Hand-Knit Style in Commercial Knits

As knitters, we can recognize hand-knit garments from a mile away, right? In fact, hand knits often serve as beacons by which knitters recognize their fellow knitters out in the world. It fills my heart with joy every time I spot someone wearing a hand-knit shawl or sweater while waiting in line at the coffee shop or the grocery store. I don’t usually approach strangers, but I can’t help myself when I suspect they’re knitters. There’s just too much at stake!

But in light of a trend I’ve been noticing a from some of my favorite clothing and home decor retailers, I think I might have to start second-guessing my sixth sense for the detection of hand-knit garments. Lately, there are an awful lot of commercial knits mimicking the look of hand knits. I’ve heard that 70’s style is totally hip again in 2016, evinced particularly by the resurgence of the poncho. I think this hand-knit style in general has a 70’s vibe.

Admittedly it makes me a little annoyed that people value the hand-made aesthetic without valuing the effort it takes to make things by hand. But on the other hand, it pleases me to see big companies, the arbiters of contemporary fashion, looking at the things that the individuals who lovingly, meticulously craft things by hand are into. It makes me excited to be a knitter. Why buy what’s essentially a knock-off, when I can fashion the real thing with my own two hands, and look like a fashionista to boot?

If you don’t believe me, just check out these hats, scarves, sweaters, table decor, pillows and more that incorporate hallmarks of hand-knits like garter stitch, bulky yarn, cables, surface embroidery, and even a sort of charming imperfection.


From Modcloth, this chunky garter stitch scarf with pockets, this quaint crocheted doily table runner, and these darling knit mittens with a crocheted border and flower applique!


From Modcloth, this sweater with this owl motif made of knit cables and buttons, this drapey cardigan made of rectangles with stitches knit in two different directions, and this cabled cardigan with flowers embroidered on the surface.


From Modcloth, this super-bulky ribbed hat with a matching super-bulky pompom, these boots with cuffs that look just like knitted boot cuffs, this welted hat reminiscent of the popular wurm hat.


From Anthropologie, these ponchos with moss stitch, gansey-like patterning, fringes and lace motifs that any beginner knitter could imitate, and this boxy color-blocked mohair cardigan.


From H & M, these embellished basic accessories including a hat that looks very much like Purl Soho’s Garter Ear Flap Hat, and this child’s poncho with quirky animal appliques.


From Urban Outfitters, this crocheted doily rug, this brioche knit cowl that looks eerily similar to the one that I designed for The 12 Weeks of Christmas this year (has Urban Outfitters been spying on me?), and this super-bulky, cabled pillow.

Anyway, I think we should go forth and knit or crochet with pride, and let the inspiration flow back and forth between hand-knits and commercial knits. Who needs to shop for pre-made things when we can make them ourselves, take joy in the process, and infuse them with our love of the craft?

Blanket Marathon 2016 Non-Profits

The countdown to this year’s 24-Hour Community Blanket Knitting Marathon has begun! The yarn (donated by Berroco) is being wound, the roster is all filled up, and the non-profits are busy decorating beautiful boxes in which you can place your non-perishable-food-item votes! This event is one of my favorite Over The Rainbow Yarn community outreach projects, because it feeds the hungry, benefits a local charity, and is just plain fun. The blanket is always beautiful, too. (Have I mentioned lately how much I love knitting with Vintage?) This year, all of the spots filled up really quickly. If you missed out on a chance to sign up, bring a non-perishable food item over to the event to vote, and while you’re there, offer to give someone a little break. When you’re knitting for two hours straight, it’s healthy to stand up and stretch every so often, and the opportunity for a coffee or bathroom break is much appreciated.

