Leona Dare


When Stacie Dawson of Must Stash Yarns, Ana Clerc of Yarn Carnival, and I decided to team up to create a shawl pattern with their yarns, we took the golden age of the circus as our inspiration. At the turn of the twentieth century, the circus was a major event in American life and has a distinct look and ambience that still lives in our cultural memory.

This shawl, with a simple-to-knit, top-down crescent construction borrowed from the very talented designer Jennette Cross, is inspired by trapeze artist and aerial acrobatrix Leona Dare (1854–1922). Dare’s signature performance was to grip onto a hot-air balloon by her teeth as it rose thousands of feet into the air. Now that’s a high-wire act.

To read more about some of the amazing female circus performers in history, check out this article at Mental Floss.

IMG_3708 LeonaDare_redgray

Seismic shifts


Over the last couple of months since I shut down the Dark Matter Knits podcast, I have received so many kind messages on Ravelry, Facebook, email, and elsewhere. Thank you all so much for your kind support. Although there are many of you I have never met in person, this doesn’t change how much I have deeply appreciated the time you took to do me a kindness.

Now that a little time has passed, I wanted to step back in for a moment to explain what’s happening with my knitwear design line, the podcast, my Stitch Definition business, and a bit of my life in general (though you’ll forgive me, I’m sure, for refraining from too much detail there).

The basic facts are these: my marriage is ending and this has meant that I needed to go back to work full time. Correction: I was already working full time for Stitch Definition, but I needed to work for someone who could pay me a salary and benefits. I was very lucky about a month ago to land the position as the in-house graphic designer at Girl Scouts of Central Texas, an organization whose mission I support wholeheartedly.

This and my altered life circumstances have meant that I have very little time for much else than to work on my Stitch Definition projects in the evenings and on weekends. I have a few knitwear design projects that I’m very excited about continuing, but it is doubtful that I will be releasing many new designs in the foreseeable future. I also will not be teaching knitting classes as much. And, unfortunately, I definitely do not predict a return of my podcast anytime soon.

I say all this mainly because I have received so many messages from you kind-hearted folks, wondering if I’m doing OK. I am—and I thank you very much for your concern. Knitting and spinning (not to mention my more newly acquired hobby, role-playing games) have, as always, proven to be a much-needed salve, as our beloved Elizabeth Zimmermann always said they would.

Regretful goodbyes

I am sorry to say that I’m putting the Dark Matter Knits podcast on indefinite hiatus. I’m going through some personal upheaval that means I need to focus much more intensively on my Stitch Definition business—and unfortunately that means a lot less designing knitwear and no more podcasting.

I want to thank you all so much for your kindness and support. You will continue to see occasional patterns from me on Ravelry. And you’ll certainly see me out and about all over the knitting world. I’m hopeful about the future.

With love and best wishes,

DMK Podcast Episode 33: Swockapalooza


WATCH NOW: https://youtu.be/YeHx1AoTj4Q

This episode focuses on knitting socks—or, more accurately, swocks (socks that are knit mainly to be swatches, not to be worn; it’s a wonderful term I’m borrowing from Stacie of the Must Stash Podcast). I’ll tell you all about the lovely yarn I’ve been “swocking” with, as well as a new heel recipe. I answer some questions, including how I started knitting and then knitting continental as well as how I’m planning to get my mojo back.

The technique today (thanks to MindfulWilliam on Ravelry) refines the Kitchener stitch join for sock toes so you don’t get those pesky donkey ears on either end of your toe.

Mentioned in this episode:

Men’s knitting roundup #10

It’s been several months since we peeked into the latest men’s knitwear designs. Let’s go exploring…. Today we’re all about color.

Looking for new men’s designs can sometimes be an exercise in despair—frankly, most of what I see is either awfully frumpy or is really designed for women and has been questionably tagged for men. (Mind you, I have pretty wide-ranging beliefs about what looks great on men, but even my liberal limits are frequently tested by overzealous tagging.)

And then, like a bolt out of the blue, you come across something like this…


PINCH ME but that is luscious. This is Wester Ross by Welsh designer Jane Howorth and knit, of course, out of Noro Kureyon. Pictured here on a teenager, the sizing ranges from 34.5–53.5 inch chest. I absolutely love the way the cabling and knit-and-purl texture plays with the striping effect of the yarn, the way the saddle shoulder cleverly travels across the top back (see below), the extra-long ribbing and thumb holes at the cuffs, and the impeccable shaping (no slouchiness!).

Jane has designed some other gorgeous men’s sweaters that you should also take a gander at; I will definitely be keeping an eye on her from now on.



Bristol Ivy’s Quoin cowl is worked in three colors of worsted-weight wool—potentially yarn you already have in your stash. I love how she has combined asymmetrical striping and deep chevrons into a simple-to-knit but bold design. It’s like a Color Affection Shawl for your neck … with a lot less knitting.

Looking for a more ambitious knit to occupy the long summer days? I love this Mayan Ouroboros scarf pattern from Tania Richter. The instructions can be purchased individually or as part of an eight-pattern e-book called Fantasy Art Knits—all double-knit scarves with fantasy creatures fabulously charted out (in both senses of the word fabulous!). Five patterns have been released so far, including a Nine-Tailed Kitsune that is screaming my name.

Summer podcasting schedule

As I’ve mentioned on the podcast, I’m going to be doing a lot of traveling this summer, which means I’ll need to space the episodes out a bit. Here is my best guess now as to when episodes will be posted:

  • June 26
  • July 10
  • July 27
  • August 14

… and then I’ll be back on a regular schedule after that. Happy summer, northern hemisphere friends! (And happy winter to all y’all down south.)

DMK Podcast Episode 32: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Knitters

WATCH NOW: https://youtu.be/y-wtDaApFns

Have been trying for two days to get this to upload to iTunes, and it hasn’t yet worked. Will keep trying. The episode has been uploaded to YouTube, though (click link above).

This week I talk about my trip to The National Needlearts Association meeting in Columbus. TNNA is a fascinating window into what’s going on in the fiber industry, and I’ll tell you all about what I saw there. The technique segment looks at how to use a double-sided crochet hook to pick up dropped stitches.

Mentioned in this episode:

DMK Podcast Episode 31: Knit on through All Crises

WATCH NOW: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/ep-31-knit-on-through-all-crises_48593

Elizabeth Zimmermann famously encouraged us to “knit on through all crises.” I’m trying, folks, with mixed success. Today, we talk about when even knitting fails to be therapeutic. Spoiler alert: everything turns out OK.

Today’s technique tip: how to create a pocket on your sweater without having to sew it on!

Mentioned in this episode:

Next podcast episode coming next week

Hello friends! I had a podcast episode scheduled to appear this past Friday, but sending my husband off on a two-week international business trip has proven to be more time- and energy-consuming than I’d anticipated. Will have an episode up next Friday.

Just a heads up that this summer’s podcast schedule may be more erratic, as I have some summer travel plans and will have less uninterrupted work time than usual while my son is out of school.

Happy knitting!

DMK Podcast Episode 30: Close to My Heart

Episode 30: Close to My Heart

WATCH NOW: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/ep-30-close-to-my-heart_46080

In this episode I talk about a couple of skeins of yarn that have a special significance to me, and I’ll review a new collection of lace designs that have a unique heart motif. The technique segment talks about the importance of re-checking gauge in the middle of a project, even when you’re just switching from one type of knitting in the round to another.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Giveaways
  • What I’m knitting
    • FO: Honey Cowl pattern by Antonia Shankland, knit in White Bear Fibers Sport, Mother Earth colorway
    • WIP: Ka’ana Shawlette by Jennifer Weissman, knit in Miss Babs Yowza, Verrassing colorway
  • John C. Campbell Folk School: where I took the week-long dyeing and spinning class with Martha Owen
  • Our group on Ravelry—come join us for fun discussions about fiber crafts and to enter for giveaways.
  • Receive the Dark Matter Knits monthly email newsletter: exclusive coupon codes, news about patterns and the podcast, and more!
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