Thursday, November 24, 2016

Magnetospheric Gloves

Presenting my Magnetospheric Gloves, which currently appear in Knit Now Magazine Issue 67!

Ever since I first saw the mood boards that went with Knit Now editor Kate Heppel's call for submissions, I have been eager to see the resulting magazine issue; whether I would end up making the cut or not! The theme was the Northern Lights, with a focus on the commonalities in knitting traditions between the various countries that have the good chance to view them.

Photograph by Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing, used with permission
I thought back to my favourite Northern Lights viewings: as a child when my family drove late at night near Dawson Creek, laying my head down as far as it could go on the door so I could see them better out my window as they danced in greens and blues, with the occasional hint of red so subtle I wasn't sure if I was seeing it; as a teen, at the campground at Okanagan Lake, on a hillside, large bluey-green-to-white lights that rose tall out in front of us, like an Imax screen, looking near enough to touch; newly graduated from University, my future husband by my side, in Halifax, on the balcony at the B&B with the other guests who had rushed out for the show, they were high in the sky, pale in colour but bright and shimmering. One of the other guests at the B&B in Halifax was from Iceland, and she said her mother had always told her not to whistle at the Northern Lights, lest the giants come down and take her head to use in their game of football.

This brings me back to the northern countries part of the call. I feel it's important to note just how vast the North truly is, and to highlight that even though Edmonton is the northernmost large city (by which is meant having over a million population in our greater metropolitan area) in North America, we're not really very far North in the scheme of things. Really, we're pretty much central Alberta, and the top of Alberta might be considered to be touching the Southernmost part of the North, but the amount of North that is North of there is just immense. Still, as an important airport location for access to the North, we've been called Gateway to the North, so here we are. We are far enough North to see the Northern Lights, and that is a lovely thing.

I'm also not from the part of the country that has been connected by water to the Scandinavian countries (that would mainly be Newfoundland, where Anse aux Meadows is an important example of Norse Settlement in North America from the year 1000). In Alberta, we are landlocked, but we nonetheless still have connections to these countries due to all the settlers who arrived at various times to farm our prairies. Just this past summer, my family visited Stephansson house near Markerville, where an Icelandic poet and farmer resided with his family from 1889. We went to the Norwegian Laft Hus in Red Deer that was built to honour Norwegian settlers of the area. We didn't get a chance to see the Danish Canadian gardens and museum near Dickson (maybe next summer? it looks brilliant) that are also located in Central Alberta, but many towns boast Scandinavian ancestry in Alberta.

Stephansson House
Along with Scandinavian settlers came Scandinavian knitting! Of course that knitting has been blended with other traditions as various cultures meet here too. In a country, and province, where a great variety of people from a great variety of places have come to build their lives, I hope we can all be inspired by each other to learn more about each others' traditions, and to continue to build new traditions made stronger by the inclusion of our various roots. I have always felt strongly that the most important Canadian Values are to value each other in this way, and to give one another the chance to grow together while continuing to respect each other's traditions. We may not always have lived up to this ideal, but to live up to it as we move forward is crucial.  

Norwegian mitten displayed at Norwegian Laft Hus
It's possible you may think at this point that I have strayed from the point, but I assure you, I have not. Often, in the Knitting Community, we muse on the topic of interconnectedness, and on how we are brought together by our craft. These connections continue beyond knitting, and can strengthen our resolve to get to know one another better. Karie Westermann, who collaborated on a large part of this magazine issue, often writes about the connections between landscape, geography, knitting and culture, and I recommend also reading her blog post about Issue 67 and about her gorgeous cover sweater.

Canadian knitwear inspired by various Scandinavian knitting traditions, at the Norwegian Laft Hus
To bring this back to the Magnetospheric Gloves, the motif on the gloves is one that can be found in Scottish Fair Isle knitting, but it would also be at home on an Icelandic Yoke jumper. I like that the kinship between the two countries can be seen in these gloves, but that they were designed in a third country in turn, and that all three are bathed by the same lights in the night sky. The Magnetospheric Gloves were worked in Artesano 100% Alpaca 4ply; Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud Fingering  is suggested as a substitute. Using an 'afterthought' thumb, these gloves are a good project for either first-time colourwork, or first-time gloves (or both!). Available in small, medium, and large adult sizes, these gloves are just the thing to bring with you on a chilly night of stargazing, wherever you might be watching from.

