Interweave Knits Book Giveaway: New American Knits

New American Knits by Amy Christoffers

New American Knits by Amy Christoffers

Just in time for fall knitting (and look at that mustard colored sweater on the cover), I’ve got a new book giveaway, Amy Christoffers’ new book, New American Knits: Classic Sportswear Patterns (Interweave / F+W; $24.99). This book is filled with all sorts of accessories (hats, cowls) and garments (shrugs, sweaters, camisoles, turtlenecks) that are perfect for queuing up for your next project in Ravelry. But what I really like is how Amy named each pattern after an American artist. The sweater? Nevelson Lace Pullover. I never heard of Louise Nevelson. You?  There’s even a set of mitts named after illustrator Maxfield Parrish, a tunic honoring photographer Walker Evans’ work.

But Amy didn’t name all American artists in her book, that’s a project for her follow-up, no doubt. Which brings me to this book giveaway. To win a copy of this book, leave the name of an American artist in the comments. Tell me why he or she inspires you. Leave your book by Wednesday, Oct. 15 12 p.m. CST. You must live in the continental U.S.A. to win a copy (publisher’s rules). What else? Leave an email address just in case you win. Look forward to reading your comments.

Fictional Forays: Mood Fabrics, Nunsense & Swatch Too

Swatch Sauma, Mood Fabrics In-House Dog

Swatch Sauma, Mood Fabrics In-House Dog

What does a nun need leather for? Really, that’s what I asked myself when I saw two nuns in the leather section of our New York store. It’s really not uncommon to see gay men, actresses, models even your average everyday mother or sewer fawning over our leather selection. Heck, we even fawn over it ourselves.

So I did a triple take watching these two nuns – wearing white veils – fingering some suede, specifically some fuchsia suede, the kind of thing you might see on Beyonce’s backside, Madonna’s front side or even Boy George’s wrong side, but never on a woman dressed in a black habit and a white veil.

Naturally, I was curious, as was half the store staff. I mean, the conversation dropped a decibel or two. Everyone, including Swatch who had his ears perched way up, wanted to hear what these nuns – who had to be in their late 20s, early 30s – had to say about exactly what they were doing. I mean honestly, it’s rare we get anyone in the religious life in our store. I could understand one or two slipping into that church down the street, but here? Is Mood Fabrics not the epitome of all that’s wrong in the world? The vapid materialism? The ugly side of capitalism? Do we not contribute to the overstuffed closets (not to mention stashes) of men and women worldwide? I mean Pope Francis hasn’t mentioned Mood Fabrics, let alone New York City in his rants on unbridled consumerism, but I’m just waiting for the day he says something about the fashion in the U.S.A., and suddenly all the cameras, including the ones at Project Runway, will focus on Mood Fabric and the Garment District.

So these nuns, now maybe they don’t directly report to Francis, but you would think they would….I don’t know, I just don’t think they would come to Mood Fabrics, let alone the leather section to shop, don’t you? I understand back in the day there were religious orders that made their living sewing lingerie, but women don’t wear handsewn lacy underthings the way they used to….does that mean women of the cloth now have to survive by sewing leather accessories?

I approached these two women, sweetly and kindly as I can. I really don’t know any nuns. Nobody in my generation does. Nuns, sisters, they’re all the same in my Kindle book. Didn’t Whoopi Goldberg do an ace job playing one in a movie? Or what’s that move that was filmed in New York City with Meryl Streep and that redhead? Doubt, I think it was called?

“Ladies, can I help you with anything?” I said ever so sweetly.

One with eyes so sky blue she will never need any eyeliner looked up. “Oh hello,” she demurely. “We were just wondering what kind of needle and sewing foot you need to sew suede.”

“Is that all?”

“No, not really,” they giggled. “We’ve never sewn with leather, let alone suede. But we were going to sew a —-”

Just then the fire alarm went off. Everyone had to leave the store. Bolts of fabric went flying onto the floor, mothers with toddlers screaming in strollers made a frantic dash for the stairs since we couldn’t use the elevator. Drinks perched on the front counter spilled onto the carpet, I think I slid on a slippery patch and cursed, hoping the nuns wouldn’t hear. Shoppers squeezed down the narrow stairs to flee the premises. I saw the sisters behind me assisting an elderly fashion designer with a walker.

