Book Review – Pattern Writing for Knit Designers, by Kate Atherley

Pattern Writing for Knit Designers (everything you didn’t know you needed to know)

Serenity Now!

The quality of mercy may not be strained, but the quality of a knitting pattern can make the difference between a heavenly or hellish knitting experience. It’s no fun working on a project if the instructions are confusing, the layout is illogical, the photos misleading or there’s no schematic. Conversely, a beautifully laid out, clearly written pattern that makes sense and has an overall “flow” along with pretty photos that show the details of a project will go a long way to making knitting the relaxing and rewarding occupation it should be.

When I started writing up my own patterns, I wanted my work to look professional so I studied the patterns of my favorite designers to get inspired by their layouts, language, fonts, photos, charts, white space, etc. but didn’t really know the reasons why those aspects are so important. As a fledgling designer, I can’t afford to hire a tech editor or graphic designer so I really want to learn how to translate my designs myself into patterns that really work.

My search is over! 

I have been rescued by Kate Atherley and her new book, Pattern Writing for Knit Designers. It explains in clear, step-by-step detail everything designers need to know, including, as the book’s subtitle says, what they didn’t know they needed to know. I snapped up the e-book the moment it was published and read it from cover-to-cover almost before the ink on the PayPal invoice had dried.

Who is this book for?

Everyone, from newbie to experienced designer, can benefit from Pattern Writing for Knit Designers. Whether you want to learn to write patterns from the ground up or you’re an old hand who wants to add polish to your patterns, this book is for you.

As Kate describes it, “this book specifically addresses the details of how to create complete, clear and easy-to-use knitting patterns, for any type of design, and for any level of knitter.”

What will you learn?

There is a LOT of genius information in this 162-page book. Some of the topics include:

  • what information needs to be included in a knitting pattern
  • how to properly and clearly communicate sizing and measurement information
  • what schematics are, why you need them, and how to create them
  • how to use charts and written instructions to express special pattern stitches like cables and lace
  • stitch nomenclature (especially related to cables), abbreviations, and glossaries
  • how to handle multiple sizes and versions
  • use of brackets and * to indicate repeats
  • how to establish a personal style sheet

Practical Information Galore!

Every chapter is loaded with a ton of practical information. One example is Chapter 2: “The Actual Knitting Instructions”. It explains in detail how to use consistency in language, style and formatting, includes fun “pop quizzes” that illustrate how instructions can be improved and outlines the importance of developing a personal style sheet.

There isn’t a single chapter in this book that I will not apply to my work immediately. Kate explores every topic in detail and explains not just the “how” but also the “why” of each process. Nuggets of sage advice from other experts are included throughout the book along with real-life knitters’ perspectives on patterns.

A truly invaluable resource, Pattern Writing for Knit Designers belongs in every designer’s arsenal.

What are you waiting for? Buy it now!

You can read more about Kate and purchase Pattern Writing for Knit Designers on her website at  (You’ll also find info there about purchasing the book from Patternfish and Webs.)

Full disclosure: I am not related to Kate nor have we ever met. I’m just a big fan and love awesome books that teach me stuff I’m dying to know! 

Happy knitting and designing y’all!


Road Trippin’ with Tin Can Knits

I love test knitting and this summer I had the great pleasure of testing a clutch of beauties for Tin Can Knits and now that their print and e-book  is available for pre-order, I can finally talk about them.  (I also did some projects for Shannon Cook and Jane Richmond but will write about those when the veil of secrecy has been lifted.) TCK’s latest book is called Road Trip and, like any good road trip, it’s awesome. According to their website, Emily and Alexa say that the book is “inspired our adventures across Canada; winding roads through mountain passes, coffee in quaint towns, and bonfires on remote beaches. With cables, colourwork and lace, Road Trip is full of delicious designs.” The three patterns from the book that I tested were two gorgeous cardigans – cable-yoked Caribou and stranded-yoke Clayoquot and a matching Clayoquot toque.  I made wee baby sizes for the gift stash (come on young, fertile friends of mine – have some more babies so I can give these a good home!) but the patterns are written for all sizes, from newborns through 4XL.

Caribou Cardigan

Caribou Cardigan

Clayoquot Cardigan

Clayoquot Cardigan

Clayoquot Toque

Clayoquot Toque

























As always, the patterns fit perfectly, are beautifully written and photographed and full of great tips and tutorials.  Pre-order here or on Ravelry and knit until the wheels come off!

Solstice Sky – or what to make with gorgeous yarn

Yes, it’s summer, but soon it will be bloody freezing again.  Here’s a little something to whip up before the chill is back in the air…

Solstice Sky













Every fall, I go to Circle Craft Christmas Market in Vancouver specifically to buy yarn from one of my favourite hand-dyers in the world, Trish Moon from Indigo Moon Yarns. She is a master of colour (mistress of colour?) and has an uncanny ability to combine my favourite colours with the squishiest, most delicious yarn imaginable.