From what I have seen so far, this magazine issue is even more beautiful than I could have imagined. You can read about it on the Knit Now Blog, and even better, can purchase a digital copy of the magazine here, and a hard copy here.

Monday, November 21, 2016

It's Gift-A-Long Time!

The 2016 Gift-A-Long starts tomorrow!

I'm very excited to be participating as a designer and also as a knitter (possibly also as a crocheter; I did work with both for my projects last year) for the third time.

What is the Gift-A-Long?

It's a lot of great things!

First off, it's an event hosted by the Indie Design Gift-A-Long Group on Ravelry , a knit and crochet along, with crocheters and knitters gathering in the group to chat and cheer one another on while making gifts (for others or for ourselves!) in November and December. The event runs from November 22nd, 8pm EST to December 31st, Midnight EST, and features lots of great prizes! Prizes are won through fun games, random draws, and trivia questions. There are multiple categories for projects, and chat threads for each of these. Any design by a participating designer is eligible for joining-in; any paid pattern (not free) is eligible for winning prizes.

Secondly, there is a sale! From November 22nd, 8pm EST to November 30th, 11:59 EST, participating Indie Designers are offering between 5 and 20 of their independently published patterns at 25% off. To take advantage of the sale, use the coupon code: giftalong2016. Head to the Gift-A-Long group linked above to find the full list of participating designers!

Thirdly, it's International and lots of fun!

Image and stats courtesy of Kimberly Golynskiy. Used with Permission

Are you joining in?

FAQ: What is an Opadoo? The Opadoo, as a participant's adorable young daughter has dubbed the noble octopus, is noted for having 8 arms, and there are 8 categories of patterns in the Gift-A-Long. Complete 8 projects in the Gift-A-Long? You have tamed the Opadoo.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bangor Pullover

I'm proud, pleased, and excited to be able to say that Interweave Knits Winter 2017 is out, and in it you will find my Bangor Pullover! This issue of Interweave Knits is available via the Interweave Store (here: print edition or here: digital edition ), and my contribution was part of the Whiskey and Wool theme, which features an excellent array of cabled knitwear worked in gorgeous wool.

Photo by Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Used with Permission.

I'm particularly proud of this sweater, and I've had a closeup of it as the wallpaper on my mobile ever since the day I sent in the sample! I love the yarn; it has good stitch definition, feels great, and looks amazing. Worked in Cascade 220 Heathers, in Pumpkin Spice, the colour has a brilliant amount of depth. Every person who saw the sample in person while I was knitting it exclaimed at the colour and looked closer to see the different shades that worked together to make a great blend.

Photo by Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Used with Permission.

My goal with this sweater was to make a comfortable yet stylish pullover. The cables remind me of the grains of rye that are used to flavour Canadian whisky, and the seed stitch works with the cables to add more texture while keeping simple clean lines. The cables on the sleeves continue up into a saddle-shoulder for a handsome finishing detail.

Photo by Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Used with Permission.

The Bangor Pullover is worked from the bottom-up, in the round to the underarms, then front and back are worked flat separately. The sleeves are likewise worked cuff-up in the round to the underarm, with the sleeve caps and saddle worked flat, then set-in and seamed, with the collar picked up and worked in the round to finish. This sweater is a good choice for those who are new or newer to cables, as the cable is a simple one worked at regular intervals.

Photo by Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Used with Permission.

Finished Size: 36 (39½, 44¼, 46¾, 51½)" chest circumference. Pullover shown measures 44¼"; modeled with 4¼" of positive ease.

The Bangor Pullover pattern can also be purchased individually from the Interweave Store here: Bangor Pullover

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Garneau Top

About a year ago, I went to the Calgary Fibre Arts Fair, and picked up a skein of Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts Superwash Merino yarn in a DK weight both for the joy of swatching it, and in the hope that I would come up with a design to go with it.

After a few swatches, I knew I had found something special, which I now present to you as the Garneau Top.

Photo by Austin Lee for Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts. Used with permission.

I used stockinette stitch and seed stitch in contrast to work a sort of 'texture blocking' instead of 'colour blocking'. Because the two textures reflect light differently, it gives the subtle impression of two very similar-but-different colours being used, while flowing along with the shaping of the top.

Photo by Austin Lee for Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts. Used with permission
The neckline is what I would term a modified boatneck; a boatneck in essence, but made more comfortable to wear with short-rows being used to raise the shoulders slightly. Short-rows are also used in the body of the sweater—as the two stitch patterns have different row-gauges, working the short-rows counterbalances this to make for an evenly worked piece. The top is worked from the bottom-up in the round up to the armholes, then worked flat for the remainder, as are the sleeves, which are then set-in during finishing. The Garneau Top pattern is available for Women's sizes XS (S, M, L, XL, 2X, 3X).

Photo by Austin Lee for Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts. Used with permission

Photo by Austin Lee for Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts. Used with permission

I really enjoyed working with Ancient Arts to bring you the Garneau Top, which is named for a neighbourhood in Edmonton that I always enjoyed walking when I attended the University of Alberta. I pictured it as the perfect place to head out for a stroll with the handsome dog that the yarn is named for: Weimeraner.

Now, a word about this brilliant colour, which I loved for the way it presented so many different grays with so much depth:
Weimeraner is one of the several amazing colourways from the Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts Woof Collection. When you buy yarn from the Woof Collection , a portion of the proceeds is donated to the Best Friends Animal Society, which benefits stray and abandoned dogs. Now, I'm a dog person, but if you prefer cats to dogs? No problem; the Meow Collection benefits cats, and I think the Garneau Top would look excellent in Blue Persian too. A variety of other colours awaits in Superwash DK; I recommend Semi-solid colours for this pattern.

Buy the Garneau Top Pattern at the following links from:Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts or through Ravelry, and the yarn from Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts.

Photo by Austin Lee for Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts. Used with permission

Friday, October 28, 2016

Running Tide Cowl

A little while ago, I published the resulting pattern from a collaboration with Sea Turtle Fiber Arts, that being the Running Tide Cowl, worked in Breakwater Bulky, in the colour Deep Sea.

Everyone, this yarn is super-cozy and squishy and warm! I really wanted to make the most of that cozy feeling, and so a cabled cowl came to mind. The best bit is that it's REVERSIBLE. This way, whether you wrap it, let it hang loose, or even make it into a scarf instead, there is no wrong side.

I've made it long enough to wrap around twice, but it can be shortened as desired, or lengthened. At the gauge I used, as written, the cowl uses 3 skeins (with about a third of the third skein left over), but 2 skeins would work up into a good shorter cowl, 3 would make for a decent length scarf, and 4 would get you a nice long scarf, or a triple-looped cowl if that is a thing.

This cowl works up super fast; it took me about 3 days (not knitting constantly either) to get it done, though it took me a little longer to find time in the schedule for grafting, blocking, and getting photos taken. Now that the weather is getting a lot colder, treat yourself to a weekend of knitting so that you can be cozy next week!

Pattern available for purchase on Ravelry for $6.75CAD
(Ravelry membership is not required to shop on Ravelry)
just click away here:

For more of my knitting patterns available for sale, please head to my patterns page.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Introducing: The Windsor Vest

Sure, it might seem a bit early for Christmas posts and planning for most people, but for any knitters planning Christmas knitting, it's a good time to at least start browsing for your knitting queue. Interweave Knits Holiday, available via the Interweave Store (here: print edition or here: digital edition ), has you covered whether you want to treat someone (including yourself) to a gorgeous shawl or socks, whip up a quick hat or set of mittens, or make something special for a child. I was particularly delighted with the set of designs based on Jan Brett's illustrations in her children's books (The Hat, in which Hedgie the hedgehog has a run-in with a sock that blew off the clothesline of winter woollies, has been a favourite with both my kids), and I'm tempted for the first time ever to knit up a Christmas stocking as a result.

Photo by Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Used with Permission.

My contribution to the collection is the Windsor Vest. When I sat down to play with colours and motifs on the computer, I asked myself, what would Ernie, from Sesame Street, favourite Muppet of so many children, wear if he had a traditional Fair-Isle inspired vest and wanted to dress up a little? Certainly he'd still want to wear some of his favourite colours!

