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!
  • If you’d like to make a donation to the podcast (which helps immensely with hosting fees and prize mailing costs), you can do so using the button below:Donate Button

DMK Podcast Episode 28: Vive la Différence

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WATCH NOW: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/ep-28-vive-la-diffrence_43814

Today I’ll focus on knitting outside the U.S.: we’ll look at some international podcasts that I love plus look through a glorious sampling of 1980s French knitting magazines that were gifted to me recently. I’ll also talk about my recent trip to DFW Fiber Fest, the new book Defarge Does Shakespeare, and other recent events.

The technique segment looks at when and why you should use a ruler to measure gauge instead of a retractable tape measure.

Mentioned in this episode:

DMK Podcast Episode 27: What’s Your Bag? (now with working audio!)

BalineseCardi_main1 WATCH NOW: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/ep-27-whats-your-bag_42286

In this episode we dive into the bowels of our notions bag. I show you what I keep in mine and tell you how I use them. We also have a preview of Natalie Servant’s stunning subscription-based collection of patterns Canadian Art Deco Knits. The technique segment in this episode is folded into the notions bag discussion, and offers a tip for running lifelines through your work.

Mentioned in this episode:

Boys’ knitting roundup #8

Let’s check in on the world of knitting patterns for boys! Some months the well seems pretty dry, but this time we’re spoiled for choice….

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The big news in boys’ knits this month is that Kate Oates, the designer behind the Tot Toppers line, has released an entire book of knitwear for boys, and not surprisingly it’s fabulous. Knits for Boys includes …

29 patterns for sweaters, tops, vests, hoodies, mittens, hats, and more that boys will want to wear sized from 4-12. It also features an incredible reference section on how to knit for kids: choosing colors and styles, sizing, how to make a sweater “grow with” your child, how to find a comfortable fit, and even tutorials on simple additions to any design like hoods and installing zippers.

I have always found Kate’s patterns for boys to be clear, practical, and well-illustrated, and the range of projects in this collection will serve well anyone who knits for boys. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Knitted long johns! How cute and snuggly are these? You may be thinking it would be crazy to knit these, but I can tell you: having seen how much my son wore the knitted pants I made for him a few years ago, I can say that this is a more practical project than you might initially think…

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Most of the designs in the book are sweaters, and my favorite of the bunch is the Twisty Crew. It is worked in a bulky-weight yarn and features some smart, unfussy details on a raglan pullover design, a style that I think always looks especially great on older boys.

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You can purchase an autographed copy directly from Kate via her website, and the book is also available on Amazon—or perhaps you could encourage your LYS to carry it!


My favorite thing about this next new sweater design is that it starts from the assumption that brilliant, hand-dyed color might just be great in a boys’ garment, too—and wow, is it ever.

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The Lennix jacket by Rebecca Newman is incredibly versatile: it includes 14 sizes ranging from 3 months to 12 years; has instructions for sport-, DK- and worsted-weight gauges; can be worked with either a collar or a hood (as shown here); and suits boys and girls both. Now that’s a pattern you can get a lot of use out of!


You can always count on English designer Woolly Wormhead for a great twist on a classic design. Her new Headcase pattern looks great in the self-striping Zauberball yarn. And since this is Woolly, you know there will be some interesting shaping in there to sink your needles into….

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Finally, I love this sweet cowl called Ag Sugradh sa Sneachta by Irish designer Ciara Ní Reachtnín. (OK, all you non-Gaelic speakers: say that ten times fast.) Worked in a fingering-weight yarn, the cowl has puppies running around its circumference.

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DMK Podcast Episode 25: Knittas for Life!

WATCH NOW: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/ep-25-knittas-for-life_38626 A viewer (Joanne) asked me once, “if you’ve been knitting for 30 years, what do you DO will all that knitted stuff?” Such a great question. Today join me as I undertake an archaeological dig into my old knits, designs, books, magazines, and patterns. The technique segment in this episode walks through how to use a yarn meter. Mentioned in this episode:

Men’s knitting roundup #9

Many of you in the northern US are blanketed under snow right now, so it’s a good moment to check in on the world of men’s knits. As it happens, most of my favorite recent patterns for men are for your neck, so let’s warm up that throat!


First up is another fantastic shawl pattern by Josh Ryks, called Tailspin. Originally knit with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, this would make a great project for sock yarn scraps, as you only need one full skein of one of the colors. The remaining colors only require anywhere from 50–200 yards each.

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If you are as charmed by Josh’s style as I am, you should also check out his video podcast, Sword of a Knitter.


Speaking of keeping your neck warm, here is an unusual but very wearable style for your next men’s cowl. This is the Neckwarmer Cowl with Toggle by the prolific British designer Ruth Maddock. The toggle can be tightened to snug the cowl up around your neck for extra warmth.

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The original uses an Aran and DK yarn held together, but you could also substitute a bulky yarn.


If you’ve got some handsome buttons burning a whole in your craft drawer, check out the luscious Garfunkel cowl by Polish designer Justyna Lorkowska. This piece requires about 250 yards of a worsted-weight wool. It buttons just at the bottom so that you can wear it either buttoned and scrunched around your neck, or open and spread out to protect any part of your chest not covered by your coat. Very stylish.

