Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Planting the Tulips

Years ago we lost a huge tree in our yard in an ice storm and it made a beautiful sunny spot for a flower garden. Every year we plant 800 tulip, daffodil and hyacinth bulbs, to the great delight of our neighbors. It is a gorgeous display, worth all the garden work!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Perfect Knitting Kit

I do a lot of teaching and always recommend The Perfect Knitting Kit to my student. Here's how to make yours!

The Perfect Knitting Kit starts with a small, clear zippered case, such as those you would find in the cosmetics department. It is absolutely perfect to hold all your knitting basics and because it is clear you can peek inside to find that elusive tool that has dropped to the bottom. Having a portable kit in this manner allows you to switch it out to work with whatever current project you are knitting. My personal kit case is from Agnes B, discovered on a trip to Paris; try to find a case that gives you pleasure, as it will become the backbone of your knitting life.

Here are my recommendations for the right items to include in your kit:

  • A pair of small, very sharp scissors; make sure you dedicate them for yarn only!
  • Yarn needles - I prefer the Japanese Chibi needles with bent tips that come in little plastic cases that are easy to spot in your kit, and are available everywhere now
  • A retractable measuring tape; mine is in the shape of a sheep, and there are many other adorable variations now on the market.
  • Yarn T-pins and yarn safety pins are essential for pinning and marking.
  • Long and short stitch holders; the elegant coated metal English Aeros are always in my case. There are also plastic Japanese versions that open at either end which work very well
  • Stitch markers; split-rings are good as they are easily moved or removed, much better than the closed rings.
  • Cable needles; I recommend straight cable needles, including size 3, 6 and 10 US, in bamboo or wood.
  • A small calculator – essential!
  • Point protectors, both large and small; these clever items keep your work on the needles, and they protect your knitting from stray needles.      
  • A needle size and gauge ruler, which you will use constantly. And for those of you with an iphone there is an APP for needle sizing!
  • Two crochet hooks, 1 small, 1 large, perhaps a D and a K.
  • The so-called “Dentist Tool”, with one crochet hook end and one smooth pointed end, an unusual and invaluable tool, and probably my favorite accessory! You can find this tool on the web at www.patternworks.com.
  • A pen and small notebook, for notations, row counting and those quick to sprout design ideas. If you have an idea and don’t jot it down it can often disappear!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


As a lifelong designer and admirer of fashion, I was delighted to receive a copy of The Gospel According to Coco Chanel, Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman by Karen Karbo, published by skirt!  Chanel was a fashion legacy who continues to inspire women all over the world. This book is a funny and stylish take on Coco Chanel, full of relevant life lessons for modern women. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Out of the Garden

OK knitters, it’s time to come out of the garden and think about your autumn knitting projects. It’s been a beautiful summer here in Maine, but fall is in the air, which always gets my knitting gene in gear. It’s the perfect time to come up with plans for your holiday gift knitting, too…

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Patterns

Here are my latest two patterns, and I've just released a mini collection. My dress patterns are all best sellers, so I am including a dress design in every collection. The Smocked Daydress sports a charming smocked bodice, which is quite easily knit. The Swedish Sailor pullover is a color blocked sweater worked entirely in garter stitch…perfect for beginners and experts alike. enjoy! You can find them here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Best Materials

When I began designing, oh so many years ago, children’s patterns were knit on tiny needles in soft color palettes. Often the yarns were synthetic, as they were meant to be washed. I have always counseled knitters to use the very best materials available and there are wonderful yarns available today. When developing my MinnowMerino® we searched high and low for a yarn that could be machine washed, but one that was also lovely to knit. We finally sourced the pure merino in Peru. Most “super wash” yarns, as they are called, are made by spinning and dyeing the yarns, and then they are treated with chemical products that result in yarns that are slippery, without a lovely hand. They also can come apart in the wash, a very distressing result. My yarn, however, washes the shorn wool before spinning and dyeing; the result in a beautiful yarn with a micron count one point away from cashmere, yet it is definitely machine washable. Hope you’ll try it out if you haven’t already!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


I’ve been designing and publishing for over twenty years and the photo shoots never cease to amaze me. We have a simple set, a white seamless and a few thoughtful props, but the giant banked lights are intimidating. Intimidating for anyone, never mind a two year old. We have had many a melt-down, but we always get our shot, and only once have we had to reschedule the shoot. My photographer, Nina Fuller, is amazing, working magic with the little ones. Never a dull moment!