Once the entire store – Swatch included – recongregated across the street to watch the fire trucks pull up, I looked for the nuns. They were nowhere to be seen. I scanned the masses for the fashion designer, who had been wearing a sparkling cobalt number head to toe to go with her sequined sneakers. Nada. I mean, this was mere minutes after I saw all three together.

None of the three reappeared in the store later that day. Even a year later, I’ve yet to see any of these three return to Mood Fabrics. Yet to this day, someone on the staff who was there when the nuns were shopping, nearly every week asks me: “So what did the nuns buy? What were they making?”

Excuse my poor French, but it bugs the h-ll of me that I don’t know the answer. Sometimes late at night when I’ve had too much to drink, I think, “What did those nuns want with that leather?”

On those days, I think maybe I’ve spent a day too many at Mood Fabrics and it’s time for me to enter a religious order.

So I ask you, my dear reader, what were the nuns doing in the leather section that day? What were they going to sew? (Now this is a family-friendly blog, so keep your responses clean, if you know what I mean. If it’s not fit for your Aunt Eunice to read, then don’t even dream of putting it on this site. I thank you and this blog’s moderator thanks you.)

(P.S. This fictional foray was inspired by this blog post by Beautejadore.)

New Interweave Knits Book Giveaway: Everyday Lace by Heather Zoppetti

Everyday Lace: Simple Sophisticated Knitted Garments by Heather Zopetti

Everyday Lace: Simple Sophisticated Knitted Garments by Heather Zopetti ($24.99,

Friends, this is another phenomenal Interweave Knits book give-away: Everyday Lace: Simple Sophisticated Knitted Garments. There are 18 incredible projects in here. 18. Tunics, shrugs, socks, you name it, it’s here. All in the name of lace. For those of you who don’t know or understand lace, it’s all about yarn-overs, K2, ssk and a bunch of acronyms you just don’t have in your knitting vocabulary yet. But they all up to creating a fabric that’s challenging to create (no boring K2, p2 ribbing) and even more rewarding to show off.

Now, here’s the hard part. Some rules. Nothing fancy-schmancy, just basic. You must be in the continental U.S. to enter (company rules). I also ask that you leave an email address somewhere in your blog comment. Finally, answer the question below. Do all that before 12 p.m. CST, Wednesday, Sept. 3 and you will be entered in this great contest, an incredible opportunity to add to your knitting library.

Now for the question: What’s the hardest part of knitting lace to master? If you’ve never knitted lace, what’s holding you back (I’m asking in a non-judgmental way, please understand). 

So answer the question. I’m eager to see your response.

DIY Sewing Pattern Review: McCalls’ M6886, View C

Close up, McCalls' M6886, view C, with neckline from View B

Close up, McCalls’ M6886, view C, with neckline from View B

Close up, McCalls' M6886, view C, with neckline from View B

Close up, McCalls’ M6886, view C, with neckline from View B

McCalls M6886, Main View

McCalls M6886, Main View

Sleeve, McCalls M6886, View C

Sleeve, McCalls M6886, View C

Ok. I cannot be absolutely certain that this is Michael Kors fabric, but tell me isn’t there a strong resemblance between this and “The Michael Kors wedding dress” on People Magazine’s web site?  The dresses worn by Jennifer Lopez and Naomi Campbell? Same print, different colorway.

The Sewing Pattern: McCall’s M6886, View C with neckline from B

The Fabric: Two dimensional knit jersey from Vogue Fabrics, Evanston. The tiles looks like an alligator’s or a crocodile’s backside. The tiles also look like they’re hanging by a bare thread, and some are actually beginning to fall off. I’m afraid to think of what might happen to this fabric when it gets washed. I’ll probably handwash this.

The Ins and Outs: For sewing intermediates, this was a straightforward, sew one side, one sleeve, the neckline, then other shoulder hem, the other sleeve, the side, etc. Of course, the pattern neglects to tell you that you need to stabilize the shoulder with clear elastic or something so it doesn’t stretch out over time. I use a narrow white woven tape in my stash.