There it was on the table in her booth, a pile of yummy worsted weight Indigo Moon Studio Edition Merino in the most delicious saturated colours. The one that jumped out at me was in an exquisite colour called Solstice Moon. Five seconds later, money flew out of my wallet and two skeins were in my bag.  Result!

This gorgeous yarn begs for cables and soon my brain sprouted an idea for a hat – a cabled beanie with a little bit of slouch. I swatched, I knit, I sketched, I sent it for testing and knit some more and, yada, yada, yada, Solstice Sky was born.












A quick-to-knit cable-panel beanie, it’s an adult size M-L knit in the round from the brim up and stretches easily to comfortably fit noggins from 19-23” (48-59 cm). The instructions for the cable are both written and charted and it uses approximately 150-165 yds (137-151 m).

The pattern is $5.00 – click the “Buy Now” button below to purchase it from my Ravelry store.  (FYI, you do not have to be a member of Ravelry to purchase the pattern, but knitting is more fun if you’re a member – it’s free!)


Smokestack – My first design

I’m a published designer!


top row: Slouch style, bottom row: Beanie










My first design, Smokestack, is a lacy “faux cable” beanie or slouch hat. Its mirror-image lace “cables” are reminiscent of smoke plumes wafting from a chimneystack on a chilly winter’s day.  With two crown options, the easy-to-memorize lace pattern flows from a ribbed brim and works up quickly – using less than one skein of DK or Worsted yarn – and no cable needle required!  Instructions are both fully written and charted.  Worked seamlessly in the round from the brim up, this is ideal for lace newbies or advanced knitters.

It’s a super-quick knit so it’s perfect for holiday gifting – in a couple of evenings you’ll have a super-cute hat.  I’m warning you though, it’s so cute you won’t want to give it away!

Wanna buy it?  It’s only $5.00 – click the “Buy Now” button below to purchase the pattern from my Ravelry store.  (FYI, you don’t need to be a member of Ravelry to purchase the pattern, but if you want to have more fun with your knitting, you should join – it’s free.)

Nevermind what those PayPal charges are for!

Au contraire, Ricky.  I don’t have a lot of a-splainin’ to do. 

I have reached a point where I can no longer make a credible argument for buying more yarn or patterns or books. Just so you know, I don’t have this argument with myself – it’s with DH of course.

He seems to forget that I NEVER ask him what he spends on beer, gas for his giant pickup truck, shoes or jackets (he’s a bit of a clotheshorse) or wagering occasionally at the racetrack. But for some reason he keeps asking me “Don’t you have enough yarn yet?”, “How much did that latest shipment of yarn cost?”, “What’s this PayPal charge for?”

In the last few months, I’ve bought several beautiful books and patterns and a ton of yarn. So I’ve made a resolution that I will not make any more knitting-related purchases until I’ve knit one item from at least three of those books using only yarn from my stash. To be clear, I have made this decision not because I am letting my husband decide what I spend my hard-earned money on. No, I’m doing this for two reasons – as a personal challenge and because I’m running out of space in my yarn room. The other day I was searching for something and couldn’t find it because there’s just so much stuff in there! The fact that DH will stop needling me is just icing on the cake. 

After careful consideration, my Knit Things From the New Books and/or Stash Project will look like this*:

New Book projects:

Entangled Vines by Alana Dakos from her gorgeous book, Botanical Knits: Twelve Designs Inspired by Trees and Foliage. I’ve got a pile of Cascade Yarns 220 in Smoke Blue that is perfect for this.

Entangled Vines (photo Carlee Tatum)

Antler Cardigan (in a baby size for the gift pile) by Tin Can Knits from their Pacific Knits book (bought at Knit City 2012). Must dig around in my stash for a suitable worsted weight – I’m pretty sure I’ve got a bunch of Patons Class Wool Worsted or Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in there somewhere.

Antler Cardigan (photo Alexa Ludeman)

Liathite from Carol Feller’s gorgeous collection, Among Stones. I don’t have a lot of bulky weight in the stash but I do have some lovely Cascade Yarns Eco+ in Lilac that would be perfect for this cabled hoodie. Is there anything better than a purple cabled sweater?

Liathite Hoodie (photo Joseph Feller)

Stash-Down Projects:

Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport – I just ordered this so won’t have it in hand for a couple more weeks. The colours are Blackberry and Dove Gray and it’s for a test knit for Sweaterfreak of her beautiful and flattering My Inner Viking sweater (a fitted seamless, top-down pullover with a stranded colourwork yoke). Because one can never have too many purple sweaters.

Classic Elite Ariosa with Cashmere (Bulky) in Slate Gray (a closeout purchase from The Backwards Loop) is perfect for Crocodrile, a lovely cable-y hooded cowl by Carmen Garcia de Mora. a Spanish designer.

