Follow along as I set up Business, Quilt, Knit, Spin, Dye or Design a new pattern. I might take an Art Class or do a Photoshoot
Behind the scenes at Nancy Elizabeth Designs.
I’ve just added a couple more gift items for baby. I’ve put all of my handspun handknits at really good prices, much lower than I would usually need to ask for a special order. I had a great time knitting these throughout the year and got to do exactly what I wanted and love to do. If I can do that and even recover the price of the yarn I would consider myself a winner and hopefully you would too. That’s what I call a “win win” situation.
I just put up 3 single skeins of yarn on Etsy. Sometimes when I am spinning for a customer or a personal project I will get the first skein a little fine or a bit too thick for the order or I may have a skein left over from a knitting project. These single skeins will appear as only 1 available but you can always custom order most of the handspun yarns in your choice of yarn weights and hand dyed colours.
To see these skeins on Etsy: special prices available
- The Eastport Alpaca in DK weight and natural snowy white colour, 2.1 oz. 132 yds
- The New Zealand Merino fleece imported as a raw fleece and washed and hand combed lock by lock, handspun by the worsted method to a very fine lace weight yarn and finally kettle dyed in Garnet. 1.75 oz. 250 yards
- The lace weight pure Angora Rabbit, the picture says it all 1.1 oz 140 yards
I’ve just added two new luxury gifts for baby to the shop section. Both are hand knit from hand spun yarns.
The pure cashmere dress was inspired by an old Beehive Baby booklet that I used to use for knitting for my own little babies many years ago and the Cashmere and Merino Layette is an original design but was also originally inspired by one of those old booklets from the 60s and 70s. I even had a few of those little books when I was a kid. I use to knit baby things because they didn’t take a lot of yarn. It was fine and gave me lots of knitting pleasure for my dollar. I was always a little different… when other kids were saving up for toys I was saving for yarn and many times when they all went out to play I would sit in the family room and listen to records while I happily knit away at my latest project. As you can tell, these two designs brought back a lot of memories for me. I hope you like them too. Don’t worry about washing them by hand it’s so easy and I will send you full instructions. Each will make a wonderfull and very special gift that will be put away as an heirloom and passed down through the generations. As always please contact me if you have any questions or need any help.
Ohhhh My what fun I’ve had over the last few days choosing my intitial order for my new account at Diamond yarns.
I’ll have so many more yarns to choose from when creating new designs for patterns and also for your custom hand knits. I probably won’t list them all on the web site here but if you want anything from Diamond I’ll do my best to get it for you. Please do check out my Etsy store as there just might be a little more listed there. I can’t always keep them exactly co-ordinated.
I’ve ordered several Interchangeable Knitting Needles sets by Knitters Pride and a huge great order of Malabrigo’s new Merino Roving for hand spinners spinning and dyeing. OMG you have to see and feel this!
I’ve been getting TONS of requests for custom work in the last few months. Part of that is because the Custom Handknit Sweaters page managed to get to the number one position in google for any related search terms. I know that’s a good thing but I just can’t knit that fast
The Mohair Vest:
I had a friend bring me a bag of various mohair yarns from a yard sale and ask me what I could do with them. It was a wonderful challenge because she knows what to wear and always looks so fabulous in everything. There was only enough for a vest so we agreed upon a great design by Sally Melville “The Asymmetrical Vest” from her book The Knitting Experience: Book 1: The Knit Stitch.
I liked the pattern but it was written for beginning beginners and there was just so much text to read every time there was a direction to follow. I found it confusing and had trouble keeping my place. Just my personal preference, I would choose a graphic pattern every time to knit from.
I used 2 strands of the mohair together and the suggested needles. The biggest issue with this vest was the ends every time I changed colour. I tried weaving them in and found it was going to be very difficult to hide them so I just started knitting them in where ever I could and it seemed to work better. I had to be very careful with blocking. It could change in either width or length with a light pull when wet. It took a while to get it into the correct shape to dry. The wooden buttons really worked out well. Marilyn just loved it.
The Harry Potter Sweater “Weasley”
I’m using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes for this sweater. I will knit the body and add the initial in duplicate stitch at the end. I will avoid intarsia at all costs, just a personal “thing” with me.
