Finished Knitting Projects

From Japan with love: Hanami

Hanami is the second pattern in the “From Japan With Love” pattern bundle. Additional patterns in this bundle will be released throughout the year.

The design:

I've you've been following me for a while, you probably know that I have a special fondness for swingy garments for little girls. While the yoke and sleeves are designed to be relatively fitted, the skirt portion of Hanami flares out rather dramatically for a good dose of whimsy. Let's just say that this particular dress is sure to be a hit with twirly dress enthusiasts ;) As always, it's also a practical, comfortable garment that looks really special with its neat finishing touches.

The stitch pattern featured in the front yoke produces a rich and visually striking texture that is reminiscent of blossoms or snowflakes (I actually think Hanami would make a fantastic winter dress! It would be stunning in white, red or speckled yarn). The wide skirt is intended to have a gauzy feel and float about in the breeze.

The inspiration:

As I explained in the blog post I wrote about Sagano, another Japan-inspired design, my recent trip to Japan brought back so many memories and emotions.

One of the most special experiences that I had there as a teenager was to take part in Hanami, a traditional Japanese custom that involves sitting under cherry-blossom-covered trees in the Spring, and watching the exquisite, fragile blossoms fluttering away. There's something bittersweet, almost poignant about it, and it's in my view very reminiscent of those beautiful, fleeting moments of childhood. I tried to capture this mixture of excitement and nostalgia with this design, imagining little girls twirling about in the sun, in an exuberant explosion of joy and life.

  This wonderful photograph was captured by one of my test-knitters,  Raveler Flerpy . She knit the "top" version and I think it's just delightful. (photo used with permission)

This wonderful photograph was captured by one of my test-knitters, Raveler Flerpy. She knit the "top" version and I think it's just delightful. (photo used with permission)

About the yarn:

I used Leizu fingering by Julie Asselin for the sample, which is a merino blend containing a small amount of silk, creating a lovely stitch definition and subtle sheen. The soft pink colorway is called Romance and I find it perfectly evocative of delicate cherry blossoms. 

While this design calls for a fingering weight yarn (by the way, a "sock yarn" should work great and be durable, too!), I would steer clear of "light fingerings," which might produce a fabric that is a bit too loose. Actually, the gauge would allow you to get away with using a slightly thicker yarn, such as a sport, but in that case, the garment wouldn't be as breezy/floaty, it would end up being a bit "denser", so, warmer and more structured. Just a matter of personal preference ;)

From Japan, with love: Sagano

My latest release, Sagano, is the first of a series of Japan-inspired designs, which will be released throughout the year. It's a truly unisex, everyday sweater that looks great on babies and bigger kids alike. I've added a size to my usual range for this one, with sizes going from 3mo to 10yo.

Sagano sweater by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

The design:

The fit is comfy, slightly roomy, which is also a bit of a departure from the close-fitting silhouettes I usually favor. The pattern is worked top-down, seamlessly, and some short rows can be worked after the yoke increased are done, to raise the back neck and ensure a nicer fit. In the pattern, I suggest using German short rows with a variation on how to work the last double stitch when resuming work in the round. The unique textured bands that run down the shoulders and sleeves are very intuitive to work, although a chart and written instructions are provided.

My inspiration:

A so-called "third-culture kid," I lived in several different countries as a child, and Japan was one of them. I lived in Tokyo for a couple of years as a teenager and hadn't been back since I was 16 years old, so it was quite emotional to be back when my husband and I took a trip there last Fall. It was a great opportunity for me to rediscover not only my favorite hang outs (well, the ones that still exist... The house we lived in and my old school have both long been torn down) but also to explore places that I had always dreamed of seeing.

One of these was the Sagano bamboo forest:

Sagano Bamboo Forest

I had not expected my trip to Japan to yield so much design inspiration but it was truly magical. I had to quickly start sketching as every thing I saw evoked a texture, a silhouette, an emotion.

