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.

Happy Father’s Day to my Dad


4 months scaled

Camping scaled

Dad and me scaled

Snowman scaled

Thank you for so many wonderful memories.

In the Night


The hunter investigates

The hunter investigates

seeking the secret society
evidenced by the rustling leaves
the gentle whispers of feet
that scamper and roam

Finley wonders what Persephone has found

who goes there

who rustles and darts
as the hunters

Finley & Persephone contemplating the garden

survey their domain

posted under garden | No Comments »

Knitting in the Garden


I’m not one who makes many resolutions at New Year’s but I knew that for 2015 I wanted to spend more time doing activities in my garden – my oasis – this year rather than just plant things in it.

View of my garden

View of my garden

I want to spend time simply being in it and enjoying the serenity with my cats, a cup of coffee and my knitting. While it may not be super warm yet in the most of the city (today’s high is 11C/56F), the sun lays in my garden all afternoon raising the temperatures significantly and making it an amazing place to knit in cooler weather.

Finley checking the garden for interlopers

Finley checking the garden for interlopers

In the height of summer I can’t knit here in the afternoon without shade or I risk heat stroke, but today, as I sit and enjoy the warm sun and singing birds, I’m reminded of what a treasure my garden really is. The tulips and daffodils are blooming, the cats are enjoying a nap in the sun and the neighbour’s wind chimes are playing in the breeze. For now I’m ignoring the weeding and clean-up and just enjoying my second Saturday afternoon in a row spent knitting in the garden.

Dwarf tulips

Dwarf tulips

It’s difficult to believe it’s been two months since I posted anything here or released a pattern. I have several that are almost ready to be released, they just need formatting and to be uploaded to Ravelry. So stay tuned for pattern releases coming soon. Most of my attention has been focused on this year’s large project, a collection of my designs being released in three stages. The first part of the collection will be released in August and a lot of the pieces are ready for photography. I’m very excited and will post in the next week to share more details. For now, I’ll leave you with this teaser photo, a pattern slated for release in July as a teaser for the collection – and today’s garden knitting project.

Any guesses what it might be when it's done?

Any guesses what it might be when it’s done?

Experimental Cowl


Close up of Experimental Cowl
It’s been incredibly cold the past week in Ontario. Plus -30 Celsius could (including wind chill)! When it’s that cold you need lots of layers and really warm pieces to protect your skin from freezing. With temperatures dipping as low as they have, now seemed like the perfect time to release the Experimental Cowl.

I designed this cowl mid-January as an experiment. I was curious what cables would look like in super bulky yarn and I had this idea in my head. I wanted to do a centre cabled panel and then pick up off that to make a cowl in garter stitch. I had the perfect buttons from Melissa Jean (bought at Rhinebeck a few years ago) in my stash and I was sure the scale of the buttons would work well with the super bulky yarn.

Experimental Cowl showing alternate method to button it

I also wanted to create a stash busting pattern. The sample was knit with three strands of aran weight and one strand of worsted weight yarn held together, but any configuration of yarn that gets gauge would work. The pattern as written makes a fitted cowl but the pattern can easily be adjusted by working additional garter rows to make it longer.

P.S. Thanks Jen (model) and Shawn (photographer) for braving the cold temperatures to capture these amazing photos!

Tiling Twists Cowl


Tiling Twists Cowl in Simplinatural
It’s a cold, cold night here, -34 degrees Celsius with wind chill. Brrrrrr…..

How to stay warm in these frigid temperatures? A cozy cowl made with alpaca that you can pull up around your ears to protect from those breath-stealing winds. With that in mind, I’m happy to release Tiling Twists Cowl. The elongated basket weave and mini cables of this stitch pattern combine to create a reversible fabric with two distinctly different, yet attractive, looks.

Variations on a Theme


I suspect many designers do it. We create a design and then, much like a composer does, we continue to work with the stitch patterns over time – putting them together in different ways. Essentially, variations on a theme.

Sometimes this is because we aren’t done with a stitch pattern, it still has us in its grasps. Like a melody that haunts a composer, this stitch pattern isn’t ready to let us go. For me, that haunting stitch pattern is the one used in my Cartouche series (Cartouche Shawl, Cartouche Stole and Cartouche Slouchy Beret, if you’re curious). I’m pretty sure I’m not done with it yet.