Photo by Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Used with Permission.

I had some SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock in my stash in the Ginger colourway, and I knew right away that I wanted that to be the colour for the trim. I enjoyed looking through all the delightful saturated colourways available, and set up a palette that I feel works well for a slightly more formal yet still exuberant Muppet, or indeed for a cheerful child who feels that if she or he must dress up, let it at least be colourful and bright.

Photo by Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Used with Permission.

The Windsor Vest is worked in the round from the bottom up, with steeks worked for v-neck and armhole openings. Stitches are then picked up around the armholes and neckline for trim.

Finished Size 23¼ (24¾, 26¼, 27¾, 29¼)” chest circumference. Vest shown measures 23¼”

The pattern can also be purchased individually via the Interweave Knits Store here: Windsor Vest Pattern

Photo by Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Used with Permission.

Friday, September 09, 2016

What I Knit on My Summer Vacation

Next week will be my first full work week since June. It's not that I haven't worked during the summer, but things have slowed down quite a lot for while the kids were off school. Before we went camping, I shared what I was bringing with me to work on.

Here's what happened with that:

So, left to right:

-Socks knit with my handspun that I couldn't finish because I ran out of yarn too soon. Also, found it's not suitable for socks for a variety of reasons (which I suspected but ignored, since hey, they're just for me and I want to make them anyway). Any ideas what I should make with pink striped yarn? I could use a few suggestions!
No pattern for these, mostly just wishful thinking. I did swatch, but I didn't weigh the swatch or do any calculating, so I guess that's how it goes.

-Thrummed mittens. Still just one mitten. I prepared enough thrums for the second mitten, but brought the wrong needles with me, and still haven't gotten around to casting the next one on.
Pattern: Thrummed Mittens by Jennifer L. Appleby

-Chihuahua mittens: Cast-on second mitten, finished the braid (I changed the cuff slightly by adding this), stopped there.
Pattern: Tiny Dogs mittens by Therese Sharp

-Nephew's sweater: Finished! I wove-in the ends, and sewed on two buttons. I brought it with me to last week's knitting group session, and when I jokingly suggested one of the other members could sew on my buttons if she was between projects, she surprisingly enough said that she loves sewing on buttons, and did so. I am very grateful!
Pattern: Calaway by Jenny Wiebe

-Other Socks for me: Finished! I've even worn these a few times since. I'm running low on socks, so it's nice to have made some for myself. I even finished these on time for Carolyn's Summer Socks Kal, which made this even more fun.
Pattern: GG by Carolyn Macpherson 

What's up next? There's a whoooole lotta swatching going on:

Also, in the meantime, for September, I'm doing a drawing challenge in which I draw a sheep a day and then post them on Instagram using #sheepsketchaday. You can find my Instagram feed under @jessiemckitrick

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Smoky Lake

My Grandpa grew up near Smoky Lake here in Alberta, and I love when he tells the story of the time he and his brother came home with what they thought was a big fluffy dog that was only too happy to follow them. My Great-Grandmother was less than enthusiastic about any intent to keep the creature, and my Great-Grandfather brought the bear cub back to where the boys had found it.

The last time I was in Smoky Lake (the town, not the lake), it was rather an icy day in February, and I could have used a warm, sturdy, cozy cardigan to wrap myself up in. Smoky Lake, my design for Twist Collective Fall 2016, is a cabled and double-breasted cardigan with a shawl collar that totally fits the bill for warm, sturdy and cozy.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission
This cardigan is worked in Briggs & Little Atlantic, which is a bulky 3-ply wool that shows off cables nicely, even in a relatively darker shade like Grape, which Smoky Lake features. Of course, Briggs & Little Atlantic also comes in an excellent range of colours, both in heathered (like Grape) and solid. I think if I was knitting Smoky Lake again, I'd be tempted to also try Grey Heather, Fern, or Rust.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission
For warmth, I can tell you I tried this one on one warm summer day, and would have melted if I had kept it on any longer than it took to snap a few photos. I feel Smoky Lake would be perfect for a fall (and spring for that matter) coat. If I had been able to wear it while camping with my family this summer, it would have also been just the thing for chilly mornings in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission
The wool is not only warm, but hard-wearing, and will keep your knitting in good form for a very long time. Briggs & Little Atlantic relaxes slightly with a wash, and plumps up a wee bit too; it keeps its shape and definition while making the drape and handle come out just right.

