Friday, 29 April 2016

New Designer with Patternfish

Donna Estin Designs has made our debut in Patternfish!  The April 2016 Newsletter for Patternfish features our introductory collection under the New Designers section. 

Patternfish APR 2016 Newsletter

Editor Gayle Clow has compiled another amazing selection of creative knit idea and as usual, the newsletter is packed with oodles of ideas and patterns.  For more information about the patterns for sale, visit Donna Estin Designs Introductory Collection on

For a complete list of all patterns available, visit

Happy Knitting!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Arm Pain and Knitting

Knitting is a way of life for many of us.  It has meditative qualities, allows you to be productive while watching a movie in the evenings, is relaxing, is a great way to solve problems, and allows you to be creative and produce one-of-a-kind garments that are uniquely yours.  The more you knit, the more you want to knit.  Knitting 3+ hours a day, every day, of every week of every month for years and years can take it's toll. 

Having received diagnosis's for 2 Frozen Shoulders over the years, and having experienced constant pain irritated by knitting, I have made some observations and found remedies which may help other knitters.  It has been my experience, that knitting in certain people and conditions, can cause shoulder, bicep and elbow tendinitis.  When you continue to work through the pain, the inflammation builds, the pain intensifies, and adhesive capsulitis can set in. 

Before we begin, observe your body after you've been knitting for awhile.  Freeze your position and you'll notice your arms are tense.  Shoulders are elevated, upper arms are tense and elbows have been in a bent position while working for awhile. Your head is often held down and the center back of your neck is tender.  Crocheters tend to have issues with carpal tunnel because of all the wrist movement.  It's been my experience that knitters usually don't have a problem with their wrists as much as they do with their forearms, upper arms, and shoulders. 

1.  If you exercise regularly (by exercise I don't mean knitting) you are less likely to experience pain.  Even 100 jumping jacks every day helps strengthen the arm muscles and provide joint stability. 

2.  Stretching after exercise and while knitting is essential.  Take a break from knitting every 30 min. and stretch your arm (bicep, tricep, forearm, shoulder, - move everything around and hold the stretches).

3.  Switch to circular needles which allows the weight of the garment to rest on your lap instead of being held by your arms.

4.  Wear reading glasses while you knit which allows you to hold your fabric lower and avoid the temptation to work with the garment held mid-tummy or chest level, which adds weight to your arms.

5.  Check your posture.  Sit up straight and place a pillow behind your back to help with this.

6.  Place pillows under each elbow to support arms and take tension off your upper arms. 

7.  When you have pain, stop.  No really, stop knitting.  It's a death sentence for addicts, BUT, it's temporary.  Take a break for a few days, or however long it takes for the pain to subside.  Do something else.  Look through books and pick out your next pattern, buy yarn, learn a new technique from a reference book, add a new reference book to your library, make a list of things you want to knit, inventory your supplies, wind hanks of yarn into skeins, visit your LYS and immerse yourself in all things knitting, look online at knitting tutorials, take an online knitting course from, organize your knitting supplies.  Just stop the motion of knitting for a short bit.

8.  To alleviate pain: 
  1. stretch
  2. rest
  3. take ibuprofen as anti-inflammatory
  4. take turmeric capsules (natural anti-inflammatory)
  5. take magnesium supplements (600 mg. daily for a month, then taper down to 300 mg/day)
  6. ice the area for 20 min. at a time, (a great tip is to use a heating pad for 15-20 min. then ice 15-10 min. and repeat.  Begin with heat, end with ice.)
9.  Knit with finer yarns and smaller needles.  You won't work as hard knitting with a size 1 needle and flexible fingering yarn as you will with size 10 needles and bulky, stiff yarn.  

10.  Knit with natural fibers.  Pure wool is elastic and easy to work with.  Alpaca slides through your fingers effortlessly and is light as air. 

11.  Avoid cotton.

12.  Work on lace patterns and try to stay away from large cables which require more muscle effort as you twist and pull stitches.

Knitting without pain is a given for some people.  But for those of us who do experience pain, and sometimes you're just genetically predisposed to tendonitis, there are ways to alleviate the pain the still knit.

By being aware of what's happening, changing your posture and habits, you can continue to knit for a lifetime.  Know that if you experience pain, and develop tendinitis, after you rest, stretch, ice, etc .and the pain goes away, it will just come back again after you get back into your knitting routine.  This is why improving your posture while knitting, and the way you knit is so important. 

