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.

Cartouche Shawl


I’m thrilled to announce the release of Cartouche Shawl pattern in the Deep Winter 2011 issue of I started working on this shawl in April 2010 and submitted it in September to Knitty. Then the waiting began! I was over the moon when it was accepted and now it’s released and I can finally show photos of it.

The original photo shoot was done in fall and so the shawl had to be reshot to go with the deep winter theme. I’ve included both photo shoots here so I could show off my lovely friends (thanks Anita and Alana!) and the fantastic photography of Shawn.

I was paging through Japanese stitch dictionaries and found the main pattern used in this shawl. It reminded me of an Egyptian cartouche and I visualized it in a deeper vibrant red, the colour of life and victory for Ancient Egyptians.

In this top-down shawl, the stitch patterns flow seamlessly one into another. To accomplish this, transitional charts are used. These are marked as such and must be followed with extra care as stitch patterns are altered to flow into the next design.

The shawl is worked in Koigu KPM, one of my favourite yarns, but can be worked in any fingering or laceweight yarn. Several of my wonderful test knitters knit their shawls in laceweight and they are absolutely stunning.

The pattern on includes only the charts; however, I know many people prefer to work from written instructions. These are available for download as a PDF here.

Price: Free!

Skill Level: Advanced

Yarn: 1,400 yards of fingering weight, wool or wool blend yarn with a gauge of 5.5 sts/inch; preferably in a semi-solid or solid colour.

Sample: Koigu Premium Merino (100% Merino Wool, 175 yds / 160 m per 50 gram skein); colour 2120, Red, 8 skeins.

Finished Size:
Width: 72 inches
Length at center: 37 inches
Note: Measurements given for shawl after blocking.

Other Materials:
* Yarn needle
* Stitch markers (4)
* Cable needles (2)
* Glow line tape (to mark current row on chart)
* Fine cotton thread in contrasting colour for life-lines
* Tapestry needle
* Waste yarn in constrasting colour for grafting rows
* Blocking wires and pins

Skills Required:
* Increasing and decreasing
* Lace
* Following complex charts
* Blocking


Chart B1
Row 11 – should begin “yo, k1” and the last two stitches should be “k1, yo.”

Row 17 is missing a yo in stitch 15.

Chart B2
Row 5 – The cable at stitch 11-12 & 27-28 is crossed the wrong way. It should be a C2BP.

Row 37 – Second stitch from beginning and the end should be a purl.

Chart B3
Row 15 – Second last stitch should be a purl.

Chart D2
Rows 36-38 – the Flower in the middle of the first and last shape are dropped one stitch down. The flower bud should start on row 37 and end on 39.

Row 42 – the first stitch is missing from the chart. It should be a purl.

Updated Charts:
Revised Chart B1
Chart B2 revised

Photographer: Shawn Miller, Distractions in Focus
Models: Alana Krause, Anita Cloutier

New Design – Cantilevering Leaves


Cantilevering Leaves is finally ready for her debut. She’s been test knit and tech edited and the prognosis was positive. So off I send her down the runway.

Modeled by the ever beautiful Anita and stunningly photographed by Shawn, she cuts an elegant swath, wrapping her wearer in cozy warmth.

Hot off the needles – Combs Cowl


Combs Cowl

The second in a planned quartet of linen/hemp summer cowls, the lace pattern reminded me of the combs women used to wear in their hair.



My Grandfather passed away earlier this week after a long fight with cancer. I created the Mindfulness Cowl as a meditative process as I remembered time spent with him over my life.

During a time of remembrance, I chose to knit this lace cowl in the Lotus lace pattern in Firefly, a yarn that has a subtle sheen. The meaning of a red lotus is love, compassion, and all the activities of the heart.

Mindfulness Cowl

Mindfulness Cowl

Eclectic Closet – Now with Knitting Patterns


I’ve been silent here the past two months and some may have wondered what had happened. Here’s your answer – knitting designs! The past two months I’ve been feverishly working on translating some of the images in my head into knitting patterns. It’s been an interesting exercise, figuring out how to translate a picture into actual stitches and instructions.

I give you Amplification, Gridwork and Tipsy!