The Sagano sweater was the first design that I sketched in my notebook. My husband and I had just visited the beautiful Sagano Bamboo Forest near Kyoto. We were walking through a quiet residential area, with the feeling of awe still lingering after exiting the forest, when my eye was caught by this humble but beautiful woven fence:

Sagano woven fence

I loved how the strong horizontal lines of the large bamboo stalks helped bring out the woven texture, so I decided to translate that idea and came up with this variation on an existing stitch pattern that I had seen floating around on Pinterest, which I bordered with twisted stitch columns. I had to experiment quite a bit with it until it was just so, but I am SO happy with the result. It turned out exactly the way I wanted:

Sagano sweater texture

I used Leizu DK by Julie Asselin for the sample, which is a merino blend containing a small amount of silk, and the stitch definition really brings out the texture, and this gorgeous nuanced grey captured the moody vibe of the forest.

I hope you love this design as much as I do! You can purchase it here.

Entrechat hack: long sleeves

Entrechat is designed to have small cap sleeves, but I think an elbow or even full-length sleeve also works very well for this design. It could be great for chillier spring or fall days, or to use over a summer dress if it's a bit cooler in the evening (or if the A/C is blasting!).

Entrechat knitting pattern by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

Here are my notes about how I made this variation based on the main Entrechat knitting pattern, which is available here.

First a note about extra supplies: You will need a set of dpns of the same diameter as your main (circular) needle to work the sleeves in the round (unless you prefer to use the magic loop technique). You will also need a bit more yarn than indicated in the pattern since you are adding sleeve length. I would guesstimate that you will need anywhere from 50 to 150 yards extra depending on the size you are working and sleeve length you want to knit. 

The beginning of the pattern can be followed as written until Page 3 of the pattern, where it says "Repeat Rows 3 and 4 for the raglan increases until you have the following stitch count."

You simply ignore the stitch counts that are immediately following this statement, as well as the next two sentences, instead working rows 3 and 4 until you get the stitch counts given at the bottom of page 3 (they are bolded).

Then, on the next WS, instead of binding off the sleeve stitches as indicated, you place them on hold using two pieces of scrap yarn (so, purl to the end of that WS, then slip both sets of sleeve sts onto holders, removing markers).

Then, you can follow the pattern as written to finish the body of the shrug.

Once you are done with the body, it's time to work the sleeves. Place the held sleeve stitches onto your dpns, making sure they are evenly distributed.

Then, joining new yarn at the underarm (leave a yarn tail about 8" or 20cm, which you will later use to thread a needle to close up any holes/gaps), you pick up and knit two stitches from the edge of the underarm area. Place a marker between those two stitches and then knit all the sleeve stitches. Then, joining in the round, knit your sleeve stitches in the round for approximately 1" or 2.5cm. 

At that point, work a decrease round: Slm, k1, k2tog, knit until 3 sts remain, ssk, k1.

Continue working in the round in stockinette, working a decrease round every 2 inches or 5cm. When you are 1" shy of your desired sleeve length, alternate working a purled round and a knitted round to produce garter ridges. When you have three ridges, knit one more round and then bind off purlwise (this will produce your final garter ridge.)

Voila!! A sleeve!  Do the same to work the second sleeve and you're all done!

Note: Sleeve length can be easily customized depending on what you need: short sleeves, elbow length, long sleeves. Simply measure the child's arm from the underarm to where your want the sleeve cuff to be. As a reference you can also consult the standard sleeve lengths provided by the Craft Yarn Council for babies and children.

Entrechat knitting pattern (sleeve hack) by Frogginette Knitting Patterns
Entrechat knitting pattern (long sleeve hack) by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

By the way, I am running an Entrechat KAL in my Ravelry group from June 1 to June 30! Join us, it's going to be fun!

Plus, there's 30% off both my Entrechat and Madame Entrechat patterns using the code "ENTRECHATKAL"until June 10th so don't miss out! There will be TONS of prizes: yarn, notions, patterns from many indie designers... To see the entire sponsor list, check out the second post in the Club Frogginette KAL thread)

Don't forget to use the hashtag #EntrechatKAL on your Ravelry project or social media so we can all see your contribution!

