Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pretty, Pretty BFL

What a busy month! With Calliopsis just published, a large secret project for a magazine under way, a new sock design in progress, and a new fingerless mitts pattern almost ready to publish, I basically have knitwear design on my mind 24 hours a day.

The mitts—a pretty combination of lace, stockinette, and garter stitch—are my first design with my own handspun yarn.

Handspun Mitt Beginning

The fiber is Ashland Bay Mixed BFL Top, which I spun and plied with drop spindles; the resulting two-ply yarn is fingering weight, 16 wpi.

Handspun BFL mitts

I had about 140 yards to work with. So I weighed the yarn carefully as I knit, making sure I wouldn't run out. In the end, the small/medium size used about 125 yards. There's also a large size, which requires about 140 yards.

Spindle-spun and Spindle-plied BFL

I think there will definitely be more BFL in my spinning future! I enjoyed both spinning and knitting it. But what I loved most was how, after a good soak in Eucalan, the fabric developed a really pretty halo. And it's so soft!  A delight to feel against your skin.

My sister Jenny, an accomplished spinner with years of experience (far more than me—I'm still a newbie), says BFL is her current favorite sheep breed because "it is a pleasure to spin and finishes up soft and lustrous, not as fussy or pill-prone as merino." So far, with my limited experience, I'd have to concur.

Handspun BFL and Mitts

They're called Spindler Mitts, and I hope to publish them next week. To get news about these and all my new patterns delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for the monthly Blue Peninsula newsletter.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

New Pattern: Calliopsis (and Cowl Sale!)

I'm excited to share a lovely new cowl for spring: Calliopsis.


Knit in two colors of Fibre Co. Meadow, Calliopsis is a light and airy lace confection. It can be styled lots of different ways, depending on your mood, your outfit, or the weather.

The pattern is on sale—along with my other cowl patterns—through Sunday, April 9. Use the coupon code COWL25 to save 25% on cowls in my Ravelry store (magazine patterns are not included). The code can be used as many times as you like.


Named after the flower Coreopsis (also known as Calliopsis or—less romantically—Tickweed), Calliopsis features two pretty lace stitches, each knit in its own color, separated by striped bands. These bands, knit back and forth on a circular needle, employ a really fun technique of sliding the stitches across the cable and knitting them again with the other color on the same side of the work. I first encountered this technique back in 2008 when I knit Norah Gaughan's Almost Garter Scarf. It's so clever!


Calliopsis is worked flat from end to end, from a provisional cast on. After blocking, the two ends of the piece are joined with a three-needle bind off to form a loop. Instructions for these techniques are provided in the pattern, and the lace stitches are given in both charts and line-by-line written instructions.


It's easy to customize this design. Aside from choosing any two colors you like, you can also vary the lengths of the two lace sections, to make a cowl that's uniquely your own. 


Knit in a laceweight or light fingering weight yarn, Calliopsis is the perfect accessory for spring. I knit the sample in Fibre Co. Meadow—a luscious blend of merino, baby llama, silk, and linen—in Prairie (for the main color) and Bergamot (for the contrast color). As I mentioned in my previous post, after I swatched with Meadow I felt no need to look at other yarns for this design. It has an exquisite softness and drape—it's almost weightless—but a really pleasing rustic quality, too. This was my first time knitting with Meadow and I'm sure it won't be my last.


If you get bored knitting scarves or cowls that are "the same thing over and over," you'll love Calliopsis. The lace and color changes are engaging and keep the knitting fun. 

Calliopsis Cowl

As always, I am grateful to Jenny Sennott for her careful tech editing. I'm so fortunate to have her eyes on my patterns, making sure they come to you error free.

Thank you very much for reading!

Monday, March 27, 2017


Lace looks so unimpressive while you're knitting it ...

Cowl in progress

The rumpled stitches are like ugly ducklings, awaiting their transformation ...

Fibre Co. Meadow design in progress

But once lace gets a good soak in wool wash and is blocked, it's an ugly duckling no more. How I love that part of the process! It never fails to make my heart leap just a little (sometimes a lot).

Cowl Blocking

This is a new cowl design I'm working on, knit in Fibre Co. Meadow, a light fingering (almost laceweight) yarn. Usually, I like to audition a few yarns for a design, to get a feel for what fiber content and weight might be best. But once I made a couple swatches with Meadow, I felt no need to look at other yarns. Without a doubt, this rustic blend of merino, baby llama, silk, and linen was "the one." 

There's still some work to do on the pattern, plus photography, but it won't be too long a wait. Look for the pattern in early April.

P.S.  Did you know that free patterns are one of the rewards for my Patreon page? For a pledge of $2 per month, you'll receive a coupon code for one free pattern of your choice. For a $3 pledge, you'll get two free patterns. To learn more and see the progress of my Stitch Journal 2017 project, follow me on Patreon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

We're KALing!

The Shawls Etc. KAL started just last week, and already quite a few beautiful projects have been cast on. We've also been discussing podcasts, why we love knitting shawls, knitting in public, and other fun stuff. It's off to a great start!

Among the projects folks are making for the KAL: Firehouse Alley Cowl, from knit.wear fall 2016, which I knit in the soft and springy Elsa Wool Cormo Fingering (2 skeins, or about 900 yards).

This wide, lace-and-texture cowl is knit flat from a provisional cast-on. After blocking, the two ends can either be grafted or joined with a three-needle bind-off.

Firehouse Alley Cowl by Bonnie Sennott

Hop Brook is another popular KAL project—which I knit in the very same yarn (yes, I love it that much!). This shawl takes just one skein (or about 450 yards). A pleasing mix of garter stitch and lace, it's knit from one end to the other, gradually increasing to the center, then decreasing. 

Hop Brook Shawl by Bonnie Sennott

Next week, we'll have a Jeopardy-style Trivia Tuesday in the KAL, where free patterns will be given away. There will be another Trivia Tuesday later on, too. The KAL goes until April 20, so everyone can work at a comfortable, not-stressful pace. Hope to see you!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Pattern Update: Golden Valley Shawl

Golden Valley Shawl, by Bonnie Sennott

Pattern update news! Golden Valley, originally published on New Year's Day, has been expanded to include both fingering weight and sport weight versions.

Golden Valley Shawl by Bonnie Sennott

I knit the new fingering weight sample of Golden Valley in Anzula Squishy, a blend of merino, cashmere, and nylon. It's so light and airy—perfect for spring and summer.

Golden Valley Shawl by Bonnie Sennott

If you've already purchased the pattern, not to worry—a new, expanded pattern PDF will appear in your Ravelry library, ready for download.

Golden Valley Shawl by Bonnie Sennott

Golden Valley would be an ideal project for the upcoming Shawls Etc. KAL in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group. Not up for making a shawl? That's OK—knit a scarf or cowl instead.

The KAL starts March 15 and continues through April 20. In addition to several lovely prizes, we're going to have pattern giveaways on Trivia Tuesdays. Hope to see you!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Shawls Etc. KAL Starts March 15

Shawls Etc. KAL 2017

Save the dates! We've got a new KAL starting soon in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group.

The Shawls Etc. KAL starts March 15 and ends April 20 — five full weeks to knit any of my shawl, cowl, or scarf designs

I hope you'll be able to join us. Pop over anytime to chat and see the prizes, including something new: Trivia Tuesdays!

Golden Valley Shawl, blocking

Meanwhile, today I'm blocking the new fingering weight version of my Golden Valley Shawl, knit in the Hippo colorway of Anzula Squishy. Later this week, I'll update the pattern to include yardage, needles, and dimensions for both fingering and sport weight yarns. If you've already purchased it, you'll get a free pattern update in your Ravelry library.

Until then, have a great Sunday — and happy knitting!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Odds and Ends

Happy Sunday to you! I'm having a quiet day of knitting and stitching, in between working on a freelance editing project. This morning as I worked on Stitch Journal 2017 I was blessed to witness a gorgeous sunrise. I didn't stop to take a shot of it, but here's an equally lovely sunrise from the other day (we've had lots lately!):

February Sunrise

As you can see, we've finally had some snow this winter. Fluffy and soft, the very best kind. It's been perfect mitten weather!

Leaf in the Wind_72_2

Today's the last day to save 25% on my new Leaf in the Wind mittens pattern, or any of the fingerless mitts in my Ravelry pattern store. Use the coupon code HAND25 before midnight tonight EST to get the discount (you can use it multiple times).

As for the stitching—this year's Stitch Journal project, "Presence/Absence," is moving along. I'm now at work on the second piece—a negative space embroidery of a piece of bark I found years ago.