Crocodrile Hooded Cowl (photo Carmen Garcia de Mora)

Rowan Rowanspun 4 Ply – in a delicious tweedy pale pink. I’m thinking Jane Richmond’s lace-yoked Grace cardigan from her beautiful Island book (also bought at Knit City 2012) would be just the ticket.

Grace Cardigan (photo Nicholas Kupiak and Jane Richmond)

Classic Elite Yarns Fresco (sport weight) – another closeout buy from The Backwards Loop. Five skeins in Peacock Greens is perfect for Caireen, a deliciously cabled wrap from Susanna IC from Knitty, Deep Fall 2010. I also have five skeins in pale blue which would be perfect for the hat and mittens set, Loch, from Handmade in the UK, another genius move from Tin Can Knits.

Loch (photo Emily Wessel and Alexa Ludeman)

Jojoland Rhythm (worsted, 1,100 yds) in purply-pink Bumble Berry for bargain-basement price at Elann. This is earmarked for a teeny-sized Thirsty Rose cardigan for the gift stash. I’ll decide what to make with the leftovers some other time.

Thirsty Rose (photo Joseph Feller)

*Naturally, all of these plans are subject to change without notice with no accountability to anyone but myself. So there.


It’s never a bad time to order yarn

Sometimes life is no fun at all and you have to decide to either curl up in the fetal position or crack on with things. Frankly, I often chose the fetal position since I know from experience that it can be very effective, especially when combined with sleeping under a big fluffy duvet. Besides, there are just some situations where cracking on is a waste of time and energy and the only solution to a problem is to lie down and close your eyes. If I could only figure out how to knit while sleeping, I’d have it made!

Occasionally, I’ve ordered yarn during a time when I’m feeling really good, when optimism is my watchword, and then when the box arrives, I can barely bring myself to open it because I’m feeling too low. But when I do, it always cheers me. Best of all, I’ve ordered yarn when I’m on the downswing and by the time the package arrives, I’m feeling better and it’s like Christmas all over again. The bottom line is, there really is no bad time to order yarn.


Jojoland Rhythm – Bumble Berry






Last week, I was feeling a little blah when I saw that Elann was having a Full Bag Blowout on something I’ve always wanted to try: Jojoland Rhythm in Bumble Berry at 10 balls for U$20. (You can also order individual balls at $2.85/each.) Say what?! Three seconds later, my order was submitted. To round it up so I could apply a $2.50 voucher, I also ordered single skeins of Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica for a mere $7.88 in a pale grey and Patons Classic Wool DK Superwash in a lovely brownish Heath Heather for $2.48. The box came today (Elann has the best service!) and when I saw it perched on my desk at work, my heart skipped a little and I felt pure delight.

wool classicaClassic WoolDon’t frickin’ ask me what I’m going to make with this yarn, at least not yet. Somewhere in my brain I’m thinking maybe a Mitered Crosses or Log Cabin Blanket for the Jojoland Rythym. I love the thick-and-thin Manos and might make myself a Felicity hat for fall (I had a very hard time giving away the lime green one I made for Alexis!) For now, though, I’m just going to enjoy looking at and playing with my squishy new stash additions and revel in this happy moment.

Thank you knitting, once again, for making my day better.


Lime Green Felicity



Book Review – Botanical Knits: Twelve Designs Inspired by Trees and Foliage


Big love for Alana Dakos

Alana Dakos is the super-talent behind the Never Not Knitting blog and podcast. I’ve been a fan of hers forever (who doesn’t love Coastal Knits, the legendary Cedar Leaf Shawlette and zillions of her other pretty things?) but I went into immediate obsessive-adoration mode when I saw the previews for her amazing new book: Botanical Knits.

Inspired partly by the plants and forests of California, every single one of the 12 gorgeous designs cries out to be made. Immediately. Colour-work like Fair Isle and stranding are very beautiful but in my heart, I am a texture knitter.  There is just something about the way cables weave together impossibly to make a squishy delicious fabric that really makes me happy.  And this book makes me very, very happy.  A quick read of various comments on Ravelry will tell you I’m not alone in wanting to make every leafy, twiggy thing in the book.

Here are some of my very most favourites from the book:

Entangled Vines cardigan
Entangled Vines cardigan









Forest Floor beanie

Forest Floor beanie







Wrapped in Leaves

Wrapped in Leaves








Ivy Trellis Socks (also available as mittens)

Ivy Trellis Socks (also available as mittens)








Twigs and Willows cardigan

Twigs and Willows cardigan








Instant Gratification – buy it now!

Purchase this beauty now at The “real” book is available for pre-order (it ships in May 2013) and the price includes a free ebook that you can download today and start drooling over immediately. You can also buy the ebook only if that’s what you prefer. But after listening to Alana’s podcast on the subject (episode 69), the book is a piece of art in itself and while ebooks are awesome for pattern portability (especially when you can mark them up on GoodReader on your iPad), I love holding a real book in my hands.

N.B. all photos in this post are from the book and are by Carlee Tatum (