Tag Archives: books

Unexpected Cables

Unexpected Cables
Unexpected Cables: Feminine Knitted Garments Featuring Modern Cable Knitting
By Heather Zoppetti Interweave/F+W; $24.99
Heather Zoppetti is a knitwear designer, instructor, and author of Everyday Lace (Interweave, 2014). Her patterns have been published in many Interweave publications such as Knits, Knitscene, and Jane Austen Knits, and by yarn companies such as Manos del Uruguay, Baah Yarns, The Alpaca Yarn Company, Reywa Fibers, and Universal Yarns. She is also the owner and founder of Stitch Sprouts, a company dedicated to helping your stitches grow. Heather lives and teaches in Lancaster, PA, and be found at http://www.hzoppettidesigns.com and http://www.stitchsprouts.com.

I received a copy of Unexpected Cables by my good friend Heather in the mail a couple weeks ago. It’s such a pretty book I’ve been waiting and waiting for a chance to share it with you!

Cables cover

As you’re well aware, I love cables. Love love love them. So this book grabbed me right from the start. Heather does such unique and pretty things with cables. She makes things I would never think of and would love a chance to try. And that’s what is awesome about knitting – there’s always something new.

cables and lace

And this book is full of more than a few new somethings. I love this whole chapter on lace and cables. Lace is the hardest element for me to design with, but Heather makes her ideas look easy and natural.

I’ve got an interview with Heather to share today, and her lovely publishers have given me permission to share some details from one of my favorite patterns too!

Design time
1. How did you first get started designing?
I first started designing how so many other designers start…just by changing other patterns. Eventually I felt confident that I could create patterns on my own.

2. Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes it might be just a color or a tile pattern I see out and about. Other times a specific stitch pattern might call to me. I try to be observant and always on the lookout for ideas no matter where I am. To this end, I find it’s important to always carry a notebook with me so that I can jot ideas down.

3. How does designing fit in with the rest of your life? Is it a full time job, part time job, or other? If you do a different job full time, is designing at all related?
I’d call knitwear design my part-time job. My full time job is running Stitch Sprouts. For whatever reason I still feel guilty spending a whole day knitting, even if it’s for a deadline. So pulling orders, updating the website, editing, and other computer work is what occupies my workday. Luckily everything I do is yarn related in some way which makes work feel less like work.

4. Publishing a book is very exciting! Do you know what’s next for your design line?
Books are very exciting, and rewarding, as I’m sure you know having just published one yourself! Next I’m choosing to focus on expanding the pattern support for Stitch Sprouts. I’ll be developing some pamphlets, patterns, and also more class kits. Of course, I also have another book idea simmering…so that could happen too!

1. When/If you’re going to knit just for fun what do you look for in a pattern?
I don’t really get to knit much for fun anymore. But when I do, it’s usually socks. I love making and wearing hand knit socks. For these I like to choose wild and fun yarns and just do a plain vanilla pattern to let the yarn be the star. Other patterns I might make end up being quick and easy things intended as gifts.

2. Who is your favorite designer? (or favorite pattern, if that’s easier)
Hmm, that’s a hard question. I really do love and appreciate so many designers. Right now I’m loving everything that Jared Flood is doing. Yarn, patterns, and collections, I love it all. He has an understated elegance that is both classic and modern.

3. What do you do to relax?
I like to get lost in a good story, so when I’m not knitting, reading is at the top of my list. In fact, I’ve even learned to read while knitting! Besides knitting, I enjoy other fiber arts such as spinning, and crochet and like to use these as relaxing non-work activities.

Finally, let’s explore the Stevens Vest, I love the look of circle sweaters and I have to agree with Heather that they seem to work for all body types! But rather than me rambling on some more, let’s hear from Heather:

Unexpected Cables - Stevens Vest back

Circle sweaters flatter all body types, and Stevens is no exception. This circle vest begins in the center with a shawl cast-on, which grows into a large flower medallion. Its edge features a reversible cable so there is no wrong side when the collar is folded over.

Back Width: About 16¾ (17¼, 18, 18¼, 19, 19¾)” (42.5 [44, 45.5, 46.5, 48.5, 50] cm). Vest shown measures 16¾” (42.5 cm).

Unexpected Cables - Stevens Vest collar

Making Reversible Cables
Cabling, while beautiful, is typically only shown on one side of the fabric. This works for most applications, however, occasionally you want to see cabling on both sides.

The cable is only viewable in the knit stitches while the purl stitches hide the crossing. To combat this, the easiest fix is to work the cable in rib. This way knit stitches are on both sides of the fabric and so we can see the crossing on both sides as well.

The cables on the outer rim of Stevens utilize these ribbed cables so when folded over at the collar, there is no wrong side.

