Pattern Spotlight:  Blackstar Cowl by Andi Smith

I have to admit to being a huge FanGirl of Anzula yarns, and when I was designing for the book, I’d planned on creating this cowl in Dreamy, but fate had plans.

I’d found this obscure star cable that intrigued me, and was somewhat obsessed with designing something very graphic with it. I grabbed my yarns, caked, and swatched like a crazy person! I think this motif broke my record for number of swatches to make it perfect!

I was so happy with it though; sometimes, the yarn, the color, and the pattern just gel to create the perfect trifecta. This was one of those times.

When you’re working with two colors, and a tricksy cable motif, having an uninterrupted field of purl bumps in the background can be hard to achieve. A stitch that was one color became a different color on the next round, and that differently colored purl bump became all- encompassing problem for me for longer than I care to admit!

After much playing around, and experimentation, and frogging, fixing that issue on the round before solved was the solution, and I was crazy happy with the results.

I sat down to write the pattern, and that is when disaster struck! In my mad rush to knit-all-the-things, I’d inadvertently picked up a skein of Cricket for the cables, not Dreamy! What’s worse, is that I didn’t have another skein of Dreamy in the One Red Shoe colorway!


I know the amazing ladies at Anzula would have sent one out to me right away, but I wanted to knit this cowl NOW! Waiting was NOT an option! Do you ever have a project like that? I know I do.

So, I broke my must use the same weight for the cables and background rules, and went with what I had.

I’m so glad I did! Using a DK for that red pop of deliciousness was such a great choice. I’m thrilled that my impatience paid off! I love how the star pops out majestically, how graphic and understated it is; how just a few cables makes such a big impact!

If you want to knit Blackstar, you’ll find it in my new Color Cables book, (©Cooperative Press 2018), which also includes full color tutorials for all the techniques featured in the book.

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Pattern Spotlight: It’s Fall Ya’ll Poncho Cowl by Lois Weaver

or as a dramatic cowl as seen on the first photo.

My name is Lois Weaver and I love weaving. The past several years, I have shifted from weaving fabric on large floor looms and designing garments to sell, to encouraging knitters and crocheters to learn to weave using small looms. And little looms are perfect for using yarn you can find at your local yarn store.

I now design and publish patterns for garments that can be easily woven on these small looms and are a perfect next step for new weavers who are bored with weaving simple scarves and rectangles and ready for more of a challenge.

When I first met the Anzula team at last year’s, TNNA, I was delighted to see that they also included woven samples in their booth. And I knew I wanted to create something with their wonderful yarn.

The yarn I chose was the Cricket yarn, a blend of 80% merino, 10% cashmere and 10% nylon in a DK weight. This yarn is perfect for weaving; not too stretchy, with lots of strength for tensioning on the loom and the woven fabric is oh so soft!

I love the Dark Matter yarn with it’s splashes of color in golds, browns, greens and rust that reminded me of fall and fall is my favorite season. I used it for the warp

its fall yall poncho cowl lois weaver anzula cricket dark matter saffron warp

To coordinate with the Dark Matter, I chose the Saffron colorway to weave across in the weft. I mixed it up a bit, by adding an asymmetric stripe with the Saffron in the warp and wove a weft stripe with the Dark Matter.

its fall yall poncho cowl lois weaver anzula cricket dark matter saffron

Since variety is always a priority, I designed this piece to be worn several ways;

as a traditional poncho,

its fall yall poncho cowl lois weaver anzula cricket dark matter saffron

thrown off to the side or even off the shoulder,

its fall yall poncho cowl lois weaver anzula cricket dark matter saffron

or as a dramatic cowl!

its fall yall poncho cowl lois weaver anzula cricket dark matter saffron

It’s the perfect little piece for fall; not too heavy but warm on the shoulders when that autumn nip is in the air. So now that “It’s Fall, Ya’ll”, it’s the perfect time for a weaving project with this great yarn!

You can find the It’s Fall, Ya’ll pattern in my Etsy Shop.

