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.

Lá Bealtaine


Janelle Martin_MG_2886 sized watermarked
Lá Bealtaine
was designed for Wooly Wonka Fibers’ Celtic Year club, inspired by the Gaelic May Day festival Beltane – one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals at which special bonfires were kindled. Lá Bealtaine is the Irish Gaelic name for Beltane.

The pattern includes three sizes for this design: a shoulder wrap with buttons, a scarf and a rectangular stole.

Janelle Martin_MG_2933 sized watermarked

Patterns for period drama lovers


I love period dramas and will happily watch a marathon of Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, The Miss Fisher Mysteries or The Paradise. Many of these feature fantastic knit or crochet garments and all have inspired designers with their aesthetic. Here are some of my picks for those who desire a bit of vintage style with their knitting/crochet.

Flapper Cloche by Megan Nodecker

Flapper Cloche by Megan Nodecker


Pride and Prejudice Mittens by Christelle Nihoul

Pride and Prejudice Mittens by Christelle Nihoul


Sanguinaria yarn bag by Naomi Parkhurst

Sanguinaria yarn bag by Naomi Parkhurst


Paris 1925 by Marie Greene

Paris 1925 by Marie Greene


Parisian Delight by Andrea Rangel

Parisian Delight by Andrea Rangel


Ninetta Neckwarmer by Nina Machlin Dayton

Ninetta Neckwarmer by Nina Machlin Dayton




In Case of Draughts by Hunter Hammersen

In Case of Draughts by Hunter Hammersen


Nola Cloche by Hilary Smith Callis

Nola Cloche by Hilary Smith Callis


Bellocq by Marnie MacLean

Bellocq by Marnie MacLean


Lady Sybil's Crescent by Michele DuNaier

Lady Sybil’s Crescent by Michele DuNaier


What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

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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.

Interview: Tabi Ferguson


Today’s interview is with Tabi Ferguson of Sericin Silkworks. There must be something in the water here locally, for Tabi is just one of many amazing designers hailing from my local community (Sally Melville, Debbie New and the many interviewed as part of last year’s series).

Editor’s Note: Tabi’s yarns are truly luscious and I highly recommend you visit her store! For the sake of total transparency, I have designed several pieces in her yarns (Gothic Forest Scarf, Pyrenees Shawl, and Crow’s Foot Cowl). Tabi currently has yarn kits available for the Crow’s Foot Cowl which include a coupon for the pattern.

Ceylon Cowl

Tabi modeling the Cowl of Ceylon

Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit? And dyeing?
My grandmother taught me to knit when I was fairly young, maybe 6 or 7 years old. She also crocheted and sewed. I started dyeing in 2010 because I wanted to create hand dyed silks for spinning.

How did you get started designing?
I also started designing in 2010. I love lace designs and had knit quite a few Nieblings so I was intrigued by his unique style. I also wanted to create motifs that weren’t in stitch dictionaries.

What inspires your designs and dyeing?
My designs are often inspired by architecture here and abroad and design magazines and websites. I enjoy re-interpreting classic shapes that we might see in stone, tile or wood and translating them into texture and colour. Dyeing is almost always the serendipity of the day.

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
It really depends on the project, but usually the inspiration comes first, then I get excited imagining all the different types of yarns I can use for the implementation.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I prefer my designs to be concise with minimal finishing or simple shaping. I’m a slow knitter, so I try to consider ‘quicker’ techniques such as stranded colourwork vs. double knitting or brioche or mosaic. The effect is subtly different, but it’s much faster (for me) to knit.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
Because I’m not great at fit, I still mainly design accessories, particularly stoles and scarves, but also socks and gloves. Overall stoles are my favourite because you can tell a story across its width, similar to medieval tapestries.

How do your travels connect into your dyeing?
My travels connect directly with both my dyeing and my designs. I’m often inspired by the architecture and carvings of temples, churches, palaces of far-off places, but also ‘mundane’ objects like baskets and piles of fresh produce in open air markets.

Do you have an aspirational knit – a complicated/challenging design that you want to knit “some day” when you feel ready?
I would love to do a Fair Isle cardigan at some point incorporating my handspun yarns.

What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
I have a double sided (but not double knit!) reversible colour work scarf and neckwarmer design in the immediate queue. I knit the original scarf for my partner, but I keep stealing it (I usually ask first), so I decided to knit and write up a neckwarmer version so we can figure out who gets which.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
That’s way too hard! My first answer would be any handspun, but mill spun yarn would have to be Sericin Silkworks 50/50 Bison/Silk.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
That’s a tough one. Either my Clouds of Luxury Fair Isle Fingerless Gloves or Stupas and Spires. Clouds was inspired by the many beautiful fair isle patterns, but with a more modern look. It was spun then knit from a luxury fiber sample pack, but I’ve since knit the pattern with fine fingering weight yarns, a shetland yarn would be perfect, and I even knit a worsted version for my mom from commercial yarn.

Stupas and Spires was released in the Spring 2014 PLY magazine. It is a side-to-side stole, originally made from a graduated handspun laceweight yarn whose colours and design were inspired by the temple complexes of Sri Lanka.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
I don’t feel I’m a very accomplished knitter. Although I enjoy complicated lace and colourwork, I’m terrible at fit and shaping. However, I’m very fortunate to have a great LYS, Shall We Knit?, and many local talented knitting friends and designers. My biggest piece of advice is to seek out other knitting friends, you will learn so much, not only about knitting but life!

If you could have dinner with one knitting designer (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Herbert Niebling. He was able to sit down and immediately translate an organic (ie. non-geometric) motif to a lace design.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I need to get better at queuing up my next knitting or spinning projects before finishing the current one. I often find myself knit- or spin-less for a week or two between projects. Valuable time wasted! Plus it’s embarrassing when you get invited to knit or spin-ins and you don’t have a project. 🙂

View all of Tabi’s patterns here. Photos copyright Tabi Ferguson. All images used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

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:

Herzblut Scarf


Herzblut Scarf glamour shot

I’m thrilled to finally release Herzblut Scarf. This scarf has been ready for a while but I was saving it to release during the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long 2014. This scarf is perfect for chasing away winter blues. Select a brilliant jewel tone like the deep red shown in the sample or something that will make you smile on a grey day. The scarf is designed to take advantage of the generous yardage of Wollmeise ‘Pure 100% Merino Superwash.’

Sinuosity Shawl


Back view of shawl
The Sinuosity Shawl went live a few weeks ago, but somehow time flew and I never managed to post a blog entry for it. Sinuous waves flow through the body of this top-down, triangular shawl, highlighted by the luster and drape inherent in the longwool fibres of the Blue Faced Leicester fibre (String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn ‘Bluestocking’). If substituting yarn, select a wool blend that has contains silk to achieve the same amount of drape.

Construction Note: Sinuosity Shawl begins with a lace “tab,” a common method for beginning top-down, triangular shawls. As the Sinuosity Shawl has a panel down the centre, the tab “strip” is longer. A link to instructions for this technique is provided in the Links section of this pattern. Instructions are included for both a narrow (shown in sample worn by model) and wide (shown in edging close up) edging option.

Note: Sinuosity Shawl is part of Gift-A-Long 2014. My bundle of participating patterns is a collection of accessories – perfect for your holiday knitting. Happy knitting and gifting! 25% off these during the GAL sale from November 13-21 with the code “giftalong2014”. Learn more about Gift-A-Long 2014 here.

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.

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!

Artist-in-Residence at Shall We Knit?


Janelle Martin with her designs on display at Shall We Knit?
I was honoured when Karen at Shall We Knit? asked if I would participate in their Artist-in-Residence program. I’m among good company; in April 2013 designer Linda Choo’s work was on display and, in February 2013, Kathryn Matthews was featured.

Janelle Martin designs
For the month of June, my designs are on display in the gallery space on the second floor of the shop and each Saturday I’ll be on hand at the shop to answer questions, offer advice and chat about the new design I’m developing as part of my residency. Indigodragonfly sponsors the artist-in-residence and I’ve decided to create my design in their lovely Linen Silk. The drape and feel of this yarn has to be experienced in person. I’m using a luscious spring green – Türtljägr: For When Frögschläger Just Won’t Do. For now, all I’ll say is that I’m designing a stole with the same construction as my Vieux Carré Stole (the light blue stole in the photo below).

Janelle Martin designs

Stop by Shall We Knit? this Saturday or the next and say hi! I’ll be at the shop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Janelle Martin designs

P.S. Thanks for the photos Dad!

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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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