Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Cast-On and Bind-Off

The Fisherman Gansey is a classic garment with a rich and varied history. Two excellent books on the subject, The Complete Book of Traditional Guernsey and Jersey Knitting by Rae Compton, and Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel, are ones we have in our office library and turn to often. 

The Seascale sweater featured in the Cumbria Collection is a pullover inspired by traditional Ganseys and features both the Channel Island cast-on and a bind-off method "unvented" by Courtney in 2009. They are techniques that are incredibly lovely when done correctly, but are not intuitive, so I put together a tutorial for both. - KGO


The Channel Island cast-on is traditionally used on the hem of Gansey fisherman sweaters of the British Isles. The cast-on creates a subtle picot edge and is most often followed by a band of garter stitch. It is a nice alternative to a ribbed hem, and I think has a more feminine look to it.

Practically, the bands were knit separately and were then joined for working the body in the round, maximizing movement and breathability for the wearer. The cast-on is elastic, yet firm, and along with the picots, it is both decorative and hard wearing. 

KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Cast On

SET UP 1 / For this sample, I am casting on 15 stitches, so the end I measured is 30" long. 
A / tail folded in half
B / slip knot on right hand needle
C / open end of folded tail
D / working yarn attached to ball

KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Cast On

SET UP 2 / 
A / The doubled tail wrapped counter clockwise twice around my left thumb
B / The strand attached to the ball placed over the index finger
C / the short tail hanging free

KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Cast On

STEP 1 / Make sure you wrap the yarn front to back to create the yarn over. 
A / Single strand wrapped over the needle.

KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Cast On

STEP 2 / Make sure to put the needle through both wraps and both strands when picking up the stitch of the single strand. 

KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Cast On

STEP 3 / 
A: The yarn over from Step 1
B: The single strand picked up from Step 2

KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Cast On


When putting together the tutorial for the Bind-Off, I asked Courtney for a little bit of information about her process when figuring out the bind-off on the neck and sleeves of her Gansey. This is what she said:

"In a traditional Gansey, like Seascale, you work the body from the bottom up in the round, divide the work and work back and forth for the yoke on the front and back, join the shoulder seams, and then pick up stitches around the armhole and knit the sleeves from the top down. When I got to the point where I had to bind off the cuffs of the sleeves I realized that the bind-off and the cast-on edges wouldn't match. I did a little research to see if I could find a bind-off that would look similar to the Channel Island cast-on, and I couldn't find a thing. So I started fiddling around with a few different picot bind-offs. These were all a bit too "picot-y" for my purposes.

In the end, I merged two different bind-offs; the Icelandic bind-off and a picot bind-off. The Icelandic bind-off is worked by inserting the left hand needle through the first stitch on the right hand needle and pulling the second stitch through the first. You then knit this stitch and pull both stitches off the left hand needle, place the single stitch back on the right hand needle, and repeat. This creates a very firm bind off, which I liked. By working the second stitch a few extra times, I got the added benefit of a picot look which was also worked very firmly so it didn't dangle too much, and the end result is what you see below."

KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Bind Off
KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Bind Off

STEP 1 / 
1a: The right hand needle has been inserted into the first stitch on the left hand needle as if to purl.
1b: While the right hand needle is through the first stitch, the second stitch will be pulled through the first stitch. The stitches have switch places on the needle.

KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Bind Off

STEP 2 / Knit this stitch as you normally would.

KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Bind Off

STEP 3a: / Return the just knit stitch on your right hand needle back onto the left hand needle. knit this stitch again, creating the appearance of a chain.

KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Bind Off

STEP 3b: / Once you have knit the first stitch a second time, leave it on your right hand needle. Then, knit the next two stitches on the left hand needle together. You have just decreased 3 stitches down to two. 

KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Bind Off

STEP 4 / This step is worked in the exact same manner as a "typical" bind off. 

KW Tips + Tricks: Channel Island Bind Off

STEP 5 / Returning the stitch to the left hand needle is critical: if the stitch is not returned, you will amass a large quantity of stitches that are still "live" on the right hand needle.

Repeat Steps 1-5 for the desired number of stitches, or until all your stitches have been bound off. 

As always, these and our other ever-expanding collection of Tips + Tricks can be found here. Have a knitting or crochet technique or topic you would love to see covered? Let us know! - KGO

Cumbria Collection Feature: Penrith by Leah McGlone

Last November we received the first samples of The Fibre Co. Cumbria, and to say I was smitten is an understatement. After our first design team meeting I kept thinking about my parents' beloved Aran sweaters they obtained on a trip to Ireland years ago. I rode home on the train that night sketching various ideas I had for the collection - cables, nupps, slipped stitches, all of it.

I started flipping through my stitch dictionaries and fell in love with a chevron nupp pattern. It was interesting, full of body, and complimented the rustic nature of Cumbria beautifully. However, after countless attempts at playing stitch matchmaker, my dream stitch pattern wasn't working. So I went back to the drawing board, leaving my heartbreaker of a stitch pattern behind and revisited my old swatches. Early on, I had swatched a mirrored cable to be paired with the nupp as a border. As an edging it didn't work, but as a main motif with a little alteration, it worked beautifully. Flanked by a smaller cable cording and slipped stitch rib, the end result is truly a testament to the design process and I couldn't be happier with it. 

My favorite element of this design are the fringe tassels. Not only are they fun to make, fringe has been popping up everywhere lately, so it is a nice traditional element that still has a modern feel. And since Penrith is fairly unisex, I'd love to make a skinnier, longer and fringeless version for my father in Grizedale Forest or Hadrian's Wall. - LM

To view the rest of the Cumbria Collection on our site, click here. To view the Cumbria Collection on Ravelry, click here

#CrochetSummer2015: Swink! interview with Miriam Felton & Amy O'Neill houck

First Fall Knitty was released recently and I immediately grabbed some Organik to make this crocheted sweater by Amy O'Neill Houck

The pattern is accompanied by a tutorial by Miriam Felton on a chainless single crochet foundation. Not being familiar with this technique, I was hooked immediately (pun 100% intended). Whenever I am  crocheting in the round, I inevitably twist my foundation chain. When making Summer Dawn last year I recall having to work the foundation multiple times to get it to lay flat. With this technique you are basically working your foundation and first row of stitches, making it much easier to keep the work from twisting when you join to work in the round. 

Amy and Miriam have been friends and colleagues for years, and work together often. Their regular Knitty column, Plays Well Together, has been a mainstay of the online magazine for a couple of years now. I contacted them to discuss crocheting, knitting, and long distance collaborations.

Courtney Kelley: Miriam, you live in Utah, and Amy is in Alaska. How did you end up meeting one another, and then collaborating on Plays Well Together?

Miriam Felton: We've been friends and colleagues since way back. We were both part of the Stitch Cooperative (a coop group of indie pattern designers). We met IRL at TNNA one year and brainstormed the project. We kept talking about putting our knit and crochet loves together, but then we got busy doing all the things that life throws at you, and it got back burnered. Last year we actually got to be in the same place and the same time zone when I came up to Alaska to teach with Amy at a retreat near Juneau. It was really lovely to get to hang out together in person.

CK: How do you stay in touch long distance as crafters, and as friends?

MF: We use Google Hangouts, a Dropbox folder, texts, emails, and phone calls to work on articles and projects. But usually we swap for each issue. So we spend a bit of time figuring out what we want the article to teach, what the project will be, and then one of us writes the pattern, and one of us writes the article. Then I take the tutorial photos and we keep it all straight in Dropbox. 

CK: Amy, as someone who identifies as mainly a crocheter, did you find it difficult to get published in Knitty? 

Amy O'Neill Houck: Amy Singer (editor of Knitty) has been a crocheter for a long time--I remember helping her with a granny square in a dark-ish corner of a publisher's party at a TNNA in Indianapolis about a decade ago. I never pitched a crochet pattern to her before Miriam and I proposed this column. It's a question of the right idea at the right time. I'm always looking for ways to encourage knitters to crochet and vice versa. In the early days of Twist Collective I was the first designer to have a crochet pattern in that magazine.

CK: Miriam, you say you are a "knitter who likes to crochet," and Amy you are a "crocheter who likes to knit." Do you find that there are times in your life, or situations in which you prefer one to the other?

MF: Oh definitely! There are things that I just prefer to do with one or the other. Like socks. You can totally crochet socks, but I far prefer knitted socks. But the hexagon afghan I'm working on? Totally better crocheted.

AOH: One of the fun things about our Knitty Column is the idea that a single project can have both knitting and crochet in it--so for instance, in our first Knitty project, The Hybrid Hat, we started a hat with crochet at the crown--that's something that is so easy in crochet, but fiddly in knitting, then we finished it with a knit ribbing. That project was fun because its size meant we could design it collaboratively too.

Thanks for taking time to answer some questions, ladies! 

You can find more behind the scenes on Swink! on Amy's blog here, or join in our unofficial Swink! Crochet-A-Long on Ravelry here. - CK

The Cumbria Collection

When planning the designs for the newest Fibre Co. yarn, Cumbria, we thought long and hard about exactly what we wanted the collection to be. Inspired by the English countryside, we wanted to pay homage to the classic British knitting tradition, but as it was on the heels of our last large garment-focused collection inspired by British menswear, the Knightsbridge Collection, we also knew we were a little limited with our inspiration. 

During one of our discussions, we decided to broaden the typically much more stringent parameters we usually set, and focused on what we loved to knit and wear. The end result is a collection that honors a few popular facets of the vast history of knitting - Ganseys, stranded colorwork, and cables - but it also very decidedly "Kelbourne" in its aesthetic, style, and construction. 

Brackenber / Clawthorpe
Crofton / Dovenby
Foxfield / Greenrow
Keswick / Penrith
Rockcliffe / Seascale

The patterns feature multiple full color images, clear and concise directions, and special techniques have direct links to our tips + tricks page. All of the garments come with detailed schematics in both inches and centimeters, and where applicable, easy to read, clear charts are provided. 

The collection is available as individual patterns in hard copy form, PDF download, or Ravelry in-store sales. Over the next few weeks, each member of the Kelbourne Woolens team will post about their individual designs and inspiration, but in the mean time, you can see the full collection on our site here, or on Ravelry here

We hope you love the collection and The Fibre Co. Cumbria as much as we do! - KGO

#fancykelbournestudiokal winners!

My Lucinda sweater is complete, and I love it!

What I don't love, though, is the stifling heat and humidity we're having this week. Instead of sweating through a forced photoshoot, I'm going to cross my fingers that it cools off a little this weekend and I can get some decent modeled shots. In the mean time, though, let's celebrate some WINNERS!

It was a tough decision - Jaime, Jen, and I went back and forth a bunch - there were so many amazing shots to admire and choose from, especially in the "Vacation" category. You guys really know how to knit and relax! 


Megan Macdonald from Saltariarts, with her lovely beach knitting photo. We really liked the combination of cool, neutral colors and determined beach knitting!


You all know I love a good mod, so it makes sense that I was all-over this category and am delighted with Ericka of ebbandsew's stripey goodness. Ericka really made the sweater her own with her variety of modifications: she worked stripes (complete with perfectly matched sleeves), worked it in pieces and seamed, reduced the neck width by 5 stitches on each side, opted to have the knit side of the fabric as the right side (instead of the reverse st st as written) and finished the collar with ribbing. I love how the sweater is uniquely Ericka's, but still maintains the feel of the Lucinda. 

I kept my mods on Lucinda pretty straightforward - I made it seamed instead of seamless, and took out the v-neck in the back. I'll share more on my finished sweater in its own post, though!


This category was a really tough call. I was overwhelmed with how many people created such gorgeous sweaters over the last 6 weeks, but in the end, Denise Dawson of denny_dawesome won for her Lucinda in Summersweet. As a bonus, this was Denise's first sweater, so I am so proud of her that she created such a lovely, flattering, and successful end result!

If you would like to check out all of the awesome KAL posts, you can search via the hashtag #fancykelbournestudiokal on Instagram. Thanks again to everyone who participated! - KGO

Introducing Cumbria

Inspired by England’s stunning northwest region with its deep blue lakes and sheep-grazed fells and valley, Cumbria is a lustrous blend of brown wool from the English masham sheep breed, fine S. American merino wool and Argentine mohair. The resulting light brown-grey shade is then over-dyed creating lovely deep saturated colours. Cumbria is a light worsted weight staple yarn, perfect for garments and accessories alike.

Cumbria is named for the North West County of northern England, home to the picturesque Lake District. Many of the color names are taken from this stunning landscape, such as Scafell Pike, Windermere, and many more. The Fibre Co. founders, Daphne and Iain, now call Cumbria home. Daphne says: 

My move to the UK inspired me to create a new yarn with English wool in the blend. The goal of this season's new yarn was to add a staple line to the range of The Fibre Co. products. Specifically, I wanted a new yarn that would be great for sweater projects, long wearing and one that would be a mainstay in the collection for many years to come.

Cumbria is just that: a classic yarn with a thoughtfully selected blend of the finest natural fibers you've come to expect from The Fibre Co. 

Cumbria is packaged in a vintage-inspired, large twisted hank which holds 238 yds (218 m)/100 g. Knit at a recommended gauge of 18-20 sts per 4" (10 cm) on a US 6 (4 mm)-US 8 (5 mm) needle, this truly is the perfect sweater yarn. Cumbria is a 3-ply blend of 60% fine merino wool for softness, 30% brown masham wool to create a depth of color, along with 10% of the most luxurious mohair for its silken shine and strength. The masham sheep is native to England and is a cross between a rare breed Teeswater ram and a Swaledale ewe. The natural dark brown color blends with the white merino to make a beautiful light brown base which creates interesting depth of color and texture. Its long staple fiber adds to the long-wearing nature of the yarn and prevents pilling. The merino wool in the Cumbria blend comes from South America, where they do not practice mulesing. The merino in this blend provides softness, elasticity and memory. We added a touch of mohair, which is very lustrous as well as being quite strong. The luster adds to the color beauty and the strength provides the long wear that makes Cumbria great for sweaters that get regular use.

To pay homage to Cumbria, the Kelbourne Woolens team has designed a collection of ten garments and accessories gathering inspiration from the knitting tradition of the British Isles. The Cumbria Collection will be available in hard copy format at your local yarn shop, as well as in pdf format through Ravelry. We will be introducing the collection here on the blog in the coming weeks, including some excellent tutorials and new Tips and Tricks!

Find Cumbria at a Fibre Co. stockist near you, and experience knitting at its finest.

Independent Designer Feature: Beautiful accessories by Fiona Alice

Canadian-turned-Londonite Fiona Alice recently published a small collection of beautiful accessories featuring Acadia and Terra

Rocquaine Bay Headband by Fiona Alice
Rocquaine Bay Headband by Fiona Alice
Rocquaine Bay Headband by Fiona Alice
Pembroke Bay Mitts by Fiona Alice
Pembroke Bay Mitts by Fiona Alice
Pembroke Bay Mitts by Fiona Alice
Icart Point Hat by Fiona Alice
Icart Point Hat by Fiona Alice
Icart Point Hat by Fiona Alice

Icart Point Hat

Designed using just 1-2 skeins, they are perfect quick weekend projects or vacation knitting. The designs are all available individual via Fiona Alice's page on Ravelry.

(All images by and © Marcel Le Bachelet)

Knitter Projects: Valeriana Estonica

Tina knit this beautiful lace shawl by Kirstina Vilimaite. She used one skein of Road to China Lace in Blue Tourmaline and placed beads in the lace to add a little weight the edging. 

Valeriana Shawl in Road to China Lace

It's a great little shawlette for keeping your shoulders covered and the leaf edging is amazing. 

Valeriana Shawl in Fibre Company Road to China Lace

It's stunning! Great job, Tina! 

All photos © Tinoose, used with permission.

Crochet along with Kelbourne Woolens

When the newsletter arrived in our mailbox with two NEW Surprise patterns for the First Fall issue, I was delighted to see an adorable crochet top designed by Amy O'Neill Houck with a great foundation single crochet tutorial by Miriam Felton.

As one who enjoys quick projects, and distractions from existing projects, my first though was, "I am totally going to make that."

The design is worked from the top down, a crochet equivalent to top down raglans that have become ubiquitous in knit sweater patterns. The collar, cuffs, and hem are worked by picking up stitches in the crochet fabric and knitting down in seed stitch. 

Along with fellow crochet aficionado Cal Patch, we are hosting a very informal Crochet Along (CAL) in our Ravelry group. We hope you join us in making your own Swink!, or just join to follow our progress as we make ours (with inevitable modifications as I am incapable of following instructions - more on that at a later date)!

We hope to see you there! - CAK

all images © Amy O'Neill Houck

Interweave Knits Fall 2015: Agrotera Pullover + Giveaway!

With temperatures in the 90s this past week all I can think about is the cool, crisp air of fall. So, when the Fall issue of Interweave Knits went live yesterday my dreams about fall seemed validated. Plus, this issue features the Agrotera Pullover from Amanda Bell with a sneak preview of our new yarn for fall, Cumbria

This issue of Interweave knits was inspired by timeless knitting techniques. From guernseys and cables to shetland inspired shawls, this issue earns a spot on every knitter's bookshelf. The classic theme lent itself nicely to Cumbria, a blend of 60% merino wool, 30% natural brown Masham wool + 10% mohair, inspired by the British countryside. We have more to share with you about Cumbria, but we'll save that for a later date! 

The detailed yoke on Agrotera is the main attraction to this elegant pullover. My favorite part, hands down, is the twisted knit stitch rays that transition into the neckline. Add to that the reverse stockinette lace pattern and you have a timeless piece, ready for those crisp fall mornings.

We loved this pullover so much we're hosting a giveaway! Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to be entered for a chance to win enough Cumbria in the color as shown to knit your very own Agrotera Pullover! But don't delay - this contest ends Sunday August 2nd at 11:59 pm and the winner will be chosen at random. So what are you waiting for?! Click here to enter and we'll announce the winner on Monday. Good luck!