I hope you find relief from some of these tips.  And please share other tried and true remedies and tricks of the trade that helped you.

A good resource for tendinitis is

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Woven Lace Scarf

This easy-to-knit, richly textured scarf is lightweight, airy and warm. The lofty yarn fills the openwork of the lace pattern, creating a woven appearance. The pattern repeats itself throughout and is easily memorized, making this a idyllic, quick project.

The 480 yards of yarn makes a scarf 6 feet long, excluding tassels which use approximately 25 yards of yarn. The pattern lies flat without added borders and can practically be worn right off the needles without blocking. (Of course, blocking gives the scarf a more polished look.)

Yarn:  Rowan LIMA 84% Alpaca, 8% Wool, 8% Nylon

Worsted / 10 ply


20 stitches and 22 rows = 4 inches in Woven Lace Pattern

US 9 - 5.5 mm
480 yards (439 m)
One Size

This pattern is available as a FREE downloadable PDF

For More Pattern Details Link to Pattern

At your service!  As always, my email is included in the pattern, so if you have any questions while knitting, please email me.

For more patterns and information, visit
Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Arched Lace Pullover

Elegant, airy & oh so warm. This light-as-a-feather pullover layers nicely to provide warmth without bulk. The body allows for extra room at the hips and tapers gently to the mid chest. The collar can be buttoned up to form a turtleneck or buttoned partially and folded over. It is worked flat, from the bottom up, with side shaping and sleeve shaping. The sleeves are minimally tapered allowing more room at the wrist and a straighter appearance.

The allover lace pattern is memorizable with all WS rows purled. The area requiring your attention is in the lace shaping. (Markers could be used to “mark off” the shaping sections and you have the option of working the sleeve increases into stockinette stitch instead of into the lace pattern.)

Skill Level:  Intermediate

Finished Measurements:
Chest at underarm: 36 (40, 44, 48)” / 92 (102, 112, 122) cm
Length: 28.5 (29.5, 30.5, 32)” / 72 (74, 77, 81) cm

Materials Needed:
Classic Elite Yarn, INCA ALPACA, (50 grams/109 yards, 100% Alpaca) 12 (14, 15, 16) hanks, Color # 1142 Cajamaica Maroon (This yarn is superb!  It flows like a dream through your fingers and is richly hued with lots of colors. It creates absolutely gorgeous lace and is thin enough to allow the sweater to drape nicely but it is still quite warm.)

US Size 6 (4 mm) needles, or size needed to obtain gauge
US Size 6 (4 mm) circular needle (32”)
US Size 5 (3.75 mm) circular needle (32”)
Tapestry needle
5 Buttons (approx. 15 mm) (Buy your buttons after you’ve worked the buttonholes for the perfect fit.)

20 sts/30 rows = 4”/10 cm over Lace Pattern on larger needles

This pattern is available as a downloadable PDF for $4.99

For More Pattern Details Link to Pattern

To Start Knitting Now Click Here to BUY NOW

At your service!  As always, my email is included in the pattern, so if you have any questions while knitting, please email me.

For more patterns and information, visit

Happy Knitting!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Cambridge Pullover

Skill Level-Intermediate

This timeless Aran pullover is a long-lasting addition to your wardrobe. Worsted weight cables form a dense fabric that is warm yet comfortable. The traditional stitches, combined with an easy, straight shape make for a pullover that is casual enough to be worn with jeans and elegant enough to be paired with a skirt. It is worked flat, from the bottom up with no side shaping. Instructions are charted and schematic is included.

Sizes: Womens’ S (M, L, XL) Finished measurements: Chest at underarm 40 (44, 48, 52)” / 102 (112, 122, 132) cm

Yarn: 8 (8, 9, 10) hanks of Cascade Yarn CASCADE 220 (100 grams/220 yards, 100% Peruvian Highland Wool) Worsted Weight.

Size US 6 (4.0 mm) circular 16” needles
Size US 7 (4.5 mm) needles - or size needed to obtain gauge
Cable needle
Tapestry Needle

This pattern is available as a downloadable PDF for $4.99

For more pattern details:     Link to Pattern

To start knitting now,     Click here to BUY NOW

At your service!  As always, my email is included in the pattern, so if you have any questions while knitting, please email me.

For more patterns and information, visit and
Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Which came first? The yarn or the project?

