My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Archives for January 3, 2012

Sweet Shawlettes

Happy New Year! What better way to welcome a new year than with a lovely new book?

This is Sweet Shawlettes by Jean Moss, a collection of 25 patterns for shawlettes, cowls, and other related types of knits. I received a review copy of this book a couple of weeks ago and pronounce it delightful!

The book is divided into 4 sections: Country, Couture, Folk, and Vintage. There is a lovely variety of both types of garments and knitting techniques used. This is not all lace shawls — there is also colorwork, entrelac, texture, and cables. A little something for everyone.

My faves:

From the Country section, I love “Green at Heart,” a button-up cowl.

From Couture, here is “Enigma,” a poncho-type garment with an intriguing shape and a cozy turtleneck.

From Folk, “Polperro” combines lace and texture.

And from Vintage, what I think is my favorite design in the book: “Kitty,” an adorable capelet.

You can preview all the designs in the book’s Design Gallery.

I have long been a fan of Jean Moss’ designs and was delighted to have the opportunity to conduct a brief interview with her.

Wendy: How long have you been knitting and who taught you?

Jean: Originally I learned to knit before I went to school because I wanted to be like my beloved grandmother who spent hours teaching me.  A fallow period ensued but my interest was rekindled in my teens when I started to make my own clothes.  It was the swinging sixties and I loved what I was seeing on the street and in magazines, but had no way of achieving anything similar other than to pick up my needles again.  From then on I was hooked. It never occurred to me that I’d ever be able to make a living out of it, especially as I had no formal training in design, but after getting requests for sweaters I’d made for the kids, I decided that it might be a way of making some extra cash from home.  No-one was more surprised than I was to find that very quickly I was presenting my designs to luminaries such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein and they were placing orders! It was a meteoric learning curve. The business quickly mushroomed and I developed my own line alongside the design and production I was doing for US stores and designers. We ultimately had two thousand knitters in the UK – all stemming from my need to express myself creatively.

Wendy: Sweet Shawlettes is such a unique collection because there are so many different techniques covered in the patterns — lace, texture, colorwork. Do you have a favorite, or do you enjoy all more or less equally?

Jean: I was asked to write Sweet Shawlettes out of the blue by Erica Sanders-Foege, a senior editor at The Taunton Press. I immediately loved the idea as previously most of my books have concentrated on sweaters, and this gave me the opportunity to explore a totally different form.  Shawls, capes, cowls, furbelows or anything that can be worn around the neck was the brief and I was excited to explore as many ways of interpreting it as I could.

My mind spun with the millions of options, so I knew I would have to edit, edit, edit. I started the task of narrowing them down with a book plan: the skeleton of the four chapters – Country, Couture, Folk and Vintage – what would inspire them and also the yarns, colours, techniques which would be showcased in each. I reasoned that small projects could be fantastic tasters for new skills, without the commitment of a larger piece, either in time or yarn.  So when I started to flesh out the chapters, I had the intention of including various techniques I particularly enjoy. However, the realisation quickly dawned that I’m an absolute technique junkie, as I found it hard to exclude anything, so I decided I’d go for it and include as many as I could, which hopefully would also give the book another dimension.

Not sure whether you’re asking about my favourite technique or project, but these days my knitting is usually restricted to swatches for new designs and no-brainers for winding down, although I do love working with colour, so the odd bit of fair isle often slips in as well as various modular knits.  I have to admit that I’m just as much a product as a process knitter so I always ask myself whether or not I’d like to wear a piece I’m designing and if the answer is no then I lose interest. I’ve loved each project in turn as I’ve designed them. However, the project I chose to knit for friends this Xmas was Drift from the Couture chapter.  I love big cables and this easy cowl has the bonus that it’s quick to knit and fabulously wearable – I’ve rarely had such  positive feedback from everyone who received it!

Wendy: Do you still sing with the Purly Kings? 🙂

Jean: The Purly Kings was an impromptu band, put together to make the CD More Yarn Will Do The Trick, a trio of yarn related songs.  It came about as my friend, Paul Darby, was already in a band called the Dubious Brothers, a man-band with definitely no women, so I asked them to do a one-off recording as session musicians.  Paul and I go back a long way and our musical tastes are fairly similar, so I was confident it would be doable.  Sadly I’m bandless as the moment, but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get out and play more music, so if you know anyone who wants to join me, do let me know.


Would you like to win a copy of this lovely book? Leave a comment on this blog post by Sunday, January 8, 2012 at 11:00am eastern time. A winner will be chosen at random at that time.

This review is only one stop on the Sweet Shawlettes blog tour. The full tour schedule is below:


Mon 2 Jan More Yarn Will Do The Trick – Jean Moss
Tues 3 Jan  Wendy Knits – Wendy Johnson
Wed 4 Jan Knitgrrl – Shannon Okey
Thurs 5 Jan Yarnagogo – Rachael Herron
Fri 6 Jan The Knitter – Rosee Woodland
Sat 7 Jan Rhythm of the Needles – Joanne Conklin
Sun 8 Jan Knit Purl Gurl – Karrie Steinmetz
Mon 9 Jan CraftSanity – Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Tues 10 Jan Planet Purl – Beth Moriarty
Wed 11 Jan Sunset Cat – Stephannie Tallent
Thurs 12 Jan A Really Good Yarn – Julie Schilthuis
Fri 13 Jan knit 1 chicago – Lynn Coe
Sat 14 Jan Go Knit In Your Hat – Carol Sulcoski
Sun 15 Jan Redshirt Knitting – Erika Barcott
Mon 16 Jan In The Loop – Cheryl & Ellen
Tues 17 Jan WEBS – Kathy Elkins
Wed 18 Jan Zeneedle – Margene Smith
Thurs 19 Jan Knitspot – Anne Hanson
Fri 20 Jan Urban Yarns – Alexa Ludeman
Sat 21 Jan A Friend to knit with – Leslie Friend
Mon 23 Jan Tentenknits – Margaux Hufnagel
Tues 24 Jan Fancy Tiger Crafts – Amber Corcoran
Thurs 26 Jan The Panopticon – Franklin Habit
Tbc Chic Knits – Bonne Marie Burns

Lucy sez:

I’ve always felt that more yarn will do the trick.