My bad: I didn’t read the instructions on the neckline, and use a 5/8″ seam allowance not the 1/4″ inch that was suggested, making this neckline a bit snug. I actually wish that I had use a fold over elastic like seen on the actual Michael Kors dresses (gold would have been cool). The Michael Kors dresses seem to have foldover elastic on the sleeve hem too, if you look closely. But I’m not making this again, one is enough, unless Vogue Fabrics stocks this in another colorway.

Still working on…: Hemming the thing, although I like the hem as is. I don’t want it any shorter actually. The sleeves are a bit on the long side, so those I might when I get around to it. Otherwise, just shove them up to my elbows and nobody sees the hem.

How I am going to wear this?: Oh, a jillion ways. On its own to a splashy night time event. For day time, wear it under a jean jacket. To make it more office-friendly, wear it with a black blazer.

About that Michael Kors fabric…: I’d get this again in a different colorway. Falling off tiles, be darn. So Vogue Fabrics, if you’re listening, get the fabric that’s used for Jennifer Lopez’s dress, ok?


DIY Knitting Pattern Review: Red Heart Yarns’ Teen Endless Circle Vest


Front View, Red Heart Yarns' Teen Endless Circle Vest

Front View, Red Heart Yarns’ Teen Endless Circle Vest

Ribbing, Back View, Red Heart Yarns' Teen Endless Circle Vest

Ribbing, Back View, Red Heart Yarns’ Teen Endless Circle Vest

Red Heart Yarn's Endless Teen Endless Circle Vest

Red Heart Yarn’s Endless Teen Endless Circle Vest

The Pattern: Red Heart Yarns’ Teen Endless Circle Vest

The Yarn: Berroco Yarns’ Ultra Alpaca, 2.5 skeins

The Low-Down: This pattern did have its days where it felt like it really was endless. All those stitches: 280! Picking up the stitches and getting precisely 280 might have been the hardest part, followed by remembering which yarn-over patt I was on.  Overall, an easy pattern, mindless really. Great movie-watching project. Since I’m a slight perfectionist (when I saw yarn-overs in the purl section I knew I had to frog), I did restart this project several times. What should have taken a few weeks took me more months than I care to remember.

Do We Have a Winner?: We do. This is an easy-peasy project. And that shawl collar is going to be so warm. I could wear this hands-down under a jean jacket. Tugged close I might not even need a scarf. It would be striking underneath a leather jacket too. In both cases, the vest almost acts as a lining (jean and leather jackets are unlined, generally).

Gonna Make It Again?: I might. Did I say this was an easy pattern? It is. Here are some variations I think that would be grand.

  • black Alpaca/wool yarn. If your wardrobe is filled with black separate, add this as a filler for those days when you need a little extra warmth but you still want to keep the midnight ink color theme going.
  • indigo…to make it blend in with your denim jacket, jeans, and skirts
  • white trimmed with faux fur yarn along the ribbed edges? This would make for a great winter white vest, great for the shivering bride as she walks to and from her wedding.

If you’re so inclined and you’re logged into Ravelry, you can see my vest here. You can also become a friend (I nearly wrote fiend).



Five New Comp Knitting, Crochet Patterns from Berroco Yarns, Ravelry

Close-up, Dalea, a comp knitting pattern from Berroco Yarns, image used with permission

Close-up, Dalea, a comp knitting pattern from Berroco Yarns, image used with permission

Dalea, comp knitting pattern, Berroco Yarns, image used with permission

Dalea, comp knitting pattern, Berroco Yarns, image used with permission

The Take-Away: This is a list of five new-to-me comp knitting patterns. Does that enthrall your knitting needles? Cool. Read on. If not, come back another day for a book giveaway, a DIY sewing or knitting pattern review.

Still reading? Neato. Here are some neat patterns, most of them still summery as the season continues.

  1. Berroco’s Dalea (see above). This sleeveless ribbed top is made up in the company’s Maya yarn, which has this pretty halo that I like a lot, but it could work in other yarns too.
  2. Also from Berroco: Minami. Little more complex with a lace panel. Still great for summer.
  3. The garland tee if you like your knits with a graphic, mod feel.
  4. My friend Mary Beth Temple has a comp crochet pattern over at Ravelry. Download Semifreddo Shawlette at Ravelry.
  5. How often does a comp knitting pattern come with a challenge? This one does. Finish by the end of October (hello Halloween?) for a chance to win one of the designer’s other patterns. Download Pink Onyx for that chance of a lifetime at Ravelry.