Knitters seem to fall into one of two categories. We either find a project we like then seek out the yarn or we fall in love with a yarn then figure out what to do with it. The calculated exactness of deciding on a project and knowing the proper weight and yardage of yarn before heading to your LYS is so organized and methodical. All you need to do is pick your favorite yarn and color. The entire store doesn't exist... Only the cubbies that hold the right fiber and weight for your project.  With all the options off the table you can focus on what you need.

Recently I wandered in to the yarn shop during a sale and found myself aimlessly meandering around, considering all the yarns in the store. This was completely overwhelming. I spent an enormous amount of time, finally found three yarns, narrowed each down to a few colors and guessed on the yardage that I might need for this imaginary project. 

I'm not sure I could do this again.   I rely on the certainty of a planned project before shopping for yarn.  Much to my surprise, three of the knitters in the store during that sale, rarely have a project in mind before buying yarn.  Wow!  How can this be?  I would love to hear other knitters' thoughts on this.  Which comes first?  The yarn or the project?

Monday, 25 January 2016

The GLOBAL World of Knitting

I just tracked the journey of my latest project, around the globe, and it made me think about local versus global trade.

Fiber from Alpacas raised in SOUTH AMERICA sent to MASSACHUSETTS to be transformed into hanks of hand knitting yarn, then shipped to the UK who sold it online to me, a knitter in VIRGINIA, who knit a cardigan for someone who lives in SOUTH AMERICA.  So the yarn traveled around the world and ended up where it began.

I think of the time, effort and cost of such a journey.  And I also think of the local sheep and alpaca farms and woolen mills along the East Coast of the US who do it all.  Yes, we live in a global market, but is it always better?  Sometimes, yes.  But sometimes it's a great feeling to walk down the lane wearing a sweater you made from sheep on the farm just over the ridge. 

Cabled Mittens

These stretchy cabled mittens are designed with negative ease for a clingy fit. The close fitting mittens keep hands warm and allow for more mobility since you don’t have extra fabric to slide around. The small best fits a slender hand. The difference in small and medium is only in the circumference, not length. 

Over the years, I've made at least 5 pair and I have used many types of yarn.  Using pure Alpaca, you'll get a soft, luxurious feeling mitten but it will be looser on the hand and won't wear as well.  My alpaca mittens feel warm, but look a mess after 6 years, with long globs of hair pulling out. 

Cascade 220 Superwash softens and expands a bit after washing.  When trying on the mitten while knitting it, I thought it would be too tight.  It expanded just enough to still fit well but with a bit of wiggle room. 

Skill Level - Intermediate

     Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash®
     1 ball of 220 yards (200 meters)

DK / 8 ply 

24"/32 rows = 4 inches st st

     US 4 - 3.5 mm for the cuff
     US 5 - 3.75 mm
Women's S (M)

This rewarding pattern is available as a downloadable PDF for $3.99

For more pattern details:

To start knitting now, 

At your service!  As always, my email is included in the pattern, so if you have any questions while knitting, please email me.

For more patterns, visit and
Happy Knitting!

Knitting More Than One Project at a Time

I've always been a focused knitter.  One project.  One self-inflicted deadline.  One timeframe.  Recently I stumbled across a conversation of knitters at my LSY, discussing their "projects."  Yes, they were working on more than one thing at a time.  Diane was knitting a sweater and hoped to finish it in a year.  A year!  This stressed me out greatly.  In the meantime, when she was bored with the sweater or needed a break she would work on a pair of socks, a scarf and was thinking of starting a baby blanket.  How can this be?  How can you hope to finish anything with all those projects in the works.  Then another knitter agreed.  She said she always has sock on a set of needles no matter what she's working on. 

This got me to thinking.  Is it possible that most knitters work on more than project at a time?  And why?  The more time you divert from your main project, the longer it will take to finish it and the greater the chance that you'll never finish it.  I found this whole concept stressful.  I've been knitting for ages and never considered starting something before finishing a project.  But so it is in my daily life.  I do one thing, completely, then move on.  I don't multi-task well (actually I don't multi-task).  It's not that I don't want to... I try, but I stall.  I just can't seem to switch gears like that.

If the personality trait of being "focused" versus "multi-tasking" is behind this pattern of knitting, then by evolution, most knitters today would have more than one project on their needles at a time.  I believe the two distinct groups of knitters could learn from each other.  I would love to learn to swatch a new project before the finishing on my current project was complete.  That way I'd have time to buy different yarn or needles, or make necessary changes before jumping full fledged into my next project.  Finishing something, starting a new, then realizing you don't have what you need is frustrating.  You're all ready to start your new project but these needles won't work at all and the yarn shop is closed.  Sigh. 

