Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

So much is going on!

These are the things that happened last weekend:

1. I got to leave a city full of rain and arrive in a city full of balmy sunshine and palm trees. (Well, the palm trees aren’t balmy, but you know what I mean.)


2. I got to see my people at VK Live: Pasadena… and have margaritas on the patio….


3. I brought and sold lots of yarn, like these stripers


although I have a few stragglers I’ll load onto my site this weekend.

4. I got to see Franklin’s terrific new knitting coloring book


and sign books with him and Vicky Howell (whose book Wee Garter Stitch has lots of adorable baby patterns knit in, you guessed it, garter stitch).


5. I got to host a trivia contest, meet an amazing knitter, crocheter, singer and songwriter named Siedah Garrett,and give a lecture on self-striping yarn.

6. Did I mention I got to see some of my amazing fiber friends?



including EDIE ECKMAN (star of stage and screen):


7. I got to experience an unplanned eight-hour layover in the Omaha airport, where I dined on fine chicken fingers from Kracky McGee’s…


8. AND (this is a big one!) I helped finalize details for the first-ever Sip Sip Knit Retreat, which will be held in St. Louis, MO in mid-July. Four teachers (Melissa Leapman, Patty Lyons, Brooke Nico and me), a fun sipping and knitting event, BBF yarn to buy, books and DVDs, and an all-around great time.

You can find out all the details, including the very reasonable prices ($195 for four classes, the Friday night event, and a discount on all purchases made that weekend) here. (I’ll be posting more about the retreat soon!)

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

In memoriam: The Knitting Curmudgeon

When I first started reading knitting blogs, even before I had my own, I stumbled across the Knitting Curmudgeon. She was acerbic, she was funny as hell, she suffered no fools gladly, and she had absolutely no patience with hypocrisy. She also knew a hell of a lot about knitting.

She had a huge heart and a barbed tongue. People often didn’t like her because she told the truth, plainly, often painfully. But she loved her friends and she adored her family and she still mourned her husband Jimmy.

We were online friends at first, and then met in real life many times. We were part of a ragtag group of friends who loosely lived around the Philly/NJ/NY area and loved to knit. We met for lunch in New Hope and trawled fiber festivals and shows, especially Rhinebeck, which we all love(d).

Last year, I heard from her daughters that Marilyn was ill. Not “I have a cold” ill, but gravely ill, on a ventilator, with doctors stumped as to what was devastating her body and mind. This week, her daughters told us that Marilyn died.

I am still a bit shocked that Marilyn is gone. I am still a bit shocked that I will never read another pointed blog post, that I will never see her across a crowded fiber show floor, that I will never hear her boast about her amazing daughters or her adored Liz again.

She was the Dorothy Parker of knitting.
She was rare and handy.
She will be missed.

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Two chances to win….

Two wonderful friends are giving away copies of Knitting Ephemera: A Compendium of Articles, Useful and Otherwise, for the Edification and Amusement of the Handknitter….

Check out Patty Lyons’ blog, with a Q&A about the book here.

Then listen to my interview with Kathy Elkins here.


Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

It’s here!

It was a labor of love that I started in fall of 2012. It was carefully nurtured, and revised, and tweaked, and edited by the fabulous folks at Sixth and Spring Books, and then a wonderful book designer created exactly the perfect design for it. And now, nearly four years later, it’s on sale at your LYS or local bookshop or online:



What is an ephemera? Well, it’s a collection of things thought to have only fleeting popularity, but which when preserved, often prove to be quite valuable. And this book consists of all sorts of information — facts, statistics, anecdotes, humorous bits, historical tidbits, ethnic and folk traditions — all about knitting and yarn (and a little crochet and spinning and weaving, too) that might not be thought by some to be worth preserving but which I think truly are. I hope you will enjoy perusing this collection and I hope that you agree with me that it is material that is well worth keeping.

Friday, January 1st, 2016

A fresh start

One thing especially nice about New Year’s Day is that it sets us up for fresh beginnings. New calendar, new year, new start — and really, after a year like 2015, there’s something fabulous about feeling like you can put the bad things behind you and start fresh.

I’m happy to look forward to some of the wonderful things that will happen in 2016. I spent much of last year finishing up two books that will be released in 2016. The first book will be going on sale very soon–the worldwide premier of Knitting Ephemera will be at VK Live New York in just a few weeks.


This is a very special project for me, because it was my first chance to collaborate with Trisha Malcolm and the folks at Sixth and Spring on a book. (I want to send out a special thanks to Lark Crafts for helping work out the contract stuff — I’m still making pretty books with them. In fact, I have a third book in the “Yarn Studio” series coming out this fall — but more about that in coming months.) Trisha and I were having lunch one day a couple of years ago, and bouncing ideas back and forth about various topics. I mentioned how fascinating I found various anecdotes and stories about the knitting world, often uncovering them when I do research to write articles. And the idea for this book was born.

Knitting Ephemera: A Compendium of Articles, Useful and Otherwise, for the Edification and Amusement of the Handknitter is a collection of all sorts of bits about the knitting and fiber worlds: pieces of history, folklore, silly things to make you laugh, factoids, tips, all sorts of things that I’d call “trivia” except because they have to do with the fiber world I love, they aren’t trivial at all to me.