That’s it for now, knitting and crochet friends. Off to finish a knitting project this weekend.


Smoking Hot Round-Up of Comp Knitting, Crochet Patterns from Ravelry, Berroco Yarns


Collier, a top-down comp hat pattern, Berroco Yarns, image used with permission

Collier, a top-down comp hat pattern, Berroco Yarns, image used with permission

Close up, Lace Pattern, Collier, a comp hat pattern, Berroco Yarns, Image Used with Permission

Close up, Lace Pattern, Collier, a comp hat pattern, Berroco Yarns, Image Used with Permission

1. Taiyo Lace Color Block Top. For those of you who live in Chicago, there’s a gorgeous sample hanging at Windy Knitty, stop in when the Yarn Crawl starts next Saturday, August 2.

2. To answer Whit’s question on the Purl Bee, no, knitters don’t take up smoking when the weather warms up … They do other things! But for those who continue to knit when the temperature hits the high two digits and low three digits (Farenheit), here’s another comp pattern: Silken Straw Top, perfect over a tank top. Made in the round for your knitting pleasure.

3. For those who crochet: Red Heart’s Delectable Tee top. So pretty in purple.

4. Golden Sun, a seamless vest pattern, comp pattern only downloadable at Ravelry. Great way to use a stash of DK weight yarn.

5. Last but not least, Collier, the Berroco Yarns comp hat pattern designed by Norah Gaughan. Worked from the top down, this slouchy hat pattern is easy with some lace thrown so you don’t fall asleep while knitting.

That’s it, friends. Over and out to enjoy the summer fun, perhaps finish a worsted weight vest this weekend, just in time to buy some goodies at the crawl beginning next weekend.


DIY Knitting Pattern Review: Norah Gaughan’s Currer


Norah Gaughan''s Currer, Berroco Yarns, Volume 2

Norah Gaughan”s Currer, Berroco Yarns, Volume 2


Peplum detail, Norah Gaughan’s Currer, volume 2, Berroco Yarns


Vintage Rhinestone Buttons, Antique and Resale Shoppe, Chicago, IL

The Take-Away: This is a DIY knitting pattern review. If this kind of minutia interests you, read on, if not, enter this week’s book give-away, wait for the round-up of comp knitting patterns or something else. 

The pattern: Currer, from Norah Gaughan Collection’s “Three for All” collection, vol. 2

My version: smallest size (bust 30). I figured the smallest size would have stretch since this is cotton yarn. Yep, I was right.

Yarn: Takhi’s Chait (now discontinued)


  1. The peplum is the hardest part of the pattern to make. You might even do that part first because the rest – the sleeves, back and front will be piece of cake. I’m certain this could be made in the round, but I don’t know how to figure it out.
  2. Use a yarn that closely matches the fiber content of what was used in the pattern to get the right fit. I used a 100 percent cotton tape yarn, but the original yarn (also discontinued) had a blend of cotton/acrylic/polyester that probably gives the garment more shaping, my sweater kind of hangs there.
  3. The ribbing seems to be shorter than it appears in the photo, I personally like a deeper ribbing.
  4. Stay tape in the shoulders. There isn’t any called for in the pattern, but as a sewer, I know it’s essential especially with stretchy fabrics. Otherwise, your shoulders will grow. So I sewed a thin cotton ribbon in the shoulder seams on my sewing machine. Worked better than charm!
  5. Pattern doesn’t call for rhinestone buttons, but if you look closely at the version published in the booklet, the red version has rhinestone buttons. They really pop out. I got my vintage ones at the Harlem Avenue Antique and Resale Shoppe in Chicago. One broke, so I need to make a swift return to the shop. The buttons, because they are vintage, are not an exact match, but pretty close. My guess is that my replacement button will be a close match too.