Unexpected Cables - Stevens Vest front.jpg

(Please note that I did receive this book free for review purposes. However my opinions are my own, I won’t review something I don’t truly enjoy and think that you will like.)

Defarge Does Shakespeare

Fun times all around, there’s a new book in the Madame Defarge series! Check out Defarge Does Shakespeare! It’s on the Defarge site, on Cooperative Press, on Ravelry – pick your favorite.

Heather Ordover is back with this third collection from new and returning fabulous designers. And this isn’t the end either, I know there are more Defarge books in the works. If you like this sort of thing you should sign up for her e-mail newsletter. You should also sign up because later today three readers will be winning copies of Defarge books (and some other cool prizes)

Let’s take a peak, shall we? Maybe it’s how knitters interpret Shakespeare (or maybe it’s just that April is around the corner) but I’m finding this collection to be delightfully spring-like. I mean, start with the Fairy Queen Tea Cozy:

Ok, that’s clearly spring. And good for early spring too, because on cold rainy days I do like to curl up with a hot mug of tea and a book (or a mug of lukewarm tea an a toddler – but a mom can dream)

But the Lady M sweater is also a perfect transitional season garment. There’s lovely lace in the yoke and you don’t have to think about the drops of blood in the pattern description unless that makes you feel sly and sneaky and literary all at once:

How about the Midsummer’s Eve Wrap? I SO WISH I had time to knit a giant panel of lace. Something squishy to curl up with on the couch after bedtime… Maybe I should cast on now, it’ll only take a couple of years at the rate I’m knitting right now.

And to wrap things up the Taming of the Shrug! Not only does it have a very entertaining name, but it really is gorgeous.

I am not a shrug person because if I try to wear them my back feels cold and drafty. But I can totally see myself wearing this gorgeous piece of lace. I’d probably end up keeping it at the office to wrap up in when the AC gets too cold in the summer.

What is your favorite Defarge pattern?

I feel like I need to say, I did not get anything free for this review. However I am a Defarge designer. You might remember my Iseult Dress pattern is in the second volume, What else Would Madame Defarge Knit? So I am affiliated, and proud to be a Cooperative Press cooperating author!


Here’s what I wish I were knitting: almost anything than what I’ve got on the go right now.

I finished the blue and gray mittens, and they’re blocking by the wood stove. The fresh coat of snow we’re getting today should make a pretty backdrop for later this week when I’m hoping to have an early morning photo shoot (just me, myself, the tripod, and some tourists if I’m unlucky)

After weaving in the ends I looked at my pile of WIPs and realized I have a children’s design that I’m knitting in about an 18 month size – and I need to finish it before my model out-grows all that clothing… It’s an adorable design, and it’s 80% done. But what it still needs is a lot of i-cord and a hood. And you know how it goes. I just want to cast on for something new.

So what would I rather be knitting? Something for myself, I think. Something warm and cozy for winter, but could still transition to spring (it’ll be here someday)

I’d rather be knitting almost anything from Cascadia.

(again, available through Ravelry and Cooperative Press too)

I don’t know how I have the self control to NOT simply cast on for Courtenay

The bell sleeves, the touch of lace, the promise of a quick worsted weight pullover. I want it now.

Weirdly Redcedar is also calling to me. And I never knit scarves. But that cover is just so cozy, it’s definitely the finished product calling me, not the process of knitting it.

And I sort of adore the mother daughter set that they’ve modeled for the Sea Glass pullover It’s too bad that boxy shape never looks good on me. But it doesn’t stop me from wanting to knit it. Actually I should knit it in Windsor’s size anyway. She would be so thrilled by a sweater with beads. I can see the grin on her face already.

Yup, I think that might be my weak spot, right there. Remember how, at the start of this, I said I wanted to knit something for myself? Turns out I was wrong. I’m a bit of a fickle knitter these days.

The awesomeness of books

So, as I mentioned my book is a combination of knitting patterns, and cooking recipes. That, combined with our photography, really make it a book worth having. Sure you can buy PDFs online and you can find lots of recipes too. But the book combines them both with tips and resources and puts it all in one convenient place.

Cooperative Press is really good about providing this sort of content: the patterns and MORE sort of knitting book. And that’s why today I want to remind you all about What (else) Would Madame DeFarge Knit?

(Also on Ravelry, and Cooperative Press)

This book combines knitting patterns, essays, and more. It’s a great book to sit down and read, not just to knit something from. As a designer in the book I felt like writing an essay really let me stretch my wings a little. Along with an awesome sweater dress:

iseult wafting

I got to write an awesome little story about how Iseult is not just your average princess, but really an empowered woman reaching through history to show that princesses weren’t always just waiting for their prince to come.

