Takumi Sweater


Finally, I released the Zen Variations into the wild.  For the next week or so, I will post about the designs individually.

TAKUMI is the Japanese word for ‘artisan’. The cardigan features a flattering wrap-style, with a longer length, ¾ sleeves, and is finished with i-cord trim worked simultaneously with the sweater.

Takumi Cardigan knitting pattern by Renée CallahanThe cardigan is inspired by the samue, a garment traditionally worn by Zen monks while working, Japanese artisans and manual labourers. The samue is the ultimate in workwear, meant to be the most practical of garments.

Kinfolk Cover

Image copyright of Kinfolk, featured on the cover of Vol 8.

This Kinfolk cover image was one of the first up on my moodboard and was a touchstone for the collection. I love the Mona-Lisa smile and the whole feel of the image.

Zen buddhist monk photographed by John Lander

Photograph copyright: John Lander

This picture by photographer John Lander of a monk at work wearing a samue really sums up the collection for me: mindful work done with a quiet heart. 
Takumi Cardigan knitting pattern by Renée Callahan1

Takumi is my interpretation of the garment retains some of key elements, such as the cross over fronts, which form a v-neck, a longer length and tie closures. Takumi Cardigan knitting pattern by Renée Callahan

(83, 89, 92.5, 96.5, 102)(110.5, 114.5, 120, 125.5, 129.5)cm or
31.25 (32.75, 35, 36.5, 38, 40.25)(43.5, 45, 47.25, 49.5, 51) ”
The sweater is intended to be worn with 5cm / 2” of positive ease.

Takumi wrap schematic plain
The Fibre Co. Acadia (60% merino wool, 20% baby alpaca, 20% silk; 133m (145yds) per 50g hank); shown in Blueberry 9 (9, 10, 10, 11, 11)(12, 12, 13, 14, 14) hanks.

Acadia is a DK weight yarn. Takumi uses approximately:

415 (445, 470, 490, 515, 545)(580, 600, 635, 660, 690) grams

1210 (1295, 1365, 1425, 1500, 1585)(1690, 1745, 1850, 1920, 2005) yards

1105 (1185, 1250, 1305, 1370, 1450)(1545, 1595, 1690, 1755, 1835) metres

21 sts x 31 rows = 10cm (4”) in St st blocked with 3.75mm (US 5) or size needed to get gauge.

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-45

The Zen Variations patterns are for sale individually for £5 and the collection of all 6 sweater patterns can be purchased for £15.

The Takumi Pattern: 

The Zen Variations:

Happy knitting,


Note: The Zen Variations were beautifully photographed by Tommy Martin for The Fibre Co.

New season knits


Just a tiny bit of fashion today and a note that I sent out a newsletter Sunday morning—if you have signed up but not received it, do let me know. If you haven’t signed up for the newsletter and would like to, please do here!

EastLondonKnit newsletter sign up

I am woefully bad at keeping up on the fashion shows during the season. There are so many I find it difficult to decide on which to look through in the limited time I have. There are a few shows I always seek out. Pringle of Scotland is among these. The tradition of knitwear is always there in Pringle, and even if they occasionally stray from the path, they always find their way back.

This was a knit-strong season for the label.

pringle of scotland fairisle fall 2016

Photos courtesy of Vogue.com

pringle of scotland fall 2016 pringle of scotland monochrome fall 2016

There were an abundance of long knit skirts and oversized knits. Knitted skirts can be controversial, but I am a fan of both the knitted skirt and dress, which I think can be as comfy as loungewear and are easily dressed up.

I love the upside-down fair isle sweater-in-a-sweater at the top; it’s such a playful take on the classic and I think it looks great.

Finally, anyone going to Edinburgh Yarn Fest? If so, see you there.

Happy knitting,


Into Mind


Following on from last week’s handmade wardrobe dispatch, I came across the Into Mind blog last year and found it instantly appealing. The minimalist philosophy, the clean appearance and advice all suits the mood I am in now. So I got myself a copy of the workbook.

into mind workbook

And I made a start on working through it. I began with a big clean out.

into mind wardrobe fun_-2

Everything got taken out of drawers and cupboards and divided up. I realised fairly quickly that although I thought I was good only buying things I would use and keeping the wardrobe in control, I had clothing I had not worn more than once in 10 years. Yet, every year I cleaned out my closet and then put these items back in, again unused. Well not this time!

into mind wardrobe fun_

I was especially pleased by the ease with which the shoes organised themselves. It was only that red pair in the left hand corner of the photo that gave me grief. I bought a pair of Alexander McQueen heels in a fit of madness once. They were a size too small and I knew it, but convinced myself that it would work because they were open-heeled… I loved them and actually wore them. Twice. It was a triumph of emotion over reason. They are on ebay now…

into mind wardrobe fun_a favourite dress

This dress, however, is very much the opposite. It may not be the most practical but has seen good use over multiple decades and I love it. The collar is fraying and the zipper is broken, but I am determined to mend it. I decided that the KonMari method was applicable here, and this dress sparks joy.

into mind wardrobe fun_my favourite store-bought cardigan

This is my favourite store-bought cardigan. I have to wonder why I don’t have more, really, as a cardigan is the most useful of garments, and I am a knitter after all!

Next is working all those remaining garments into outfits rather than one-off pieces. I tried to start on this previously, but with the new year comes a little extra motivation, so I will have another go at it. Wish me luck!

Do you think in outfits? This is a challenge for me, but I have a feeling it is the way forward!

Happy knitting,


Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge


I may have mentioned my ambitious ideas about that well-planned, hand-made wardrobe I was getting around to making. Or maybe I didn’t. It is hard to say as I have spent so much time thinking and talking about it, and not much time actually doing it.