  1. There aren’t too many, but maybe after I block it I’ll have some more ideas.

Would I make it Again Factor?: I just might. I was looking up stashes of the discontinued yarn called for in the pattern, Love It, in will trade/sell stashes on Ravelry. There isn’t my exact color, but somehow I really want this sweater to closely match the sample published in the booklet: red with with rhinestone buttons. But these other color combos would be cool too:

  1. Indigo…with rhinestone buttons.
  2. Black…with rhinestone buttons.

So it’s entirely possible. I could queue this pattern up soon in my Ravelry project list. I do like to repeat patterns, just like I do in the sewing world. Hopefully, I’d get it done a lot faster than a year (I started this one last summer, and just completed this past weekend. )

Has anyone made this pattern?

Interweave Knits Book Give-away: 25 Knitted Accessories to Wear and Share

25 Knitted Accessories to Wear and Share/Interweave Favorites (image used with permission)

25 Knitted Accessories to Wear and Share/Interweave Favorites (image used with permission)

The Take-Away: Here’s a new book give-away Interested? Read on. if not come back another day for a DIY sewing or knitting pattern review or a round-up of comp knitting patterns.

Ok. Now for the low-down. This is 25 Knitted Accessories to Wear and Share, Interweave Favorites ($22.99). Think of it as a round-up, in book form, of some of the best knitting patterns to hit Interweave Knits in recent years. Socks, fingerless gloves, hats, purses, there’s all that and more. What are some of my favorites? The Sideaways Grande Hat, still sitting in my Ravelry favorites for what seems forever. I’m not into making hats, but this one? I like the architectural lines of it. It has a very strong 1920s vibe. And knitting it up in a chunky yarn, it will go lickety-split fast. That pattern is in this book. What else” The Echo Reversible drop-stitch moebius is in here too. I wasn’t my familiar with it until I saw this book, but now, shoot, it’s going in my Ravelry favorites. It too will knit up in no time flat in a chunky yarn.

So this book, I’m giving it away. Here are some basic rules. You must live in the continental U.S. and play by the rules. Leave a comment here at the end of this blog post about what’s your favorite accessory to knit and why by 12 p.m., CST, Monday, July 28. A winner will be selected from one of those blog posts. Be Be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you’re a winner.

DIY Sewing Pattern Review McCalls 6551: latest version

McCall6551, View A, Sleeve

McCall6551, View A, SleeveMcCall 6551, View A, Full Length

McCall 6551, View A, Neckline
McCall 6551, View A, Neckline

McCalls 6551, View A,hem

McCalls 6551, View A,hem

The Take-Away: This is a DIY sewing pattern review, specifically for McCall’s 6551, view A. If this topic interests you, read on. If not, come another day for a book give-away or a round-up of com knitting/crochet patterns. 

The Pattern: McCalls 6551, view A

Viva La Difference:  I’ve made this several times. It’s a great pattern. The most significant change? I combined the front and bottom panels in the main pattern of the dress. If you look closely at the pattern these are separate pieces. Not on my dress. I’ve got two pattern pieces, that’s it. I also used the backside of a twin-needle stitch on my coverstitch machine because it looks more ready to wear, and it’s much easier to fix if something goes awry on the backside of the stitch (I simply use one of the narrowest version of my zig-zag on my sewing machine to fix, it’s a close match the backside of the stitch on a twin-needle stitch on a coverstitch).

The Fabric: A cotton jersey, $8.99 a yard at Vogue Fabric’s Evanston. There isn’t more of the great fabric. I bought the last of it. Interestingly enough, this pattern doesn’t have knits in the list of suggested fabrics. I just thought it would work and it did.

Once More with Feeling: I like this dress to have made it multiple times, though each time I’ve made view A I’ve toyed with the idea of changing of the boatneck neckline and I’ve regretted. The boatneck neckline is intended for someone with broad shoulders. anyone with anything less with have exposed bra straps. What’s more, you’ll be fiddling with the neckline itself which seems to crumple up on a small frame. Better to modify the neckline to something with a ‘fuller’ strap if your build is on the petite or you’ve got small shoulders.

That’s it. This is a great summer dress, easy to layer with an assymetrical solid jersey knit skirt underneath, leggings or simply wear on its own. I definitely recommend this pattern.