Wearing your knits: 5 lessons I've learned

Every month of May for the past eight years, Me-Made-May has been a big movement in the crafting community. It's not really a make-a-long per se, it's more about actually wearing the things you've made.

 Tatie cardigan -- Pattern by  NCL Knits

Tatie cardigan -- Pattern by NCL Knits

I have to admit, I don't wear my knits consistently.

I have phases where I will wear something I've made over and over, like this Old Growth cardigan by Tin Can Knits. When my daughter was little and still nursing, I barely left home without it (and wore it around the house as well!)

 Old Growth cardigan by Tin Can Knits

Old Growth cardigan by Tin Can Knits

 Love that side buttoning!

Love that side buttoning!

I actually tested the pattern for them way back when, and I love how comfy and easy to wear it is. 

Meanwhile some other gorgeous hand-knits have been languishing for years at the back of my closet. Wondering why exactly that is, I studied them carefully and thought about each one's perceived shortcomings. And I had a few epiphanies:

Wearing Your Knits: 5 lessons I've learned by Frogginette Knitting Patterns
  • The sleeve shaping type: I've realized that raglan generally works well for my shape. I like set-in sleeves but I am very particular about the way they should fit on my body, and I'm often disappointed in the way my hand-knits sit in the shoulder area. Very often I feel like the top of the sleeve cap is too narrow, and the seam where the sleeve attaches to the body is placed too far on the outside, towards the very edge or the shoulder or even beyond. (I have pretty square shoulders, too!) This results in the garment constantly feeling like it's slipping, not sitting well, and just not comfortable to wear.
  • The sleeve ease and length: I've learned that I shouldn't just follow directions when I knit sleeves. Instead I should study the schematic a bit more carefully make sure the sleeve ease and length will work for me. I have yet to knit a sweater where the sleeve didn't turn out a bit too tight or a bit too wide. To be fair, I think I'm quite picky there as well. And perhaps I have non-standard arms :D
  • The color: Have you ever noticed that the colors you are attracted to at the yarn store are not necessarily the ones that look the best on you? I love very muted hues, greys, faded lilacs, soft blues... (I mean... just look at that pile of knits above!) Yet I notice that I look much better when I wear jewel tones, deep or bright greens or reds. 
  • The buttons: I have more than a few cardigans that just don't get worn because I made the wrong button choice. Annoyingly heavy buttons for a comparatively thinner yarn. Too-small buttons that slip through the buttonholes easily (this happens too if the yarn is slippery, for example if it has silk content). Cute or fancy buttons that end up distracting from the knit itself.
  • The choice of yarn: Selecting the right yarn for a sweater is no small feat. I've noticed that if the yarn is too precious and delicate, I will simply not wear the garment for fear of damaging it during my day-to-day activities (my kids LOVE to yank on my sleeves to get my attention and they routinely attack me with spiky toy dinosaurs. Ouch!). On the other hand, if I'm going to invest lots of time knitting a sweater for myself, I want the yarn to be special enough. So there has to be a balance. For me, that means using a relatively rugged yarn: Malabrigo Rios, which I used for my Old Growth above, or perhaps Madelinetosh Vintage or Cascade Eco... 

What about you? What are your tips for creating wearable knits?

Entrechat hack: two-colors

Over the years some of my favorite projects that knitters have made from my Entrechat pattern were ones involving two or more colors.

Two-color Entrechat by Frogginette Knitting Patterns #malabrigo

I think using two colors works so well for my Entrechat pattern: it underlines the unusual construction and makes the textured band really pop.

I decided to make a two-tone Entrechat using two Malabrigo Rios colorways: Water Green as the main color and Teal Feather as a contrasting color:

Here's a basic how-to:

First, a word of warning: you have to be willing to weave in a few ends! I made this using intarsia, which means that for the rows where I had contrasting color on both ends of my knitting, I used two separate balls of contrasting color yarn, one on each end, and the main color yarn for the middle.