Stitch Journal 2017: Day 38

If you'd like to see progress on the Stitch Journal 2017 plus help me raise funds for photographing and exhibiting Stitch Journal 2016, head over to my Patreon page. You can become a patron for as little as $1 a month. There are other levels, too, which give you lovely things like Stitch Journal postcards, free patterns, and even original embroidery pieces. I'm thrilled to already have 25 patrons, whose support has helped me reach my first goal of $100—which means I'll soon be ordering the stretchers for mounting the 12 Stitch Journal 2016 pieces. 

Well, time to get back to my editing work. I'll sign off with a recent sunset, and wish you a very happy Sunday.

February Sunset

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Pattern: Leaf in the Wind

Announcing a new design to keep your hands warm this snowy February: Leaf in the Wind

Leaf in the Wind_72_5

These modern mittens feature a geometric design inspired by the art of Agnes Martin (they're named after her 1963 abstract painting Leaf in the Wind.) Now through Sunday, February 19, take 25% off Leaf in the Wind and all mitts designs in my Ravelry pattern store, with the coupon code HAND25.

Leaf in the Wind Mittens

Leaf in the Wind Mittens

You'll need three colors of fingering or light fingering weight yarn to make these mitts—one light in tone, one medium, and one dark. I used Cascade 220 Fingering in buff, ginseng, and soft sage. There are two sizes, women's small/medium (about 8.5 inches/22 cm circumference) and large (about 9.5 inches/24 cm).

Leaf in the Wind_72_NM_1

Leaf in the Wind_72_6

If you've never done colorwork before, Leaf in the Wind would be an ideal pattern to start with. There are only three colors, and the stitch patterns are simple and compact—there's no need to catch your floats as you knit, because you're never carrying a color over more than three stitches.

If you're an experienced mitten knitter, you'll probably find these to be a quick and enjoyable knit. You can easily finish a pair while there's still snow on the ground this winter!

Leaf in the Wind_72_3

As with most of my patterns, Leaf in the Wind was a Sennott Sisters production. Thanks go to my talented sisters Jenny (for tech editing the pattern) and Betsey (for modeling). For more about how the design developed, see this post.

Thank you very much for reading!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mittens Sneak Peek

The mittens I've been working on in recent weeks are almost ready to publish. Since we got over a foot of snow yesterday and more is on the way, please keep your fingers crossed the weather doesn't wreck this weekend's photo shoot plans!

Mittens in progress

I designed these mittens for an Instagram knitalong run by my friend Leigh (@leighsideknits). The challenge? Make a pair of mittens inspired by a favorite artist or an art movement. (See all the mittens from the KAL here.)

Mitten Design in Progress

Mitten in progress

I chose the painter Agnes Martin, whose quiet, minimal abstractions and thoughtful writings about art have long inspired me. As soon as Leigh announced the KAL, I checked my fingering weight stash to see what might work and discovered a bag of three colors of Cascade 220 fingering that were perfect.  In fact, it was a little uncanny how perfect they were.

Then I got out my various books by and about Martin and immersed myself in images (and in my memories of experiencing her subtle work, which really can't be fully appreciated in reproductions).

Mitten inspired by the art of Agnes Martin

As I work out a new design, I usually have to swatch with several yarns, play with different stitch patterns, sketch, etc. This time was different. I pretty quickly saw the whole mitten in its entirety in my mind. Of course, there were some rip backs and revisions as I worked out details like the length of the cuff or the shape of the top. But, in the end the finished mittens are exactly what I first pictured in my mind's eye.

Mitten Design in Progress

Agnes Martin-inspired Mitten

I plan to release the pattern soon—watch for it next week.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 06, 2017

Stitch Journal 2017

Stitch Journal 2017 is nearly a month old—I started the new project on my birthday, January 13. This year, the journal's theme is "Presence/Absence." The subjects are found objects, both natural and manmade: negative space embroideries (worked on every day) are the "absence" part of the project; pencil drawings are the "presence" part.

The first subject in "Presence/Absence" is a rusty washer that I found some years ago at the farm in southern Illinois where my mother grew up. 

