Rhinebeck Round-Up

I made a quick jaunt to the NY Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY last weekend! It's always such a highlight of the fall, getting to see and experience all the sheep, the alpacas, the yarn, the fiber, the apple cider donuts, and the best sweater watching all year. 


I brought along a friend who, gasp! is not a knitter or crocheter but a lover of craft none-the-less and a fine artist herself. It was really a cool experience to show her our world of fiber, yarn, and wool, and the beautiful textiles created from them.

And of course, running into friends is always one of the best "surprises" of going to Rhinebeck! There are so many people about, you never know who you'll run into! I was thrilled to find Bristol Ivy on Saturday. In a total moment of Serendipity, we discovered that I was wearing her design Lita in Cumbria Fingering, and she was wearing her new, as yet un-named, colorwork pullover in Cumbria worsted weight. It was a photo-worthy occasion! 

This year's goal was not to go crazy on yarn but instead, do one big purchase: a sheepskin. One each for my friend Sarah and myself. We succeeded in our goal and after some wine, we had a bit of fun posing on our new sheepskins!  

Another major highlight was going to see Mary at The Perfect Blend in Saugerties, NY. Mary has a super cute shop filled to the brim with soft yarn in beautiful colors and delicious teas. She has a great community of knitters and a lovely staff. Recently, they knit a shawl called A River Runs Through It by Theresa Gilbert in four shades of The Fibre Co Meadow. If you are up in that area, her shop is a must-see.

Overall, it was a great weekend full of friends, good food, and, of course, wool! I already can't wait for next year!  Did you go to Rhinebeck this year?  What was your favorite moment? -MK

All photo credit goes to my friend Sarah

KW Swatch Experiment Data: Acadia

It's time for our first data post in the #kwswatchexperiment: Acadia!

#kwswatchexperiment: The Fibre Co. Acadia

For the Acadia swatch, we asked knitters to cast on 25 stitches using US 6 (4 mm) needles and work for 28 rows with a 2 stitch garter edge on either side. The needle size was pulled from Courtney's design, Echo Lake.

For every yarn, measurements were taken pre-and post blocking. For the wet blocking process, I soaked the swatches in water and wool wash, and laid them flat to dry. I wanted the swatches to behave they way they wanted to behave without any manipulation, so I did not pin them or pay attention to the measurements when laying them flat. This way, the blocked swatches most accurately reflect the gauge the yarn was most comfortable at . This is how I treat all gauge swatches, but I do pin the actual finished pieces to the calculated measurements based off of the swatch gauge.

#KWswatchexperiment The Fibre Co. Acadia Unblocked Swatches
#KWswatchexperiment The Fibre Co. Acadia Blocked Swatches

acadia stitch gauges

acadia row gauges

As you can see above, there was a nice variety between the five* swatches we received from knitters.


For all swatches, after blocking the stitch gauge either stayed the same or loosened up, and all of the row gauges either stayed the same or became tighter.

• The loosest gauge (fewest sts and rows per inch) was Swatch 5 at 20 sts and 26 rows / 4".
• The tightest gauge (most sts and rows per inch) was Swatch 1 at 24 sts and 33.33 rows / 4".

The loosest versus tightest swatches did not differ between pre- and post-blocking, although the gauges themselves changed slightly:
• The loosest gauge was swatch 5 at 20 sts and 26.66 rows / 4".
• The tightest gauge was swatch 1 at 22.66 sts and 33.33 rows / 4".

Stitch Gauge
• Swatch 1 had the greatest change in stitch gauge: unblocked, the gauge was 24 sts over 4", but after blocking it loosened up to 22.66. 
Row Gauge:
• Swatch 2 had the greatest change in row gauge: unblocked, the gauge was 30.66 rows over 4", but after blocking, it compressed to 32.

#KWswatchexperiment The Fibre Co. Acadia Rowing Out

Of the 5 Acadia swatches we received, for the most part, all were quite uniform and lovely, even pre-blocking. Swatch 4 was the only one with a slight issue, as it demonstrated some "rowing out" (if you're unfamiliar with the term, I touched on it at the very bottom of this post under Swatching in the Round Versus Flat)


As mentioned, the needle size given in the swatch instructions was taken from Courtney's design, Echo Lake. This needle size is based on what the average knitter would need to use in order to achieve the recommended gauge given in the pattern.  But what would happen if our swatch knitters were knitting Echo Lake and did not block their swatch, or, (gasp!), used the recommended needle size as a "given", and knit the sweater using a US 6 (4 mm) needle without swatching at all?

GAUGE: 20 sts and 28 rows = 4” (10 cm) in St st, after blocking. NEEDLE: 1 pair - US 6 (4 mm) straights.

#KWswatchexperiment The Fibre Co. Acadia results

For Echo Lake, I've included 4 key measurements in the pattern that best illustrate some of the differences a knitter would experience if proper swatching did not occur.

Let's break down the expected versus actual projected measurements by swatch for the sample size (2nd size) in the pattern for the upper arm circumference and body circumference:

#KWswatchexperiment The Fibre Co. Acadia results

As you can see, only the Swatch 4 and Swatch 5 knitters had the correct stitch gauge both pre and post-blocking on US 6 needles. Swatches 1, 2, and 3 are all off considerably. Had they knit the garment without swatching ahead of time, their sweaters would be between 4.5-1.75" smaller in circumference. They all need to go up 1 or 2 needle sizes and reswatch.  


An additional item worth noting is pre- vs. post-blocked row gauge. Let's break down the expected versus actual projected measurements by swatch for the sample size (2nd size) in the pattern for the body and sleeve length if the knitter does not take blocked row gauge into account when measuring length:

#KWswatchexperiment The Fibre Co. Acadia results

As you can see, difference in row gauge between pre- and post-blocking on Swatches 2, 3, 4, and 5 indicate that more rows need to be worked in order to achieve proper length after blocking. This means that for most of the knitters, measuring their unblocked piece(s) as they work will result in sweaters that are incorrect lengths once blocked. Additionally, when they go to block their pieces, they will have to stretch the knitting out to get it to be the measurement as given in the schematic, which in turn will make the stitches longer and thinner, potentially reducing the circumference even further.

Additionally, while Swatches 4 and 5 were knit at the designated stitch gauge, none of the 5 achieved the row gauge as given in the pattern. Ideally, obtaining both given stitch and row gauge is best, but it is universally understood that this is very difficult to do. One way to avoid the issue of mismatched row gauge is to work to a specified length, rather than a given number of rows. As a result, all of our patterns have lengths given in inches/centimeters whenever possible. This means it is important to use your row gauge to calculate how many rows to work to the correct length. This has the additional bonus of guaranteeing pairs of sweater pieces, such as a front and a back, or both sleeves, are the exact same length, which makes seaming and finishing exponentially easier. You can read more about counting rows here

* As we've said before, we sent 7 skeins out to volunteers, but for Acadia - and a few others - fewer swatches came back than were sent out. If you're a volunteer and are still holding onto your swatch, we still want it back!

Stay tuned next week for the next installment in the series. And if there was something we didn't cover in this post, feel free to leave a question in the comments and we'll be happy to help you out! 

Handwoven Nov/Dec 2016 Yarn Lab

The latest issue of Handwoven is out, and I had the pleasure of weaving up some samples in The Fibre Co. yarns for the Yarn Lab section of the magazine.

The Yarn Lab is a unique feature of each issue, where a weaver samples yarns in different stitch patterns. The parameters are pretty wide open, which is both exciting and a little nerve wracking - It was nice to be able to experiment without much limitation, but I was a bit overwhelmed by the possibilities! 

For the warp, I used Meadow, one I used previously in my Voltaic and Neige Scarves. Meadow makes an excellent warp, as it is very strong and has a nice, crisp hand that works well with the other yarns in the line. I ended up weaving five samples, exploring the possibilities of patterning with a 8-Harness straight draw. 

Twill in The Fibre Co. Meadow and Cumbria


My first sample was a simple twill using The Fibre Co. Cumbria in one of our new colors, Yew Tree, as the weft. The combination of the classic yarn with such an iconic stitch pattern really appealed to me, and I love the end result. As a bonus, the right and wrong side of the fabric looks identical, so it works well for a wide variety of applications. One of the best parts about many twills, too, is that you don't need 8 harnesses to create them - on most occasions, 4 harnesses will do! 

Straight Draw Twill by Kate Gagnon Osborn for Kelbourne Woolens


After working the herringbone, I spent some time playing around with some patterns I am fond of, including Bronson Lace. It wasn't possible to work a "true" Bronson Lace pattern using the straight draw, so I played around a bit with the tie up an treadling to create the floats over the fabric the laces are known for. Even with the very fine gauge of the Road to China Lace I used as the weft, the fabric I created has a lot of dimension and texture. It is also quite different on right and wrong sides, but both are really lovely fabrics.

Modified Bronson Lace by Kate Gagnon Osborn for Kelbourne Woolens


For this really traditional Bird's Eye Twill, I used The Fibre Co. Acadia as my weft, a yarn with a really textured hand. In this color, Butterfly Bush, there is also a lot of variation within the kettle dyed skein, adding to the overall texture and less "defined" patterning. Of all the swatches, this one came out nothing like I expected, but I as really pleased with how it so clearly demonstrates how much yarn choice effects the overall end result.


Of all the swatches, this one is definitely my favorite. I "flipped" the patterning harnesses to be raised from the teal modified Bronson Lace pattern, which created a more warp faced fabric (you can see the vast difference between the front and back in the photo above). Instead of using just one weft yarn, I opted to use both The Fibre Co. Road to China Lace and Terra, which added to the texture of the pattern. I'm currently working on a scarf in this pattern in (predictably) some neutrals, which you can see here.

modified bronson lace 2.jpg


After all of the experimenting, I needed a little brain break. Much like stockinette or garter stitch when knitting, plain weave is a lovely, simple pattern that can be manipulated in a lot of different ways, especially when experimenting with color and texture. For this swatch, I paired the Acadia from the birds eye twill and Terra from the second Bronson Lace with Canopy Fingering in a simple plain weave stripe. Passing the Canopy Fingering through three times created a nice block of color that balanced well with the Terra. 

You can purchase the issue of Handwoven here, or ask for it at your LYS! 

Nordic Knitting Conference

Courtney and I spent last weekend at the Nordic Knitting Conference held at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle. We planned the trip with friends Jaime Jennings and Karen Templer, and scheduled our time around learning as much as humanly possible about the history, craft traditions, and techniques of the (widely disparate) people who fall under the "Nordic" umbrella.

We arranged to arrive on Thursday evening to give ourselves a "free" day on Friday before the event began in order to both relax a bit and adjust to the time change. The weather was lovely, and armed with an excellent host/guide in Drygoods Designs owner Keli Faw, we went with Jaime (Karen was to arrive later on Sunday), to visit Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, WA. Tolt did not disappoint, and we even hilariously picked out our favorite colors of Julie Asselin's Nurtured yarn, only to have Courtney notice they matched our nails perfectly. The day went on with a gorgeous walk in Tolt-MacDonald Park, lunch at The London Plane, and a visit to Drygoods. Check out the classes we attended and the wealth of inspiration we took home from the event below! 


The conference began on Saturday, and I took Textured Twined Swedish Mitts with Beth Brown-Reinsel. Twined knitting (Tvåändsstickning), is a knitting technique where two ends of one ball are worked every other stitch and intentionally twisted around one another to produce a dense, firm, and heavily textured fabric. 

Twined Mittens in The Fibre Co. Cumbria

I had done a bit of research on Tvåändsstickning for my Cady Mittens from Vintage Modern Knits - but elected to "modernize" the technique and use the stranded colorwork method instead of twisting the stitches for that design - so this was my first time really diving into the true method. 

It was pretty counterintuitive to intentionally twist the yarns, especially when we spend so much time teaching people to not twist when working stranded knitting, but Beth taught us some excellent tips for managing the ends, untwisting the ball, and reading the charts in order to maintain the proper patterning. The end result is a handwarmer with amazing, dense fabric and beautiful texture, and I cannot wait to finish the pair!

On Sunday, I took two classes on Sámi Knitting with Laura Ricketts. A former teacher, Laura has traveled extensively around the world and studied Sámi culture and handcrafts. In the morning, I learned about Sámi mittens, and in the afternoon Skolt Sámi socks. 

Many of the knitting techniques used by the Sámi are ones I was familiar with (braids, stranded colorwork, etc), so I primarily took the classes to learn as much as I possibly could about Sámi craft (duodji), culture, and history. Due to a long history of persecution and displacement, and a land (Sápmi) that encompasses the current countries Norway, Sweden, Finland, and  Russia, the knitting traditions of the Sámi were previously not well known or studied. Laura's knowledge was incredible, so I soaked up as much as I possibly could.

Sámi patterns tend to use natural colored wool (cream or white) for the main color, and red, green, or black for the contrast colors. For my sock and mitten technique sample I used The Fibre Co. Cumbria, and took some liberties with the color palette. (Scroll below for Courtney's sock - it is amazing to see how different the pattern looks in more traditional colors!) 

Laura brought dozens of mittens to the classes, and I fell madly in love with the Ájtte Treasure Mittens, knit at 12 stitches to the inch using Lopi Einband. Difficult to find in the U.S., Tolt is one of the few stores who carries the Einband, and I was lucky that they had a small booth at the conference. While the design only uses four colors, I couldn't resist grabbing six to play with for my pair.

I originally scheduled myself another free day on Monday, but couldn't bear to miss out on more classes, so I signed up for Nancy Bush's  Knitting Estonian Lace class. Since I registered the day before - and didn't have months to dream about the class as I had with my previous selections - I went in not knowing what to expect, but still learned a lot!

While the class itself covered the basics of Estonian lace knitting*, much like the other instructors, Nancy went in depth about the history, culture, and methodology of the specific lace techniques, yarns, and process of the knitters of Haapsalu, Estonia. It was interesting to hear that knitters work mostly on straight needles, and despite the long tradition of knitting and crafts in the country, there is no mill in Estonia that makes the fine gauge yarn the Happsalu knitters use, so it is all imported from other European countries.

One of the techniques I knew about but hadn't put into much practice was working nupps (pronounced like "soup"), a technique emblematic of Estonian lace knitting. Unlike bobbles, nupps are a two row process: increases are worked on the right side row, and then the decrease is worked on the following wrong side row. They are meant to be more subtle than bobbles, and tent to be longer rather than stick out. As you can see from my swatch above, my nupps changed drastically over the course of the swatch as I loosened up and became more comfortable with the technique!

*Lace knitting is where patterning only occurs on right side rows, and the wrong side (or every other row if worked in the round) is a resting row where no yarn overs or decreases are worked. Knitted lace is where patterning occurs on every row/round, regardless of wether or not you are working flat or back and forth.


My first class of the weekend was a full day Bohus Knitting class with Susanna Hansson. I've always wanted to take a class with Susanna, who is a wealth of knowledge and history on Bohus knitting, and I am so glad I did. We spent the day knitting a sample cuff of the pattern Blue Shimmer using hand dyed yarns from Sweden's Angoragarnet yarn company. 

One of the most amazing parts of the class was all of the samples of Bohus knitting that Susanna brought in for us to see. She has been an avid collector of Bohus garments and accessories for many, many years and her collection vast! 

I was very proud to have finished my cuff in class, although I think the gauge is too loose at 7 sts per inch. I'm going to reknit it on smaller needles so that it's a more authentic Bohus gauge, about 8.5 sts per inch. 

Susanna was a fantastic lecturer, and the afternoon was filled with a slide presentation about the history of the Bohus company and it's founder and designers. If you ever get the chance, this class is not to be missed. 

On Sunday morning I was so pleased to take another class that's been on my "not-to-be-missed" list for a long time. Nordic Color — Roositud, An Inlay Technique from Estonia with Nancy Bush.

Roositud (pron. ROSE-eh-tood), or roosimine (ROSE-eh-meenah) is an Estonian technique that Kate and I have taught for many years after publishing the Yvette Roositud Hat in our first book, Vintage Modern Knits. It's a fascinating technique, and while not exactly difficult to do, the history and use of the technique in Estonia is firmly Nancy's territory. And, the doubled cast-on method she teaches in this class is an added bonus!

Nancy has an extremely vast collection of mittens from Estonia, and she was kind enough to bring them for us all to see. Many of them are currently being used as research material for upcoming publications, so I can't share any pictures here, but I highly recommend following her work. 

On Sunday afternoon, I joined Kate in Laura Ricketts' class, Skolt Sámi Knitted Socks. I loved the simplistic colorwork tradition - white with bright primary (often blue and red, sometimes with yellow or green) colorwork. I chose a more traditional color palette for my socks, and started by making a Christmas stocking.

I was delightfully surprised to find that the sock actually fit my calf perfectly, and everyone has tried to convince me to make a pair and keep them for myself, but I'm not so sure I'd actually wear them!

Learning more about the Sámi peoples was absolutely fascinating, and getting to discuss Finntroll in an academic setting was definitely a hightlight of the day. 

On Monday, I took two classes with researcher and historian Susan Strawn. The first, Knitting Detectives, was an amazing lecture on how to research the history of knitted garments and uncover the stories they tell - from the history of nations, to the history of social change - textiles are often overlooked as key components of the shifting times in which we live.

In the afternoon, Susan gave a lecture entitled Exploring Nordic Knitting Designs, in which we followed the journey of knitting from the middle east into Central and Northern Europe. We looked at the similarities of the types of patterns humans make, whether it's rock carving, pottery, weaving, cross stitch, or knitting. We also were able to look at some of the pieces of knitting that the Nordic Heritage Museum has in it's archives. 

To see more of Susan's work, you can visit ResearchGate and the University of Nebraska Digital Commons

All in all, the retreat was an amazing experience. After so much teaching and traveling over the years, it was wonderful to be on the "other" side of the classroom and we feel so lucky to have learned so much about this craft that we love!