Pattern Radar: I’ll have some texture with that, please

The patterns that have caught my eye this week have played around with texture.  I’ve been fascinated by colour and stranded knitting lately, but texture has always been my catnip.  Here are some designs which are doing good things with texture, from a little taste to allover patterning.

Olive Sweater by Jemima Bicknell:

Olive_6_medium2

© Jemima Bicknell

This sweater is from the book, Art Deco Knits: Creating a hand-knit wardrobe inspired by the 1920s – 1930s by Jemima Bicknell.  I love Art Deco, in architecture, in jewellery, and in fashion.  The cables on this pullover are just fantastic.  Set against the simple shape of the sweater, they pop!  It reminds me in equal parts of a beautiful art deco building I lived near in Potsdam, and of The Jetsons, a “futuristic” animated TV show from my youth.  (Now I’ve dated myself.)  I think this has a cute, vintage feel to it.

Shifting Sands Pullover by Norah Gaughan

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© Norah Gaughan

I’m not surprised by this design making the list, since Norah Gaughan is the queen of texture.  The shape of this one is very simple; in fact it is rather shapeless and boxy (which happens to be big news in the knitting world right now).  But the asymetrical cables are mesmerising, as they shift and flow across the space.  If you’ve ever been in shifting sand, you can definitely see how this pullover got its name.

Nisaba by Asja Janeczek:

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© Whiteberry

This cowl pattern has a rich, luscious texture.  It is named after the Sumerian goddess of grain and harvest and was inspired by memories of traipsing through grain fields.  This first attracted my attention with its gorgeous juxtaposition between the three dimensional, undulating cable patterns and the flat sections worked in garter stitch with short row shaping.  Having a daughter who studies ancient Sumerian, the name kept my attention focused.

Firenze by Irina Anikeeva

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© Irina Anikeeva

This simple pullover with a great cabled yoke jumped out at me.  I love that it is in sportweight rather than worsted, and looks both sophisticated and casual.  I think this could be dressed up or down, and would look great in neutrals or jewel tones.  (I am thinking about a rich yellow-gold.)  It’s knit top-down with the increases ingeniously incorporated into the cables.  This would be a quick and satisfying knit.

The Beauceron by Designs by Delz

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© Designs by Delz

I am always on the lookout for great menswear.  This is only the second pattern published (on Ravelry) by Vincent, the designer behind Designs by Delz.  I will definitely be keeping an eye on his work.  One might think that I am squeaking by here on the “texture” label, but in fact the colourwork on the yoke of this pullover combines slip stitches and purls, resulting in a beautiful subtle texture that highlights the lovely colourwork.  While I classified this as menswear, it is a great unisex piece; see the pattern page for an example worn by a woman.

I’m still chugging along on the Falkenburg jacket – sleeves in seed stitch with size 2 needles take a very long time to knit.  I have about 6 inches of the second sleeve still to go.  Have a good weekend and don’t forget to add some texture to your next order!

(By the way, this is my 400th post!  Who would have guessed I would still be doing this?)

Pattern Radar: Fly me to the moon

Here is a short and sweet Pattern Radar post.  Today, the Pom Pom Quarterly released their new issue (#26) with 11 patterns inspired by the moon and its phases.  And they are fantastic!  Look at this:

Ixchel_by_Catherine_Clark__Pom_Pom_Quarterly_Issue_27__Autumn_2018__5__medium2

© Amy Gwatkin

This is Ixchel by Catherine Clark.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  This is such a beauty.  I think it is a showstopper, and on top of that, it looks like it would be totally fun to knit.  Not convinced? How about this beauty?

Luna_by_Anna_Strandberg__Pom_Pom_Quarterly_Issue_27__Autumn_2018__4__medium2

© Amy Gwatkin

I am a crazy fan of black and white knits and this one hits all of the right notes for me.  It is practically luminescent.  The design is Luna by Anna Strandberg.  I think it is so classy, with lovely architectural lines and a modern shape.  It makes my fingers itch to knit it!