Stitch Journal 2017, first piece

As I worked on Stitch Journal 2016 and posted daily on Instagram last year, I discovered how much I enjoyed sharing works in progress and getting feedback from followers. This year, to document Stitch Journal 2017, I'm trying something new: a Patreon page

Patreon makes it possible for artists to raise much-needed funds for our artwork while giving fans a simple, easy way to support our work and see it develop. I aim to make my Patreon posts a far richer experience than is possible on Instagram—in addition to photos of works in progress, I'm posting (and answering questions) about the materials I use, embroidery and drawing resources, inspiring books and poetry, and details about each of the found objects I'm stitching and drawing. We've already had some interesting conversations about compositions that have been really useful to me, too!

Stitch Journal 2017: Day 14

For as little as $1 a month, you get access to all of my Patreon posts. Your support will help me raise funds for Stitch Journal 2016—for stretchers needed to finish the 12 pieces, professional photography, a website, and frames and other expenses of promoting and exhibiting the work. There are patronage levels above $1, too—with rewards like free knitting patterns from my Ravelry pattern store, lavender eye pillows from my Etsy shop, one-of-a-kind embroidery pieces created just for you, and Stitch Journal 2016 postcards. 

Stitch Journal 2016 Postcards

With only a few more patrons, I'll reach my first fundraising goal of $100 month—pretty exciting! I hope you'll join me on Patreon to follow the progress of my 2017 project and keep up with news about Stitch Journal 2016. 

Stitch Journal 2017, Day 23

Thank you very much for reading.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Pattern: Drafter's Cardigan

Have you seen the spring Knitscene? I'm thrilled that my Drafter's Cardigan is on the cover!

Drafter's Cardigan by Bonnie Sennott

When I began designing this piece, I envisioned a pretty lace cardigan with retro flair but contemporary appeal—a classic you could wear with almost anything, in any season.

It's knit in Plucky Knitter Traveler Sport—a luscious, hand-dyed blend of merino, silk, and yak fibers with a lovely sheen and drape. I felt it worked equally well for the ribbing, lace, and stockinette. And it's incredibly "pettable."

The Drafter's Cardigan is worked in one piece from the bottom up to the armholes, then the fronts and back are worked separately. The set-in sleeves are worked in the round from the top down, using short-rows to shape the sleeve caps. This method allows you to try on the sleeves as you go and get exactly the length you prefer.

The scoop neck is finished off with a reverse stockinette band—one of my favorite neck treatments. I love its clean and simple look. 

I think of this as my Call the Midwife sweater because I was working my way through the show on Netflix while knitting it. It would look great on any of the nurses at Nonnatus House—everybody from Trixie to Chummy—don't you think? (It's probably too fancy for the sisters, though.)

The print edition is in yarn shops and bookstores now; the digital edition is available from Interweave.

Photos courtesy F&W Media/Harper Point Photography

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hottest Year on Record

The news today is bad: 2016 was the hottest year on record. For the third year in a row, Earth's temperature has soared past previous records.

Now I'm even more alarmed that on Friday a climate change denier who calls it "a hoax" will be sworn in as president. And Scott Pruitt, the president-elect's nominee to head the EPA? He's spent his career suing that very organization and challenging federal regulations that protect our environment. Things are not looking good (in so many ways!).

Please join me in supporting the Sierra Club, the nation's oldest and most influential environmental organization, in their efforts to oppose Pruitt. I will donate 20 percent of Ravelry sales of my Golden Valley shawl through this Friday—Inauguration Day—to the Sierra Club. Every little bit counts!

Golden Valley Shawl

As an added incentive: I'm working on a fingering weight version of Golden Valley in Anzula Squishy. So if you prefer shawls in fingering weight yarns, you'll get your wish! If you purchase the pattern now, you'll automatically get an update later. An updated PDF with yardage, dimensions, and gauge for both sport weight and fingering weight yarn will be delivered to your Ravelry library when it's ready.

Golden Valley, fingering weight version


Friday, January 13, 2017

Birthday Sale!

It's my birthday! To celebrate, I'm having a "buy one, get one" pattern sale in my Ravelry store.

Knitwear Designs by Bonnie Sennott

When you place two ebooks or individual patterns in your cart and use the coupon code BIRTHDAY, you'll get the lower-priced item free. Sale ends at midnight on Sunday, January 15. There's no limit on the number of times you can use this code.

Golden Valley Shawl by Bonnie Sennott

Just a reminder: 20% of proceeds from sales of my Golden Valley shawl between January 1–20 will be donated to the Sierra Club, to support their work fighting climate change and protecting our environment.

Happy shopping!