September 14, 2008

Casual Elegant Knits – Blog Tour

Posted in How To's, knitting tagged at 9:52 am by nephele

Casual, Elegant Knits isn’t one of those trendy, “ooh that’s neat but when would I wear it” pattern books. The patterns here are the sort of wardrobe staples you’ll find yourself pulling out of your closet again and again. It may even provide something to wear with that trendy item. I meet Faina a few years ago at my LYS and was very pleased, honored (and a little nervous) to be ask to take part in there blog tour. Here are the results. 



Casual Elegant Knits

Casual Elegant Knits




LM: I’m joined today by both authors Faina Goberstein and Dawn Leeseman.


FG: Liz, thank you very much for being one of the stops on our blog tour. Our excitement builds up even more as we go from one stop to another. When people ask us about the book, we look back on our two-year work and relive some of the emotions we had at the time. Since we had a very nice experience then, we enjoy going back in time. So, what do you want to know?


LM: One of the first things I noticed when I looked through your book was all the nice, clear, big pictures of all the projects. There were even multiple views of the same piece. Thank you for that. It makes it so much easier to get a feel for a pattern that way. As authors how much influence did you have in the design of the book?


FG: Ah, good question. When we sent our manuscript to the publisher, we had to supply photos of the projects to convey the vision of how the garments need to be worn. Our editor was fine with all the requests we had for the layout of the book. The first page proofs came without photos. The second time we saw page proofs it already had photos. We liked the layout of the book and many other things. We were not particularly happy with the color of the cover and some of the backgrounds of the photos. Since this is our first book with Martingale & Co, we really did not know how much of input we could have for a book design. I, for example, felt that it is not very nice of me to step on the toes of a professional photographer. We called our editor and asked her how much we can influence the outcome of the design. She answered that they would appreciate any comments we have. They do want us to feel that we are part of the team and they want us to be happy. Our art director called me and we had a long conversation with him. I asked if the pictures could be taken outside. He chuckled and said: “Faina, we will try, but remember we are in Seattle. It rains here during this time almost every day.” Well, we did get lucky. They had a window of a great weather and all the shots were done on the street. We are so pleased with the result. Like you said, they show many large pictures and the layout of the book is not busy, so it is easy to read.


DL: We had quite a bit of influence. We definitely wanted a gallery-style page for the Table of Contents and for each chapter. We were very pleased that the publisher provided this. We conveyed our thoughts for the photos by doing our own “photo shoot” with our initial models. We presented the full ensemble, then the individual photo (how we wanted the model to pose) and then close up details that we thought were important.


Photo courtesy of Martingale and Company, photographed by Brent Kane

Photo courtesy of Martingale and Company, photographed by Brent Kane



LM: Another thing that jumped out at me was the number men’s patterns. If it weren’t for the skirts and some layered looks for the women I think the numbers would have been equal. Was that a deliberate, planned outcome?


FG: Dawn and I like when men are dressed well. We also think that there are many men’s patterns on the market that offer a relaxed and outdoorsy look, not the fitted and elegant look. If you talk to men who are fashion-conscience, you will hear that they want the look we have in our book.


DL: Yes this was definitely planned. We are seeing a growing number of male knitters and wanted to have a book that would appeal to them as well as female knitters that want to knit attractive sweaters and accessories for men.


LM: The men’s sweaters strike a good balance between something that men will wear without complaint (always tricky) and things that won’t be boring for the knitter to make. So who do you think is harder to design for: men or women?


DL:  I enjoy both and do not think it is hard to design for either. Both Faina and I are particular about what we like in men’s fashion so it was a very good opportunity for us to design for them with the fit that we would like to see, as well as using stitch patterns that create some texture for additional visual interest. We also were able to consult with Faina’s husband ,Simon, for his fashion input from a man’s perspective.


LM:  We’re in the second half of the blog tour and I think the obvious questions have all been asked but one thing I found myself wondering about as I read was one of your answers, Faina. You said that the decorative cast on you used on the two women’s hats (including the red beret than I need to make) was a common technique in European knitting. Are there any other European techniques that you’ve used in the designs?


FG: Yes, there are. The selvage stitches are done differently in our book. I especially worked on them when I designed scarves and the Funnel-Neck Top. That top is done in the round and the rib pattern for underarms continues to provide edges of an armhole. I needed to keep the selvage stitches very straight to make the edges crisp. I want to suggest your readers that they follow that technique to achieve the result they see on the photo.

There are also four different patterns that are done in brioche stitches. They are all different and beautiful. I love brioche for many reasons. The basic of this family of stitches was used in America in shaker knitting, but I do not see it used in our times. In Europe it is one of the staples.


ML: Related to the last question, have you encountered any American techniques?


FG:  Actually, yes. I never knew about three-needle bind off. Dawn showed it to me four years ago. I always seamed shoulders using mattress stitch. And, you will laugh, you taught me how to do a Russian join. Although I am from Russia, I have never heard about it there. It is the same case with the Russian salad dressing. We do not have any dressings in Russian cooking. And, Dawn is reminding me – I have never done felting before. All felting projects in the book are Dawn’s. I did test a beret pattern for her. That was my first felting project ever.


LM: With the two of you we’re getting the best of both worlds. Are there any ways you’ve altered or added to each other’s knitting style?


FG: I learned how to knit the English way especially stitch patterns with the yarn over. It is very different from how I do it. Sometimes my left hand is overworked and I switch to throwing method. I have to be careful, though. My tension is different when I switch. It is nice to know both when I teach people to knit.


DL: I picked up some good tips about that nice slipped stitch edge that Faina uses. I also like Faina’s idea to start out with a generous swatch for measuring gauge.



LM: Back to the book. As a plus size person one of the first things I look for in pattern book is the range of sizes. You did a pretty good job there, thank you, but one of my favorite pieces the Little Flirt Skirt doesn’t go quite large enough for me. I’ve seen lots of articles about resizing sweater patterns but I haven’t seen anyone talk about skirts. You’ve already written the pattern in several sizes so do you have any advice on how to go about resizing it?


FG: If you make a very good size swatch and check your gauge, you can make a proportion like this:


Actual hip (in)                   Number of sts for CO

—————–       =     ————————-                            

        4 in                         18 sts (gauge from pattern)



Number of sts for CO = [Actual hip (in) x 18 sts ] divide by 4 in.


The number you get must be divided by 13. If your number is not evenly divided by 13, get as close as you can to the number that will be divided by 13 by adding or subtracting sts. If you have to add more sts to get the pleats worked out and it looks too big for the hips, think about decreasing evenly after you are done with the pleats and you go to the main body. Do not forget that you are changing needles and your gauge is going to change later. I would also recommend increasing the length as you work in the round from the pleats panel to the hip line. It will make a slimmer look of the body. Good luck with this. It is a good pattern to experiment with, I think.


FG: Thank you, Liz, for your hospitality. We really appreciate that you asked such great questions. I want to wish you all the best with all of your ventures in design.

We would like to invite your readers to our next stop with Donna Druchunas .


LM: Thank you both for letting me take part. It wasn’t nearly as scary I thought it would be.

And that’s it. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour. I posted the full schedule over here.


  PS: I apologize for the lack of pictures. Every time I try to add them in, the post gets mangled 😦
I’ll try again when I get home and can use my own computer.


September 2, 2007

Lutea Shell Modifications

Posted in How To's, knitting at 1:07 pm by nephele

I thought I’d do a quick post detailing the changes I made to the Lutea Shell pattern. If anyone wants to make similar changes you won’t have to start from scratch. As previously noted, I made the largest size listed. For other sides you’ll need to further modify things.

The first change I made was to purl the first round. I knew I didn’t want the rolled hem. I originally planned to crab-stitch around the bottom and I liked the idea of having the purl ridge as an added detail. From there I followed the pattern through all of the waist decreases. I’m  a bit short waisted so I took out 3 of the straight rows at the waist. Put another way, I started the increases 3 rows sooner. Other than that I did the increases as written.

The big changes started at the armholes. As written, the pattern has modified raglan style armholes. That is: decrease one stitch each side – repeat a bunch of times. I didn’t like this much. It even noted in the pattern that this would result in a deep-cut armhole on the larger sizes and might require an X-back or strapless bra. Ick. It would also make rather deep armholes. As a big gal I get enough of those from store bought clothes. I don’t need to make my own. No one needs armholes that go down to there waist! Also, since armholes are left unfinished, this technique left a bit of a pulled looking gap right where the two sides of the armhole split off. My solution? Scrap the whole thing and do my own shaping.

I started off by binding off 4 stitches on each side. At that point I continued working in rows on the back. I bound off 3 stitches on each side, then 2. Next I decreased one stitch on each side, every row for six rows, then every other row until I reached the stitch count called for in the pattern. I finished the back as written.

After the back was done I tried in on backwards. Why backwards? The pattern is the same front and back. I was pretty sure the neckline would be too high for me and this confirmed it. I wanted the neckline about two inches lower. This was slightly complicated because I would need to start the neck before I finished shaping the armholes but the neck starts with bunch of short rows.

It turns out it wasn’t all that difficult. I knew how many stitches were needed for the neck. I found the center and counted out from there placing makers to show where the neck section would be. The lace for the shoulders is a four row repeat. So all I had to do was to make sure that when I started the neckline the number of rows remaining in the armhole shaping was divisible by four. I wanted the neck to be about 2 inches lower so I went with 12 rows. So… when I had twelve rows left to do on the armhole shaping I started the neckline short rows between the markers. Once the short rows were done I continued with the armhole shaping and worked the lace pattern when I got to the markers. When there were no more stitchs on the armhole side of the markers, I just continued normally from there to the end.

Once the shoulders were finished off I tried on the top and decided it was just too short to look good on me. I thought about picking out the cast on edge and working down but then decided to make life easier and just pick up stitches and knit a few lace repeats.

The lace pattern alternates between 4 and 6 stitches but it starts with 4 so that’s what I worked with. The original cast on for the top was 220 stitches. I picked all of those up and I could have just gone with that but I wanted the front and back to be even. 220 stitches would have meant 55 repeats. So on the first row I worked two decreases on each side. That gave me 216 stitches or 54 repeats.

Since I was working with a stretchy lace pattern I didn’t worry about doing any shaping. I just worked 4 repeats of the lace followed by four rounds of garter stitch and bound off. That just left me a few yarn ends to deal with and it was done.

Gretchen said:

Your Lutea looks much better than the original– the lace hem suits it better than a stockinette curl. Good idea!

Thanks, I like it too. And really who needs a roll of fabric right at the high hip point? I’ve got enough rolls of my own.

knittingnoob said:

Do we get to see it on? It’s pretty, lovely color. And I certainly don’t blame you, I prefer longer shirts/sweaters.

I have no idea what you’re working on now, but I’ll guess something xmasy, since it looks red and white :p Hope its a fun knit!

-sigh- The things I do for the blog. I hate pictures of myself but I suppose it was inevitable that I’d have to do this someday…
lutea worn

At least it fits well. And you’re right, the new project is Christmas related. I’ve finished on and am almost done with number 2. Pictures next time. Probably of the Mystery Stole too.

June 7, 2007

Two in a row

Posted in How To's, Knitalongs, knitting at 2:54 pm by nephele

Posting two days in a row? Must be a sign of the apocalypse. Or perhaps it’s just a sign that I’m doing a little better (fingers crossed, not jynxing anything).

I didn’t promise it’d be a long post but I did promise a sock-in-progress picture. So here it is:
LV Socks

This is the Lisa Souza Sock! in Lime & Violet.  I cast on a multiple of 4 sts (68 in this case) and started 2×2 ribbing. I got the urge to add something but I didn’t want to do anything too complicated with all this color contrast so I just added a little detail band. Specifically, after 12 rounds of ribbing I purled one round, knit 3 rounds, ribbed again for 2 rounds, knit 3 again and purled 1 round. After that I just went back to plain ribbing. I’ll keep the ribbing going all the way down the instep and then I’ll probably throw in one purl row before I start the toe shaping. Since I have an odd multiple of 4 (68/4=17) I won’t have any trouble centering the rib over the foot. I think I’ll probably do the heel flap in rib as well. I normally use heel stitch but that’s mostly for the look of it. I almost never wear shoes that are closed in back; I’m a clogs and sandles kind of girl. I don’t need the heel stitch for durability. That’s why the lace on the Bumblebug socks invades the heel flap, because it can.

I cast on something else this morning on the bus ride to work:
half circle bag

This is the start of the Half-circle Bag from Knitters. The teal yarn in the center is the Twilley’s Freedom Wool that my Secret Pal sent me. The dark purplish-brown yarn is Cascade 220 Heather. I wanted another simple project to work on that would be on bigger needles than a sock.

I’m going to need that non sock project to cool down from the next round of Death By Socks which starts tomorrow. This time we’re using heavier wool and a bit larger needle but it’ll still be a lot of stitches in as little time as possible. I don’t have the pattern yet – we get it tomorrow – but I hear it has cables. Should be fun. Hopefully I can last more than 1 round this time.

I got a couple of comments overnight (Hooray, someone’s still reading despite my long break)

Gretchen said:

Yay! Glad you’re back to blogging! No knitting news here, just unravelling a couple of UFOs so that they’re now even-less-finished objects to be started when I get a better idea of what they should become. Oh, that and tendonitis in my right elbow. . . majorly aggravated by knitting and mouse-clicking. . .

I get that – also in the right elbow. I’ve found that wearing a tennis-elbow brace whenever it flares up helps a lot. Most often it crops up when I’ve been doing rush knitting right before TNNA. Resting is even better for it but that would mean not knitting. There’s only so long I can go before I need to knit something. It’s an addiction.

I’ve thought about frogging a few of my numerous UFOs but I still want them. I did frog a barely started pair of fingerless mittens but everything else is on needles waiting for me to be in the mood to work on them. Fortunately knitting is very patient.

Your UK secret pal said:

Hey! Glad you are back! Hope June works out better for you.

I hope you typed that with fingers crossed! I’m hoping it’s better to but I don’t want to tempt the fates or anything. 🙂

March 29, 2007

Bag Pattern and SP10

Posted in How To's, knitalong, knitting at 4:57 pm by nephele

I just finished uploading the pattern for the little orange and yellow bag I made. You can download the pdf file here. It’s also linked on the side in the free patterns section. It wouldn’t be hard to modify the pattern for different gauges of yarn. For the garter stitch sections I just used a needle one size smaller than the recommended size on the yarn label. Then for the mesh I went up a couple of sizes – or one size larger than recommended. I’m already making another one using some Rowan 4 ply cotton using smaller needles but more stitches.

Secret pal 10 has started. I’m very excited about this. I’ve been in contact with both my gifter and my giftee. I see from the comments that my first package is on its way to me from the foggy land of England. I sent a package off to my person this week too. I’ve already seen several posts where people have gotten packages already. Some the SP10-ers must have gone out shopping even before the assignments were handed out! I admit, I thought about it – any excuse to buy yarn – but I managed to contain myself. I went shopping the next day. I love the whole playing Santa Claus aspect of this exchange. Of course it works the other way too. I’m like a little kid waiting for Christmas morning. I’m sure I’ll have that package open the second it arrives here.

Speaking of blog projects – slick segue, huh? As soon as I finish this post I’ll be adding another swatch to the Walker Treasury Project page. I’ll be doing many more swatches but this will be the last one in the current Project Spectrum 2.0 colors. April first the colors change to green, pink and yellow. So the next batch of swatches will be in those colors. Don’t be surprised if this blog looks different too. I’m planning to change the theme to one that goes with those new PS 2.0 colors.

Short post, but at least I got 2 in this week.

March 27, 2007

The Capecho Has Landed

Posted in How To's, knitting at 12:42 pm by nephele

It’s done! See:

Okay, I hadn’t sewn the button on yet in this picture but close enough, right?

phoenix said:
Your capecho looks great. I’m dying to see how it looks on the model. I love the fit on the magazine cover, but have seen some people on the web complain about its fit in the real world. Is it knitting up the way you expected?

I saw some of the posts about fit too. I knit this using the instructions for the size small but it came out as a medium. This might be the result of using different yarn but I doubt it. If anything the cashmere was a touch lighter in weight than the wool the pattern called for. I used the same size needle as recommended. I’ve you want to make one I recommend carefully measuring you first finished pentagon. Compare the length of the straight sides to those on the schematic. If your pentagon is coming out large your whole Capecho will be large.

One thing I did to help it along was to ignore the intruction to “make the collar long enough to fit along the pentagons.” Instead, I had the intended owner try it on. I then took a measurement around where I thought the collar should sit. I divided that measurement by seven (the number of pentagons in the first round) and rounded down. I used those numbers to knit the collar. The pentagons were coming out 6″ long on the sides. The collar only allowed about 4.5″ per pentagon. I think that helped the final fit quite a bit. Judge for yourself. Here is the owner of my LYS modeling the finished (except for the button, still) Capecho:

I think she’s happy with it and the fit looks okay to me. So, would I knit another one? You know, I think I just…


Emilee said:
OMG, the robot monster is hilarious. When I first saw the swatch in the WTP I thought it looked enough like a bear, but as soon as someone said robot, that’s all I saw. Hilarious. PLEASE PLEASE share with us what you do. My sister needs a robot… something.

-snicker- I’ll be sure and post a chart for the final version. I need to make another pass at it though. It’s not quite there yet.

And speaking of posting patterns…

craftlover said:
The bag is gorgeous!
The colors are very attractive.

