Slightly obsessed

By JC | May 4, 2014

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a bit obsessed with stitch patterns. So it’s no surprise that, as I’m flipping through Textured Stitches by Connie Chang Chinchio, part of me is oohing and aahing over the lovely garments, but a bigger part of me is drooling over the stitch patterns.

Case in point: the lace pattern in the Starflower Hat. Was it the same as the Falling Leaves pattern I’d recently found in Vogue Stitchionary Volume Five?

Falling Leaves stitch map

Falling Leaves

Alas, it was hard to tell from the photos in Textured Stitches. And the instructions were written, not charted.

No problem. I popped over to and entered in those written instructions.

Starflower stitch map, uncorrected


Whoops. Things were clearly off-kilter. Symbols weren’t lining up as you’d expect; the centers of the motifs were gradually drifting to the right.

A quick check revealed that errata had been published for the pattern. (No worries. These things happen.) The book should’ve instructed the knitter to move the beginning-of-rounds marker at the start of rounds 7 and 15.

Now, doesn’t understand the concept of “markers,” much less “remove marker, k1, replace marker.” But I wanted to see what the stitch pattern looked like as a stitch map, so I fiddled around on paper for a bit. (Yes, I still draw stitch maps by hand, when I’m trying to figure things out. Once the “ah ha!” moment has been reached, I can always draw a pretty stitch map at Following the stitch map, but properly lining up the symbols from one row to the next, this is what I got:

hand-drawn Starflower stitch map

getting better

Notice how the motifs widen and narrow. With two motifs side by side, offset vertically by a half a repeat, you can draw lines at “natural breaks” within the stitch pattern:

hand-drawn Starflower stitch map, with repeat lines

outlining a pair of motifs

And voilà! Entering those instructions into gave me the stitch map I wanted:

Starflower stitch map


The nifty thing about this stitch map is that it can be followed in the round without ever having to move the beginning-of-rounds marker. Gaining that kind of insight into a stitch pattern is why I love stitch maps so much.

But back to the original question: how does Starflower compare with Falling Leaves? That’s easiest to answer when comparing apples to apples, so straigtening Starflower’s edges so it can be worked as an insertion (flat or in the round), we see this:

Starflower insertion

Starflower as an insertion

Mm… nope. The two patterns are quite similar, but they’re not quite the same. Guess I’m going to need to swatch both of them.


By JC | March 27, 2014

Remember how I said I was going to update my patterns to include stitch maps? Yeah, that project fell by the wayside. (Too many projects! Too little time!)

Today, though, I present to you a two-fer: two sock patterns updated to use stitch maps in addition to traditional charts and written instructions. First up, Corrine:



And Yachats:



Both are anklets. (I have become unreasonably fond of anklets lately. Or is it really unreasonable? Anklets stay in place! You never have to tug up on drooping legs!) But they differ in their use of stitch maps. Corrine has just one simple stitch map:


Clematis, from A Compendium of Knitted Stitch Patterns by Shelagh Hollingworth

This makes the Corrine pattern an easy introduction to stitch maps.

Yachats has a couple beefier stitch maps, including one of my favorites, Rivulets:


Rivulets, a variation on Vine Stripe by Barbara Walker

With Rivulets (and the Little Waves pattern on the cuff), Yachats makes fabulous use of stitch maps. It’s a pattern you can sink your teeth into. No, wait, I have a better metaphor: It’s a pattern that lets you give stitch maps a serious test drive, see how they compare to traditional charts, and wonder how you ever used to knit lace without them.

Yeah, okay, so I’m a little passionate about stitch maps. You’re not surprised, are you? :-)

Jolie, revisited

By JC | December 5, 2013

Long-time readers of this blog will remember Jolie, a lace scarf knit in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine.



Ditto my rantings on how its edging should be charted.

edging chart

edging chart, as good as it gets with a grid

Of course, those rantings pre-dated Don’t you just love the stitch map for the edging? No “no stitch” symbols, and a clear understanding of how the parts of the stitch pattern fit together.

edging stitch map

ah, much nicer

And so that’s why I’m re-releasing the pattern for Jolie. It now includes stitch maps for all its stitch patterns… and traditional grid-based charts, and written instructions, for those of you looking for some training wheels.



By JC | November 5, 2013

Next up in the series of patterns updated to include stitch maps is the Traveling Vines scarf.

Traveling Vines scarf

Traveling Vines scarf

I don’t know what I like most about this scarf: its yarn, Windsor Farms Rabbitry Angora Blizzard, or its stitch pattern, Traveling Vines.

Traveling Vines charts

grid-based chart vs. stitch map

Way nicer as a stitch map, don’t you think?