Intriuged? Please check out the whole book! And while you’re at it check out a few of my other favorite designs from WeWMDFK:

Ahab’s Gansey features some really amazing cables. It’s a mens sweater, but I’m not sure if Neil or I would wear it more…

Check out the birds on the thumbs of the Counting Crow mittens!

And finally the cables plus lace of Fosco’s Pret Pret Pretties make for a pair of VERY pretty little socks.

What’s your favorite pattern from What (else) Would Madame DeFarge Knit? Leave a note in the comments! Better yet, talk about it on your favorite form of social media (twitter? facebook? Even Raverly counts!) let Shannon know that you’re sharing the CP love here: http://bit.ly/lovetowin200 and you could win books, or even cash. Who doesn’t love winning?


We’re getting so close!! Close to what, you ask? Close to the big release for What (else) Would Madame DeFarge Knit!! The book is already available for pre-orders and it will be going to print soon!

Why am I so excited about this book? Well if you haven’t guessed yet, I have a pattern in it! I’m not going to tell you my story, or my character (yet). But I can say, it’s VERY me.

sneak 1
crown optional

This is going to be an awesome book. We’ve got 25 designs from both new and established designers. There will be COLOR photos (this is new compared to the first in the series.) That gorgeous blue in the sneak peek? It’s Cornflower Highland, a 100% shetland wool from the incomparable folks at Harrisville Designs.

I hope this book is very you as well! If you’re looking for more information check out the book details over at Cooperative Press, or on the W(e)WMDFK website.

Do you want to know the moment the book is released? Do you want a chance to win FREE patterns and other goodies? (Of course you do.) Just sign up for the WWMDFK e-mail list. There are lots of exciting treats and announcements coming soon!

Welcome Yule!

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

-The Shortest Day, Susan Cooper

longest night

A Book

I have hinted to this several times, and I decided it’s well past time to make an official* announcement! I’m writing a book!!

EEEEeeeeEEEEEEeeeeee! Ahem.

I’m teaming up with Coopertive Press and my friend Calley Hastings at Fat Toad Farm for this endeavor. We’re all very excited because this is a fairly unique idea which (I hope) will appeal to a lot of you. The book will not be just knitting patterns, but knitting patterns combined with cooking and baking recipes.

Calley and I are working together to develop patterns and recipes which are tied together through ingredients, colors, textures, and the seasons. Calley is responsible for many of the recipes on the Fat Toad Farm blog as well as a series on the Burlington Free Press and most recently in the print edition of the Boston Globe.

The recipes will use seasonal ingredients, the patterns will use thoughtfully sourced yarns. We will include suggestions for substitutions and modification in both ingredients, styles, yarns… We believe there’s a lot of similarities between taking a knitting pattern and making it your own sweater and taking a cooking recipe and making it a family favorite.

yarn pile

The process is well started already. Just about all the fall knitting is finished and Calley is polishing those recipes. The winter yarn is rolling in and another round of knitting is under way. I love the feel of this project growing organically through our hands. I love reaching out to my favorite indie dyers and the small farms and mills I’ve always respected to ask them to be partners in our project.

In order to express the seasonal feeling, the ties to the land, that we feel are so important for this project Calley and I are also providing all the photography. This is where the deadline knitting comes in. Rather than having a whole passel of designs that are all due at once I’m working with rolling deadlines. The october project needed to be photographed in conjunction with the foliage. The February design needs to be done while there’s snow on the ground. This connection to the seasons is actually a change from my normal design process. For most magazine publications I’m working on winter designs just as spring arrives.

So if I seem a bit preoccupied, or if the knitting photography seems a little thin around here for the next 10 months please excuse me. Know that I’m busy behind the scenes!

On that note, we do have a request. Over the next year we’ll be looking for test knitters AND test cooks. If you’re interested please leave a comment below. Make sure the e-mail address you provide is a good one and I’ll get in touch with you about your preferences. We’ll need all volunteers to agree to keep the details of their work secret until the book is published. But once it is you’ll be welcome (and encouraged) to write a blog post, put details on ravelry, post food photos to flickr, and tell all your friends!

*As opposed to the unofficial announcement I made on twitter, if you’re wondering where else you’ve seen this.

Jubjub Bird socks

I think that just because it’s cold and I want to wear thick socks all winter doesn’t mean those socks have to be boring. In that spirit I’m releasing my Jubjub Bird sock pattern today! these stripy socks are written in 5 sizes to fit a whole family

Jubjub hero

Something about the stripes makes me think of Alice in Wonderland. I can’t explain why – they just do:

Jubjub with book

To check out design details and more you can see their page, here. And of COURSE they’re on Ravelry (here) for your queuing pleasure.