I believe the task for the focused knitter is to relinquish control, and just jump right in with the new project.  I believe you must not fixate over schedules and time, rather j
ust enjoy the feel of a different yarn in your fingers and go.  I believe.  I don't know for sure because I just can't work on two projects at a time.  I get into a rhythm of one type of yarn, the way it feels when it moves across the needles, the way it behaves on the needles, the tension my hands must maintain while knitting.  Switching mid-stream to different yarn, needles, patterns, can throw everything off.

Maybe one day one of you master, multi-taskers will shed some light on the subject and I'll find myself in the new majority of knitters who knit more than one project at a time. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

How Yarn is Made - Maine USA style

This video touched my heart.  It's informative and beautiful.

Watch Video

Classic Elite Inca Alpaca

I'm loving every minute of knitting with the color Cajamaica Maroon of Classic Elite's Inca Alpaca (my favorite Alpaca of all times.)  It is silky smooth and a joy to knit with. It runs through your fingers like a precious, magical fiber. It is strong, durable, soft and airy and doesn't pill.  This photo shows off the complex heathered  colors in this shade.  It was taken in filtered sunlight.  In low light the yarn looks like a glass of dark cabernet sauvignon.  LOVE.  

Old Norwegian Cast On

I've found myself in a "cast on" obsession lately. All of a sudden I feel that each new project demands new cast on techniques, sometimes two in a project. You don't want the same cast on for a ribbed cuff that you do for a buttonhole right?  So I've flipped through my reference books (yes I know, books... But I'm old school) and searched online for knitters favorites. I found an excellent tutorial by Joan of Laws of Knitting that is easy to follow, quick, and fun to watch. She speaks so clearly and explains in a way that makes you want to wiggle into a chair at her table and start knitting.

The Old Norwegian Cast On is an easy transition for those knitters who love doing Long Tail Cast On. Just a few changes to the basic movements and you're left with a stretchy cast on that is still well behaved. It has a nice edge to it but is so super stretchy that it's great for socks and even lace. I first used this for a pair of socks and fell in love. Well doesn't that look pretty?  And stretchy!  So I ventured out and after three rows of a lace pullover done with the lace cast on, I ripped it out and started over with Old Norwegian Cast On. Again. Joan to the rescue (I don't always commit to memory a new cast on after one or two watchings).

This cast on was perfect for the lace pullover!  So here it is.... A link to Joan's video of how to do the Old Norwegian Cast On. I hope you enjoy.

Joan's Old Norwegian Cast On

Saturday, 9 January 2016

New Website

Visit  the new website for more patterns and links to instructional tutorials from some of the most helpful knitters. 

Happy Knitting!

Carrying the Torch for Non-Superwash Wool

I admire well-behaved, orderly yarns.  Yarns that remain true after washing and blocking are a joy.  They retain their shape, colors and substance.  These are the yarns that created the sweaters that have been in my closet for years and years, decades even.  They may not feel the softest in the yarn shop, but they produce durable, near perfect garments.  Most soften with age after multiples washes. 

I recently wore a turtleneck, wool sweater that I knitted in 1994 from a Jaeger wool tweed that I always wore as an outdoor sweater, over a soft cotton turtleneck.  I slipped it over a long-sleeve t-shirt the other day, with the bulky wool against my neck, and worked all day without fussing with the turtleneck once.  It had softened to the point that I could wear it next to my skin. 

At one stage, I fell in love with super soft, superwash wool.  The dumpling balls were fun to squish in the store, were super soft and fluffy.  But after being left with a pile of limp, wet yarn that grew uncontrollably, my love affair dwindled.  Then the pilling began, and the shapeshifting.  Even after washing and blocking swatches. I still find that most superwash wools develop a mind of their own.  Sometimes a sweater fits perfectly, then months later the sleeves decide to grow another 3 inches in length.  I can't blame the yarn really.  It's all that manipulation and treatment that zaps the elasticity right out of the wool. 

It's almost hard to find pure wool.  It doesn't get all the attention that the new blends receive.  But it's there, of course, steadfastly occupying it's stable piece of yarn shelf real estate.  When I find a pure, wool, I smile, knowing that I will have an obedient, loyal friend.  It will stay put.  It will fit.  It will look great.  It will repel water.  It will breathe.  It will keep me warm, now and years to come.  Best of all, it will behave.