Eclectic Closet Litblog, Book Reviews & Knitting Designs

A litblog dedicated to book reviews/recommendations, as well as literary and publishing news. Now enhanced with knitting designs.

Interwoven Blanket


Jen reading a book on a red couch with Interwoven Blanket on her lap

The Interwoven Blanket is knit using Bare Naked Wools ‘Stone Soup Fingering’ held double. This rustic yarn provides wonderful stitch definition without a lot of weight. The sample shown here was knit with two colours of Stone Soup Fingering held together for the centre of the blanket, producing a marled effect.

Construction Note: The center panel of the blanket is worked first. Stitches are then picked up around the outside of the panel and the edging is knit in the round from the center out. The size of the finished throw can be adjusted by adding or subtracting repeats.

Get all the details on Interwoven Blanket here.

October 19, 2014 Update: Final photography has now been done on the blanket – have a peak!

Intentional Pooling at Lancaster Yarn Shop


Intentional Pooling Class at Lancaster Yarn Shop
Last Saturday I had the honour of teaching a class on Intentional (planned) Pooling at the Lancaster Yarn Shop in Intercourse, Pennsylvania (Lancaster County). It’s a great way to use some of those multi-coloured, handpainted skeins of yarn hiding in your stash and it’s one of my favourite techniques to teach. The bonus of teaching this at Lancaster Yarn Shop is that they have their own line of Kettle Dyed Yarn that is perfect for this technique and comes in very generous skeins of 484 yards.

There were 7 students and 1 dog (Geisha) in the class; Geisha was very well behaved!
Geisha the greyhound
The class started by selecting the yarn they wanted to use from the shop offerings, with colourways Rhubarb and Plaid Shirt being the most popular – although Rainbow was also a popular choice. Once everyone had their yarn, everyone spread out and started to assess their yarn. As the yarn is not dyed to be symmetrical, class members had to decide if they wanted to knit their project as it looked in the skein (using a single skein) or if they wanted to use two skeins and have a wider piece that was symmetrical with one row being the circumference of the skein. About half the students decided to do a narrower piece and the rest decided on the wider, symmetrical version. With that decision being made, they moved on to laying out the yarn to match up the colour repeats to establish the length of the rows and mark where the yarn turned.

Laying out the rows
After marking the turns for the first rows, we calculated estimated stitch counts and everyone got to knitting. Intentional pooling isn’t an exact science, there really isn’t a way to get it to work out perfectly right at the start. Individual knitting tension, type of needle, humidity, how you knit – it can all play in altering tension. The next part of the class was fine tuning all of these to ensure that the colours would line up. For some it required changing needle size, for others it was a matter of learning the tricks to tweak rows as knitting. Soon, the pooling began to show as you can see in Cheryl’s project shown below worked in the colour Rainbow.
The beginning of a pooling project

Three hours passed very quickly and all too soon it was time to pack up. Barb from the class members sent me this picture of her scarf the next day – she’s made great progress. I think she was bit by the pooling bug, it can be highly addictive!

I’ll be teaching classes on Intentional Pooling this fall at Shall We Knit? in Waterloo, Ontario, both an introductory class and one on working pooling with lace (like the class shown above). You can find a list of all my upcoming classes here. You can also sign up for my periodic newsletter (in sidebar ->) which includes information on classes as well as new designs.
Pooling project in Tanis Blue Label Yarn with Kettle dyed yarn in back of picture.

Upcoming Class: Valencia Scarf at Cast On! Cast Off!


I’m so thrilled to be teaching my Valencia Scarf pattern at Cast On! Cast Off! in St. John’s, NL on August 20, 6 – 9 p.m.

Valencia wrap worn closed
Want to learn to work from charts? Interested in trying lace? This is the class for you. In one session, you’ll learn the basics of knitting lace in a geometric pattern, how to work from charts, and hints to make lace knitting an easy and enjoyable process. This project can be worked in either fingering weight for a scarf or in a heavier weight yarn for a wrap.

Class size is limited and preregistration is required. Call the shop at (709) 739-7318 to reserve your spot!