Designs using cartouche stitch pattern

Cartouche Stole, Shawl & Beret

As I mentioned in the blog post announcing the release of Twisted Circles Cowl, the idea for it was sparked in early 2013, after I saw a picture of a stitch pattern that creates the illusion of circles, reminiscent of op-art, by the simple use of blocks of reverse stockinette stitch. I knew instantly that I wanted to use it in something but didn’t have an idea yet. Fast forward a year to a doodle made while I was on the phone and I suddenly found the inspiration to use the stitch pattern. I had been doodling hour glass shapes and it suddenly came to me – alternate sections of this circle pattern with a densely cabled pattern to create the hourglass shape. Do this multiple times in a circle to make a unique infinity cowl!

Twisted Circles Cowl, showing wide and narrow sections

Figuring out the shape I wanted essentially determined the construction. The cowl begins with a provisional cast on and is knit flat back and forth. The piece is finished by grafting the two ends together. The gently scalloped cable edging provides a beautiful frame to the face. All that was left was to figure out what yarn to use. I knew I wanted it to be a worsted yarn that had spring and loft and I love knitting with Indigodragonfly Yarn’s wonderful yarns and colourways. So I turned to Kim for advice and she pointed out the rich green colourway – “Is the Money Okay? Did they Hurt the Money? (Buffy)” – in their MerGoat Worsted base.

Twisted Circles Cowl

Twisted Circles Cowl

I had thought that would be the end of working with these stitch patterns until a friend presented a challenge – could I use the same stitch patterns to create a long, shallow shawl. The quick answer was yes, of course I could, but to make it something that would be attractive, wearable and yet could be written up as a pattern would be the challenge.

The shape was already determined what I had to do was determine how to put the stitch patterns together that would showcase the best qualities of each design. The added challenge was the differences in gauge between the two main patterns. In the cowl where the two stitch patterns alternated, these differences wouldn’t matter. In a longer piece, those differences could be significant, depending on where the stitch patterns were place.

Twisted Circles Shawl cover shot

Twisted Circles Shawl

During the design phase, I considered multiple shawl constructions methods; top down, bottom up, and even working the body first in the circle pattern followed by an attached edging of the dense cables. None felt quite right until I looked at the piece from a different angle and decided the construction needed to be worked from tip to tip. That way all three stitch patterns could be knit at the same time with periodic short rows are worked in the densely cabled sections to compensate for row gauge differences.

Twisted Circles Shawl, back view

I already knew this shawl was going to be published in Knitty and that it would be done in the luminous Clematis shade of Miss Babs Yowza – Whatta Skein. On to the knitting!

Thus ends the story of the Twisted Circles variations. Now I’m curious to see what variations the knitterati choose as they knit these patterns!

Twisted Circles Shawl

Twisted Circle Shawl


Twisted Circles Shawl
I was lucky enough to have one of my earliest designs (Cartouche Shawl) published in Knitty magazine. So it is such an honour to have my newest design featured as one of their Winter 2014 surprises.

Introducing Twisted Circles Shawl, the companion piece to Twisted Circles Cowl which I posted about yesterday. Coming soon – a blog post about utilizing the same stitch patterns to such different effect in these two pieces.

Twisted Circles Cowl


Twisted Circles Cowl
Today I’m introducing my newest design, Twisted Circles Cowl. The idea for this cowl came to me in early 2013, after I saw a picture of a stitch pattern that creates the illusion of circles by the simple use of blocks of reverse stockinette stitch. Once I saw the rich green of Indigodragonfly Yarn’s MerGoat Worsted yarn, I knew I had found the perfect yarn for this cowl.

The cowl begins with a provisional cast on and is knit back and forth. The piece is finished by grafting the two ends together.

Interview: Elizabeth Elliott


Today’s interview is with Elizabeth Elliott of e.elliott knits.

Note: It’s the last of the GAL interview series and, despite my well-meant intentions, did not get published before Christmas. Rather than have it get lost in the holiday season, I decided to hold off and post the interview today.

Firenze Mittens

Firenze Mittens

How did you get started designing?
I’d been playing around with structure and stitch patterns for a while, and came up with an idea for a reversible baby blanket with an integrated short-row hood (the Sweet Lullaby Seamless Hooded Blanket). My mum suggested that I write the idea down and submit it to Knit Picks’ Independent Designer Program, which had just started up. I sent it in, they accepted it, and they were so supportive and encouraging that I just kept going.

What inspires your designs?
To be honest, I don’t always know. Sometimes it’s a particular yarn or combination of colours; sometimes I want to play with a technique or experiment with structure; sometimes I’m just falling asleep and an idea will come seemingly out of nowhere, and won’t let me sleep until I get up and sketch it. The Firenze set started out as a scarf that needed a border. I was going for a Renaissance look, so I went to the library and looked through books of paintings from that period. I fell in love with a detail from Andrea del Castagno’s painting, Pippo Spanno, which it turned out worked better on its own than with the main pattern of the scarf, so I used it for mittens and a cowl, instead. I’m still looking for a border for that scarf.

Backroad Scarf, Aran weight

Backroad Scarf, Aran weight

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
It could be either. The Backroad Hats started with the yarn: Michelle at Widdershin Woolworks asked if I’d test out a new yarn she was thinking of carrying, and I tried to come up with a stitch pattern that would show off the variegated colourway and work well with the yarn’s sproinginess. The wrap I’m working on now started with an idea for a lace border; I tried several yarns before finding one that clicked. I’ve been working on some more colourwork ideas using the Sunday Knits 3-ply yarns: the colour palette is so huge, there’s lots of room to play around with colour combinations.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
Since I started spinning a few years ago, I’ve become more and more interested in suiting the yarn to the purpose: wooly wools for outer layers, tightly plied yarns for items that will see a lot of wear, lofty yarns for large projects like blankets. I try to come up with designs that are interesting to make, so that the process is as enjoyable as the final product.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
That changes all the time, but overall I’d say stranded colourwork. I like the mathiness of it — the challenge of coming up with attractive designs within the grid format — and it gives me a chance to play around with colour combinations.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
I think it would be Sunday Knits yarn. It’s soft and pleasant to knit with, with a good plying structure, so it’s very versatile. The colours are just lovely, too.

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
Socks. I used to be into fancy socks, but I find that I really like working on plain, 3×1 rib socks, especially since I’ve done enough of them that they’re mindless knitting for me now. When I’m working on one of those socks in self-striping yarn (especially in handspun), it feels like my hands just know what to do, while the stripes keep it interesting with no extra effort from me.

Jazz Age mitts

Jazz Age Mitts

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
I kind of feel like the Jazz Age mittens don’t get the love I thought they would. They’re getting more attention with the Gift-A-Long, especially since I changed the main photo (it’s so hard to choose the right photo sometimes), so hopefully more people will see them now.

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
Well, I finished Laura Chau’s Orbital Ornaments and Birch Hollow Cottage’s Little Fox Mittens, both of which were a lot of fun. Next up is Marnie MacLean’s Cercis sweater for me.

Continental or English?
English. My English grandmother taught me to knit, so that’s how I learned. I’d really like to learn Continental, though. My stitching-and-coffee friend knits Continental, and it’s amazing to watch her go.

Gimble Mitts

Gimble Mitts

What’s the best thing about knitting?
Always having something productive to fill slack time. I recently had to fly to Alberta from Birmingham, and without knitting, those flights would have been mind-numbingly tedious. I like having a way to keep my hands busy while reading, watching movies or tv shows, sitting in waiting rooms, and so on, and at the end you have something you can use.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Don’t be afraid to try new things. The worst that will happen is that you’ll have to rip out your work and try again, and even then you’ll have learned something.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I don’t really do resolutions, but I think next year I’ll finally try to learn Continental knitting. I’d also like to be designing sweaters by the end of next year.

View all of Elizabeth’s patterns here. All images copyright Elizabeth Elliott and used by permission.

Changes in EU VAT rules and how it affects your purchase of my knitting patterns


If you’ve been following the discussions of the new EU VAT rules that went into effect on January 1st, 2015, then this is probably old hat by now. For those that haven’t, I thought I should post a note about the new legislation and what I’ve done to comply – and of course, how this will affect your shopping experience.

Customers who don’t live in the EU won’t notice a change at all. Your shopping experience in my Ravelry store (or in Patternfish) will function as normal.

My prices have never been VAT inclusive, so EU customers shopping via Patternfish will see slightly higher prices that include their local VAT rate. EU customers shopping via Ravelry will be redirected to LoveKnitting to check out, at which time VAT will be applied to their purchase.

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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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