I’ll show you one more, because I can’t resist:

Artemis_by_Esther_Romo__Pom_Pom_Quarterly_Issue_27__Autumn_2018__1__medium2

© Amy Gwatkin

This is Artemis by Esther Romo.  It is positively swoon-worthy.  It has been a long time since I’ve seen a collection with three designs that capture my attention so thoroughly.  (And while these are my favorites in the collection, it has 8 other great patterns!)

I can’t end without pointing out two things.  First, all three of these designers are new to me! And that makes me all kinds of happy.  Second, we see continued here the trend to use more diverse models in knitting pattern design.  I mentioned this in a recent post, and am very happy to see more and more designers and publications using models of all shapes, colours, and ages.  These beautiful models make me all kinds of happy, too.

Model knitting

This morning, I fired up my laptop and I saw this:

Kelbourne Woolens, Mojave Collection shoot

© Meghan Kelly

Wow! I love this tank.  I love the eye-popping yellow and the beautiful shaping.  But, man, most of all I love this model!  She models all six patterns in this collection of summer tops designed by Meghan Kelly for Kelbourne Woolens.  Here is another:

Kelbourne Woolens, Mojave Collection shoot

© Kelbourne Woolens

And then, I saw this lovely retro pattern by Norah Gaughan:

Retro-Pullover-1_medium2

© Norah Gaughan

And once again, I love the model.  This design is from a collection of 16 patterns for Berrocco, and she models the whole collection.  Here is a great cowl pattern by Martha Wissing:

Napatree-Cowl-1_medium2

© Martha Wissing

Let’s here it for diversity in models!  And beautiful designs to boot.

Pattern Radar – August 2016

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a Pattern Radar post.  Mostly this is because the last stages of finishing the MBA exhausted me and I’ve been recovering slowly.  The second, and perhaps related, issue is that I have a bit of knitting burn-out.  This means that patterns just aren’t reaching out to grab me – there seem to be too many patterns coming out all of the time, and my knitting mojo is low (see my post on Pattern Bombardment Syndrome here).

That is not to say that there have not been some lovely patterns out lately.  Here is my selection of the ones which really caught my eye.  We will start with publications, both books and knitting magazines.  The one which blew me away is Kyle Kunnecke’s Urban Knit Collection.  I don’t believe it has been released yet in print, though Kyle has put up all of the pattern pages on Ravelry in order to whet our appetites. I pre-ordered the book instantly; something I rarely do these days. There are so many great patterns that it is hard to choose, but my favorite of the collection is Savoy.  Here are front and back views. This one is definitely on my to-do list.

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© 2016 Interweave

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© 2016 Interweave

I think that Kyle is an incredibly inventive designer.  Here is another one from this collection, the men’s pullover Brandt, which is knit in one of my favorite yarns, Rowan Felted Tweed:

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© 2016 Interweave

Kate Davies also published her book on Haps.  As usual, I like Kate’s writing and historical research as much as the patterns.  In this book, unlike her earlier ones, she has collaborated with a number of designers.  My favorite is the Nut-Hap, designed by Jen Arnall-Culliford; I think it is a really clever design:

Jen6_copy_medium2

© Kate Davies Designs

The Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2016 edition came out a few weeks ago, and I really loved two of the patterns.  First, the #3 Mock Turtleneck Shell by Melissa Leapman.  What is not to like about this?  I would make it in red – really rich red.

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© SoHo Publishing

The #22 Hooded Cable Vest by Yoko Hatta also appeals.  This has really classy lines but still a touch of fun.  I can imagine wearing this all the time:

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© SoHo Publishing

 

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© SoHo Publishing

I used to have a subscription to Interweave Knits, but for a long time it went downhill (so I thought) and I cancelled my subscription.  Lately, it seems to be getting stronger. I tried to pick just one favorite from this edition, but couldn’t do it, so will show you two.  I am always interested in men’s patterns, and I have been searching for good men’s vest patterns (more on this in a later post), so I was extremely pleased to see the Fall River Vest by Mary Jane Mucklestone.  I love it!