Looking for a listing of all upcoming classes I’ll be teaching? For now, follow this link: Upcoming Classes.

Reflections on the Design Process, part 3


This past week was the first week of Stained Fingers Dye Camp at Indigodragonfly’s studio. I wasn’t attending but three of my friends did and had a blast! I went along to Haliburton and took the week to work on some new designs and make progress on others. Plus I had the opportunity to show off my designer in residence project to Kim and Ron in person!

I’ve made a bit of progress on this project in the past month, completing 8 repeats so far of the 12 row chart for the body. So the countdown is on – although there are 39 more repeats to go before I get to finish the stole with the other edging. Knitting on this project has slowed down a bit with other design deadlines taking precedence.
Linen and silk stole stitch detail

I want to talk a bit about my inspiration for the stitch pattern used for the body of this piece. Although I’ve blogged about the edging first, when I was working on the concept for this design, it was the body stitch pattern that I needed to establish first. Only then would I be able to come up with an appropriate edging design.

When I originally doodled some ideas for for this design, the only idea I had was that I wanted something with strong vertical lines. You may not see them clearly yet in the photos of the stitch pattern but, once it’s blocked, the vertical elements will be clear.

With that in mind, I started paging through stitch dictionaries and my files of stitch pattern images saved on my computer. Early on I came across the image below on a Pinterest board and knew it was perfect but had difficulty finding a chart or written instructions.
Russian stitch pattern
I kept looking and finally found instructions I thought might be what I was looking for – except they were in Russian! The chart that accompanied the written instructions was confusing but I started tackling it and after a few swatch attempts was getting something that occassionally showed signs of being the stitch pattern I hoped for. Over the month of February, I kept plugging away, changing a stitch here, a yarn over there but wasn’t making the progress I hoped for. I was ready to throw in the towel and use a different stitch pattern – and then fate intervened. A friend gave me a leaflet to browse, Berroco #344, Berroco Folio™, and there down the front panel of Iwi was my stitch patttern (and even stranger in almost the same colour as my yarn)!

I quickly flipped to the charts and within moments understood my mistakes. Once I got home, it was the work of moments to fix my charts and start a new swatch. Success! I was all ready to go with the body of the design and at that point, I could move on to create the edging. The zig zag pattern in the edging was selected to mirror the body stitch pattern and tie the two elements together.

Upcoming Class: Intentional (Planned) Pooling at Lancaster Yarn Shop


Intentional Pooling
Looking for something new to do with your skeins of handpainted yarn? Come join me for a class on Intentional (Planned) Pooling at Lancaster Yarn Shop on Saturday, August 2nd, 1 to 4 p.m. This is one of my favourite classes to teach and I’m really looking to teaching my first class outside of Ontario.

This class will teach you how to assess the colors in your yarn and line them up to create vertical stripes utilizing the natural pooling effects of the yarn and leave with the start of a scarf. You’ll also learn to read a chart and knit a basic lace pattern.

Class size is limited and preregistration is required. Call the shop at (717) 768-8007 to reserve your spot!

Reflections on the Design Process, part 2


Where did June go? One minute it was early in the month and I had started my Artist in Residence at Shall We Knit? and suddenly it’s July. I never got back here to the blog to post about the stitch patterns used in the design I was working up in Indigodragonfly Linen Silk. I have to state, yet again, how much I love this yarn! It feels lovely to knit with and the drape is fantastic.

In my previous post I spoke a bit about wanting to have attached edgings and graphical designs and this is what I showed you:
New design using Indigodragonfly Linen Silk
The piece shown is unblocked but you can see that the edging features these strong graphical elements – diamonds and zig-zags. The edging is comprised of elements from several different “vintage” stitch patterns, a few of which are found in an 1849 Ladies’ Needlework book epublished by Interweave Press. Vintage instructions, like the ones in this ebook, are provided as written instructions. What you see in the photo above is the 7th version of the edging – the one with which I’m finally happy.