- So before you start, wind up a small ball (about 1.5 to 2 inches - that's about 4-5 cm in diameter) from your main contrasting color (CC) yarn ball, which you'll use for the intarsia bits.

Two-color Entrechat shrug by Frogginette Knitting Patterns #malabrigo

- Cast on your project using the larger ball of CC yarn and follow instructions until you have your 4 garter ridges from the cast on edge. Cut CC yarn.

- On next RS row, switch to the main color yarn (MC) and follow the pattern until the sleeve stitches are bound off. Cut MC yarn.

- Join CC (larger ball) to pick up the stitches along the raglans and until you are ready to start the "Work Body" section.

- To work the textured band:

RS: K4 in CC (from the larger ball), join MC and work as explained in the pattern to 4 sts from end of row, leave MC hanging at the back of your work and join CC from the separate small ball, k4, (it will seem like you have a big gap where you joined the yarns but this will be fixed later when you weave in the ends).

WS: K4 using the smaller ball of CC, then leave CC hanging and pick up your MC (crossing/wrapping it around the CC to close the gap) and work to 4 sts from end of row, leave MC hanging and pick up CC from the larger ball (crossing/wrapping it around the MC) and k4.

- Keep working the textured band rows in this way -- you might need to untangle your three balls of yarns once in a while -- oh the joys of colorwork ;)

- When you reach the part in the pattern where you are given the length of the textured band, work the following RS in CC using the two balls of CC yarn and leaving the MC hanging (you can "carry it" at the back of your work, just twisting it with your working yarn as you encounter it).

- When you have worked the two garter ridges and you are ready to work the increase row, work the first 4 sts in CC using the larger ball of yarn, then pick up your MC to do the increases and switch to the CC from the smaller ball for the last 4 sts. Continue in this way using the three balls of yarn until you reach the given measurements, but instead of ending on a RS row as instructed, end on a WS row. Cut the MC yarn and the CC yarn from the smaller ball of yarn.

- On the next RS: using the CC from the larger ball of yarn, knit one row. Then work the ridges with the buttonhole according to the pattern.

- Last but not least: Weave in all those ends neatly.

TA-DA! A lovely two-color Entrechat!!

Two-color Entrechat shrug by Frogginette Knitting Patterns #malabrigo

By the way... I will be hosting an Entrechat KAL in June! I will announce the details soon.

Here are the winners of the Easter / Spring Dress knit-along!

The Easter/Spring Dress KAL that I hosted in my Ravelry group came to an end earlier this week. Many participated, and it was so fun to see everybody's little sweet little dresses pop up in the thread. As promised, prizes were awarded for the following projects:

SpinnyGonzalez won one of the two grand prizes! I selected her Tutu Top because her choice of colors was just so fresh and spunky. I think this bright green paired with acid yellow is the perfect combination for a Spring tunic that's just the thing to wear while exploring nature:

 Tutu Top by SpinnyGonzalez on Ravelry

Tutu Top by SpinnyGonzalez on Ravelry

I also chose this pretty Broderie as the recipient of the second Grand Prize! I think that Dye2Knit's project is beautiful in this classic blue with subtle tonal variations. Very romantic and sweet:

 Broderie by Dye2knit on Ravelry

Broderie by Dye2knit on Ravelry

Pennster managed to whip up THREE Honey Pie dresses during the KAL! Impressive, right? Two of her projects were randomly selected and she won two of my patterns :D

 Honey Pie by Pennster on Ravelry

Honey Pie by Pennster on Ravelry

 Honey Pie by Pennster on Ravelry

Honey Pie by Pennster on Ravelry

Another winner was Angeldogknitter, who came up with this really gorgeous combination of colors for her Tutu Top. While the body of the sweater is purple (you know that tends to be a winner for little girls!) I love that she paired it with a more subtle powdery mauve, it really gives a nice sophistication to the project.

