Modern Argyle

Utilizing a quiet day during lockdown, I am catching up on writing about a project completed a few months, ago. When I received my Vogue Knitting Holiday, 2019 and excitedly turned the pages to see the new designs, which has been a total thrill for me for over 40 years, I turned to this, #07 called Parallelogram designed by Laura Zukaite.

Under my breath I said, you’ve got to be kidding. Argyle? Didn’t I knit argyle 30 years, ago? Continuing turning the pages, the argyle stayed with me. I’ve been in conversation many a time with knitters talking on how we choose the projects we choose. I have noticed that one technique I consider is if the garment is memorable. I very much liked the modern twist of the cropped length and the way the diagonal lines of the argyle finished around the shoulders. Upon further noticing, I realized I had the perfect yarn in my scrap stash. (I’ve talked extensively about stash here and again, here as examples. Another word I use is remnants.) The grey is a workhorse yarn, a classic wool from Patons that actually was a hand me down yarn from another knitter. I figured the other colors simply had to be of the same weight.

Have you noticed the variety of techniques designers use of knitting fabric, then adding embellishment over that fabric? Appliqué, perhaps? Such is the case in this beauty I knitted many years, ago by Norah Gaughan, from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 1994. Oh, how I wished I either still had this or had taken a photo of me in it.

Recently, I saw this exquisite number by Alexandra Davidoff from VK Spring/Summer 2019 working cross stitch with an embroidery needle after knitting a grid-type fabric and yes, it is now in my queue.

Plaids are often created by knitting horizontal striped fabric, then adding the vertical lines of a plaid in duplicate stitch, again with an embroidery needle. My argyle came to life in exactly this way. First, the diamonds of the pattern using bobbins were knitted.

A tip on the usage of those bobbins: shaking or simply holding up the knitted fabric after a row allows the bobbins to dangle freely and they literally spin untangling themselves.

And, then the diagonal lines were applied over the stitches. Tips on duplicate stitch:

  • Use your thumb to guide yarn over stitch for fullest coverage.
  • Keep the work loose. When you pull tight, the yarn sinks in and the coverage is minimal (ugly).
  • Work from the bottom and go up.
  • Focus on not splitting yarns.
  • Keep slow.
  • Weave in ends, sew the sweater together.

This is a design that has a center that is to fit within the top and bottom of the garment. To assure that this would happen in my sweater, I paid particular attention to row gauge. See that little blue marker?

To center the argyle pattern, I had to add an inch below and above what the pattern stated. I only knew to do this because I knew my row gauge and the length I needed this to be. If I had not done this, my sweater would have been 2 inches too short.

Other than that, this project was clear sailing and is easy to wear. The photo shoot was in the neighborhood about 1 1/2 months, ago.

As seen on my Project Page on Ravelry

How Could a Seamstress Not?

The Spring of 2020 might look something like this in your home.

For me it was without hesitation and with a feeling of how-could-I-not, I wanted to help where I could in our world’s crisis. What? People are sewing masks? I can do that! I chose the one man assembly line approach for production thinking I would be more efficient. At this point, many face masks have been completed . . . and delivered. Finding the pattern (there are many out there) that pleased me, locating sewing supplies around the house, obtaining twist ties from the neighbors, this has been an all-consuming project for the past few weeks. My goal was to help out the helpers. Today, I delivered a quantity of 25 to a local nursing home and a batch of 50 were packaged for the local EMTs. Neighbors, friends, and family members have been gifted.

Here you can see the stockpile as it grows into completion. Once the prototype was made substituting elastic for ties, full production began.

Products need content information. That’s when I called upon my dear BF. Together we wrote the message whereupon he designed and printed the perfect thank yous to stuff into each one.

I heard that tightly woven 100% cotton was most breathable. That cemented the fabric choice. Of course, the masks needed to be washable. Filter pockets were added to the back lining to make them as versatile as possible.

Twist ties were sewn to the top and sandwiched in between the layers of fabric. The wire helps with fit. The reason why these ties ‘work’ is they take away the strain from long lengths of time behind the ear, they are adjustable, and the fabric is cut on the bias providing a bit of give or stretch, much more comfortable than otherwise.

The entire topic of hand made masks is debatable, I realize. Not medically approved, not yet officially mandated in public, wear with a filter . . . or not . . . these are just some of the conversations being had. And I might add, down deep I am hoping these FOs (finished objects) never get worn because that would mean we, as a Nation, have enough medical supplies to do away with make shift masks OR the the data and our methodologies reveals a virus in control. The effort of thinking I could help goes way beyond that of whether these masks will be used or not, however.

Here is a recipient wearing a sunny yellow. Sure does match her personality!

And, while I was writing this post, I received this text. “My sister and brother-in-law in Rochester – I’m going to send 2 to Rochester, 2 to the judge and two to Mary Ann if you can make six and if you feel like making more I have plenty of people . . . ”

Plan, Make, Finish, Wear

This is a question some of us, as knitters, ask ourselves. Are we wearing our hand knits? We ask that question for the sole purpose of giving ourselves a reality check. If the idea is to be adding a beautiful hand knit to our wardrobe, truly are we? This is essentially the honesty factor as to why we do what we do and whether we are succeeding in pulling off the look that we were after by knitting these garments in the first place. We all know, no matter what the creative process or how capable we are in our craft, some projects ‘work’ while others do not.

One such knitter has taken this particular topic to task and back in January of 2019 offered an opportunity via a thread on Ravelry to post what she calls ‘street-wear’ photos. Street-wear photos are candid shots of us in our hand knits, in our every day lives, doing whatever it is we do, at work or at play. And, then to post those photos on the thread.

I was smitten with this question because I have always thought and have said . . . yes, I do wear my projects and very much consider them a part of my wardrobe. I have even been known to say, I shop very little for clothes because finishing a garment is like adding a new piece to my wardrobe. So, I remembered this sort of self-monitoring opportunity and as I traveled through this last year, thought, I am going to test my own statement. Not sure on how I was I going to get the photo, I figured I could lean on selfies as a last resort. Of course, I was thrilled when I found some candid shot that had been taken of some activity or function I was at and found that I just happened to be in the background . . . with a hand knit on!

The below is a one year effort. The photos are not necessarily becoming (boo) but they do illustrate that my hand knits are my wardrobe. I have paired the ‘every day shot’ with a photo that was taken during the original photo shoot so you can more clearly see the garment. The top photos or photos on the right are from the ‘posed’ while the others are the recent, candid ones. All of these projects can be found on my Ravelry page and are discussed in full length on my website.

From left to right, I am at the Science Museum in a celebration, gift giving a baby sweater (I knitted), and in NYC for work with colleagues.

In the second photo, I am at a Christmas party for Habitat for Humanity, difficult to see, but I am in the back with my beautiful hoodie glam, one of my all time favorites.

a selfie and working a job fair . . .

preparing for a presentation and at the airport . . .

The photo on the right is from a knitting guild meeting. I am actually working on the Messoni that you see, above. The photo on the left was ten years, ago and our very first hubby and I did together ‘on location’. (See fashionscape.) Can’t believe I still grab for this sweater to wear.

In the ‘everyday’ shot, I’m out and about in the rain and to its right, at the Art Gallery for a night out.

And, possibly the inspiration for this post was this photo below, right, that was snapped recently by a dear friend who exhibited such joy when I asked her to photograph this.

To readers I suggest considering such questions. “Am I wearing my hand knits? Is that my intention? What keeps my knits on the shelves as opposed to being worn? Am I making intentional moves to change what is not working?” Posing such questions to yourself and answering them honestly may help you to become the knitter you want to become.



The volunteer position of teaching knitting, aka my ‘found’ knitting group, includes teaching basic skills. The hope is that this art will serve these ladies well in some capacity in their future. The classes are offered in semesters so the size of the group of ladies varies. And so does the skill level of the participants. With that in mind, I offer a variety of patterns,

all free from Ravelry, from very simple to a bit more complex. Complex in that some patterns may include cables, may have increase and decrease steps, or expect the knitter to read a chart. It is with great effort that I am knitting samples of these patterns so the ladies can see and feel exactly what they are embarking upon.

One lady in particular was zooming right along on her projects. She was a great knitter and expressed a desire to learn how to read charts. So, I found this muffler pattern, a hooded scarf, that I thought would serve well. One could make just the scarf or the entire muffler, has a chart to follow with simple cables and I knew I loved the pattern. So by making it, I would have this great item in my wardrobe as well as serve as the sample of this pattern. 

I call the project ‘transition’ as you will see how, as the weather transitions, so does this fun piece. I knitted it in Lion Brand’s Wool-Ease, worsted weight

wanting to utilize the exact yarn the ladies knit with. (A large collection of this particular yarn was donated for this volunteer position.)

Here I am along Erie Basin Marina’s inner break wall modeling the hooded scarf as single layer.

Continue reading “Transition”

Borrowed from the Boys

Much like Facebook’s posts and ability for friends to comment and/or like a post, Ravelry, a knitter’s online paradise, has a function called forums.  Forums are generally written and like-interested people comment, share, like, or otherwise support the theme of the post.  Reading these threads is as interesting as posting on them.  Groups on Ravelry generally have many such forums going on at once and of course, there are people in all ranges of activity on them.  Some are so active, they have become moderators and those moderators are now posting what we affectionately call challenges.  This is true within the Vogue Knitting Group, at least. This is where the inspiration came, or maybe an excuse, to go all the way back to my complete VK magazine collection dating Fall/Winter 1982 (easy access here on shelving).

One challenge said something like a ‘very easy Vogue’ from a vintage year and the other a #19 (representing the current year).  The latter suggested we could double up if we so chose meaning one project could fulfill both challenges.  Oh, the games we play . . . and, I so enjoy.

Here is the #19 and the vintage magazine, and if you read the description on how to make this pull, you see how it denotes “very easy”.  Take out pearls, white gloves, and shoulder pads (however, I have heard they may be making a return), I felt this a real possibility.  Also, in this age of ‘borrowing from the other gender’ era, how fitting. Case in point:  the below is taken right from a fashion magazine looking for this specific design inspiration:


With growing trends towards genderfluid dressing and genderless fashion, we’re seeing more and more menswear inspired details on the women’s catwalk. These details include:

  • Oversized silhouette (the boyfriend cardigan, boyfriend jeans, etc.)
  • Heritage focused (Fisherman and Aran sweaters)
  • Vintage, varsity style clothing
  • Raglan and Saddle shoulder sweaters
  • Styles that both men and women will wear

Decision made, I found me some interesting organic cotton that had a similar texture to the yarn of yesterday, and utilized stash

yarn, a worsted weight cotton for the collar and a worsted weight wool for the tie.  The tie is lightweight so as to not pull down, yet long enough to not blow away in the wind as you can see is happening . . .

After setting up gauge, this knitted up very quickly as you might expect, sewed on collar and tie, and off to the photo shoot we went.  Where?  to my alma mater because . . . why not?

Pretty cool standing next to a building I had many classes in 40+ years, ago.  (Buffalo State)

And, pretty fun fashioning a vintage pattern.

Project as seen on Ravelry