I started this by knitting a good big swatch that gave me a gauge of 18 sts x 24 rows = 4″ before wash and block. It grew when wet and I thought it might stay there but it bounced right back when it dried.
The pattern gauge is 16×24 so I had to adjust the number of sts to cast on. I actually need 37.5 for 4 inches of ease so decided to cast on the adult medium 82 sts plus 2 selvage sts.
So far this is a great meditative knit. 25 ” of straight st st for the back. OMmmmmm.
A new design in progress – I guess that would be a DIP, right?
Along with the Custom Fit Sweater for Amy Herzog and her team (beta testing) I’ve been working on a few custom orders and a new designs that I will call Grace after my Mom who just passed away last year at this time. Mom was my mentor, my soul mate, my best friend and the one who taught and inspired me to knit and be creative in so many way. She was also my biggest fan and alway gave me so much encouragement. Well, anyway, the new design is Grace. It will be an elegant but casual cardigan/jacket and will be spectacular for showing off hand dyed and handspun yarns. Super stylish and super easy to knit and fit, you will knit it all from the top down in one piece with no seaming or finishing. I’m including a few “sneak peak” pictures that will give you a feel for the design without giving it away. This sweater allowed me some freedom to play with my dyes, my spinning techniques and let my imagination run free. It is also part of my study in Breed Specific and Rare Breed Wools.
The wool in this garment is Romney. The Romney breed evolved from medieval longwool types. The fibers are long, silky and strong without being prickly. A very good wool to use for durability where you need something sturdy and not overly soft and delicate. My Romney is one of the Canturbury Prize Wool Group imported from New Zealand by Louet Sales. These wools are breed-specific fibers that are handled in such a way as to retain their unique qualities. “Working with Wadsworth Heap Ltd, a fiber supplier in New Zealand, each fleece in this line is grown with passion and great care; each is chosen with a critical eye, scoured in a modern scouring plant, and carded with pride on gentle machinery to maintain the fibre’s integrity and give spinners maximum enjoyment.” So far I have totally enjoyed working with them. If you are interested in having any of these wools custom handspun for a project please just email me. I will get them on the web site eventually, but in the mean time…
One of the things I really enjoyed doing this summer was beta testing an awesome new online software for sweater design. Amy Herzog a Fit and Flatter expert and sweater designer “extraordinaire” has come up with something really new and wonderful for all knitters who want a custom fit sweater without all of the math that is usually involved in designing from scratch or even customizing the fit of a purchased pattern.
The software is called Custom Fit and its available online to a select few premier users right now but is expected to go live to the public some time in October.
Here’s what Amy says about Custom Fit:
“After the final preview group, with an estimated time of mid-October, CustomFit will go live to everyone.
- CustomFit is a web application. This means that you log into our website to create custom sweater patterns. It is not software you install on your computer.
- Creating an account, and storing body measurements and swatches, is and always will be free. When you’re ready to knit the most fabulous sweater ever, each one is just $9.99.
- CustomFit has a vast amount of fit expertise built-in, so that you don’t need to think about any numbers – only style! But if you do want to adjust your own numbers, you have the option of doing so before you purchase your pattern.
- The first release of CustomFit produces an entirely new sweater pattern to your specifications, at a single gauge for the entire sweater. Future versions will give you more options, including modifying select existing sweater patterns. We plan to update CustomFit with great new features every few months.”
I had this lace pattern brewing in my imagination for a while and thought I’d try it out on my beta sweater. I loved adding the little birds randomly. I will be designing a very similar sweater pattern from scratch and grading it for all women’s sizes this winter. Watch my pattern store here and on Ravelry and Craftsy.
I am just thrilled to be releasing the final edit of my latest knitting pattern for download.
This is a design that is very close to my heart. One of my own personal favorites developed over years of refining the pattern to fit well, look good and be a joy to knit.
Available now as an instant download Here
- A versatile basic Hoodie Sweater Pattern to knit from the top-down all in one piece.
- For kids in 10 different sizes from 2T to size 16 or Adult small with about 4″ of ease for a comfy “sweatshirt like” fit.
- A Classic, timeless design with simple raglan cables and a new twist on construction carefully designed for smooth, uninterrupted nonstop knitting.
- One piece top-down construction helps you get the perfect fit every time.
- Knit it with or without the “Afterthought Wallaby Pouch”
- My kids actually love to wear this. It’s comfortable and looks great too.
This is a “Meditative” knit with easy repetitive shaping that flows without interruptions. Before you know it you’re finished and the only sewing to do is the top of the hood and minimal ends to weave in.
I find myself knitting this again and again with simple variations that make it new each time. Make it a cardigan, lose the hood, add pockets or a stitch pattern for texture. Lots of ideas for variations included as well as a tutorial on an “Afterthought Pouch Pocket” that you can add to any knit.
You are unlikely to find an error now that this pattern has been thoroughly edited by “The TECHsorcist” – Technical Editing by Eleanor Dixon
Working in the round on circular needles and double pointed needles; knitting, purling, increasing, decreasing; simple cable pattern
Child Sizes: 2T (4T, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16)
To fit chest: 21 (23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31.5, 32.5)” [53.5 (58.5, 61, 63.5, 66, 68.5, 71, 76, 80, 82.5) cm] Shown in photo – size 6 with 4″ [10 cm] of ease.
Chest at Underarm: 25.5 (27.5, 28.5, 29.5, 30.5, 31.5, 32.5, 34.5, 36, 37)” [65 (70, 72.5, 75, 77.5, 80, 82.5, 87.5, 91.5, 94) cm] Finished Length: 15 (16.75, 18, 19, 21, 22.5, 24.25, 26, 27, 28)” [38 (42.5, 45.5, 48.5, 53.5, 57, 61.5, 66, 68.5, 71)cm] Sleeve Length: 9 (10, 10.5, 11, 12, 12.5, 13.5, 15, 16, 17)” [23 (25.5, 26.5, 28, 30.5, 32, 34.5, 38, 40.5, 43) cm]
Nancy Elizabeth Designs Custom Handspun Merino Wool and Silk (1 oz/28g, 40-50 yds/36-46 m, 85% Merino Wool/15% Tussah Silk), 13 (15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27, 30) oz worsted weight yarn [CYCA 4]
Red sample shown in Grevillea colorway
OR 640 (760, 850, 920, 1035, 1105, 1265, 1420, 1536, 1625) yds [595 (705, 785, 850, 955, 1045, 1170, 1315, 1420, 1500) m] of any worsted weight natural fiber yarn in stated gauge
Blue sample shown in Berroco Pure Merino in #8581 Regatta colorway
US size 9 [5.5 mm] or size needed for correct gauge
US size 8 [5.0 mm] or 1 size smaller than gauge needles
- 20-32″ [50-80 cm] circular needles – both sizes (choose needle length according to the size you are making, must be shorter than the finished chest measurement and long enough to accommodate all of the yoke sts)
- double-pointed needles (set of 4-5) for sleeve cuffs – both sizes
8-10 stitch markers
2 stitch holders or waste yarn for sleeves
Toggle closure or button (optional)
18 sts and 24 rows or rnds = 4″ [10 c] in St st with larger needles after blocking.
Notes: Simple raglan cables enhance this classic all-season hoodie which is worked in the round with basic shaping, easy-to-memorize stitch patterns, and no finishing. Allow a generous amount of ease for a comfy, sweatshirt-like fit. Detailed instructions provided for ten sizes with plenty of ideas for variations and customization – knit it again and again without ever making the same sweater twice.
When a customer requested a custom knit sweater vest with a round neck I quickly found out why it had to be custom-made as well as custom designed. It is surprisingly difficult to find a vest without a v neckline in ready-to-wear or even in a knitting pattern.
There were a few measurements that I felt were critical to fit. I had my customer email me the finished width (1/2 circumference) of the vest as well as the desired length and finished width at shoulders. I usually suggest that if they have a sweater that fits well this is the most reliable way to get out new one to feel good on.
This left the depth at the underarms, the band widths and the neck width and depth up to me as the designer.