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I’ve published a new pattern for men as well! My husband (pictured below) has a very handsome, but often chilly, shaved head, so when Bijou Basin Ranch sent me a skein of their delicious Lhasa Wilderness yarn, I knew just who was getting a hat. Lhasa Wilderness blends yak down and bamboo, giving the fiber an incredible softness and luster that are perfect next to the skin.

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My Aftershave Hat pattern uses a simple textured pattern to show off the drape and luster in the yarn. You’ll need 160–180 yards of a sportweight (depending on which size you make), and any drapey luxury fiber such as alpaca or cashmere would make a fine substitute.

DMK Podcast, Episode 24: Branding

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WATCH NOW: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/ep-24-branding_36754

Let’s talk about branding—about the subtle ways that a yarn’s packaging works on us to either increase or diminish or pleasure of knitting or crocheting with the stuff. In the process of talking about this, I’ll review a new Australian yarn.

Today’s technique segment shows how to keep yarnovers from closing up on themselves after you’ve knit them.

Mentioned in this episode:

Watch me not mess up on Knitting Daily TV!

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See me in this photo looking all casual and relaxed with the lovely Vickie Howell on the set of Knitting Daily TV? That was just before we filmed my segment for episode 1408, which will be airing next month!

Despite the entire colony of butterflies I had swarming in my stomach, the taping went very smoothly. On the worktable in front of us—which I, remarkably, did not even throw up on at all—you’ll see the Bag! For Things! design from my Kung Fu Knits book. On the show, I demonstrate how to do a few of the techniques you need for the bag, such as working a knitted cast on in the middle of a round and a simple method for sewing in a zipper.

I don’t have an exact air date yet, but I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, you can either click here to find out how to watch Knitting Daily TV in your area (in most parts of the US, the show airs on a PBS station) or click here to order the entire season on DVD.

What to do when you have a problem with a knitting pattern

c Meg Kelly 2010

c Meg Kelly 2010

I’ve been contacted twice this week by knitters who were struggling with some aspect of one of my patterns. In both cases, the knitters explained to me very clearly what problem they were having and were extremely pleasant and helpful in their communication with me. As it turned out, in one case the knitter was having problems because her gauge was wildly off, and in the other case the knitter found some legitimate errors in the pattern that I am now working with the yarn company to correct. Both knitters are now on the path to projects they’ll be happy with.

These positive interactions got me thinking that it might be a good idea to post, from a knitting designer’s point of view, some of the ideal ways to get in touch with a designer about a problem you’re having with one of their patterns.

Before you contact the designer, double-check that you’ve not just made a simple error. It happens to all of us (me included!): you’re knitting away happily on a pattern, suddenly the stitch count is off, or the lace pattern isn’t matching up, and you think, “there’s something wrong with this pattern.”

Sure, maybe there is. But before you head off to the computer to email the designer, do double-check your math and look carefully at your knitting and the pattern—it could well be that you just made a mistake in a previous row or missed something in a previous paragraph.

Try to contact the designer directly by email. A good pattern, in my opinion, lists an email address that you can use for pattern support. Barring that, many designers have web pages that list their email address or have contact forms. This is the surest way to reach your target directly. Some designers don’t check their Ravelry messages every day, though this is a good second option if you cannot find an email address.

You can even write a post on the designer’s Ravelry forum (or any relevant forum if they don’t have one). One of my favorite new features on Ravelry is that if you hot-link to a pattern name in a forum post, Ravelry will ask you if you have a question about that pattern. If you say yes, a note pops up in the designer’s user activity feed that someone has a question about one of their patterns.

Start from a position of respect. When you compose your message to the designer, write from the assumption that the designer is neither dumb nor evil. Start from the position that you may have found an error … or, at least, that you’re having a hard time getting the result you’re supposed to get when you follow the instructions as written. Personally, I answer every request for pattern support that I receive, but if you come at me swinging with both fists, my instinct is to go into defensive, not helpful, mode.

Give as many relevant details as you can. Tell the designer what yarn you’re using, where the problem started happening, whether the technique you’re having trouble with is new to you, at what exact point the stitch count went off, or anything else that might help the designer figure out where the problem is. Include a photo of your project if that would help clarify things.

Please share your own advice or responses on this topic in the comments!


Pictured above is one of my favorite patterns that I’ve designed, the Modern Tartan. To date, no errata have been found. 🙂

DMK Podcast Episode 21: Wanderlust

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WATCH NOW: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/ep-21-wanderlust_33205

Ever get that itch to wander, to try something new? Or are you the more the type to settle in to the comforts of the familiar? Or maybe you feel a tug of war inside between these two competing tendencies? In today’s episode, I start with a TED talk that a friend shared with me and then see where the urges to wander and settle lead us in the knitting world.

Today’s technique segment shows how to use a crochet hook to pick up dropped stitches … wandering little buggers that they are.

Mentioned in this episode: