I’ve had a great time getting acquainted with my wheel and have been rocking the handspun many a late-summer night. I figured this Friday Fiber Flash would focus on the handspun yarns that seem to be accruing in every vacant nook and cranny in sight. Click the images for more details.

Burning Bush

Pulse 2-Ply

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Babs <span class=

My First <span class=
Have a wonderful weekend!

Walking around Brooklyn the last few days, I’ve noticed the slightest change in the air. Autumn is beckoning and this knitter can’t think of any better reward for making it through another hot summer. My inaugural Fall project is draped over my lap as I type and I find myself ready for cooler winds, wooly knits and fresh transitions.

Hemolock Ring Blanket

Pattern: Hemlock Ring Blanket*
Source: My modification of the Hemlock Ring (link no longer works, see note below) vintage doily (1942), with added chart repeats and heavy weight yarn. [See full post below for details]
Materials: Cascade Ecological Wool in “Latte” (8063)
Needles: US 10/6.0mm 40″ Circulars; KnitPicks Options
Amount: Approximately 311g/11oz; About 600 yards (less than 2 skeins)
Finished Measurements: Just shy of 4 feet in diameter
*Ravelry users, queue it up here.

Start Date: 27 July 2007
Finish Date: 9 August 2007

Hemolock Ring Blanket

This project was born from my love of working heavyweight lace and my desire to spruce up my new place. And probably also from a sale on Cascade EcoWool which, in my eyes is the lord of Yardageland and the true definition of a wooly workhorse.

Hemolock Ring Blanket

I searched high and low for a lace pattern that would both size out right and have a repeatable chart that I could work ad nauseum until I felt like binding off. I love how Feather-and-Fan Stitch looks and had that in the back of my mind too while searching around. I found a lot of great circular shawl patterns but most were already huge when worked in lace. Knitting one of those in a heavy worsted yarn would result in a room-sized blanket which, as intriguing as that sounds, wasn’t what I was going for.

Hemolock Ring Blanket

I was pretty set on Meg Swansen’s “Feather and Fan Shawl” from A Gathering of Lace. This shawl, however, epitomizes the idea of giant lace, so for my own sanity I ruled out modifying it. Doilies, though, are a great place to look for hidden gems and perfect for working up a bit bulkier than directed. So when I came across this vintage doily pattern from The Canadian Spool Cotton Company (1942) I felt like I hit the jackpot: a repeatable 5-row lace chart, a whole lot of feather-and-fanning, a perfect size for tweaking and some great vintage accents to play around with (oversized wool floral motif anyone?) – perfection.

Hemolock Ring Blanket

I was shooting for a lap blanket, something not too large that I can use to warm up while knitting or watching movies (or both, they’re usually happening concurrently anyway.) A lap throw is also a great size for doubling as a table cloth, shawl, or general decorator-in-a-pinch (see photo below to dress up a bowl of yarn). When you live in a small space, multi-purpose knits are a wonderful thing. After blocking, the diameter of my blanket measured just an inch or two shy of 4 feet. The pattern as-is guides you through 87 rows of lace knitting, which I expanded in order to transform the doily into a blanket. The great thing about feather-and-fan is that you can just keep doing it in order to make a larger piece. Also, it’s purdy.

Hemlock Ring Bowl

As far as ‘expanding’ the pattern that’s given you, I’ve already done the grunt work of charting out the expandable feather-and-fan section here for your convenience (When it comes to lace, I have a serious aversion to line-by-line pattern writing). A special note about the chart: I did not chart out the entire pattern, only the feather and fan section. Row 1 of my chart corresponds directly to Row 47 of the original doily pattern. (You’ll still have to do a little line-by-line knitting). Also, the beginning of the round in the pattern starts in the CENTER of my chart. This will be more clear while knitting – just follow along with both pattern and chart until you orient yourself to the new setup.