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Meet the Yarn: It Could Be Worsted, part 2

In the Northeast, as summer draws to a close, the heat and humidity fades and the foliage begins to hint at its beautiful autumnal colors. That's a verbose way to say that the desire to knit and crochet is returning. I want to finish projects fast, so I often turn to heavier yarns. As a crocheter, I don't often think of worsted weight yarns but as I discovered when reviewing For Better or Worsted I shouldn't discount them.

It Could Be Worsted is a worsted-weight blend of 50% superwash merino and 50% tussah silk. Don't fret that there's no cashmere, the silk is luxurious and as this is a rounded 4-ply, you get a yarn that is very squishy and soft. I was eager to swatch with my 190 yards (173 meters) and love how it works up in crochet -- even at this bulky-for-crochet weight. When paired with the shape of crochet stitches, the squishy round yarn begs to be worked. I found it hard to stop swatching!

Let's first look at the knitting. I apologize that tactile touch screens aren't a technical reality - you can see the depth of stitches! I had difficulty finishing the garter stitch swatch as I kept pausing to pet it.

It Could Be Worsted swatches, knit

It Could Be Worsted swatches, knit

In basic crochet stitches, by contrast, this yarn highlights the need to find the gauge (stitch tension) that creates a fabric you love. I'm not enamored by what my 4.5mm hook achieved but I know I want to explore this yarn further.

It Could Be Worsted swatches, crochet

It Could Be Worsted swatches, crochet

The same is true for my net lace swatch. It's nice, but I'm not sure it's right. I think in this sort of stitch, it's best as an edging. While it would reduce the weight of an accessory, I'm not confident it would maintain its shape if it were the all-over stitch for a design.

It Could Be Worsted swatch, lace

It Could Be Worsted swatch, lace

The texture swatch shows promise, though I do think a hook adjustment is in order. I often stopped to squish this swatch. Can you feel the texture? 

It Could Be Worsted swatch, texture

It Could Be Worsted swatch, texture

What made my heart sing? This simple humble granny square motif! What does this mean to me? I don't see a 70's granny square vest in my future for this yarn, but it shows me in a way the previous swatch didn't that it's important to explore textures. I also think short rows and exploring the direction the fabric is worked is what makes this swatch work so well for me. Do you agree? 

It Could Be Worsted swatch, motif

It Could Be Worsted swatch, motif

Is this yarn better suited to some projects over others? I think accessories for a special event which highlight the silky shine are best. A garment at this weight would be very warm and, depending on the stitch pattern, dense and heavy.

How does it compare to For Better or Worsted? You can't swap yarn for yarn without adjustment. They're not quite the same grist and that slight difference could add up if you're making a large project. For a small accessory I'd make sure to purchase extra yarn, swatch, and know that the fabric will be different as silk isn't the same as a cashmere/nylon blend.

My swatch photos comparing For Better or Worsted and It Couldn't Be Worsted aren't quite a fair comparison. As I promised in that first post, I tossed the For Better or Worsted in the washing machine (with my weekly load of laundry) and laid them flat to dry. The result is that the stitches are no longer as round as they were after a gentle hand wash.

It Could Be Worsted swatches

It Could Be Worsted swatches

_All swatches of It Could Be Worsted are in the Nimbus colourway with 4.5mm needles and hooks, any perceived differences in shade are due to the photographer._

Penny Shima Glanz spends her days spinning yarn and code into memorable projects. Small businesses rely on her for smart technology decisions. Designers rely on her to sample, test, and edit their hand-knit and crochet patterns. She loves muddy trail runs, fosters kittens, and lives in Westchester, NY with her husband and cat.

You can find It Could be Worsted at these shops:

Admit Ewe Knit - Raleigh, NC
Amazing Threads - Maple Grove, MN
Baskets of Yarn - Charlotte, NC
Do Ewe Knit - Westfield, NJ
Fiber Artwork - Huntsville, AL
Harps & Thistles - Cuyahoga Falls, OH
KnitKnit - Couer d’Alene, ID
Knitorious - St Louis, MO
Knitting Garden - Coral Gables, FL
Sated Sheep - Dripping Springs, TX
Swift Stitch - Santa Cruz, CA
Online @

You’ll find great pattern ideas for It Could be Worsted on our Pinterest page here!