 Tutu Top by Angeldogknitter on Ravelry

Tutu Top by Angeldogknitter on Ravelry

Another really sweet version was Alisa01's Honey Pie. I love this shade of Malabrigo Rios (Archangel), an unusual red/purple hue. And look at those sweet flower buttons she picked out!

 Honey Pie by alesa01 on Ravelry

Honey Pie by alesa01 on Ravelry

Last but not least, Kimzboyz made this beautiful, bright blue Honey Pie with really special buttons:

 Honey Pie by Kimzboyz on Ravelry

Honey Pie by Kimzboyz on Ravelry

So that's all for this KAL folks! Are you ready for another one in June? I am planning to host an Entrechat-hack knit-along so if you know of (or are envisioning) any fun variations of my best-selling design, chime in in the comments!

Tutu Top Hack: ties instead of button closure

My daughter is three. At this age, she is naturally verrrry particular about many things, not the least of which is clothing. She loves purple, pink, and black. She has a fondness for tights and rain boots. All pretty par for the course. But the one thing that has been a real challenge is that she is deathly afraid of buttons. Not on other people's clothing (she loves playing with my own buttons) but on her own clothes, it's a huge no-no. I think maybe her hair got tangled up in one at some point, and she is now firmly anti-button. 

I knew I wanted to make her a Tutu Top for the Easter / Spring Dress KAL (you can still participate by the way! Here's where it's happening). It's such a quick and comfy design. It's very play-friendly, lasts forever (you can make it with a bit of room to grow, and still use it as a tunic many months down the line), and IT TWIRLS!! So, a no-brainer. 

BUT, it was designed to close at the back with a button (fastened with an I-cord loop closure.)

Tutu Top knitting pattern closure hack

I knew that wouldn't fly. Thankfully it's extremely easy to turn this type of closure into simple ties.

Tutu Top closure hack

The way I did it is I started off creating a 3-stitch regular I-cord:

Cast on 3 stitches using two dpns (of the same size as used in the pattern for the attached I-cord of the neckline), slide these 3 sts to the other end of the dpn without working them, then, without turning your work, knit them (make sure the first stitch you work is nice and tight). Slide the 3 stitches again to the other side of the needle without turning your work and knit the stitches once more, keeping things nice and tight. Keep going until you have an I-cord that's about 8 inches or 20cm long.

Then start working the attached I-cord along the neckline as explained in the pattern (naturally skip the "cast on 3 sts" part). Then, work the unattached I-cord on the other of the back neck opening, as explained in the pattern, but this time make it 8 inches or 20cm long, so that it matches the other side. And of course, no need to form a loop or anything :) Voila! Easy-peasy:

And here's a happy girl in her new Tutu Top!

Tutu Top by Frogginette Knitting Patterns
Tutu Top by Frogginette Knitting Patterns
Tutu Top by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

If you'd like to make your own Tutu Top, you can find the pattern here.

For mine, I used Malabrigo Rios in the Lotus colorway for the body, and the "tutu" part is made with some fuschia-colored Lana Grossa Silkhair (which is a bit too thin, but it worked out fine).

Instagram photo-a-day: Yarnlovechallenge Day 16: Happy Color

Instagram photo-a-day: Yarnlovechallenge Day 7: Stripes

Round up of beautiful projects for babies and kids: Hyphen cardigan

When I released my Hyphen knitting pattern 9 months ago, I had no idea that it would quickly become one of my best-sellers. Many knitters have since then made adorable versions of this quick and practical cardigan for lucky babies and children.

I think there's something about the design that really allows knitters to make it their own. The textured yoke can be either a subtle, sophisticated touch that elevates a simple cardigan, or it can really make a statement. The whole cardigan can also serve as a great canvas for some serious creativity. These projects are a few of my favorites, made by very talented knitters (photos used with permission):

By the way, did you know that there is now a grown-up version now as well? It's called Em Dash, which, in case you are wondering, is a large hyphen... Get it? ;)

Did you make a Hyphen? What is your favorite thing about it? If you have a blog, please give us the link to your project so everybody can see!