Pattern Detail

I worked through row 55 of my chart (highlighted in Orange) before working the edging bind-off. I have included additional feather-and-fan repeats beyond where I concluded mine for those of you who would like to work a larger blanket. You can easily continue adding repeats beyond the final row of my chart – it’s all up to you. (You’ll need more yarn, though)

Lace Edging

The lace edging in the pattern is awesome. The most beautiful thing about it, though, is that you can work it whenever you want. Just finish your last pattern repeat and work the edging. It blocks beautifully.

Hemolock Ring Blanket

And warm under the newest creation here at BT headquarters, I welcome Fall with open arms. Happy knitting one and all.




Don’t you just love this part?

I’m housesitting. They have central air, cable, and good beer in the fridge. What do you think I’ve been doing every night?

Ominous Doily

Circular lace is a blast – no purling! A Top Chef Marathon kept me company through the last slough of repeats, (lets just say it’s probably better that I don’t have TV at my place.) and at this rate I’ll definitely have a new blanket before the autumn chill gets here.

Everyone expressed so much interest in this project, I thought I’d give a quick update for fun. It isn’t my pattern, but I’ll be sure to post all the juicy details upon finishing so anyone can make one!

Until next time, I’ll be feather-and-fanning myself into oblivion.

For all of you who think I’ve sold my soul to the spinning gods and will never be coming back, rest assured – I am still knitting! Rather a lot lately I might add! I have so many small to medium sized projects going on that I’m having a hard time keeping track of them all. A few are gifts that I’ll get to share with you sometime in September, but for now I’ll show you a couple of the things that have been brewing in the shadow of the wheel.

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have something by Elizabeth on my needles. I’ve learned that this is a pretty solid strategy to have with my knitting. And since I was having some serious chunky-tweed-garter withdrawals after finishing off the Tomten, there was one pattern I had in mind that would be a perfect transition away from the warm tomten nest I spent most of the early summer in.

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This is one finished half of Liz’s Ribwarmer pattern – and I use the term pattern loosely. It’s more like a little sneeze on one of the pages of Knitting Workshop. (I like to think that she was so brilliant, even when she sneezed something wonderful came out.) Thank God for the sketch!

The Ribwarmer is a short-row shaped vest with a miniature shawl collar worked in two halves that are seamed together down center back (right half pictured above). The pattern calls for a worsted but I had this beautiful Rowan Chunky sitting around harassing me and figured I’d just plug in my modified numbers and get going.

It’s right about this time in August when I start losing all my patience with summer. I’m ready for the big chill – wool, hats, sweaters and all the other things we knitters live for. I’m pretty tired of relying on the air conditioner to get me through a moviesworth of knitting, or any knitting for that matter.

In anticipation of the cooler seasons to come, I’ve launched into one of the wintry-est things I could think of. A wool afghan. Except it’s not so much an afghan as a giant doily made with chunky wool. Awesome.

A Blanket Begins

The goal is to transform this old vintage doily pattern into a big wooly throw. We’ll see what happens. I’m sure having fun though – those are the biggest holes I’ve ever put in my knitting – intentionally or otherwise! And the yarn is a yardage dream.

There’s more things still, but I think I’ll need to be sharing in moderation for a bit. The next three weeks will be absolutely crazy. I’m off to London on the 20th of August and have an impossible amount of things to do before I leave.. the most daunting of which is moving. (I’ll still be Brooklyn tweed, just another-part-of-Brooklyn tweed.) I’ll do my very best to keep the house clean in these parts, so hopefully you won’t even notice that I’m going crazy behind the curtain. Hope everyone is well – and happy knitting through the last summer push.


Double Drive Tensioning

On-Board Lazy Kate

Oriface and Bearing

Kromski Minstrel

Small Whorl Storage

Hooks and Flyer

Kromski Minstrel

Mr. Footman


Hand Turned Spokes

Kromski Minstrel

pictured: my new Kromski Minstrel

First, for all of you who have seen the Fall Interweave Preview and sent e-mails – thank you! The upcoming issue features one of my sweater designs that I’m really excited about. If you’ve yet to catch the preview, check it out here – there’s a bunch of great sweaters, it looks like a really great issue (though you can’t really go wrong with Fall knitting, in my opinion).