We have seven non-profits on board this year, and I don’t know how I’m going to choose who to vote for — I may have to bring enough food items to vote for each one! Let me tell you a little bit about each of the groups:

Area Interfaith Outreach: AIO runs our local food pantry and offers emergency assistance. They try to make sure that no one goes cold or hungry, which is a tough job in our community where more than a quarter of the schoolchildren don’t know where their next meal will come from. AIO sends backpacks of food home with kids on the weekends, distributes the lovely mittens that you all knit for our annual mitten tree, and makes sure that when things get tough, families have enough food on the table. http://www.aiofoodpantry.org/index.html

Midcoast Habitat for Humanity: This local chapter of Habitat for Humanity International works to build homes for low-income families in Knox County. Their vision is “A world where everyone has a decent place to live”, and they get the community involved in making it happen. Finding decent, affordable housing in the midcoast can be a big challenge, and Habitat for Humanity is stepping in to help provide a safe roof over the heads of families in need. http://www.midcoasthabitat.org/

New Hope for Women: This organization supports those dealing with domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. They offer a 24-hour hotline, an emergency shelter, advocacy and education services. Domestic violence remains an appallingly common problem in Maine, and New Hope for Women is an amazing and essential resource for people (not just women) in our area. http://www.newhopeforwomen.org/

OUT Maine: OUT Maine/Out As I Want to Be works to support LGBTQ teens and youth in the community. They offer a safe space and educational services, and are “passionately committed to creating a welcoming and affirming Midcoast Maine”. One of their main goals is reducing harassment and bullying in schools, which can make a huge difference in a teen’s life. http://outmaine.org/

Pope Memorial Humane Society: Pope Memorial is a fantastic humane society that goes the extra mile for the animals that come through their doors. They’re a no-kill shelter, and they often are able to reconnect lost animals with their humans. The folks who work there really care, and are great at promoting responsible pet ownership. They give homeless animals a chance at a forever home. https://www.humanesocietyofknoxcounty.org/

Rockland District Nursing Association: RDNA provides “in-home nursing and community health services” to people in our community who might not otherwise have access to medical care. They offer financial assistance to those who can’t afford the services they need, and work to assist the elderly to live at home for as long as possible. http://rocklanddistrictnursing.com/

Trekkers: Trekkers is a mentoring program with an emphasis on outdoor adventure. They connect students with caring adults and take them on trips to expand their horizons. Trekkers emphasizes the importance of a providing a steady presence in their students’ lives, working with them from 7th grade through graduation. Local teens are given wonderful opportunities to learn about cultural diversity and community service. http://trekkers.org/

Please come out with a non-perishable food item (or several!) this Friday or Saturday to vote for one of these incredible non-profits! Help make this year’s Blanket Marathon a success!


Decking the Halls

It’s cold, it’s dark, there’s rain glossing over the fallen leaves on the sidewalk, and it is perfect. Now that Fall is here, I can finally be comfortable and dress in my full, layered regalia– and by that, I mean tights and close-toed shoes. Gone for now are the days of making loud, obnoxious “flip-flop” sounds when I’m trying to slink silently and unseen through the night. What I’m most excited about, however, is being able to decorate my own house for the seasons.

Now, while I adore the looks of all the Halloween decorations you can find out there, I must be honest with myself. Plastic really doesn’t suit my style, and what’s worse is that after the holiday is over and gone for another year, these things will only remain in tact for about a week and end up cluttering the basement for the next tenants to remove and complain about.

“So what will I do now?!” I asked myself. Pumpkin carving is an option, but it’s terribly messy, frustrating, and takes so much work for something that will just end up rotting away in the end. No, pumpkin carving wasn’t really an option, but pumpkin felting was and is.

Using this adorable pattern as a starting point for the pumpkins, I’ve been knitting with Quince&Co’s Lark and Osprey, then stuff them to the brim with Bartlett roving before they’re wet felted (by hand, because Quince yarns felt like a dream). This way when they’re done, the inside will be a solid, felted mass.

I plan on making many more and needle felting designs (and possibly faces) on them once they’re fully dry. At the moment they’re still a bit damp and lack stems, but that’ll be remedied in time for the holidays.


Halloween photoshoot, anyone?


Hallkatla the mandrake says hello!