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 Cowl


Cartouche cowl glamour shot

When I first started designing I spent a lot of time paging through Japanese stitch dictionaries (and still do!) and found the main pattern used in this cowl. It reminded me of an Egyptian cartouche and I visualized it in a deeper vibrant red. That design, Cartouche Shawl, was published in Knitty, Winter 2011. I’ve since used these stitch patterns in the Cartouche Slouchy Beret and the Cartouche Stole; however, I still wasn’t done with this design and knew that I wanted to do a cowl and fingerless gloves to complete the set.

Cartouche cowl stitch pattern detail

And here is the result, the penultimate piece in the Cartouche series – the Cartouche Cowl.

Vogue Knitting, Fall 2015


Made in Canada column, Vogue Knitting Fall 2015

Some things require serious squealing and excited jumping up and down. Getting mentioned in Vogue Knitting’s Made in Canada column certainly qualifies! Getting described by author Lee Ann Dalton in Vogue Knitting this way, “Janelle Martin makes you want everything she designs,” put me over the moon. Seeing that in bold print under one of my designs brought me to my figurative knees. Thank you Lee Ann for your amazing words. And a big thank you to my mentors, technical editor, and the rest of the team that helped me reach this point – you know who you are!

A special thank you to the beautiful Jen and talented Shawn for making my designs look so beautiful.

Secret Society Shawl


Secret Society in Bare Naked Wools Mrs Lincolns Lace
I am thrilled to announce that I’ve released the “teaser” pattern for my new collection, Northern Landscapes. I’ve been working on these pieces for the past nine months and am excited to see the work nearing release.

You can purchase Secret Society either as an individual pattern for $7.50 or by pre-ordering the ebook. The ebook (a $75.00 value) is available for $24.95 until the rest of the patterns are released in mid-August, at which time the price for the ebook increases to $35.95.

Secret Society in Stone Soup Fingering

The patterns in the collection are also collated as a “set” in Ravelry. You can purchase individual patterns and these will be credited toward the cost of the ebook. Once you’ve spent $34.95 you will automatically receive the rest of the patterns from the collection in your library.

Purchase Secret Society:

Purchase Northern Landscapes, part one ebook:

Northern Landscapes, part 1


Burnt Cape Guernsey Stole in Bare Naked Wools Ghillie Sock

For the past 10 months I’ve been working on a semi-secret project, my first pattern collection! I shared the first details on the collection in an interview on the Knitspot website, whose fantastic Bare Naked Wools provide the foundation of the collection.

About the collection:
This past summer (2014) I traveled to Newfoundland, to the arctic coastal tundra region where the Vikings had the first European settlement in North America. Such gorgeous landscape! It’s inspired a collection focused around the landscape of this area of Newfoundland and its geological cousins in Iceland and coastal Ireland. I’ve been lucky enough to visit all three places over the past 10 years. I find the remote and stark landscapes inspiring – nature has such beautiful lines and movement.

Secret Society in Mrs. Lincoln's Lace

Secret Society

The first part of the Northern Landscapes collection will be released mid-August but the first “teaser” pattern, Secret Society, will be released on July 6, 2015. For now, please visit the pattern page on Ravelry and favourite it.

Secret Society in Stone Soup Fingering

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.

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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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