Speaking of traveling… tomorrow I’m headed to Stitches East. Hope to see you there!


By JC | October 29, 2013

You know those Sidewinder socks I posted about yesterday? The pattern has been available for almost two years, but now it features a little facelift:


grid-based and grid-free, side by side

That’s right, traditional grid-based charts and grid-free stitch maps, side by side. (And written instructions, for those of you that haven’t yet jumped on the chart bandwagon.) You can follow whichever set of instructions turns your crank, or – and here’s the fun part – you can click on hotlinks within the pattern PDF to view the stitch maps interactively at

I figured it was high time I started using stitch maps in my own patterns. And with its sinuous nature, Sidewinder was the perfect place to start. More updated patterns will follow, as I find the time. I’ll post about them here, and on the Stitch Maps group on Ravelry.

Travel knitting

By JC | October 28, 2013

Lately it seems I get most of my knitting done while traveling. Case in point:

Sidewinder socks

travel knitting, August through October

Before Stitches Midwest, knowing that I would need some travel knitting, I cast on these Sidewinder socks. I don’t often knit one of my own designs twice, so this was a treat: No need to scour stitch dictionaries for ideas! No need to plan the cuff treatment, or the heel shaping! Just knit!

And the knitting was fun. I used Frog Tree Pediboo, an 80/20 blend of wool and bamboo. It behaved beautifully during the knitting, with no splitting, knots, or other complaints. And you can see the stitch definition is fabulous. I look forward to seeing how the socks hold up over time.

But fast? Nuh uh. This was travel knitting, remember? I snuck in a few rounds on my trip to the Knitting Bridge guild in September, but otherwise the project languished until I headed to New York State earlier this month. Ah, nothing like a 2.5-week trip to make a dent in the travel knitting! I even managed to get started on my next travel-knitting project:

toe socks

travel knitting, October through ...?

Yup, more toe socks, once again in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silkie Socks that Rock. The first sock knit up in a hurry, and the second sock is already past the fussy stage: the toes have been knit and joined together, and the junctures between the toes have been grafted. In other words, this project is at the perfect point for hours of mindless travel knitting. I plan to exercise great restraint, and leave the project aside until I head to Stitches East next week.


By JC | October 20, 2013

Yesterday I visited Rhinebeck for the first time, and what did I do? Buy fiber and yarn? Nope, I don’t spin, and my yarn stash overfloweth already. Instead, I did a little collecting:


Offset Leaves

Some people collect stamps, or butterflies. Me, I collect stitch patterns. These I found “in the wild,” on samples hanging in vendor booths at Rhinebeck. Pretty, yes?

As for Rhinebeck, it was just as incredible as I’d always heard. Getting to wander through building after building of vendor booths, and to meet up with people I don’t see often enough, was fabulous. The glorious weather was a huge bonus. Will I come back? I’m almost tempted to say no, this weekend was perfect, it couldn’t have been better.


By JC | September 10, 2013

Last weekend’s test-run of my new Wedge Shawl Design class went quite well, if I do say so myself. Oh, sure, there was a hiccup or two, and you know I’ll be making improvements to the class based on the feedback I got.

But what blew me away was how inspired the students were. Several spent the rest of the weekend knitting away on shawls of their own design; I loved seeing the progress they made. Others chafed at the chance to get home, pull some special yarn out of their stash, and get started.

Yes. That’s what the class was supposed to do.

Me, I resisted the urge to start another shawl myself. Instead, I whipped up a pair of mittens:

brioche mittens

Mountain Colors 4/8’s wool in Columbine

They’re all brioche: Half Brioche for the cuff, and Fluffy Brioche for the rest. Soon, they’ll be a surprise gift for a very special person. Ssh, don’t tell her…

Busy, busy, busy

By JC | September 3, 2013

Did you take some time off this holiday weekend? I did. It was fabulous.

But now it’s back to work, and oh, my. If I think too much about my upcoming schedule, I start hyperventilating:

I’d call that a rather full schedule; wouldn’t you? Wish me luck! I gotta get back to writing those handouts…

Dreaming of Shetland

By JC | July 31, 2013

It’s almost here: the long-awaited ebook Dreaming of Shetland. Conceived as a fundraiser for Deb Robson’s explorations of Shetland and Shetland sheep, it’s grown to include several essays and dozens of patterns.

And, oh! what patterns. Go on, take a peek at the project gallery; you know you want to.

My contribution? Not the least bit connected to Shetland.



Nope, it’s knit of silk, using a mix of Estonian patterns. But I still like how it turned out. How about you? Which of the Dreaming of Shetland projects do you want to knit?