Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Rockin’ Your Stockins’: Cute and Cabled!

September 17, 2015

Do you love the look of over-the-knee socks but are a new knitter or DPN (double pointed needle) impaired?

No Need to knit in the round…

Work these beautiful cabled stockings flat on two needles then kitchener a seam up the back! Knit in sport-weight wool, these beauties will keep you cozy through fall and winter.

Here’s the pattern for just $6.75:

Yarn is here.

Cabled Two-Needle stockings



Whip Your Knits at Lambtown!

September 16, 2015

If you’ll be in or around Dixon, California the weekend of Oct 3-4, 2015, join me at the Lambtown Fiber Festival for my very popular “Whip Your Knits into Shape” fitting class! Read the description by scrolling down here.

Ready to sign up for classes?

Do it here.


Craftsy: More than just Knitting

December 29, 2014

 As a teacher for, I enjoy the little perk of being able watch any of the classes offered, so in the coming weeks I’ll be doing reviews of classes that interest me.

Some of the classes that have caught my eye are of the cooking variety (did you know Craftsy offers cooking classes?!), and this is my first of several cooking reviews.

A Better Cook in Ten Dishes

I wish I’d had access to a class like this when I was just starting out cooking. Back in the days when one could dial 411 for information, I called in asking how to bake a potato.

I’m only a slightly better cook now and still need help from time to time which is why I loved reviewing this class.

 Martha Holmberg takes the student through ten dishes that not only render a lovely and tempting finished product, but she also points out techniques that normally would only be learned at the elbow of a seasoned cook. This is the kind of teaching in which following along and backtracking to watch over and over is so wonderful with the Craftsy platform.

Martha starts us off with a beautiful salad; how to choose the greens, what flavors to combine, and gives us a basic recipe for dressing that she riffs on to create all kinds of yummy flavors.

 For me, this segment is worth the price of admission to this class, as I have a refrigerator door full of commercial dressing bottles. What I would prefer instead is to have several bottles of basic ingredients and create any of the wonderful dressing suggestions Martha gives us.

  She then takes us through eight gorgeous entrees, including but not limited to, Salmon in a Packet, Garlic Crusted Pork Roast, Lasagna, Braised Chicken with Apples, and hi-lo versions of two cheese dishes made with her Basic Bechamel sauce.

 She brings it all home with a lovely Fruit Crisp and Ice Cream for dessert.

 There is nothing difficult about her recipes and Martha gives wonderful tips on choosing produce, fish, cuts of meat and other ingredients, which to me is as important as how to prepare them.

  All in all, this is a class I highly recommend for the advanced beginning to intermediate cook. Great information, excellent presentation!


Gabrielle Two Ways

October 17, 2014

The thing I’ve always appreciated about sewing patterns is that they more often than not give several versions of the same garment; with long and short sleeves or none at all.

I like to follow this idea in my own knitting patterns so that I give my own customers the most value that I can. If I love the way a style looks on me, you can bet I’ll want to make it again in another color and/or configuration, which defrays the cost of the pattern.

Gabrielle is one such pattern that I think works very well.

Below, Gabrielle as a jacket and as a vest.


Both ways Gabrielle is well fitting, flattering and office appropriate. Not only that, she knits up so fast on size 10US needles and Cascade Pacific Chunky.

Enjoy your knitting!


Vogue Knitting Fall 2014 #24 Duster Coat-Part Deaux

September 23, 2014

Thanks all for the nice responses to the post about my #24 Duster Coat in the current issue of VK.

I have photos of the coat when in progress that I’ve posted below.

Boho1Here is the original sketch submitted to VK along with the chart I made for the tribal patterning and the first sleeve.

The theme was 70’s bohemian and that brought to mind the movie Dr Zhivago and the fantastic coats and costumes worn therein. Perfect inspiration for this project!


Here are the completed fronts.  Getting the neckline the way I wanted it so that the collar would fit in correctly was a challenge. Ripped a couple of times before I figured it out.


Here is the completed back. My decrease lines can be seen easily. It looks like a lot of knitting, and it was, but the bulky yarn and size 10US needles helped it fly along.

boho4boho5The finished coat.

The large button is actually decorative. I bought a set of three large hooks and eyes to close the front securely.

I love this coat with it’s fit-and-flare shape ; so flattering to so many body types.  I’ll be making up a slightly different White Lies Designs version for Stitches West in February. Of course I’ll post photos here when it’s ready.

Vogue Knitting Fall 2014 #24 Duster Coat

September 18, 2014

Check out the coat I designed for the Fall issue of Vogue Knitting!

Boho Coat-Joan McGowan-Michael

Boho Coat-Joan McGowan-Michael

This issue is on newsstands now or can be ordered through .


Seams or Circles?

July 4, 2014

This is the conundrum amongst knitters: Should garments be knitted in pieces and then seamed or knit in the round and all seaming eliminated?

 Knitters seem to be passionate about their preferences when asked.

 There are those who will simply not finish a garment if it means sewing anything together. They love the knitting but cannot abide finishing, so into the UFO pile it goes. These are your die-hard circular knitters who hunt out top-down, in-the-round patterns.

 Then there are the seamers who may have had a bad experience with their circularly knit project. Perhaps an obvious mistake was made somewhere in the garment which then required ripping out most of the piece to correct it. Or an expensive fiber like silk was used and the garment grew a foot the first time it was worn. Just those two examples could be enough to turn a knitter off of circular construction forever.

 I had an unusual experience with a sweater knit in the round that a friend brought back from Peru. It was a lovely alpaca sweater with Fair isle motifs all around. I excitedly put it on and went out for the day. The sweater twisted around my body in a very uncomfortable way and felt tighter and grew longer as the day wore on. I was very disappointed and got it off me the minute I could. I kept the sweater for years in the vain hope that it could somehow be fixed, but never wore it again.

 I asked some knitting friends which form of construction they preferred and why. Here are some of the answers from the circular contingent:

 -Some knitters knit faster than they purl or hate purling and would prefer to knit only. Knitting on the right side of the fabric only means they will always be working a right-side round and need never purl.

 -Certain techniques such as cables, traveling stitches or certain laces are generally regarded as easier to work with the right side facing the knitter. The same is true with techniques like Fair-Isle, as more than one strand of yarn is in play per round and can become troublesome when working back and forth.

 Then there is Team Seam and the reasons they prefer sewing:

 -Some of the more luxurious fibers are also the most inelastic and saggy. Alpaca, silk, cotton, bamboo; are all notorious for their sagging and bagging. Seams stabilize these fibers and keep them in check when they try to go rogue.

 -Some yarns can be overtwisted when being spun which leads the resulting fabric to bias (as in my example of my sweater twisting around my body). This isn’t a huge problem when knitted flat, but can be disasterous knit circularly.

 -Larger garments, for men or plus-sizes, are heavier due to the sheer quantity of yarn they contain and beg for stabilization from seams. Skirts also benefit from the extra sturdiness seams provide

 Stabilization is a great reason to learn to love seams, but what are some others?

-Certain techniques simply cannot be done in the round, intarsia and entrelac being examples.

-Achieving a very tailored look is difficult in the round as flat knitting allows for more precise construction and seams create a kind of visual exoskeleton which is more flattering to those of us who are a bit fluffier.

 This is not to say that both techniques can’t co-exist beneficially in the same garment.

 Below are two examples.

 My Zelda pullover is started circularly at the hem and all the way to the underarms the Honeybee stitch panels and shaping are worked with the right side facing the knitter. This is not only very fast, it allows the knitter to see the lace panels form and avoid the confusion that may result from working it from the back side.WLD Zelda 2012

Then the underarms are bound off and the remainders of the front and back are knitted flat. This gives us shoulder seams to sew and sleeves to set in. The shoulder seams are great stabilizers and the set in sleeves are tailored and flattering to most body types.

 The Shana Skirt below, employs seams for the body, as it’s wider expanses of stockinette would sag woefully under the weight of itself and it’s flouncy bottom without them. However, the flounce is picked up and knitted last, and it’s circular nature is not only lightning fast to work, but it allows the knitter to stop when the desired length is reached.WLD Shana 2012


Both circular and flat constructions have their own advantages, charms and problems. Know your options and make thoughtful choices when constructing the garments that you work so hard to complete.

Interested in knitting these styles?     PDF patterns are available!

Zelda  $8.50                       Shana  $8.50



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