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© Interweave Knits 2016

I have featured Linda Marveng in a previous Pattern Radar post.  She continues to churn out some impressive patterns.  Her contribution to Interweave Knits is a very chic piece, the Kathe Cardigan.  I like it more every time I look at it.

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© Interweave Knits 2016

(I was planning on also featuring another Linda Marveng design, a gorgeous reversible tunic called Hel, but just realised that it is still being test knit and hasn’t been released yet. This means that there is lots of good stuff still to come from Linda’s desk, so stay tuned.)

I had never heard of Gudrun Georges when I saw her design, the Amy Polo.  I will certainly put her on radar now.  I love this sport-weight polo, which is both classic and cute and has great details:

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© Gudrun Georges

Baby sweaters don’t normally catch my eye; perhaps now that I’ve knit one again, they have been raised a bit in my consciousness.  I really like Conifer, by Ella Austin, otherwise known as BomBella:

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© Emma Solley

I have been noticing many beautiful Nordic designs and designers lately.  I was struck by the design, Superfritt etter Fana by Sidsel J. Høivik.  This pattern is apparently available in kit form from her website.  I was not familiar with Sidsel’s work, but will keep an eye on her.  Oslo seems to be a very happening place for knitting design.

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© Sidsel J. Høivik

This seems like a very short Pattern Radar post to me.   I think once my knitting mojo comes back full force, and the fall sets in, I will once again get overwhelmed by new patterns.  In the meantime, these gorgeous designs are enough to keep your needles busy for a long time.

 

A dozen great patterns for fingerless mitts

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post showcasing great mitten patterns.  A reader recently left a comment on the blog asking for some suggestions for fingerless mitts.  Thanks, Arlene, for the post idea!  I have searched through the hundred or so fingerless mitt patterns in my favorites file and picked out an even dozen.   Some of these are new designs and some have been around for awhile and some I’ve likely pointed out before.

This close to the holidays, with many other things that I should be doing, I will endeavor to keep this post simple – I’ll keep the word count low and put up only the Ravelry link for each pattern.  So, without further ado and in no particular order, here are twelve great designs:

1. Ballydesmond mitts, by Irish Girlie Knits.  Think cashmere!

© irish Girlie Knits Designs

© irish Girlie Knits Designs

 

2.  The goats of Inversnaid gauntlets by Kate Davies, using her new yarn.  Can you see the goats?  (Hint: they are white).

© Kate Davies Designs

© Kate Davies Designs

 

3. Palouse mitts by Marjorie Walter of Knitting in the Rain.  So elegant.  And I love this photo so much!

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by RaintownKnitter

 

4. Desafinado mitts by Veronik Avery.  This is a new pattern, just released a few days ago.  It’s hard to get a clear photo of just the mitts, as it was released as a mitt and hat set, but I love the colourwork on these.

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© Pam Allen

 

5. Copperline mitts by Elizabeth Doherty of Blue Bee Studio.  I already have the yarn lined up!

© Blue Bee Studio

© Blue Bee Studio

 

6. Cabletilt mitts by Sarah Wilson of The Sexy Knitter.  They are positively drool-worthy!

© Sara McDonald

© Sara McDonald

 

7. Xmas Star Mitts by Sybil R.  This designer has spent the last few years deconstructing the fingerless  mitt, and has come up with the most ingenious patterns.

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© sybilra

 

8. The Byzantine by Martha Keep.  It’s hard to see but these are knit with very tiny needles and are beaded with hundreds of very tiny beads!  A work of art.

© James Yochum

© James Yochum

 

9. Tatara by Olga Buraya-Kefelian for Brooklyn Tweed Capsule Collection.

© Brooklyn Tweed

© Brooklyn Tweed

To see why I love these so much, you need to see a pair unmodelled and marvel at its cool construction:

© Brooklyn Tweed

© Brooklyn Tweed

 

10. En rêvant de Provence by Tori Seierstad.  I am mad about these.  There are four flower charts – sunflower, poppies, lavender and almond flower – which can be mixed and matched as you choose.

by torirot

by torirot

 

11. Helleborus Mitts by Kirsten Kapur.  A pretty tulip pattern combined with a gorgeous gusset; so dainty!

© Kirsten Kapur

© Kirsten Kapur

12. Brooklyn Bridge Mitts by Emma Welford.  Aren’t they fab?  To date myself here,  I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge every day to get to work in 1982.  I love that Bridge and love this great pattern based on its design.

