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

Saturday, July 11th, 2015


Boris wishes you all a happy Caturday.

boris july 15

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Book look: Crocheted Mitts and Mittens, by Amy Gunderson

It’s always fun to connect with other folks in the industry, and at Stitches West in February I had the chance to hang out  a little bit with Amy Gunderson, creative lead at Universal Yarn. Amy is not only extremely talented, she’s also hilarious, with a dry sense of humor that I adore. Recently she sent me a copy of her new book, Crocheted Mitts & Mittens: 25 Fun and Fashionable Designs for Fingerless Gloves, Mittens, and Wrist Warmers (Stackpole Books; $21.95 MSRP).

The first thing you’ll notice when you look at Amy’s book is that it’s got a lot of patterns — 25 in all. I love how the Ravelry listing shows each mitten or wrister against a relatively plain background, with the hand flat, because it makes it easy to see and compare all of the various designs.

gunderson holey

(That one is called Holey Color and uses a lace stitch to showcase a multicolored sock yarn.)

Another thing that you notice right away is the unbelievable variety of styles and techniques used in the patterns. Lace, colorwork, cables, embellishment, texture… it’s all included! If you like regular mittens, you can find them; if you like wristers with individual fingers, you’ve got it; if you want a decorative wrister, you’ll find options like Adorn:

gund adorn

My favorite design in the book: these adorable robot mittens:

gund robot

I also like the Little Victory pattern, which uses shells to make a dramatic long gauntlet:

gund little victory

and the Houndstooth Mittens:

gund houndstooth

Frolic features a charming ribbon embellishment, along with crossed stitches, eyelets and texture.

gunderson frolic

The Radiate mitts feature clever construction, working from the thumb out — a great use for the flexibility of crochet, and the perfect use for a self-striping yarn:

gund radiate

The Emotimitts have removable emojis so you can tell the world how you feel on any given day:

gund emoticon

The Ode to Bruges mitts feature a lovely lace pattern inspired by Belgian bobbin lace from the 17th and 18th centuries.

gund bruges

In addition to a variety of techniques, there are a variety of yarn gauges, from fingering on down to worsted, so if you’re looking for crocheted handgear, you’ll definitely want to check this book out.

If you are reading this and saying “Dayum, I don’t crochet” you should be advised that Amy also published a book of knitted mitts and mittens last year. It also features a very wide variety of techniques, yarn gauges and styles, and honestly, these fish mittens are worth the price of admission all by themselves:

gund fish

You can check out the rest of the knitted designs in Knitted Mitts & Mittens: 25 Fun and Fashionable Designs for Fingerless Gloves, Mittens, and Wrist Warmers.

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Limited edition microbrews….

It’s been so much fun working with the folks at Jimmy Bean’s Wool to produce some limited edition yarns for their Microbrew series. This month, the theme was guilty pleasure movies. At the top of my list is the movie Mean Girls. Poor Gretchen, trying to hard to make “fetch” happen.

Please join me in welcoming Fetch, a yummy superwash merino/nylon blend, fingering weight:

fetch 3

A limited number of skeins are available here. So let’s make “fetch” happen!

And this month, I was approached by Loops Knitting, in Tulsa, to do a color for them as part of the same series. I was honored! Behold It Had To Be You, a semisolid blend of blues, grays and violets, named in honor of When Harry Met Sally,


another of my favorite all-time movies.

Also available for a limited time, here.

I had such a blast working on these colors — I hope you give them a lot of love!

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Long time no blog!

Sometimes the weeks just race by with a will of their own. Since I last blogged, I’ve been to the trade show TNNA in Columbus — we shared convention space with a group of haunted house producers; how fun was that?–



and I spent a glorious weekend in Amish country at the Lancaster Yarn Shop’s first-ever knitting retreat:


and in between there’s been all sorts of stuff going on. I’m finishing a book that will be published early next year, and in the midst of working on another one that will be released next fall. It’s insanely busy, but I love it.

One of the things I have been doing a lot of, believe it or not, is dyeing. I just posted some miniskeins in my Artfire shop. I’m just dabbling in the miniskein sets to see what customer reaction is. I’ve got a terrific blue to green gradient set in a new base (mostly merino with some superfine alpaca and nylon — it’s so softy and cushy)

maldives 2

and I also played around with a blue-faced leicester/bamboo blend,in both gradients (this is Russian sage, going from periwinkle through gray to sage-green)

russian 5

and also some colors that I dyed to work together, although they aren’t technically gradients. (I love Vintner, which has wine shades, a great transitional gray with flecks of wine and green, and grapeleaf green.)

vintner 5

Let me know if you’d like to see more and if so, whether you like gradients, coordinated sets or both!

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Maryland Sheep and Wool (and giveaway winner!)

I’ve been going to Maryland Sheep & Wool for years, but always on the Saturday of the show weekend. This weekend, my oldest was going to the junior prom:


and so Saturday was out. Not to be cheated out of a day at the show, my ragtag carload of fiber-lovers decided to go on Sunday. What a revelation! No lines. None. Not to turn into the fairgrounds, not for the bathroom, not for food, not for t-shirts.

No line to see me!

No line to see me!

No crowds. Although there was good turnout, you could actually maneuver around the buildings without being surrounded by a mass of humanity.

No lines to see me, either!

No lines to see me, either!

The weather was gorgeous (just lucky on that one).

I even caught sight of Ryan Gosling next to the word “ginormous” so I’ll let you guys ponder that one for a while.

I'd like to pet him

I’d like to pet him

And as usual, there were adorable sheep (Jen and I fell in love with this emo-looking guy):

Teesdale, right, Beth Smith?

Teesdale, right, Beth Smith?

There were all kinds of fleece

fleece bowl

and beautiful knitting & crochet


and weaving


and more knitting

and mittens

and more cute beasties

sheep 2

and all sorts of tempting things to buy.


So I’m thinking that maybe going on Sunday will become a new tradition for us.

Giveaway winner!

Lovely Maggie was the winner of the Lace Yarn Studio book and yarn giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered. We’ll do some more fun giveaways in the coming weeks…