran yarn.  

What kind of pattern or stitch would work best with this yarn? 

This yarn is so beautiful on its own, and I really wanted to find a pattern that would let it "breathe" and let the rustic, hand-spun nature shine through.  I ended up knitting a shawl pattern that features loose gauge lace  and a garter stitch border and it's absolutely perfect.  The Honey is gorgeous and holds the lace pattern so well while showing off the natural color variations.  The hand-dyed wool from Misty is a really fun punch of color that's featured in the simple garter border.  

Yarn company: Wheely Wooly Farm

Fiber content: 100% Shetland wool

Swatch info: size US 6; 2in = 9 sts and 12 rows in stockinette stitch (after blocking)

Visit Wheely Wooly Farm's blog to read more about their farm and flock or to email about ordering some yarn for yourself!  The Appleton farmer's market (where I purchased my skeins) has moved inside for the season, but you can contact the farm about any inventory they might have left!