Yarn Tasting



A recent study found that 81% of subjects suffering from depression reported feeling happier after knitting, while more than half said they felt “very happy.”

I’ve been knitting my life back together since I was a teenager. Things unravel, I pick up my needles. Stitches drop, I figure out how to get on track and reknit. It’s my M.O. when life goes haywire. The perfect therapy — a rhythmically, repetitive mediation that calms. And you end up with something beautiful and useful!

Can you get all that from a therapist? Well, I guess you can, but it may not be as relaxing.

Since knitting is my first emotional line of defense — and calm and happy are always welcome — as the seasons transition, I can almost taste the yarn.

Without further adieu…

Here are my latest knitting crushes:

What’s on your knitting menu?

Knit Your Vegetables


The detailed needlework pins created by Japanese artist, Itoamika Jung Jung are simply nutritional fiber candy for the summer soul. Using lace threads in muted colors, these jewels embody everything fine in nature.

I’m at a loss to even speculate what level of finite skill it takes to create such exquisite representational fruits, vegetables and flowers from minuscule needles and lace yarn.

Do I have the patience required to knit with lace? No. But, I just had to order Jung Jung’s book, Knots, Itoami Plants.

Is this not perfection for the first day of summer?

Credit © Itoamika Jung Jung via Pinterest

Adventures In Irish Knits


We attribute meanings and associations to holidays – real, tradition or made up. Leprechauns, green beer, corned beef and cabbage, shamrocks, parades, and four-leaf clovers sum up today. For me, St. Patrick’s Day is the day to be swathed in a big Irish hug — one of the Fisherman sweaters I obsessively knit for many years. Not only are these sweaters unisex, they never go out of style.

After attaining knitting proficiency by reading and swatching my way through tea-stained copies of Barbara Walker’s series, A Treasury Of Stitch Patterns, I set out to learn the Irish stitch patterns. I soon found these Aran patterns were as addictively intriguing to knit as the messages conveyed in the individual stitches.

The classic knitting book by Alice Starmore, Aran Knitting provided the background and patterns for traditional fisherman sweaters. This book was out of print, but happily, it has been re-released, revised and expanded!


Aran Sweaters go way back. The emergence of the first sweaters are debatable, but commercially available Aran knitting patterns were published in the 1940’s. The yarn was spun and knit off the west coast of Ireland on the Aran Islands. The sweaters were handcrafted for fishermen and farmers, and passed down from generation to generation. Each stitch pattern is said to carry its own unique meaning. These sweaters were often used to help identify bodies of fishermen washed up on the beach following an accident at sea.


The combination of stitches have been interpreted in these popular Aran sweater stitch patterns:

cableThe Cable Stitch depicts fisherman’s ropes. It represents a wish for a fruitful day at sea.


The Diamond Stitch reflects the small fields of the islands. Sometimes the diamonds are filled with Moss Stitch, which is said to depict the seaweed that fertilized the barren fields. The diamond stitch is a wish for success and wealth.


The Zig Zag Stitch is a half diamond. It represents the twisting cliff paths on the islands. The Tree of Life reflects the importance of the family – a desire for clan unity.

Photo: French Voguettes via Pinterest, Vogue Knitting

Dreaming In Color: A Free Knitted Hat Pattern

“I never felt daunted by difficulties or blocked alleys. Somehow, I knew the path I was on was right, and my trust in that sense was stronger than the limitation of my own personal comforts or desires.” ~ artist and knitting designer, Kaffe Fassett

My daughter presented me with the autobiography of Kaffe Fassett, Dreaming In Color. The luscious multi-layered book has been feeding my post-holiday soul. In the afterglow of holiday overload, extended family dinners and massive clean ups, I pause each evening and curl up with this book. The inspirational words and opalescent photographs of Kaffe’s lifelong creative journey have encapsulated me from the harsh reality of the last few weeks.

Kaffe Fassett's art, Dreaming In Color

Kaffe Fassett’s art, Dreaming In Color

From Kaffe’s bohemian beginnings in Big Sur to his royal rambles in England, his life unfolds to touch the hearts of painters, mosaic and fabric artists. But the book reaches deep into the souls of knitters who cannot resist replicating his colorful and whimsically patterned designs.