© Lindsey Topham

© Lindsey Topham

I hope this post gives you some great ideas!

The explosion in pattern length

When I started knitting, patterns were very short, and often quite obtuse.  They were sprinkled liberally with phrases like: “decrease x-number of stitches from each side every row, while keeping to established pattern”, “make raglan increases, while incorporating new stitches into lace pattern”, “decrease x-number stitches evenly across row”, and my favorite (usually in all caps) “AT THE SAME TIME”.

Every pattern had bits like this:

RIGHT FRONT

Work as for left front, reversing all shaping and placement of pat.

(from Vogue Knitting International, Holiday 1986, p 96)

Or, in a similar vein:

Right front shoulder

With right side facing, rejoin appropriate yarns and, keeping continuity of patt, work the 51/54/57 st of right shoulder, as for left, reversing neck shaping.

(from Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting, 1988, p, 121)

Knitters were expected to figure out how to incorporate increased stitches into a particular pattern, be it lace or mosaic or fair isle, and also how to decrease stitches in pattern.  Furthermore, they were expected to be able to naturally reverse all pattern instructions and shapings.

My early knitting projects were always accompanied by loads of hand scribbled notes.  If the pattern was complicated, I would notate each row, and specify how I incorporated increases, decreases, and other shapings.  These scribblings were filled with math – most patterns did not include all of the necessary mathematical calculations – and a competent knitter needed to know a lot of practical math in order to complete the pattern.

Patterns were sold in print medium – in magazines or books – and I imagine that they were kept short in part to save on page length.  Today, most of the patterns I use are downloaded PDF files, and one of the things that is quite obvious is that the patterns are getting longer and longer.  In fact, there is a veritable explosion in pattern length happening right now.   I used to photocopy a pattern from a knitting magazine and keep it in the project bag with my knitting; this was usually a single piece of paper, on which I would add scribbles like mad, front and back.  Now, many of the patterns I use are 8, 10, 12 pages or even longer.  Why is this?

Partly, it is because the patterns have become highly specific.   Each technique is described in detail., often with photos.  In fact, it is quite common now to have links to on-line tutorials within the pattern.  One of the things I have noticed is that it is becoming rare to have instructions like “knit as for right sleeve, reversing all shapings”; instead we now have detailed instructions for both sides.  Furthermore, instead of instructions like:

  • Keeping stitches in established pattern, bind off 3 st each end every other row 6 (8, 10, 12) times at shoulder edge; AT THE SAME TIME, decrease 1 st every row at neck edge 4 (6, 4, 6) times, then every other row 5 (7, 10, 8) times.

patterns now will often have these instructions laid out row by row, so that each row of the knitting for the entire garment (or at least the parts where any shaping takes place) is given its own set of instructions.  The thing I have found really striking lately is the tendency for designers to lay out instructions for each size separately.  Jared Flood, of Brooklyn Tweed fame, recently wrote this about his design, Rift (you can find the full discussion here):

Pattern writing and grading on this piece was definitely a hard nut to crack! Since the shoulder details would have specific idiosyncrasies based on the size of the finished garment, no specific set of rules or written instructions worked very well. So I opted for the more “bespoke” route of charting out the front and back yokes for each individual size. The end result included 6 total sizes with finished chest measurements ranging from 39.25” to 59.25” [….] The pattern is quite long as a result, but don’t be fooled—most of the pages are charts for additional sizes and you’ll only need to print the two that pertain to yours.