The book goes on sale at VK Live and we’re doing a really fun trivia quiz event Thursday evening, using questions based on the book. Brooke and I will be teaching and vending so make sure you stop by and see our gorgeous yarns and patterns as well as a signed copy of the book.

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

The next chapter

As Ferris Bueller so famously said, “Life moves fast….” Indeed, in the last few months, life’s been moving so fast I was afraid I’d end up as roadkill on the shoulder of the highway. But one thing I’ve learned about myself is that I am a survivor. I’m still here, and though things in my life are changing, some in ways I never expected, I’m still here and I’m still knitting.

In the last month, I’ve taken a full-time job back in the legal world. I lucked out, and was offered a fantastic position at the first law firm I worked for, which is now one of the biggest firms in the country. The job will, I think, be manageable with reasonable hours, and I have already been amazed at how fun, funny and smart my new colleagues are. Several of them have asked me to teach them to knit.

Obviously I’ll be scaling back on some of the knitting-related things I’ve been doing. But I won’t be disappearing entirely. One of the odd things that I hope will come out of this big change is that I’ll have a chance to do more of the things I really enjoy and I’ll be able to focus on doing fewer of them at once. Having very few obligatory knitting projects right now, I’ve starting knitting “for fun” again, and already feel like some of the joy that got stomped on by deadlines and too many submissions calls is back. I’m also hoping to be able to blog more regularly. I’ve really missed the ability to keep up with my blog, especially book reviews, so I’m hoping to have more time to do that.

In the meantime, I still have a lot of fun and exciting things lined up in my knitting life. One of them is the premiere of my next book, called Knitting Ephemera: A Compendium of Articles, Useful and Otherwise, for the Edification and Amusement of the Handknitter, which will go on sale at VK Live: New York. This book has been several years in the making. It’s a collection of factoids, trivia, anecdotes and fun bits of information pertaining to the fiber world. You’ll be hearing plenty more about it in the weeks to come!

A long time ago, I started knitting a Salt Peanuts cardigan for myself. (Longtime readers know how much I adore Veronik Avery, both as a friend and as a designer.) I never finished it, and one of the first things I did now that I have knitting time on the train is to cast on a new Salt Peanuts for myself. (Business casual means I can wear sweaters to work!) I hope to show you the finished sweater in a few weeks. In the meantime, a huge thanks to all of you who have stood by me through thick and thin.

To quote Ferris Bueller once more, “only the meek get pinched. The bold survive!”

Thursday, September 24th, 2015


Here in the Philly area, we’ve been hearing about the Papal visit for a while now. I happen to live in a neighborhood near one of the SEPTA train stations that will be used to move vast numbers of people into and out of Center City, so we’re hunkering down for a crazy weekend with road closures, traffic, and other disruptions.

So it seems to me the perfect time to have a Pope-apalooza Sale in my ArtFire shop!

pope sale

I have lots of great sock yarns at super prices, including some 490-yard skeins of superwash merino; a new base called Singular, which is a singles made of wool grown and milled (and dyed!) in the USA; and some one-of-a-kind skeins that I created when I was fiddling around with new bases, dyes and/or techniques. (They are lovely and a real steal at $15 each.)

We’ve got Madonna’s Robe, Vestments, Cardinal Crimson…



card 3

and free shipping with the code FRANCIS for US orders $25 and more…..Go here.

Friday, August 14th, 2015

Limited time: The Official Boris Striping Colorway

It’s been a rather difficult summer for me on the personal front, and there have been moments when if I wasn’t able to bury my face in the snorgly fur of Boris, I don’t know what I would have done. So when I was puttering around the dyepots the other day (as one does), I had an impulse: to create a striping colorway based on the gorgeousness of Boris’s coat. Voila!

boris stripe 1

I figured some of Boris’s fans might want a pair of socks or a cowl that will allow them to take a little bit of Boris-inspiration home with them.

boris striper 2

boris striper again

Order yours here.

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Old and new

I’ve been knitting socks for a long time, and this summer, I had to face a difficult but unavoidable truth: some of my handknit socks were falling to pieces.

People often act amazed that I would knit myself a pair of socks (and how many times have you heard someone say the cliche that incites equal parts of rage and disbelief on my part:  “why bother when you can buy them so cheap at Walmart”) but handknit socks are absolutely wonderful. They fit like no machine-knit sock ever will. And they last a long time. I have handknit socks that are at least a decade old and only now are some of them starting to show serious wear.

While it broke my heart a little to have to take some of the rattiest looking handknit socks out of rotation, it did prove to be a good motivator to cast on some new ones. I started with a short pair of warmer-weather socks:

This is some neon Regia sock yarn I had in my stash. The colors are perfect for summertime.

And then I cast on a regular pair of crew socks, using some of the Regia Arne and Carlos sock yarn. I love the bright colors and the faux fair isle patterning:

sock in progress sm

I’m only on the leg of these socks, but I can tell I’m going to pick up some more of this line of yarn when I see it, since the colors change so quickly and are creating such a fun pattern.

So it’s out with the old (only if they are truly falling apart) and in with the new in my sock drawer.


P.S. As of this writing, there are some lovely self-striping and gradient fingering weight skeins in my ArtFire shop!


Some have silver sparkles; some do not.



Some miniskeins, too!

neon mini