Cobblestone Pullover

Pattern: Cobblestone Pullover
Source: Interweave Knits Fall 2007
Yarn: Classic Elite Skye Tweed in ‘Upland Green’


I designed and knit most of this while I was in Dublin last winter. Despite finding n’ery a yarn shop there, it was a great place to be inspired – plenty of wool, texture and color all around to get the creative juices flowing. The Cobblestone was a bar we spent an evening in listening to traditional Irish music on the North side of town – I thought the name was fitting.

My goal with this piece was simple shapes that would feature a nice tweedy wool and a goodly amount of texture without overdoing it. It’s worked seamlessly with a round yoke and garter strips up the sides (below the underarms). A nice cozy sweater that I’m really looking forward to having around this winter.


Pictured is the medium size – my apologies for the wrinkles. I was forced to photograph this in a pinch, before wet blocking. You know how those deadlines are.

Thanks again for all your support – it is always very much appreciated. Happy knitting!

It’s been awhile since I posted any gratuitous yarn shots on a Friday. And boy do I have some beauties to show you today. *Sundara Yarn. I think that’s all there is to be said.

I Die For This Color
(I live in fear that I’ll never find a project worthy of this perfect color)

Sundara Sock "Brown with Red"

Sundara Sock

So Saturated it Hurts

Did someone say colorwork?

Enjoy your weekend!
[*Yarn pictured is Sundara Sock in unique semi-solid dyelots.]

First things first: THANK YOU for your rather overwhelming reception of the Adult Tomten. I’ve had such a nice week reading and responding to your comments. Many knitters have started talk of making more, which excites me to no end. Please keep them coming!

In light of recent heat waves (hello July!), I’ve been working a little lighter. Simple projects with less blanket-ous qualities than my usual sweater line-up. Sure there are always sweaters on the needles, but there’s a higher concentration of The Little Things.

The best thing about finishing my BSJ (aside from wanting to immediately start another), was realizing that I had a huge hank of handspun 2-ply leftover from my HelloYarn haul. Since knitting the BSJ was all garter all the time, I thought I’d just zone out on something simple and watch the yarn work its handspun, handdyed magic, this time in stockinette. And what magic it is!

Pluot Hat
16″ circular needles really make me happy.

A simple hat. I’m happy just watching the colors change and that unique handspun fabric grow.

And speaking of handspun, behind the scenes I’ve been quietly spinning away on my little drop spindle, trolling the internet and the library for information, exploiting spinner friends as resources, and teaching myself about this wonderful art.

Spindle with Aloe

There’s quite a learning curve, but its relaxing and mindless – think stockinette in the round – and is a nice way to take the edge off of your day. I like the idea that drop spindles are one of the earliest pieces of technology from some of the earliest civilizations.

Here’s a quick photo tour of the evolution of 4 ounces of handdyed top through new spinning hands:

Trodden Around a Chair

Trodden III

Trodden IV

Trodden V
*Fiber pictured above is hand-dyed roving from Adrian.

Weekend knitting is just around the corner. Tally Ho!

My recent persistence with Elizabeth Zimmermann patterns and garter stitch in general have, in some way or another, all sprung from this inspiring wonder-project. Knitting the Adult Tomten was such a perfect balance of desirable knitting attributes, that I really miss working on it: mindless stitch pattern combined with interesting, architectural shaping, an amazing natural wool tweed which never got tiresome to look at or work with, a chunky enough yarn to consistently show progress no matter how short a time spent knitting, and above all, the idea of a comfy, thick, sproingy hooded jacket to envelop a wool-starved frame when the glorious cold finally comes back to us.

Tomten II

Pattern: Adult Tomten Jacket
By: Elizabeth Zimmermann
Source: The Opinionated Knitter, Knitting w/o Tears, and Knitting Workshop
Materials: Beaverslide Fisherman-Weight McTaggart Tweed
Amount: 8 skeins in ‘Mountain Mahogany’; 1 partial skein in ‘Autumn Dogwood’
Needles: 5.0mm/US8 Addi Turbos

Start Date: 29 May 2007
Finish Date: 25 June 2007
(Buttons added July 3, 2007)

Tomten III

First things first, a little background info on the Tomten. Elizabeth conceived and knit the first Tomten Jacket for her infant son in 1940. The pattern as we know it (more or less) was released in 1961 in Elizabeth’s 7th newsletter (reprinted with the rest of the collection in The Opinionated Knitter). The pattern has taken on variations over the years from both Elizabeth and Meg and made its way into two more classic publications: Knitting Without Tears, and Knitting Workshop. Tomten, the jacket’s namesake, is a small Swedish elf who specializes in good deeds. According to Elizabeth, “your child will resemble him strangely, if you put a Tomten jacket on him or her.” What do you think? Is it Elf-ish enough for you?

Tomten IV

Modifications: Although EZ provides ‘sizing’ for an adult version – it’s basically the same pattern worked in Sheepsdown, her superbulky weight wool (2-3sts/in). Despite wanting to knit a jacket in something a bit lighter than Sheepdown (I worked with fisherman weight wool), I knew I wanted to make some pretty major changes to the pattern to fit the proportions and shapes of an adult.

Elizabeth’s pattern is a modular piece (she’s nothing if not clever) – all numbers both vertical and horizontal are divisible by 4. This makes for intuitive and logical knitting… but also for a sort of boxy fit (great for the little ones!). Especially where armhole depth is concerned. Early on I decided to more or less throw the magic number out the window and knit to my measurements. Although I did choose to keep the signature ‘quarters’ for armholes and body/neck opening (detailed below), after all – it wouldn’t be a Tomten without those.

Adult Tomten Jacket - Buttonband Detail

The Tomten has DEEP armholes. When you reach the underarms, you basically divide the sweater into quarters: one quarter each for the armholes, leaving half of the sweater’s stitches left over the middle for working front and back of the body. After working body fronts and back to desired armhole depth, you join them again into the round and work straight on to form that wonderful hood. While the construction is rather genius, you may notice that it leaves quite a ginormous neck opening. Half of your body circumference to be exact. And a 21″ neck opening was just a tad much for me. Lets not even imagine the cavernous neck-openings on a men’s XL.

Adult Tomten Jacket - Hood Detail

Neck Opening & Hood Mods: To address the neck opening issue and prepare for a nice smooth hood transition I did a few things. First, I threw in some v-neck shaping about 6 inches before shoulder tops. Since I was planning a wide button band to encircle the entire outer length of the hood and body, a v-neck seemed the smartest way of smoothly feeding the band onto the hood with ease. And no mitering or lumpy corners! Next, to give it a bit of structure I added two short shoulder seams at the top – this was also a way of shaving off excess width at the neck. On either side of body front and back, instead of joining the whole thing into the round, I did a 3 needle bind off over 10 stitches on either side (5 sts from front, 5 sts from back). This alone took away 20 stitches from the neck opening which for me was 5 inches. That landed me right around my target neck opening of about 16″. To add a bit more sturdiness I chose to bind off at the neck as you would a regular pullover, rather than knitting directly the live neck opening stitches to form the hood. This creates a less stretchy neck opening. Combined with the small shoulder seams (3 needle bind-off makes a nice strong seam, even over 10 measly stitches) the structure at the shoulders and neck made something much more wearable, and durable to boot.

To make the hood then, I picked up stitches from the bound-off neck. I wanted a less trunk-ish hood that sort of hugged the neck a bit in the back. The first time I tried the hood I followed the pattern, increasing evenly over the first 14 rows until desired depth. After I finished it, however, I really didn’t like it. Still too wide at the base, even despite the neck decreases employed earlier. I ripped it and made some modifications to the second version that I like very much. The most important was a sharp decrease across the back of the hood about a half inch after picking up neck stitches. I really wanted it to fit the contour of an actual human neck, so pulling it in just above the shoulders worked like a charm. After three rows of garter, I decreased 10 stitches evenly across the back half of the hood in one row. With my new counts I worked even for about 4-5 inches before beginning the hood increases (I just measured my neck and head to see when to start increasing.) When I worked to my desired hood depth (about 13.5″), I short rowed the last 3 rows to curve the top point just a bit. In the end, I was really glad I ripped and re-knit (aren’t we always!?) because the 2nd hood fits great. Oh – and instead of a three-needle bind off, I did a garter stitch graft to join the top of the hood – you can’t even tell there’s a seam there! I love that graft.

