Printed Zen Variations

Hello!

I have (finally!!) had the Zen Variations printed!

Zen Variations knitting patterns

I am really pleased with how it has turned out, even though it took much longer than I had hoped that it would. We added several variations to the variations.

Zen Variations Yama Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-42

The original Yama Cardigan, for example, was knit it 2 gorgeous colours of The Fibre Co. Acadia yarn. To give people an indication of the versatility of the designs, I knit another version in a single solid grey colour, which you can see on the cover of the newly printed booklet at the top of this post.

I also have several new variations in gorgeous Kettle Yarn Co. Islington DK.

 

Zen Variations Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-16

Above is the original version of the Intoku sweater in Acadia, with a longer length and pockets, to which we added the Islington version below, with a more cropped length and no pockets.

Zen_Variations__Intoku_by_Renee_Callahan-2

If you would like a copy, pop over to the EastLondonKnit Etsy shop.

Tomorrow I will publish Episode 2 of the EastLondonKnit Podcast and if you tune in, you will get a code for a 20% discount off the printed Zen Variations and the printed Klee Collection as well as an awesome interview with Woolly Wormhead!

Happy knitting,

Rx

Starflower Sweater

Because you are great, I have a 30% discount on my new sweater pattern for you!

starflower-sweater-pattern-by-renee-callahanHello!

Spring is sprung, at least according to the flowering cherry trees around my way. There is light in the sky when I get up and I feel the promise of warmth in the (still rare) sunshine.

So I think to myself, what better time to release a pattern for a chunky sweater! haHA!

In my defense, I wear sweaters all year round and will wear this sweater well into the spring, trading my coat for the breathable warmth of the sweater when the spring really kicks in.

The Starflower Sweater is a modified raglan pullover knit in beautiful chunky wool for a cosy hug of a sweater. Designed to be a beginner-friendly knit, Starflower is worked from the top down, so you can try it on as you go to get a perfect fit.

Starflower knitting pattern by Renee Callahan

I used  Hill View Farm Yarns Pleasingly Plumb wool for the sweater and I love the squishiness of the Bluefaced Leicester fibre.

I was honoured to be the recipient of the very first batch of yarn from Hill View Farm. It is a lovely yarn and I know that Natasha, the owner, has some amazing plans for crafty retreats, workshops, and yarn-based goodness.

You can buy the Starflower pattern here, and if you sign up to the EastLondonKnit newsletter, you will get a code for a 30% discount on the pattern with your confirmation email.

Happy knitting,

Rx

p.s. I have some podcast (!) based plans in the works, and I would love to know if you listen to/watch podcasts. If so, what do you really like or dislike about them? More on this next week, but it would great to hear your opinions!

Machine Knitting: Sweater Basics, live!!

Hello!

It is live!! Machine knitting:Sweater Basics is up and ready for casting on!

machine-knitting-sweater-basics-by-renee-callahan

photo credit: Craftsy

I am really pleased to be able to offer you a whopping 50% discount on the purchase of the class! Just follow the link above or go to my website for more information and a link for 25% off any other Craftsy class you may like to take!

In Machine Knitting; Sweater Basics, you will learn everything you need to know to knit a sweater on the machine: from basic machine maintenance, how to cast on, making fabric you love, to seaming, blocking and everything in between. The class includes my Sweater Blank–a worksheet that will lead you through making your sweater in any gauge or fabric you want and making it easy to customize. I will post more about the Sweater Blank later, but I have to say I am pretty pleased about it and I hope you will be too.

Although it was excruciating for me to watch this the first time, here is the trailer, for your amusement!

Happy knitting,

Rx

A new Craftsy class: machine knitting; sweater basics!

Hello!

machine-knitting-with-renee-callahan-on-craftsy

It is nearly time!! My Craftsy class is in the final stages of preparation and I am really excited to share it with you!

I know not all of you are machine knitters, but if you are at all interested in machine knitting, I think this class will give you a lot of information and help, not to mention a great pattern for a simple sweater.

A Sweater Blank Sweater by Renee Callahan

A Sweater Blank Sweater by Renee Callahan

A Sweater Blank Sweater by Renee Callahan

Photos courtesy of Craftsy

Although I am really proud of the whole class, I am particularly proud of this sweater pattern which will enable the knitter to knit this drop shoulder sweater in any gauge with any yarn and any stitch pattern. I will post more about this later, but I hope it will be an incredibly useful pattern for the beginner or intermediate knitter.

You can enter to win this Craftsy class by simply clicking the link below. The winner will be chosen at random when the class goes live.

Win a free class! Enter by clicking here.

Happy knitting!

Rx

Zen Variations: the Sleeve

Hello!

Zen Variations Kaizen cardigan Knitting pattern by Renée Callahan-29

I think one of the challenges of working a set-in sleeve is that it isn’t obvious what is going on as it’s being worked, and one of the challenges of explaining the set-in sleeve is that the work is no longer flat, but 3-D, making the illustrating of the technique also less than obvious. Today I’ll attempt it anyway.

For a Zen Variations sweater, the Front and Back have been worked separately and then the body has been worked in the round, with stitches added on at the underarm (12). This leaves us with an empty armhole to fill with a sleeve as follows:

Diagram of sleeve on Zen Variations by Renée Callahan

13. Pick up Sleeve sts from around the armhole.
14. Knit across the flat of the sleeve head (A), and work the sleeve head with short rows: working back and forth between sides B and C; W&T each st along the armhole sides until the sts cast on for the underarm (12) are reached. Then work sleeve in the round to cuff.