Don’t you think “queuing” is a weird word?

Ok, moving on! These socks are knit out of the same sportweight superwash merino as my Lime Sorbet cardi. That’d be Periwinkle Sheep’s Merino Sport. She’s adding some new colors to her store this month, so you can knit stripes in whatever combination makes you happy!

jubjub forked heels

Along with graduated stripes worked out in 5 sizes these socks also have a forked short-row heel. This isn’t a completely new technique, but it is one I haven’t seen in use as often. The forked heel provides a little extra fabric. I find that short row heels are always a bit tight, and then they wear out quickly. These heels should be a great improvement over that!

Jubjub en point

And yes, this is the Alice themed pattern I posted about awhile back. Which means that Annika of NoirBettie will be getting a copy of the pattern!

Across the Universe

The first cause of discord is difference.
The second cause of discord is lack of a strong leader.
The third cause of discord is individual thought.

Across the Universe is the first book in this trilogy by Beth Revis.

Across the Universe on Goodreads

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Godspeed is a ship carrying frozen passengers to a new Earth. But it is also a generation ship, with crew who will live, have families, and die within its walls.

Amy was supposed to be frozen until the ship landed, but something has happened and she woke up early. But she was lucky, other frozen passenger are unplugged and left to die.

Across the Universe follows Amy as she, and the future leader Elder, attempt to figure out what is going on, who is killing the frozen passengers, and how to stop them.

It also explores deep ideas, what sort of society might evolve in such an inclosed biosphere. How would this society deal with an outsider? And how will Amy adjust to her new life separate from everyone she’s ever known?

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

A Million Suns is the second book in the trilogy.

Amy and Elder are still working together. Elder’s society is breaking out of it’s stupor, and not everyone is happy about the changes. In fact, everyone has a bone to pick with him about something. Meanwhile Amy and Elder need to figure out what is wrong with the elderly Godspeed. They need to figure it out before the people all go stir-crazy.

I read Across the Universe back when it first came out. When I discovered both audio books available at my library I re-listened to the first before checking out the second. I love the way Beth Revis spins out her tale, providing enough clues to keep the reader guessing, giving us hints but never giving the full story away. I can not WAIT for the third book (Shades of Earth) to come out, but I’ll have to, because it isn’t due on shelves until January.

*I’ve linked to Amazon for ease, but please check your local book store first!

California Revival Knits

I’m really excited to be a part of the blog tour for Stephannie’s new book California Revival Knits Not only do I love everything Cooperative Press is doing these days, but Stephannie is one of the wonderful tech editors who helps make sure my indie patterns are error free by the time they land in knitters hands.

CRK cover

Knowing Stephannie’s eye for detail I expected this book and pattern collection to be beautiful, and it is. It’s full of the complex sorts of designs I love best- twisty cables, fancy colorwork, lace, and beads – every pattern has a little something to make it extra special.


But The book is written and laid out in such a way as to make these totally approachable. The charts are clean and easy to read, the directions are simple and to the point without being wordy. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these patterns to someone who wants to try a new technique for the first time!

CRK design process

Stephannie also includes details about the inspiration she found in the California Revival architecture and the tile mosaics that are still being hand made in that area. These sources of inspiration are behind all her designs and give the collection a wonderfully cohesive feeling in spite of the variety of projects and colors involved. As a designer myself I love to get that peek into how others are inspired.

I’m happy to announce that Cooperative Press is letting me give away a copy of California Revival Knits right here! To enter the drawing all you need to do is leave a comment telling me which pattern from the book is your favorite. You can check them out here, or find them all on Ravelry. Make sure the e-mail address you leave is good, since that’s how I’ll contact the winner. You have until noon (EDT) May 9th to enter.

My favorite pattern, ever since the previews came out, are the Peacock Mitts They’re GORGEOUS! Look at the details! They also involve 10 colors, quite a bit of intarsia, duplicate stitch, and beading… So when I needed a little something mindless to knit while I write up some designs I figured, maybe no peacocks. Instead I’ve cast on for a pair of Wrought socks. I desperately need more socks, and these have twisty cables! How could I go wrong?

wrought iron

Mine are knit out of some discontinued colorway of KPPPM from the deep stash. I wanted something fun which will hopefully still show off the cables (it’s sort of working). And while my last pair of socks taught me that I don’t really like 6″ sock cuffs I thought these looked a touch short in the photos (hey, warm sock needs in CA are probably less than those in VT) So I doubled the length of the twisted stitch ribbing before I moved into the wrought iron cables themselves.

And I’ll openly admit I’m knitting these on my US 1.5 needles because they match the yarn better than the bright green US 1’s.

Check out the other stops on the book blog tour!