Adult Tomten Jacket - Sleeve Cap Detail

Armhole & Sleeve Mods: The armhole and sleeve cap modification is probably the most major change I made to the pattern. I explained in some detail the process here, if you’d like to review. Basically, I worked the deep armholes back and forth until I was about two-inches from consuming all armhole stitches (more or less I left underarm stitches to equal 8% of body circumference on a holder while working the sleeve caps, following a standard EPS seamless). I then began working a top-down set-in sleeve a la Barbara Walker in her masterpiece, starting with a third of the armhole stitches and working short rows back and forth, consuming an additional armhole stitch at the end of each row. It’s really a genius little technique – I’m happy I got another chance to work it here. Of course because of the unique row gauge of garter stitch, I had to employ a decreasing scheme to work whilst doing the short rows on the cap. It was a bit like a knitting circus act, but in the end it worked out perfect. I’m really happy with how they fit. The picture above gives a nice little visual to the construction

Adult Tomten Jacket - Buttons

Details and Trimmings: The buttons called to me – so I ignored their price tag. They’re medium sized horn carved buttons, a deep warmish brown with lighter brown marbling. I’m really happy how they turned out. Toggles were a contender, but traditional buttons won out in the end.

Adult Tomten Jacket - Cuff Detail

Among the many reasons for which I love this pattern, I really like the options you have for trimming with a contrast color. The ‘suspender’ strips are a unique feature made possible by those deep, square armholes – I couldn’t pass them up. I snagged a contrast color when I placed my order for the wool and just sort of developed the accents as I went. I like the idea of trimming the sleeve cuffs for a little definition. Since the whole thing is in garter, the nice visual weight of cuff ribbing or textured stitches that we usually have when knitting a stockinette sweater wasn’t really an option. Contrasting cuffs worked just fine though. I also liked the idea of trimming the entire hood and body with one continuous, thin strip of the contrast color. This is probably my favorite accent of all. I went back and forth on whether or not I thought an I-cord bind-off fit in with the sweater’s look. In the end I decided to mimic an I-Cord bind off by working one ridge of garter stitch around the entire body/hood area in the contrast color, then bind off in purl from the RS. I’m really loving how it looks.

The last little accent I wanted to mention are the ‘reverse seams.’ On the tops of sleeves and ‘seams’ of the body, I threw in a vertical strip of Slip Stitch Stockinette. In other words, on every WS row I slipped the seam stitch with the yarn forward. This is what creates those neat little ridges running over the shoulder and down to the cuff. Some versions of the Tomten in The Opinionated Knitter have this detail, although I couldn’t find it written in any version of the pattern.

Tomten I

My longest post ever? Probably. There’s so much to say about this sweater, I’m impressed if you made it through and I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I turn the A/C on in the apartment just to wear it. It seems I’ve been meaning to make a hooded sweater for years – I guess I don’t need to feel bad about that any longer!

Big thanks to Adrian of HelloYarn for mutually spurning this project into motion (keep your eye on her, she’s bound to drop her stunning version on us one of these days soon) as well as to my big bro for modeling the sweater during our Oregon Coast camping trip (the outdoor shots). For those of you wanting to make Tomten your own, feel free to e-mail me with questions. E-mail works better than comments (don’t you just love Blogger?). I set up a gallery full of my Tomten pictures here, because there are so many of them! – feel free to peruse. This sweater really is priceless to me at this point so I’d be happy to watch the Adult Tomten Ministry spread!

Onward and upward.