I took a workshop with Kaffe in Lenox, MA in the ‘80’s when his book, Glorious Color landed in the U.S. Following Kaffe’s visionary career has influenced my use of color and my knitting ethic. It blew away my neutrally classic ideas about color. What…me use such revolutionary colors? What…me leave my unwoven yarn ends dangling? It was a lawless approach that I wholly embraced. All very freeing and bursting with wonder!

Kaffe Fassett knitted design.

Kaffe Fassett knitted design.

Dreaming In Color reads like a visual pattern. The book is gorgeously designed, which is no surprise given publisher and friend, Melanie Falick’s expert eye for both editing and design.

It is the perfect book to top off the holiday and sustain a knitter throughout the long winter months.

Earlier this season, I thought about Kaffe Fassett when I chose the colors for my knitted gifts. I designed a simple hat (above) that stitched up quickly, and I’m glad a riot of colors landed in my knitting bag — orange, turquoise, chartreuse, ochre — knitted with a thick, nubby, soft merino yarn.


In the openness of the New Year, let’s remember the best things in life are handmade – from our precious children to the coziest of hats.

Chunky Hat (free knitting pattern)

2 skeins Malabrigo Merino yarn
Size 11 circular 11″ needles
Size 11 double pointed needles
Tapestry needle

Cast on 56 sts on circular needle. Place marker and join.

K2, P2 for approximately 6″

Begin decrease rows as follows (change to double pointed needles when it becomes too tight on the circular needles):

Row 1: k4, k2 tog, repeat around row
Row 2: k around row
Row 3: K3, k2 tog, repeat around row
Row 4: k around row
Row 5: K2, k2 tog, repeat around row
Row 6: k around row
Row 7: K1, K2 tog, repeat around row
Row 8: K2 tog repeat until 6 sts remain.

Cut yarn, leaving 6” tail and thread tapestry needle, draw needle thru remaining 6 sts. Pull tightly, weave in ends.

Main photo: Ben Fink, model: Jordyn Cormier

A Needled Spirit

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.” ~ Elizabeth Zimmermann

The knitting alarm is ringing. Can you hear it? If you’re a knitter you can. It’s starts when the outdoor world gets tinged with variegated hues and winter whites, and shuts off when the temperatures rise so high your hands can’t stand to touch wool…not even the softest cashmere. The flakes are falling and it’s finally what my mother calls, “sweater weather.”

For me, knitting inspiration climbs to new heights each time I step into Pinterest. It feeds my troubled or untroubled knitting spirit.

So, direct from Econesting’s Knitting Pin Board, here’s a few projects of the season–the knitting season:

The easy Redy Sweater by Ankestrick is sweet because there is almost no shaping…no fussing with collar decreases and no fumbling with stitch pick ups. Sweater perfection. Now, what color?



Have you seen those new gloves created for touchscreen texting? No need to wrap your hands in those polyester numbers when you can knit fingerless gloves. Here’s a fun snow-tipped pair: Hege Mitt, by Michelle Wang.



When I look back at items I’ve knit, memories of time, tranquility and toddlers come gushing in (I knit furiously throughout my kids’ childhoods). I adore an ongoing project for all those nostalgic reasons. This comfy, Slip Stitch Sampler perfectly zaps up left-over yarn and will keep the knitting fires burning all winter long.


The creative sideways construction of this knitted poncho/cape intrigues me. Is it knit like a baby blanket and sewn up one side? Don’t know because the pattern is French to me…literally.



I am rarely surprised by ingenious knitted creations, but I nearly fell off my chair when I saw these Knitted Yoga Balls. I sit a lot and like to break up the long hours by unchaining myself from my ergonomically-designed Aeron Chair. Sometimes I bounce and stretch on an exercise ball. I’m toying with the idea of jeweling up a lowly specimen using this Knitted Yoga Ball pattern.


Illustration: Edel Rodriguez
Photos: Ravelry, Brooklyn Tweed, Knitting Warehouse, Thread and Needle, Better Living By Design