Category Archives: Patterns

Original patterns by Arlette.

New pattern: Lake Merritt

I released a new hat pattern the other day! World, meet Lake Merritt:

Lake Merritt
It was Cristina’s first time modeling, so we were still working our way up to not having her hide behind her hair.

Lake Merritt is a real, live lake (well, estuary) right in the middle of my town, Oakland. I’ve lived within a mile of the lake for six of the years I’ve been here, so I’ve had plenty of time to get acquainted with its sights (and smells — it can get sort of brackish sometimes) throughout the year and at different times of day. I’ve climbed its trees, played pétanque near its shores, picnicked on its lawns, jogged its circumference a zillion sweaty times, startled its geese, gawked at a pelican in the bird sanctuary turning his throat pouch inside-out for cleaning, had cocktails on its piers, watched gondoliers pole across its surface, seen jellyfish swim in its waters, stared out at it from a window seat at the restaurants that face it, watched the sun set over it — everything but wade in it. (It’s very shallow and very full of bird poop, so that would be a terrible idea.) Once I even saw someone taking their six-foot albino ball python for a walk its the lawn.

And like a lot of people, my favorite is the look of the Necklace of Lights reflecting on the lake at night. They were installed in 1925, went dark in World War II and have been back up and glowing since the late ’80s. At night when the water is still, its surface throws back light from the Necklace and from the streetlights, traffic lights, headlights and houses surrounding the lake. It’s pretty gorgeous.

Oakland Localwiki: The Necklace of Lights
Photo from the Oakland Localwiki.

Since the hat is based on such a beloved local feature, I wanted to pick out yarns for the samples from my favorite local dyers: A Verb for Keeping Warm and Pigeonroof Studios. (Unfortunately, it took so long for me to get this pattern out, Pigeonroof up and moved to Portland by the time it came out. Ah, well.)  The colorway I chose for the dark version of the hat above, “Railroad Stake,” comes the closest of any yarn I’ve ever seen to the dark but colorful shimmer on the lake at night.

Lake Merritt hat
See what I mean about the colors?

As for the nitty-gritty of the hat: The hat is double-thick, with a lining for the colorwork section and the crown worked with two strands of yarn, so it’s warm for a sock-yarn hat. There are two cast-on options that make the hat either medium-easy or medium-difficult, depending which you choose. The medium-easy one uses a provisional cast-on and is super quick. The more difficult one is a a sideways double i-cord cast-on I came up with; I call it a “centipede” cast-on because it’s got live stitches on either side of it that look like little legs. And I know I’m not exactly subjective, but it is awesome. I’ve spent a really long time trying to find a truly polished-looking hat edge that’s stretchy and won’t flip or curl and doesn’t stick out all funny like a traditional i-cord trim, and this one finally, finally fits the bill.

You can check out Lake Merritt on Ravelry, or for five bucks you can just jump in and buy it now.

New pattern: Flatirons

Hello, Flatirons! I love garter stitch shawls but have a tough time knitting the same row over and over again, so I came up with an all-garter shawl that suits my less-than-perfect attention span. I have a love affair with fine details that give knits a really polished look, so the shawl also has a pinstriped trim and striped i-cord edging.

Getting photos was fun: I dragged it out to the sweltering desert while on vacation and put it on a Joshua Tree. It’s a long way from the Boulder Flatirons in Colorado, the pattern’s namesake and inspiration, but you do what you can with the scenery at hand.


The pattern is modular and written for any gauge — use any yarn you like! The sample is knit in two yarns from one of my favorite dyers, Gypsy Wools, out in Boulder. They’re two different sock yarns (an all-wool yarn and a silk/wool blend), both in the same colorway! The two yarns side by side really highlight how much different materials affect the finished yarn: the silk blend is lighter with a slight sheen to it and slightly less saturated colors, while the all-wool one has darker and subtler tones. The effect is really striking and it’s one I’m definitely going to play with again.

Go check it out!

New pattern: Temescal hat

I love making hats. They don’t take much yarn, they’re great for using up scraps, I can knock one out in a day — and they’re as wearable as you can get. In winter, I keep a pile of them in a bowl and pick one out without looking as I head out the door. (I don’t really have to worry about matching my outfit, since I always seem to knit and dress in the same three or four colors.) I think in my whole knitting career, I’ve probably made about five scarves, three and a half pairs of mittens, maybe twenty pairs of mitts, two thirds of a glove, and dozens and dozens and dozens of hats.

Yup. