Pattern Radar: January 2020

Here is my pick of patterns that have caught my eye lately.   They are all very interesting, with cool stitch patterns or constructions that engage the brain as well as the eye.

Normandale by Norah Gaughan


© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

The more I look at this, the more interesting it becomes.  Designed by the incomparable Norah Gaughan, this uses mosaic stitch with two different weight yarns – a chunky and a DK weight.  With mosaic stitch you only knit with one yarn at a time, so you can do fairly complicated-looking colourwork without stranding.  I like mosaic stitch (here is a sweater I knit using the technique), but the idea of doing it with very different weights of yarn really appeals.  The organic structure it reveals is inspired by Portland’s bridges.

Tsubaki Pullover by Hiroko Fukatsu


© Hiroko Fukatsu

These big, chunky, cables are fantastic!  And, like the above cardigan, the more I look at them, the more they pop. But I have to admit that what really drew me into this pattern was the description on the Ravelry pattern page (see link above): “Tsubaki – camellia japonica – is an epaulet sleeve pullover with large, gorgeous cables, worked without ever cutting yarn. Enjoy the original construction of this sweater!”  I am now totally intrigued.  I can’t even begin to figure out how that could work, and I have to know! The technical knit nerd in me can’t resist.  The fact that the sweater is gorgeous is like frosting on the cake.

Brandi Cheyenne Harper’s Gentle Cardigan by Brandi Harper


© Brandi Harper

I am not usually a fan of chunky knits.  In particular, I find that the finishing never looks neat.  But this one has gorgeous finishing details.  Just look at the line of the shoulder and the very elegant edging.  Brandi Harper only has a few patterns published, but they are really eye-catching. (Just look at this dress made in super chunky wool; it brings out the Judy Jetson in me!)  I am definitely going to be watching her work.  (I am also completely captivated by the smile in this photo; I want to be her friend!)

Clade by Stephanie Earp


© Stephanie Earp

Another really beautiful stitch pattern is used to an interesting effect by Stephanie Earp. It manages to look very etheral – with the delicacy of the mohair contrasting with the variegated silk. The sweater seems to glow in these gorgeous tones. Stephanie mentions that the sweater has a tendency to catch, so this is a special occasions piece. This would match almost any other block colour, and you would really make an entrance wearing this. Stephanie has been doing some interesting things with colour lately, which has put her firmly on my radar.

Caroline by eri


Camel © eri

This amazing cabled sweater is knit in a light fingering weight wool.  Can you imagine knitting so many cables in such delicate yarn? It is knit top down in one piece with raglan sleeves, and the way that the cabled details are incorporated into the shaping is brilliant. I also like the sleeves. The slight cuff and the intricate cables down the side make for a subtle but stunning sleeve. This would look good in any colour, though I personally would stay away from variegated yarns to keep the cables firmly as the focus. The neutral is a fantastic choice, and this particular yarn is not just called Dry Desert Camel, but is 100% camel! How cool!

Honeycomb by Yumiko Alexander


© Yumiko Alexander

I just LOVE the shape on this one. Its a very playful design, with really clever details. The slip stitches in the pattern compress the fabric on the one side to create the asymmetric drape. I could see myself wearing this to work, out to dinner, or even for a walk on the beach. This is made of silk, but would probably look great in linen as well. The pattern includes options for a longer sweater or for wider sleeves, so you can customize it to suit you.

That’s my selection of great sweaters for this month. I am currently unable to knit due to my de Quervain’s tenosynovitis acting up. My family tells me this makes me very grumpy. I console myself by adding patterns to my queue, which has grown by leaps and bounds, and by being extra grumpy just to annoy them.

Happy New Year from Knitigating Circumstances

As the decade was closing down, we spent a glorious day out in the sunshine at Greys Court, a National Trust property near our home in Oxfordshire, England.  I snapped a photo of Leah, Doug, and Emma sitting on a bench:


Today, I was looking at this photo and it suddenly reminded me of a photo taken long ago.  I searched through photo albums to find it.  Here it is:


This is the three of them at Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, Germany.  I believe it was taken in 1997. We lived just 300 metres from where this shot was taken and Sanssouci (which means “no worries”), with all of its lovely palaces, follies, and gardens, was our back yard for a decade while the girls were small.

We wish you a healthy and happy New Year, with no worries.  From Doug, Emma, Leah and Kelly at Knitigating Circumstances.

End of year round-up 2019

I am fundamentally an optimist (if a slightly cynical one), so I will not discuss all of the trials and tribulations and disappointments of 2019.  Ending the decade on a low note means that we will hopefully go up from here in the next decade.

There have been lots of lovely things this year, including my knitting and this blog.  I have finished fewer projects this year, but have enjoyed them all and each of them gets lots of wear.  I finished 7 projects:



Clockwise from top, these are: (Links are to my post with the finished project; further details can be found therein.)

  1. Highland Rogue Cowl, designed by Kate Davies
  2. Raven Hat, designed by Janine Bajus
  3. Sunset Mesa Cowl, designed by Jennifer Berg
  4. Tensho Pullover, designed by Beatrice Perron Dahlen
  5. Sparkling cardigan, designed by Sus Gepard
  6. Tadami Cashmere Scarf, designed by ITO Yarn and Design
  7. Sofi Jacket, designed by Hanne Flakenberg

The item which has been worn the most is undoubtedly the Tensho pullover.  I knitted this one for my daughter Leah, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it has been worn for 60 days so far this year.  I think she would live in it if possible.  (This makes me so happy!)  For me, the most worn item is definitely my Highland Rogue Cowl, which took seemingly forever to knit, but which I like more every time I put it on.

I wrote 51 posts this year, which amounted to 22,000 words.  This is my 440th post since I started the blog.  I had viewers from 106 countries this year, with the top five being the US, Poland, the UK, Canada, and Germany.  Knitting blogs seem to have taken a hit this year once again, with all of the action seemingly moving to Instagram.  I am not on Instagram so am nearly a dinosaur here blogging away, but I like it, so here I am!  My top posts this year were:

  1. Business Class Cowl  (written in 2016)
  2. To gusset or not to gusset  (written in 2016)
  3. A baker’s dozen of men’s knitted vest patterns  (written in 2017)
  4. It’s all in the finishing: Hanne Falkenberg’s Sofi Combi Jacket
  5. Highland Rogue Cowl
  6. Laceweight Cashmere Shawl
  7. Tensho for the win!
  8. Time to learn Danish!

We did some travelling this year, with trips to Berlin (with the girls!), Vancouver (twice!), Arizona, Denmark, and Spain. I managed to break my ankle in Denmark, from which I am still trying to recover.  We modelled hand-knitted hats at Lake Lillooet in British Columbia, Canada in June:


And we modelled silly Christmas hats last week here in England:


I wish everyone a healthy and happy New Year! May the new decade bring renewed hope and activism, and lots of creative endeavors, knitting and otherwise.


Some actual knitting content

As regular readers may have noticed, there hasn’t been much actual knitting content (that is, content deriving from my own knitting activities) for quite a few weeks.  This is due to my having completed very little in the way of actual knitting since early November.  I can report now, however, that I have knitted something.  (Technically, it is part of something; but I am reaching here, so give me this one.)  Here is the completed front of Emma’s Snoning pullover:


If you are shocked and scandalised by the very deep dip of the neckline, please rest assured: it will have 2″ (5cm) of ribbing when it’s done.  It has been grey and rainy here, so the photo is an indoor one, but it will have to do.

I am pretty happy with this, especially since I have held it up to Emma, and am fairly certain that it will fit and that I won’t have to add or subtract to the sleeve length.  This means that the sleeves and front are done and I only have to knit the back (a giant rectangle) and the ribbing around the neckline.

I am labouring away on a work-related project which is due in mid-January.  Until then, I have to be a bit hit-or-miss here; although I hope to still put up an end-of-year review post.

Two Christmas Trees

What happens when you take a family of four book fanatics and turn them loose on Christmas?  You end up with a Christmas tree-sized pile of books to rival your Christmas tree:


Between the four of us, we received 24 books today.  Isn’t that awesome?  Can you guess what we are going to be doing all week?  (It will probably take longer than that….)


From the bottom up:

Archeology Aegean Islands edited by A. G. Vlachopoulos

Botanical Inks by Babs Behan

Kaukasis: The Cookbook by Olia Hercules

Working with Wool by Sylvia Olsen

The Anarchy by William Dalrymple

Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

Milk soaps by Anne-Marie Faiola

The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz  Zafon

Vegetarian Southwest by Lon Walters

A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles by Ned Palmer

Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent

wheesht by Kate Davies

Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker

What happened, Miss Simone? by Alan Light

Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli

Did anyone wonder why there are two copies of Invisible Women?  This is because I bought it for Emma, and she bought it for me:


For all who celebrate the holiday, Merry Christmas!  And to everyone everywhere, I hope you can snuggle up to a good book today!

The Lenny Kravitz scarf

The staff at Mother Jones have been compiling a list of the decade’s heroes and monsters.  One of the heroes is Lenny Kravitz’ famous scarf, hand-knitted by his grandmother, and captured by paparazzi in a 2012 photo which quickly went viral.  The scarf is enormous, and as the photo caught on and became a meme, the size of the scarf continued to grow.


Mother Jones Illustration

The article reports:  “In a decade marred by impending climate disaster and the crumbling of American democracy, Kravitz and his scarf evoke a sense of coziness, a sense that one can cosset oneself from the ravages of the day, should one have access to the entire ovine population of Scotland.”

I love that Lenny’s scarf was a hero of the decade!  And I love that he made a hand-knitted scarf from his granny into a totally cool accessory.  I bet he’s still wearing it.  Here’s wishing everyone (in the cold Northern hemisphere) a giant, cozy, scarf to cuddle under today, whether or not you have access to Scottish ovines.

In times like these…knit to stay grounded

Apparently there are lots of voters who disagree with me.  The election of Boris this week brought that home pretty forcefully.  In my last post, I mentioned that I had paused knitting for a few weeks and the world still revolved around the sun.  However, between Trump and BoJo, I for one definitely need something to help keep me grounded.  I guess that means I should pick up my knitting again.  I know from long experience that it helps.

On the positive side, Greta won Person of the Year at Time Magazine, and my kids are home for Christmas.  Maybe young people will save the world.  Young people and knitting to the rescue!

I have two things on the needles at the moment.  I have made some progress on my neutral tones Cool Boots shawl since I last posted it here:


It is definitely not as vibrant and cool as the original, and I am not convinced that neutrals really suit me.  On the other hand, the yarn is absolutely scrumptious, soft and silky and fantastic to the touch.  It is Blue Sky Metalico, a sportweight 50% alpaca 50% silk blend.  It’s a bit on the costly side, but it’s lovely to knit with.

I have also made a bit of progress on Emma’s big cabled sweater.  I knitted the sleeves back in September and then put it away, while I spent time travelling and not knitting, but I have now pulled it out again and started on the front:


This one shouldn’t take long because it’s knit with big needles, but I do find big needles hard on my hands, so I can’t just power through.

I have a big work project due in mid-January and realistically that will take up a lot of my knitting time.  In the meantime, I will dream of moving to Scandinavia.