So when I heard Helen of the Curious Handmade podcast throw down the hand-made gauntlet, I was ready to take it up. It was the nudge I needed, really. Helen describes the impetus for the challenge in Curious Handmade blog:

If you heard last week’s podcast, you know that we’ve just launched a really exciting challenge which will be running over the next three months. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can be more intentional about creating (and wearing) a wardrobe of handmade garments and accessories that work together for real lifestyles. There are so many reasons why a handmade wardrobe is a worthy dream: the ability to truly express your individuality, clothes that truly fit your shape, the chance to break free from the destructive cycle of “fast fashion” and (of course) the sheer joy of making things and flourishing in your own creativity.

I identify with this line of thought and really appreciate Helen’s initiative.

The CH rules are thus:

Make some handmade wardrobe items.

August: get the inspiration, design and materials.

September: get to the making

October: get to the finishing.

I, however, am a fan of rules. I work best when I set myself hard and fast (if arbitrary) rules and stick to them. So I decided that I would pick 3 items of clothing I already have–preferably those which I love, but don’t wear so often because they don’t play well with others, and build an outfit around each one. Then I wandered around the wardrobe and settled on these things:

the wardrobeApparently, I have several dresses like this, and my wardrobe is really full of these dark moody colours. the wardrobe-2

This is a sweater from my new collection coming out this Autumn. It is a secret, so you haven’t seen this. I have been pondering what to wear with it for a little while now… And certainly hand knit sweaters are necessarily a solid part of my wardrobe, so there is a gap to fill here.
the wardrobe-4And finally, I do love a vintage dress, and there are a few printed fabrics I just can’t get enough of. These are the exception to the wardrobe, but again, I have more than I would have thought at first. 

In the end, I have 3 garments that I actually wear all the time, but still feel like they are in need of a little something. But what, layers? Accessories? Not sure yet, but it will be fun to decide!

Happy knitting,


Something for the weekend


Have I mentioned how much I like twin sets?

marc jacobs fall 2015

Marc Jacobs Fall 2015 photo courtesy of Style.com

While I can’t actually say I own any, I aspire to great things in the twin set department. It isn’t just the retro feel, although that inevitably plays a significant part of the attraction.

Chanel Fall 2015

Chanel Fall 2015 photo courtesy of Style.com

I think what appeals to me is the idea of an outfit that is so well considered, it matches itself. It is like some sort of standard by which all other outfits will be judged.  You may think that there would be a plethora of twin sets available for your hand knitting pleasure, and you would be correct, if you wanted to knit from a vintage pattern.

Cosy twin set from Australia Women's Weekly

There are some beauties available, including this one originally published in 1942 and now available for free. I was surprised to find a dearth of anything more contemporary.* Maybe this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I kind of thought it would be a good idea for designers to publish multiple versions of a single design. Maybe I should do it. Or, possibly, there is a good reason they are not available. Either way, when I saw the Josephine Cardigan by Rohn Strong, I thought it would make a beautiful twin set, although, it really doesn’t need anything, and I think would look equally great cropped and worn buttoned up without anything underneath.

Josephine Cardigan by Rohn Strong

Happy knitting,


*I didn’t consider patterns churned out by the big yarn companies; I have my prejudices.

Something for the Weekend


Spring is sprung and it’s time to get your summer knitting on the needles.

I am a fan of Jean Paul Gaultier. Though famous for pointy bosomed bodices and men in skirts, every collection has something of interest for me. This lacy tee suggests the idea of using different lace stitches in light spring colours.

gaultier couture spring 15 knit tee

gaultier couture spring 15 knit tee full length

Gaultier Couture Collection SS 15 Photo courtesy of Style.com

The overall ball gown is, of course, optional, though surely the headgear is a must….

Gemma hand knit pattern by Andrea Black


The Gemma Pattern by Andrea Black only uses one lace pattern, but creates a similar lovely delicate Spring-time feeling with a light colour palette, mesh on the upper yoke and simple details.

Cancun boxy lace top hand knit pattern by Erin Kate Archer


For a less structured look, Erin Kate Archer’s Cancun Lace Top Pattern plays with multiple lace stitch patterns in a simple shape.  It looks like a very cool knitting sampler and really wearable.

It is a bank holiday weekend and I hope you enjoy some quality knitting time!


Something for the weekend


With impeccable timing (as ever…) I saw these Markus Lupfer hats and felt the need to share.  These would have been the ideal Easter knits, if, you know, I had managed to sort this before Easter…..

I don’t normally go in for this sort of thing.  I’m mostly a serious wearables kind of girl, but every once in a while, I have to give in to my inner 5 year old.

markus lupfer AW 15

Markus Lupfer AW 2015 Photograph courtesy of Style.com

Lupfer is British designer whose collections often display a certain wry playfulness.

markus lupfer AW 2015

Markus Lupfer AW 2015 Photograph courtesy of Style.com

There is no lack of great silly hats on Ravelry, but I especially like it when adults are the target audience.  Tiny Owl Knits is a fabulous example of an adult who embraces the inner child. The Deer with Little Antlers Hat is niche, but come on–tell me you don’t want to live in a world in which that is standard headgear.

Tiny Owl Knits Deer with Little Antlers Hat

I also enjoy the appropriation of children’s things by grown ups.  Carole Julius is a talented photographer and keen knitter who has made a great version of Heidi May’s wildly (!) popular Failynn Fox Cowl design. Heidi May is a prolific knitwear designer of super sweet children’s knitwear and can be found here.

Caroleknits Failynn Fox Cowl

Happy knitting,