I love Jared’s use of the term “bespoke” route for capturing this way of writing out patterns.  While Rift is no doubt complicated and the pattern is bound to be extremely clear (Brooklyn Tweed patterns in my experience are excellent), this method – of writing detailed instructions for each size – is now being used frequently by designers, sometimes for rather straightforward designs where it is clearly unnecessary.   My project bags now have pages and pages of pattern in them – I have to flip constantly from one page to the next.  (This problem is not solved by having the pattern on an electronic device; you still have to scroll up and down through the scores of pages.)  I also have little need for a pencil these days – since all of my scribblings and calculations have now all been done for me and charted in infinite detail, there is little for me to take note of.

There are many reasons behind this explosion of pattern length.  Here are a few of them:

  1. Self-publishing.  Designers used to mostly have their patterns published in a knitting magazine;  these publications would have established formats for pattern writing which the designer would adhere to.  Once self-publishing came to the fore, designers had the opportunity to establish their own formats and layouts.  They also had to compete to stand out from all of the other designers.  One way to do this was to provide lots of content – photos, tutorials, charts, schematics, etc.  (I am a big fan of both charts and schematics.)   If you are a designer, it is in your best interests to be as clear as possible on every front.  Sometimes, this means being overly explicit about everything.
  2. Money. When you buy a single pattern download for much the same price as you can buy a knitting magazine with 30 patterns in it, you want to get your money’s worth.  It’s human nature to feel that a 10-page pattern for $7.20 is a better deal than a 3-page pattern for the same price. (At least until you’ve read them.)  Knitters want to feel as if the product justifies the price, and designers respond to that.
  3. Sizing. Another trend recently (and a very good one) is that knitting patterns now come in a much larger range of sizes.  A pattern which is written in three sizes (S, M, L) will look much neater on the page and will be infinitely shorter and easier to read than a pattern which is written in 10 sizes.  Many designers have started writing out separate instructions for different ranges of sizes for clarity’s sake and ease of reading.  This can only be a good thing.

What do I think of all of this?   I find I have rather ambiguous feelings about this trend.  On the one hand, having detailed and explicit instructions makes it easier for beginners to take up their needles and tackle interesting projects.  It saves us from hours of ripping and trial and error.  Even the most experienced knitter doesn’t alway want to think out every step in detail.  If it’s all worked out for me in advance, then I can multi-task – knitting while reading, watching TV, chatting, having a glass of wine, etc..   If I wanted to spend hours doing the math, I could just design everything myself, right?

On the other hand, I think I am a better knitter because of all of the intense thought and concentration some of those early patterns forced me into.  I think I “read” my knitting better.  I think I learned how to “fit” a garment better.  I get a kick out of the intellectual challenge.  (Don’t get me wrong – I am not talking about patterns which are full of mistakes and typos – I hate those!  I am talking about the level of explicitness entailed in the pattern.)  And although laying it all out makes it easier on many levels, flipping the pages back and forth can be annoying.  In fact sometimes the sheer length of a pattern is so daunting that I can’t get past that to see how well-structured it may be.

I think that some of the ambiguity I feel derives from the grumbly professor in me: I believe that there is value in figuring some things out for yourself.  I never want to give my students the answer; I want them to derive it for themselves.  My job is to give them the tools they need, and also to make it interesting.   Perhaps a great pattern has this in common with a great lecture – they should both inspire one to think.  On the other hand, I can’t abide obtuseness – I love a pattern which is simultaneously explicit and concise.

I think that this discussion reflects the tension between the process knitter in me and the product knitter.  As a process knitter, I enjoy “getting my hands dirty” so to speak.  I like to figure things out.  I don’t want it to be easy.  When I am in full process mode, ripping gives me a little thrill (yes, I admit it, even if it is insane).  I love the concentration, the endless calculations, the counting.  On the other hand, as a product knitter, I want to make a garment that fits, and I want to wear it now, not some time next year after I get all the kinks worked out.  When I am in full product mode, ripping is agony – it just slows me down.  In this case what I want are very explicit instructions with no margin for error.   I think most of us fit somewhere on the spectrum between process and product.  However, I think we all tend to “bounce” a bit between the two ends – and where I sit on any one day determines how much detail I want in the pattern.