When designing Smoky Lake, I wanted to use cables that would be sculptural enough to stand out even on a darker wool, but that would work well with a bulky wool without distorting the overall fabric. I settled on two cables that would play nicely with each other in columns. I wanted a Pea Coat feel to the sweater, a sense of being wrapped in wool against all weather and ready for outdoor exploration over lake, sea, woodland or field. A double-breasted coat with a voluminous shawl collar had the right sort of feel too it, and so I sketched this up:

Of course, with bulky wool and a good sized button-band in the front meant that there would be less density of cables than in my sketch (I also don't think I got the eyes quite right, but that has very little to do with the sweater, right?); but the sketch conveyed the feel I was looking for, and once calculations and adjustments to assure a good fit for all the sizes in question for men and women were worked over and approved, I set about crunching numbers and making sure that the sweater worked up into a cozy and beautiful garment. I really enjoyed working up the shawl collar; no matter how often I use short-rows, they feel like magic, and the bands worked up particularly quickly in the bulky yarn.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission

I am so pleased to see my idea fully transformed into reality, even better than I had imagined it. I really enjoyed working with Twist Collective on this project; much thanks to all of the Twist staff! Twist Collective, as always, has beautiful photography, and I recommend even to the non-knitters who read this blog to go take a look through this issue (and back issues as well)!

Thanks and love to my Grandpa, who, by the way, always looks great in a double-breasted jacket.

The Smoky Lake pattern is now available for purchase here through Twist Collective.

©Twist Collective. Used with permission

Friday, July 22, 2016

Actual knitting content!

I've just last week finished a long series of work projects that started back in December, and I'm very much ready for a vacation. Very, very much. So much that even planning fun things, or adding anything to the to-do list fills me with dread, and enough that making simple decisions is difficult. Obviously I need a proper break, so I'm taking one. I've promised myself and my family that for the following week, I am not doing any work knitting, not even swatching. The fun knitting for the next while is this:

Left to right: Handspun (socks to be), thrummed mittens (1 of 2), stranded mittens (1 of 2), Nephew sweater (needs weaving-in ends, also needs buttons), socks (1 of 2). Will check notes so I can have all pattern names available here on a follow-up post in a few weeks once I've recuperated a bit more!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fall Knitting is for the Summertime: Presenting the OXO Pullover!

As a knitter, I say it's never too early to start thinking of Fall. I also say that Summer is the time to start knitting up sweaters so they're ready to wear in the Fall, not to mention the odd chilly day out camping during the summer. Luckily, Love of Knitting seem to be in agreement on the subject, as they have just released their Fall 2016 issue. I am also very happy to say that I have a design included in this issue!

Presenting the OXO Pullover!

Photo by  Carmel Zucker for Love of Knitting. Used with permission.

I was so excited to see these photos when they arrived in my in-box. The model is just so adorable, and they did such a lovely job!

Photo by  Carmel Zucker for Love of Knitting.
Used with permission.

The OXO Pullover is a classic child's pullover with a bold X and O cable pattern forming columns.

Worked in Patons Classic Wool DK Superwash, the wool is warm, cozy, soft, durable, and machine-washable; all things that are ideal for a child's sweater. This yarn comes in a variety of colours that will appeal to kids and grown-ups alike, and I had many comments on the beautiful emerald colour as I was working on the sample.

Photo by  Carmel Zucker for Love of Knitting.
Used with permission.

The single-rib side panels give the sweater extra stretch allow extra room as your child grows; this and the modified drop-sleeve style allow for a comfortable relaxed fit without a lot of extra fabric to get in the way of a day of play. Finished Size: 25½ (27, 28, 29½ , 31)" chest circumference. Shown in size 28".

Photo by  Carmel Zucker for Love of Knitting. Used with permission.

Photo by  Carmel Zucker for Love of Knitting.
Used with permission.

The Fall 2016 issue of Love of Knitting is coming to newstands very soon, but in the meantime, you can order a print copy here:

or a digital copy here: