A Spinster Duo + Stitches West

I have two new patterns to share today. They are very different but they have one very important thing in common: gorgeously unique Spincycle Yarn.  I think on the very best kind of Saturday, you can wake up with cozy Switchback Slippers...

...then once you've had your coffee (or Diet Coke), you can get glammed up for a day out with your Shifty Cowl.

Both of these design samples will be available for petting in the Spincycle Booth at Stitches West where you can get your yarn on and also snag a hard copy of each of the patterns.  Read on for loads of design info and backstory on both of these.

Patterns: Shifty Cowl & Switchback Slippers Photography: Erica B. Studio + Design Yarn for Cowl:  Spincycle Yarns Dyed in the Wool in Strata Yarn for Slippers: YOTH Yarns Daughter in Black Truffle with Spincycle Yarns Independence in Devilish Grin Cowl Styled by Poshture Boutique; click to shop the Top, Jeans & Jewelry

I designed the cowl first and it is actually based on a stitch pattern I recently developed for a blanket. I am really particular about blankets.  I don't like to have to pick up edges and I don't like having a "wrong side" but I also love textured fabric and cables, so in my swatching I was committed to figuring out how to do something that could encompass all of my favorite things. The solution was a series of twists and slipped stitches that shift on both sides to make the fabric totally reversible. I found this fabric so addicting to knit and had to create a wearable garment with it in addition to my original plan.

I pitched my idea to the Spinsters and they were so good to me; they sent a colorway of Dyed in the Wool that they developed for the Stitches West show called Strata.  If you're attending the show, you'll have first dibs to snap up this dreamy gradient. The cowl features a shifting rib for your first skein and the twisty texture for the other two; the pattern also tells you just how to make the most of your precious Spincycle Yarn. The pieces are twisted before the final join so that the cowl lays nicely whether hanging long or doubled.

This cowl is a one-size pattern that is suitable for adventurous beginning knitters. There is a lot of technical instruction included in the pattern such as directions for provisional cast-on and three-needle bind-off. No cable needles are needed either.

I love how our model, Belle, is wearing her cowl.  Thanks so much to Poshture for styling another shoot for me. Links for her outfit are at the top of the page. Thanks also to my sample knitter, Krista, for working hard on this for the Stitches deadline. She worked on the cowl because I had my Switchback Slippers on the needles! This pair is worked with YOTH Daughter as the base and Spincycle Independence as that smashing pop of color.

Spinster Kate (or Tall Kate as I like to call her) sent me an idea for some slippers months ago, after we chatted at Rhinebeck. It took me some time to put my thoughts together and it also took me knitting the first slipper three separate times before I got what I wanted. It is always worth the time and effort though, once you get just the right thing.

The stitch pattern for the sole of these slipper-socks was adapted from Andrea Rangel's book, Alterknit.  This is such a great book. Not only are the motifs stunning, there are so many great tips that can improve your colorwork such as discussions of color dominance and catching floats to improve your tension.  I also love how Andrea explains the name of the book because I wholeheartedly agree with her style of rule-breaking. I think my first stranded colorwork design was Diplodocus (years ago!); it features longer floats and at the time, I really wasn't educated enough to realize this was untraditional as it was not my first time knitting such a motif. Since then I've learned enough to give folks a little warning when I do this. These slippers do not follow all the traditional Fair Isle rules as there are indeed longer floats that I suggest catching, but I love the freedom this gives when tweaking a motif to fit the purposes of a design. Sometimes you just don't get exactly what you want without pushing boundaries a bit.

I hit my stride with the motif in my first knit of the slipper because charts are awesome, but then came the struggle for how to do the ankle.  I experimented with a shorter bootie, buttons, wraps and garter stitch but ultimately landed on a twisted rib with some bonus fabric for the cozy factor. And even after I settled on that, I redid the cuff one more time to get them just so.

These slippers are worked from the toe up with a no-wrap short row heel. I do recommend having some prior colorwork experience before working these slippers. Although the stranding section isn't huge, the longer floats do make it a little trickier to keep your tension steady. If you're not knitting each slipper three times like I did, you'll find these will knit up very quickly, maybe in time for your next lazy morning.

The slipper pattern includes 4 sizes for men and women. I suggest choosing a size that is close to your actual foot circumference instead of smaller as is the norm for socks.  The stranding inhibits the fabric stretch a bit but makes them nice and fluffy.

I  am very much looking forward to the show later this week and I hope to meet some new faces along with giving hugs to my favorite spinsters!!  Love you Rach & Kate and hope you enjoy short Kate's first adventures with your yarn.

As I mentioned last week, during the show you can find me in the YOTH booth.  Here are just a few of the samples I will have with me there:

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Come say hi! See you at the show! Let's go yarn shopping! Whoop whoop!