What about you?  Have you noticed the explosion in pattern pages?  Do you like it?  Does it drive you crazy?  Do you think I’m crazy?  Inquiring knitters want to know…..

Pattern Radar July 2015

It’s been a while since my last Pattern Radar post.  These are semi-regular posts in which I highlight patterns which have caught my attention.  Normally, when I write one of these, my “favorites” box is overfilling with new and interesting patterns; this time not so much.   In any case, here are the ones that have lately caught my eye.

I really love the geometry in this cabled pullover called Allium by Nick Atkinson for Yarn Stories:

© Nick Atkinson

© Nick Atkinson

Combined with the lovely green (I am a sucker for green), this one definitely sparked my interest.  I think this would look fabulous on a very shapely person, and would also impart a beautiful silhouette to a slim, willowy person.

I like the drape and swinginess (is that a word?) of this lovely pullover by Maria Chiba:

© Fairmount Fibers

© Fairmount Fibers

I like the ease of it, and can imagine wearing it in a pale shimmery silky grey, on a breezy summer evening, while sipping prosecco.  Called Oxidar, you can find it here.

I adore Shifter by Julia Gunther:

© Julia Günther

© Julia Günther

I must be really attracted to this kind of shaping with ribbing; you can see it in the lovely Audrey which I knit for my daughter Emma, and also in the shapings of the ribbing for my Escher cardigan.  I think this example is very sophisticated but also casual and fun at the same time.  I would even overcome my zipper trepidation to knit this pullover.

I have a fondness for classics, and this one really does it for me:

© Knitscene/Harper Point

© Knitscene/Harper Point

This is the Hyannis Port Pullover by Cecily Glowik MacDonald from Knitscene Fall 2015.  I think it is beautifully designed and proportioned; I would wear this all the time if I had it.  I also love the styling and the photo shoot.  (We should ask: Why aren’t there more women of colour in knitting pattern releases?  Designers and pattern producers seem to be labouring under the impression that we want all sweaters displayed on young, slim, white women.)  Here is another fabulous photo from this shoot:

© Knitscene/Harper Point

© Knitscene/Harper Point

I don’t think of myself as a poncho person (I remember vividly too many hideous ponchos from the 70s), but I must admit that I find this one kind of cute:

© Anders Schønnemann

© Anders Schønnemann

It really has a casual chic vibe to it.  It is called Ella, and is designed by Lene Holme Samsøe and published in Perfectly Feminine Knits.

Here is another one from Yarn Stories; it is called Sloop and designed by Amada Crawford:

© Amanda Crawford

© Amanda Crawford

I have some very pretty grey silk merino blend yarn in my stash that would work really well for this.  I am considering knitting up a swatch and seeing if Emma is interested.  This is another example of casual chic, with good details and classic lines.

I am usually not a fan of triangular shawls, but this one is really striking.  I also completely love the photo, which is pretty much perfect:

© Justyna Lorkowska

© Justyna Lorkowska

The pattern is called Seiklus Shawlette and it is designed by Justyna Lorkowska.  It is pretty irresistable in this grey and would also be lovely in black (though it would take a brave knitter – or one with much younger eyes – to knit this in black).

I love the designs of Tin Can Knits, the designing duo otherwise known as Alexa Ludeman and Emily Wessel.  They recently both gave birth to baby boys and released a pattern collection of adorable baby knits.  I can usually resist baby knits, but this pattern really stands out.  I would invent a baby to knit Peanut:

© Tin Can Knits

© Tin Can Knits

And while we are on the topic of kids, Kate Davies and Jen Arnall-Culliford recently released some down-sized versions of their adult sweaters, Bluebells and Bruton.  Called Wee Bluebells and Wee Bruton, they can be found in Cross Country Knitting, Volume Two.

© Cross Country Knitting

© Cross Country Knitting

For some wonderful photos, and close-ups of the sweaters themselves, I recommend you read Kate’s post (actually, I recommend you read all of Kate’s posts – I never miss one).

That’s it for this edition of Pattern Radar.  Happy knitting, everyone!