For a different perspective on a similar fit, it may help to have a look at this diagram of a sweater by the Knitting Fiend, which is worked flat but may help to give a larger overview of how the elements are fitting together.

And that is it! The next step in working your Zen Variation sweater is to weave in ends, block it and wear it forevermore.

So, I would love to hear from you–what is your favourite sleeve? To knit and to wear, are they the same?

Happy knitting,

Rx

Zen inspirations: the European Shoulder Seam.

Hello!

As a result of my background in fashion design and particularly machine knitting, the Zen Variations sweaters are constructed slightly differently from some of the other top-down sweater patterns.

Whereas many patterns call for matching short rows on both the front and back shoulders to create a shoulder slope, with machine knitting, the knitter works as many straight bits of knitting as possible to increase the speed at which a sweater can be produced. By pushing all of the short rows to the back shoulders, a steeper shoulder slope is created and the front can be knit straight–in other words very quickly.

I hadn’t really thought through this construction as a hand-knitting technique until I noticed the work of Linda, aka the Gauginator, on Ravelry. Linda has had an impressive career to date working for major yarn companies and developed a recipe for what she calls the ‘ESS’ or European Shoulder Seam. She has been perfecting this recipe with some beautiful sweaters:

Gauginator's ESS ( European Shoulder Seam)

These details from a couple of Linda’s designs showcase the beauty of the design: above the ESS (European Shoulder Seam) and below: Martina.

Gauginator's Martina hand knit sweater

I asked Linda about how she came to this process and she send me a wonderful email detailing her knitting adventures:
 I wanted something that mimicked a set-in sleeve, where the sleeve cap seam was in closer to the proper chest width.
Also, having the shoulder seam positioned further back on the shoulder provides for a much better hang to the sweater. As we know, a proper fit in any garment emanates from a perfect fit in the shoulder.
At the time there were a few commercial patterns out there that pushed the shoulder seam toward the back of the shoulder, but they were very cumbersome and bulky; simply sewing the seams together to force them to fit. I’ve seen this construction referred to as English-, Italian-, French-shoulder seams … I decided to call it European Shoulder Seam (“ESS”) to encompass all the countries 😉
So I took to my drafting paper and literally created a sewing sloper to achieve the three-dimensional shoulder portion. From there I applied my knitting gauge and off I went.
The magic of it all lies within the Front shoulder section which, surprisingly, is just a straight piece with no shaping. The way that piece “torques” over the shoulder is what causes the perfect fit. I had to go on faith, because I can’t “quantify” that torque. All I know is that it works in all gauges. Since that’s the case I’m happy to not be able to explain ‘how’ it works, just that it does 😉
Gauginator's Notched Lapel

Linda’s Notched Lapel cardigan.

 

While I had appreciated the idea of the set-in sleeve construction for its simplicity and for the speed at which a sweater could be produced, I had never considered the ‘torque’ aspect of the shoulder and how that makes it equally as relevant to hand-knitting as machine knitting. I am indebted to Linda for bring it to my attention!

Happy knitting,

Rx

Constructing the Zen Variations

Hello!

I’m visiting the family in Seattle this week, but I am not neglecting the Zen Variations knit-along while I am away! As I mentioned in a previous post, my travel knitting is the Enso sweater, knit in Kettle Yarn Co. Islington DK.

It’s all the rage to knit seamless, top-down sweaters and it is a construction I really love for a few good reasons.

With top-down, you can try as you go, checking the fit at the crucial junctures, making the armhole deeper if you want to, or shorter, and of course making the sweater body and sleeves as long as you want them.

Today I want to begin a step by step tutorial for knitting a Zen Variation sweater, which starts with the upper back:

Zen Variations by Renée Callahan back

In this schematic, we are looking at the Back from the right side, and working from casting on at the top down to the underarm/bottom of the sleeve opening.

1. Cast on the number of stitches required for both shoulders and back neck (the red line).
2. Place markers (m) to mark shoulders.
3. Work short rows to create shoulder slope: knit across Right Shoulder and Back Neck to Left Shoulder, wrap and turn (W&T) the next st; purl back to Right Shoulder, W&T the next st; knit back to the 1st wrapped st, k3 (wrapped st + 2 more) W&T, purl back to 2nd wrapped st., k3 (wrapped st + 2 more), W&T, etc.
4. Work straight until the back armhole is as long as necessary.
5. Work increases (+) at the underarm edge until the full back measurement (minus the stitches that will be cast on for the underarm) is reached.
6. Put Back sts on waste yarn.

I will continue the tutorial with the Fronts in a couple of weeks.

If you are interested in learning more, I will be teaching a several workshops in and around London, and further afield, leading students through understanding the construction as well as all the techniques associated with the design (working the wrapped short-rows, picking up stitches for a beautiful set-in sleeve, a perfect finish for  your new sweater) as well as choosing the right size, making modifications, and more. I’m teaching Zen and Art of Sweater Construction in several places this Autumn:

25 September  the Village Haberdashery.

1 October I will have the whole Zen Variations collection at Wild and Woolly for a trunk show and little party to celebrate sweater season!

6 October Wild and Woolly

16 October A Yarn Story. 

Mon, Oct 24 to Fri, Oct 28 I will be in Romania teaching a number of knitting classes at the Taking a Moment in Time  Weaving, spinning, knitting and photography retreat.

12 November The Yarn Dispensary

For a more complete list of classes, including Brioche Stitch Basics among others, please sign up to the newsletter here.

Happy knitting,

Rx