All have their individual pages here in the closet and can be purchased through my Ravelry shop, just follow the links, purchase and download. Gridwork is a free pattern and the link will launch the PDF. Hard (paper) copies of these patterns can be ordered from Shall We Knit?

There are many more designs percolating in my brain so stay tuned, there’s more to come.

Mason-Dixon Knitting


Back in February 2007 I had the pleasure of reviewing an exciting new knitting book, Mason-Dixon Knitting. No one then could dream that, 3 years later, more than 6,200 of their Ball-Band Dischcloth would have been knitted and posted on Ravelry (the universe alone knows how many of these have truly been knit) or that their Nashville homage, Pardon Me (I Didn’t Knit That for You), would become a viral sensation.

To celebrate the release of Mason-Dixon Knitting in paperback, Gardiner and Shayne have launched their newest homage (to the documentary Grey Gardens), Grey Garments. So grab your needles, your copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting and some cotton to knit a dish cloth with Ann and Kay. They’ll have you in stitches!

BOOK REVIEW: Knitting Little Luxuries by Louisa Harding


At some point in every knitter’s life they decide its time to make a special gift. Louisa Harding believes that if you’re going to invest the time in a project, why not indulge in a fabulous yarn to make that knitting time special? Her new book Knitting Little Luxuries: Beautiful Accessories to Knit features 21 patterns for hats, mittens, scarves, purses, wraps and a cardigan, all knit in her own line of yarn.

Harding views these patterns as a “starting point,” showing many of the designs knit up in multiple yarns and embellished with found objects, buttons, flowers, ribbons and embroidery. The items illustrating Knitting Little Luxuries have been embellished with treasures from her Grandmother’s button box. Her goal is to encourage knitters to make each piece as unique as the person creating it and customized to the recipient, rather than slavishly following a pattern.

The patterns in Knitting Little Luxuries are divided into four sections: Eclectic and Quirky where you “embrace embellishments to make your knitting one of a kind;” Textured and Modern, highlighting cables and interesting stitch fabrics; Pretty and Feminine that showcases luxury fibers, colour and lace; and Traditional and Folk that features fair isle with a twist.

Knitters who follow the latest trends will be eager to knit the Piper Purse, reminiscent of the cables purses carried by many celebrities this season. Those knitters entranced by vintage will be drawn to the Daphne Purse which is reminiscent of straw purses from the 50s, made unique by the addition of silk flowers.

Each pattern lists yarn requirements by weight (DK, worsted), followed by specific yarn information for the sample item. A small section on embellishment techniques is found at the end of Knitting Little Luxuries.

Free Pattern: Cecily Beanie (requires registration at Knitting Daily)

ISBN10: 1596680547
ISBN13: 9781596680548

Trade Paperback
128 Pages
Publisher: Interweave Press
Publication Date: November 1, 2007

Author Website:


BOOK REVIEW: Indigo Knits by Jane Gottelier


Jane and Patrick Gottelier, founders of the Artwork knitwear line, are renown for their fashion lines using indigo yarn. In Indigo Knits: The Quintessential Guide to Denim Yarn from the Founders of Artwork they share the techniques they have become known for in trendy designs for knit and crochet. Photographed in Cornwall, England, this is a beautiful book featuring the beach settings that are the perfect backdrop to show off indigo dyes.

Indigo Knits is a great way for beginning knitters to learn to work with cotton. More than half the designs are suitable for beginners and the boxy shapes require minimal shaping. The finished chest range for the adult sweaters (after washing) is 32” – 57.5”, with the average falling in the 36” – 46” range. Children’s sweaters range from 1-2 years up to 9-10 years. For those seeking casual, comfortable items that will develop the patina of well loved denim, there is much here to recommend. My picks are the Newlyn jacket or Abstract Art sweater.

For a book billed as “the quintessential guide to denim yarn,” I was expecting new techniques or unusual designs so I was somewhat disappointed to discover that Indigo Knits is mostly about the embellishments; that is, what is done to the garment after it is knit with bleaching, beads, sequins, weave stitching and distressing. While indigo yarn is by default considered “casual” (so firmly connected with everyone’s favourite jeans), I was disappointed that Gottelier did not push the boundaries of what can be done with this yarn utilizing full-fashioned designs. I wish that there were a few patterns which featured something other than a boxy shape.

ISBN10: 030735220X
ISBN13: 9780307352200

160 Pages
Publisher: Potter Craft
Publication Date: November 13, 2007


BOOK REVIEW: Field Guide to Knitting: How to Identify, Select, and Work Virtually Every Stitch


The rise in popularity of knitting has led to a plethora of knitting books being published. Along with the books featuring beautiful designs or reflections on knitting, an important subset is the books on techniques and stitch patterns. Field Guide to Knitting: How to Identify, Select, and Work Virtually Every Stitch by Jackie Pawlowski falls in this category.

As knitters gain in experience and begin to experiment, they will reach a point when they need to acquire a stitch dictionary. With so many to choose from, how does a knitter decide? Like many other decisions it comes down to personal preference. Field Guide to Knitting: How to Identify, Select, and Work Virtually Every Stitch, as its name suggests, is structured like a birder’s field guide rather than a typical stitch dictionary. The colour photos of the swatches are numbered and found in the centre of the book. Each entry has a number to the left of the stitch name which corresponds to its photo. A table of contents is at the beginning but to find a specific stitch, knitters will need to reference the index at the end of the volume.

Like many other stitch guides, designers have selected a single colour to work each “family” of stitch patterns (edgings in brown, ribbings in purple). Each pattern has standard information included: general description and history of the stitch, best stitch gauge to achieve pattern definition, stitch properties, suggested uses of the stitch and the stitch instructions. One item not found in other stitch guides is evaluating the stitch pattern on the amount of yarn consumed (1 skein (efficient) to 5 skeins, the black holes of knitting), a very useful tool when planning a garment.

Field Guide to Knitting: How to Identify, Select, and Work Virtually Every Stitch is not designed to be a knitter’s primary stitch dictionary. Its small size, and approximately 200 stitch patterns and variations, make it a wonderful tool to pack in a knitting bag; however, knitters will want to complement it with an exhaustive stitch dictionary for their reference shelf.

ISBN10: 1594741581
ISBN13: 9781594741586

Trade Paperback
384 Pages
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: October 15, 2007
Author Website:


BOOK REVIEW: Expectant Little Knits by Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott


When knitters contemplate pulling out their needles to knit for an expectant mom, most are eyeing cute booties or miniature size cardigans for the baby. Few consider knitting for the mom-to-be; however, Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott’s new book Expectant Little Knits: Chic Designs for Moms to Be will soon see that trend change. Over a dozen designers have come together to create the twenty-two stylish and chic patterns to show off the baby “bump.”

The first section of Expectant Little Knits provides an overview of contemporary maternity fashions and constructions techniques. The final nine pages cover basic knitting techniques. The pages in between feature stunning sweaters which have finished bust sizes of 27″ to 50″, with the average falling in the range of 34″ to 44″. The majority of the tops are sleeveless, featuring clever design elements including pleats, empire waists, discrete and not-so-discrete buttons for nursing, and lace in side panels. Each pattern provides a generic yarn description and yardage requirements and is suitable for beginning and intermediate knitters. It is only at the end of the pattern that the details of the model yarn are provided.

Of the twenty-two patterns, there is one coat, three dresses, eight tanks/tops, four pullovers, three cardigans, two hoodies, and a jacket. My favourite is the “Motherhoodie” shown in Noro’s Silk Garden which I’ve already made two of for pregnant friends. My only complaint about this book is that many of the designs are shown in mohair and alpaca which may be too warm for the average pregnant woman.

ISBN10: 1600591515
ISBN13: 9781600591518

128 Pages
Publisher: Lark Books
Publication Date: January 1, 2008


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My Knitting Patterns

Audrey II

Angular Path Scarf

Cartouche Stole

Fossetta Cowl

Fossetta Hat

Sargaço Shawl

Whitman Hat

Every Which Way Cowl

Every Which Way Hat

Every Which Way Fingerless Mitts

Gothic Forest Scarf

Valencia Scarf

Branching Path Cowl

Flower Bell Stole

Whitman Cowl

New Tech Cowl

Vieux Carré Stole

Stacks Socks

Anna Perenna Shawlette

Taming of the Fox

Don't Ask Y

Cantilevering Leaves

Amplification Stole

Combs Cowl

Mindfulness Cowl

Tipsy Scarf

Gridwork Scarf
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