knitting

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 ;)

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?

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).

My project for the Easter / Spring Dress KAL

Have you selected your project for the Easter / Spring Dress knit-along yet? I have! 

I've decided that my girl needs a new Tutu Top! The last time I made one for her she was just a tiny tot... look how adorable: 

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

So after thinking long and hard about what in my stash might appeal to her (she's 3 and has strong opinions about everything), I thought some kind of purple-ness was a safe bet. And some fuschia mohair for the tutu part. I'm super excited to see how this Malabrigo Rios colorway knits up: it's called Lotus and it's got purple and aqua, which is so pretty. 

Malabrigo Rios in Lotus and Lana Grossa Silkhair in Fuschia

I will have to modify the back to get rid of the button closure; my daughter has a strict no button rule (don't ask). So I think 2 I-cord ties should do the trick. 

Easter / Spring Dress KAL knitting pattern ideas: Summer Into Fall

Are you looking for the perfect knitting pattern to join the Easter / Spring Dress Knit-a-long? This little pinafore dress is a great option.

Ok so right now the name of this pattern makes more sense for Southern Hemisphere knitters ;) This pinafore dress is what I'd call a "vêtement de demi-saison" (you didn't know you'd learn some French reading this blog, did you?), which basically means something suitable for either Spring or Fall, not-too-warm, not-too-light. A great layering piece that can be used as a tunic as the child grows, a fast and fun knit, what's not to love?

This design is all about the lovely details: the side tabs, the straps and the sweet ruffles.

For the sample, I used Gilliatt by De Rerum Natura, which is light but warm with a rustic feel. I wanted a slightly nostalgic, timeless, schoolgirl look and I think Gilliatt conveys this perfectly, but any other worsted weight yarn (including superwash options such as Malabrigo Rios) would work well, too. For a warmer weather garment, a cotton/acrylic blend would be perfect.

You can buy the Summer Into Fall pattern here, then take part in the Easter/Spring Dress KAL here on Ravelry. Don't forget to use the hashtags #easterspringdressKAL and #frogginette on social media so we can follow your progress.

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