Designing with any stitch patterns often requires a lot of swatching but I find vintage instructions require many more versions to reach a “finished” state. Often the instructions don’t exactly match the illustration (if there is one) and stitch repeats aren’t often indicated and usually I am combining multiple elements. In the case of the edging shown, I combined elements of 3 separate vintage edgings, added a section of a lace “insertion” and then tweaked until I ended up with something that looked “right.”

The diamond shape in the unblocked edging looks misshapen; with blocking it will appear more diamond-like. The zig-zags will be sharper and the outside edge will have points rather than scallops. I’ve put quite a lot of knitting into this over the past month and I’ve finished 6 repeats of the body of the stole. I’m so pleased with how the piece is coming together and in the picture below (taken a few weeks ago) you can see one repeat of the design I’ve selected for the body.

New design from Janelle Martin in Indigodragonfly Linen Silk

Happy Knitting!

Audrey II


Audrey II Cowl held up to show stitch pattern

The stitch pattern on this cowl immediately brought to mind the open “jaws” of the venus fly trap plant, which of course brought to mind Audrey II from “Little Shop of Horrors.” Named in her honour, the sample of this cozy cowl is worked in decadently luscious yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch.

This is the perfect project for a precious skein of luxury yarn. The circumference can be customized by adding/removing stitch repeats while the height can be adjusted by working additional rounds. This is the perfect project for a precious skein of luxury yarn.

Get all the details of Audrey II here.

Eclectic Closet Newsletter


You may have noticed the “subscribe to our mailing list” feature on the website recently and wondered about it. Maybe you’re one of those who signed up and never received anything?

I’ve been planning to start a newsletter for a while and today, the first issue went out! If you aren’t signed up, you can read it by clicking here (and then go sign up). If you’re already signed up, check your inbox.

At this point I anticipate sending out the newsletter to announce new designs, highlight upcoming classes or when there’s something important to share – perhaps once every month or two.

Arts Awards Waterloo Region


Tonight was the 26th Annual Arts Awards Waterloo Region. I found out in February that I had been nominated for the Amy Hallman Snyder Textile, Fibre and Quilting Arts Award – quite the honour! Last month I attended the nominees reception where I received a certificate of nomination and a chance to meet the other nominees. And then it was the moment to find out the results.

I’m thrilled that my parents were in town to attend with me and that Jen, the model in many of my designs, was able to attend as well. There was great entertainment and tastings from several local restaurants and then it was time for the award show. My category was announced shortly after intermission and then I heard my name called – I won!

Slide announcing my win

Being on stage is a bit of a blur. I hadn’t prepared comments for winning so I thanked the Arts Award Committee and Kristen H. who nominated me. And of course, I thanked the fibre community who have been so supportive.

Accepting the Arts Award Waterloo Region for Textile Fibre and Quilting

After the presentation I was led off stage to have my photo taken with the presenting sponsor Marion Martin, founder of the Amy Hallman Snyder Award Fund (in honour of her mother).

Janelle and award presenter Marion Martin

And then of course, I needed a picture with my parents!

Janelle with her parents

A great night! Congratulations to all the other nominees and winners.

Reflections on the design process


I’ve been intrigued with Victorian shawls ever since Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby – you know, the pieces with the deep edgings that drape beautifully along the edges of the stoles and shawls? I was lucky enough to see the pieces in person at Stitches East that year.

At that point I wasn’t designing and didn’t feel confident enough in my lace knitting to dream of knitting a piece like that but the look of those pieces stuck in my mind. Fast forward many years to 2012 when I designed first piece with deep, attached edgings, Vieux Carré Stole and in 2013, the Flower Bell Stole.

Vieux Carré Stole

When I started thinking about a design using the Indigodragonfly Linen Silk, I knew immediately that the design had to take advantage of the amazing drape inherent in this yarn. I knew I wanted to have attached edgings and strong graphical elements in the stitch patterns.

New design using Indigodragonfly Linen Silk

Here’s a quick shot with my phone camera of the beginning edging in its unblocked state. I’m knitting the largest size of the design for my sample (there will be a medium stole size and a scarf size as well).

Next post, I’ll talk about selecting stitch patterns for this piece.

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Audrey II

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Mindfulness Cowl

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