Thanks, it came out very sunshiny didn’t it? I can’t take too much credit for the colors though. The shop was selling off left over balls of yarn and they had a grand total of 4 balls of the stuff I used. I bought 3 of them: 2 orange and 1 yellow. I didn’t buy the lavender but that’s only because I didn’t see it at the time. So there you go, color design – just that easy.

dragonmommie said:
I’d love to see a pattern for the mesh bag. I’ve been wanting to make one for ages!

I’m working on it. I should have it up later this week. I might have done it today but I don’t have the bag with me and I need to take some measurements. Besides, this way I may manage to get a second post in this week.

March 22, 2007

It’s almost a … Garment

Posted in How To's, knitting at 4:02 pm by nephele

Wow, I’ve been bad this week. Here it is Thursday already and I’m just writing my first post of the week. Would it be cheating to split this into two posts to keep up with my resolution? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Oh well, I had a couple of 3 post weeks last month. I guess it was inevitable that life would even things out eventually. My only defense is that March is a busy month where I work. Of course for that excuse to fly I’ll have to do better in April. Time will tell.

So, knitting… The garment almost is – a garment, I mean see:

The bit on the needles is the collar and the final piece. I did make a couple of slight modifications here. I didn’t like the ‘S’ bend the cable makes in the cast on edge. To eliminate it, I cast on 2 fewer stitches and then increased 2 stitches in the cable area on row 3 (row 5 is the first cable twist). I’ll decrease those two stitches before I bind off as well. The other change I made was to buttonhole. The neckband has an even number of stitches and the pattern uses a one stitch buttonhole. That means that the buttonhole will either be above or bellow the center line. The pattern put it above, I put it bellow. The weight of the garment will pull on this one lonely button a little and it will appear more centered. It’s probably a needlessly fussy detail but what the heck.

I expect to finish this over the weekend. I’ll try and get a picture with someone modelling it.

In other knitting, I made a first pass at the robot swatch:

It isn’t right but it gives me more ideas to play with. I’ll keep trying.

The weather has been a bit distracting too. Springtime in Northern California, it’s tough to beat. I’ve been wanting to go out and play all week. Maybe I’ll take my knitting to the park – not the cashmere though, that’d be risky. This is what I saw sitting at the bus stop earlier in the week:

Bright new leaves between a couple of well established palm trees.

All this great weather got me feeling green and needing to knit up something bright. I picked up some stray sale yarn at my LYS and did this:

Now that’s sunshine colors!

Sarah said:

Congrats on the popularity of the pattern! I knew it would be a winner. I’ve been thinking of knitting a robot toy for the little dude at some point (I was thinking of knitting a blanket, but then I was given like 15 blankets at my shower) — do you have any pattern suggestions?

Robot toys? I know I’ve seen some but I’m not sure where. That would actually be a fun thing to design though. Hmm, more ideas… 

Emilee said:

Those are great socks!

I hear you on the blog stats – 85% of my blog’s hits are from the same free pattern I posted in October.

In the end I got 303 hits that day. I guess I’d better keep writing up those patterns. Anyone need a bright little mesh bag? I made that up as I went but I think I took enough notes to write up a pattern. Next post perhaps.

Another thing that caused a jump in my page views was the publishing of the list of Secret Pal 10 participants. Speaking of Secret Pal…

Your UK secret pal said:

Hello Nephele!

I am your secret pal for SP10. I have really enjoyed looking through your blog, and reading your SP10 answers. Wow! what a lot of projects you have on the go. I have really enjoyed reading about your choice of yarns too.

I am busy putting together a package for you… I will leave you a comment or email you when I post it.

Being from the UK, I am not familar with some of the groups and projects you mention, so it is good to learn about them.

I will send more news in your package.

Your secret pal!

Oh boy! I’m a closet Anglophile so this is perfect choice for me. I’m sure I’ll love anything and everything you send. I’ve already started shopping for my secret pal giftee myself. I think this will be a lot of fun.

Next time: a mesh bag pattern and perhaps a finished … garment.

March 14, 2007

The Bumblebugs Are Here

Posted in How To's, knitting at 4:56 pm by nephele

Sorry, it’s been a crazy, busy week so this is going to be a post and run. The good news is: I finally finished writing up the pattern for the bumblebug socks. First let me whet your appetite with a couple more pictures.


The image is a little flash washed but the color is accurate.


No flash this time, hooray!

The lace has more holes than you can see in these pictures. The fake foot I used was child sized and these socks are me sized. It does give you a little idea of the toe and heel details though.

Interested? You can download a PDF file of the pattern here. I think/hope it’s accurate. Please, someone knit them and let me know. Thanks.

More later. Hopefully tomorrow.