I started with a drawing and a swatch. We decided on a fairly unknown yarn from a very well-known shop. The Blarney Woollen Mill is in Ireland at the same location as the famous Blarney Stone. They have lots of wonderful knitwear but only one yarn for sale and that in only 3 colours. Fortunately one of them was exactly what we wanted for the vest so I ordered the yarn at a very good price and the shipping was free as a nice little bonus.
I did a bunch of swatches and I am very glad I washed them before I cast on because the knitting gauge before and after washing was significantly different and I had to rely on my post-wash swatch gauge for not only sts to cast on, increase and decrease but also for the length as I used row counts instead of inches. I got a little nervous a few times but I kept going, believing in my swatch and was rewarded with a finished vest that measured exactly what I was aiming for.
I have the knitting instructions all written out and sized in men’s sizes from 32″ to 60″ chest. I will probably knit it again in a more common yarn, at least a yarn with a more common gauge and tweak the numbers. It should be available to download as soon as I can get it finished and edited.
If you’ve been keep up with my adventures you will have read Spinning a Fine New Zealand Merino Fleece where I talk about spinning a beautiful fine Merino fleece into lace weight yarn after washing it lock by lock and hand combing it. There were some mistakes, and I leaned a lot from them, but I found myself spinning a lovely lace weight yarn that would be excellent in a handknit shawl by the third skein so I started to knit.
I choose a pattern from Nancy Bush’s book Knitted Lace of Estonia, the Queen Sylvia Shawl and cast on. The knitting was fun and after a few days I got to the end of my first skein and joined the second. After a few rows I noticed, to my horror, that the colour was so different that I would have to overdye the whole shawl even if I choose to keep it for myself unless I can find a way to lighten the creamy parts. Upon closer inspection I did notice that there were bands of lighter and darker areas within the first skein that I just had not noticed until I gave it a better look in natural light.
You will have to click on this thumbnail to see the worst of the bands. It is at the very top. I stopped after just a few rows to take this picture.
I posted my question on Ravelry Joy of Handspinning discussion board and I got some very helpful suggestions.
In retrospect I feel like it was really a “duh” move. I should have known this would happen and I will have to be more aware and careful whenever I spin from a raw fleece. I have been spinning from prepared fiber too much lately and have forgotten one of the basics of spinning from a fleece. Any fleece, and especially a coloured one will have this issue. It is something that a spinner *should* be thinking about right from the beginning of the project. Whether you are spinning a white fleece and you want to leave your yarn white or you are spinning a coloured fleece you usually don’t want the changes in color to come suddenly at the end of a skein creating a very obvious line.
Tip for Managing Color when Handspinning a Raw Fleece
- If the fleece has obvious colour differences you should spread out the whole fleece and sort it before you start. You may want to emphasise the differences by sorting for stripes or blend them all into a solid or create a heather effect and they would all take different sorting and preparation.
- Wash enough fleece for the whole project at the same time. (I was testing different washing methods and I’m sure some were cleaner than others and this was one of the main causes for the colour difference)
- If you want a white fleece to end up white in a yarn you must break or cut off the tips. This is especially true for the fleece I was spinning. A fine New Zealand white merino will always have dirty tips that need to come off. (I am quite sure that this was the other reason for my colour variations.)
- If you are spinning a woolen yarn and you would like your colour to be even throughout the project you can put it all through the drum carder, split all of your batts and blend them by putting them through again mixed. Do this as many times as you feel is needed to get consistent colour.
- You can make a tweed by sorting the colours first, card them separately, stack and roll and spin from the end of the roll.
- If you are combing your locks you can also comb the whole amount needed for the project, go back and split them and re-comb to combine just as we did above with the drum carder.
- Further ensure evenness of color by spinning all of the yarn for the entire project and winding it onto inexpensive weaver’s bobbins before plying. Randomly ply bobbins back together.
- A helpful Raveler suggests this one, and it really appeals to me;
- I always knit with three balls of wool, that way the colour differences are not so noticeable, being only one line and not blocks. I use the three balls so there will always be a ball to change to at the end of each row of knitting. I find that any differences in colour is less noticeable if only one row is knitted with each ball rather than two rows.
- Finally, always plan with this in mind from step one when spinning from a raw fleece, even and perhaps especially when spinning a white one.