There was a waiter

Knitters are systematic people. We usually come up with a system to help us work through a pattern.

We can use markers to delineate certain parts of our pattern, we can write down each row as we knit with ticks or row numbers on a separate piece of paper, we can rewrite every row of instructions so that it’s in a language we can recognize, we can move a post-it note down the page to highlight each row to knit. There is some sort of system that works for each of us that has been developed over the years to help us work through both simple and complex patterns.



Then there was the waiter at the retreat we were just at. He could not seem to match up food orders with the person who ordered. Not once over 6 meals. It was not crucial and we weren’t complaining but actually taking quiet delight in this young man’s confusion. We all got the meals we ordered or almost always.

We asked if he was new. No, he had been working there since May. So for 6 months he had been working in an entirely unsystematic way. It was interesting to watch. He took our drink order, then moved to a new spot around the table to take the food order, and then a brand new location for dessert. How on earth was he going to keep track that way?

It became apparent that he, very slyly, did have a system. We were an integral part of it. He would bring 2 plates to the table, hover over a couple people like these might be their meals, announce what the meals were and wait for us to raise our hands. That’s a system!! A somewhat impractical system since we were all talking. Believe it or not, without realizing it we all bought into this system by the end of the weekend. We paid attention every time he approached the table. We even had one or two people at the table who kept track of who ordered what so they could direct him. Maybe he was very clever with his system after all.

I have to keep this in mind when I teach. I work up a system that will help the knitter work through the pattern with comfort. It totally works for me and I scratch my head when it doesn’t just click automatically with everyone. To me it’s so straight forward and easy! But everyone has their own way of providing themselves with a system that helps them navigate through the instructions. My system is a visual map.

triangle Shawl plan Tier 2

“I will provide a system for you to hate”, says my friend Susan, meaning I will provide you with a starting point so that you can dislike it and then manipulate the system (pattern) into whatever works best for you.


It was fun at the retreat to teach the same basic shawl construction over and over and see how people approached the decisions about which stitch patterns to add within the construction.

Thanks for reading,


Any Gauge patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns

3×3 Cardigan Prototype Done

It’s time to get the cardigans out, at least in my neck of the woods it is. It’s also past time to finish a cardigan that I started in the spring. How about you? Are any of your sweaters begging for some attention?

My design process is really slow. I knit a prototype, this cardigan, and then I write the pattern. Now from my written pattern I knit another sample. That’s where I am now, so this is going to be a quick post because I need to get cracking on my second cardigan.

Ta, da, I pretty proud of myself for finally finishing my first 3×3 colour cardigan. I even sewed the buttons on yesterday. That usually takes me months to get around to. Oh, wait, it did take me months!!20191016_101606

The last bit of knitting I had to do was to raise the back of the neck. To get a lower front on this Top Down I made the shoulders quite wide when I cast on. That means the back of neck was low too. Whoo, that really is quite a dip in the back!20190723_145811


I needed to fill in some of the back of neck dip for the cardigan to be comfortable. I picked up a stitch for every cast on stitch and worked short rows, making the first turn in the centre of the far shoulder, turned and work to the centre of the other shoulder and turned again. I worked 2 stitches further toward the front with each short row and turned again. The back of neck is over an inch deep now and the front is less than 1/2″.20191016_101746

Finished. I did it all in garter stitch using German Short Rows which I think work really, really well with garter stitch. You only have to learn how to do the short rows knitwise, bonus. Here’s a side view of the neck shaping. It’s all happening over the shoulder stitches.20191016_101812

Today I’m casting on another 3×3 colour cardigan in DK weight Cotton Tweed this time. My pencil is poised over my written instructions. Ready, set, go.20191018_102350

Thanks for reading,


Any Gauge patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns and books






Mosaic Shawl for retreat

We’re getting ready to Retreat. We are Elizabeth, Lyn and myself, all finishing up our shawl samples for our Cabin Fever Retreat. It’s coming up at the Fern Resort really soon. So this is my last shawl sample. I had a student in one of my classes say that there should be a sign on the wall by the classroom door saying, “This can be addictive, Beware”. Shawls have been that for me.

Here’s a snapshot of the shawls and samples going to the retreat:

Asymmetric Shawls by Elizabeth, don’t they look like fun? 

Lyn’s still working on her Crescent shawls. She has a really great crescent cast on edge to show everyone.CF retreat crescent shawl

My adventures into Triangle Shawls has taken me far and wide.

The last one is using Mosaic knitting. Mosaic knitting is worked with 1 colour (variegated) across 2 rows working knits or purls and slipped stitches. Another 2 rows are worked with a second colour (black) in stockinette stitch or garter stitch.

My first foray into mosaic shawl knitting was to work (RS) [K1, Slip 1] with the variegated colour and (WS) [K1 (variegated, Slip 1 (black)]. The black is worked in 2 rows of stockinette stitch. The variegated colour is bumpy against the black stockinette stitch.20191013_154400

Next I tried working the variegated as (RS) [K2, Slip 2] and (WS) [P2 (variegated), Slip 2] so that the coloured yarn is now in stockinette stitch. I worked the black in garter stitch this time (knit on RS and knit on WS). The colour becomes recessed and although it looks OK up close the colour seems to get lost against the black.20191013_154429

Onward. This time I worked the colour as [K2, Slip 2] again but on the WS I worked [K2 (variegated), Slip 2] making the colour bumpy against the garter stitch black. Much better don’t you think? I’m very happy with this and will continue until I run out of black, which is soon.20191013_154442

Can you see the changes?20191013_154655

We’re excited to get going. There are still spaces available if you want to join us at the Fern Resort on October 25.

Thanks for reading,


Deb’s patterns on ravelry



Trying Brioche One More Time

Sometimes when you give a technique one more chance to win you over, it’s the charm.

I’m just back from a weekend knitting retreat in Sudbury, On called Sticks, String and Stewardship. I was the speaker at their first retreat and have gone back nearly every year since. This was number 12. Everyone pays to come and then several of us volunteer to teach. So I taught one class (Portuguese Purling) and took two more.

The technique that has bogged me down is the very popular Brioche stitch. I’ve been through it 3 times now and when I’m in class I can do it by following the instructions blindly. It is a technique that did not endear itself to me. I thought I was going to give it a miss altogether. I mean, 3 times is enough right?

But Sheila was giving a basic brioche class at this retreat and I thought, OK, ONE MORE TIME. Somehow this time it worked for me. It was only the knit stitch and maybe that makes the difference. Not tooooo much information. I thought this was a good video if you are unfamiliar with this technique: How to Knit the Brioche Stitch


This is my second sample and as you can see Sheila and I didn’t stop there. After the class we continued to explore increases and decreases and had a whole lot of fun figuring that out together. I think that will be her class next year.

On my first sample I found a split stitch several rows below so I dropped the knitted stitch down and tried to hook it back up to the top. I totally mucked it up but that’s OK because a little bit of it worked and I was pretty happy with that. After all that’s what classes are for, making mistakes, ripping it out, trying again and learning, learning, learning. I am going to have to do that again and again until I have it down. Then … I will truly enjoy Brioche.

What I really learned is what I need to know in order to enjoy a technique. I need to understand how it works. Once I know how it works I can start to play with it. That had eluded me before.

How about you? What do you have to know to enjoy knitting a technique? What technique still has you boggled?


Any Gauge patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever patterns and Books


%d bloggers like this: