Sheltered: Introducing Modern Tartan

c Meg Kelly 2010

Hello, all. I hope you are each encased in human and yarny love today. Here in Austin, it’s 55 degrees and pouring rain, but tomorrow we’re headed to Baltimore from a more traditional winter wonderland.

I got an extra Christmas present this year: today, Hill Country Weavers released its pattern line featuring Shelter yarn: and the men’s sweater pictured above is my contribution. Hill Country Weavers is the big local yarn store here in Austin, and is one of nine flagship stores carrying Shelter, the beautiful new yarn designed by Jared Flood, aka Brooklyn Tweed.

Jared, of course, has his own beautiful line of patterns for his yarn. A group of designers here in Austin decided to try our own hand at the yarn, seeing what it would do under an Austin influence, thanks to some prompting from HCW’s owner, Suzanne Middlebrooks. The whole pattern line is gorgeous — and gorgeously photographed.

c Meg Rice 2010

This men’s pullover, called Modern Tartan, looks complicated, but is actually quite simple to knit. Not just simple, but also fun, since you start at the top and knit down, leaving very little seaming. You do have to cut a little — that zippered neck there comes from a steek that you cut down from the collar. But do not fear the steek, dear knitter — especially when the steek is to be cut into such a lovely, sticky wool like this one. This yarn wants to hang onto itself like so much velcro.

There is another way that the yarn and design marry well together: Shelter is so lofty in its construction that the sweater stays quite light — a good feature for the average hot-blooded male.

Design-wise, the trickiest thing to figure out on this sweater was how to make the raglan increases play nicely with the stranded color work. I finally landed on an easy explanation for how to do the increases that I think makes the final product look much more polished.

c Meg Kelly 2010

If a men’s sweater in five different colors of Shelter is too spendy for you, there are certainly viable alternatives. The wool you use needs to be worsted-weight, pretty sheepy (no super-softy, drapey wools), and relatively light. Berroco’s Blackstone Tweed or – even cheaper – Shepherd’s Wool from Stonehedge Fiber Mill would be great alternate choices.

Really, most classic worsted-weight wools would work — like Cascade 220 (ooh, I’d love to see this in a bunch of their tweed colors) — but just be advised that those heavier wools would make a warmer sweater. Seriously warm and toasty might be just the sort of thing you’re looking for right now.

Merry Christmas, and warmest wishes to everyone, whether this is your holiday or no.

Rodeo Kid pattern available

It’s finally ready! I got some expert help with the technical editing and some photos, so I can now put my Rodeo Kid pattern up for sale.

I hope you enjoy the pattern. It includes a lot of unusual but useful techniques that can build the skills of an intermediate knitter.

Here’s my adorable friend, Cole, modeling it for us. The link to purchase the pattern (for $5) is below the photo.


Photo: Jorge Reyes (

Rodeo Kid

It’s done! I have finished the prototype for my first-ever original knitting design! I still have some work to do to get the pattern ready for sale, including getting a tech editor to look it over and getting a kid friend to model the sweater for better photos. But I couldn’t resist showing you some provisional photos of the project.

The photo at left shows my favorite detail on the jacket: the ribbon-lined button band. In order to get the look of those western-shirt pearlized snaps, you just have to use pearlized snaps, but over time, snapping and unsnapping those little buggers was bound to stretch the button bands out of shape. So I lined the bands with some ribbon that I bought on Etsy. Isn’t it perfect?

One down-side: it was a bit of a struggle to get the snaps clamped through the thick layers of moss stitch + ribbon, but it worked out beautifully in the end.

At right is the full garment. The fronts and backs are knit all in one piece up to the armholes, then separately from there. The bottom is hemmed so that the jacket will hang straight. The shoulders are finished with short-row shaping and a three-needle bind off.

The set-in sleeves are picked up at the armhole and knit down to the cuff, which is also finished off with little pearl snaps. If you have been reading previous blog spots, you know what a bear that was for me to figure out, but I’m glad I kept beavering away at it. Well, mainly I’m glad I found Priscilla Gibson-Roberts’ genius solution to the problem.

I’m about to hit up Ravelry for a technical editor. I’m not quite sure what to offer as payment, but I’m thinking $50 or the equivalent in yarn stash will get it a good once-over?

I also need to find a suitable two-year-old model so that I can put better photos on the pattern. I love the mossy chartreuse color that I chose for the prototype, but it doesn’t suit every kid’s complexion. I know several really cute but pasty little kids who would look positively ghastly in this color. But I think our friend Cole might be just the ticket. His mama’s Italian and he’s got gorgeous, long, curly black hair and big, brown eyes. We’re going for dreamy, hip, Austin cowboy here, not Kenny Chesney.

Speaking of which, get your @sses out and vote, people. Yeehaw!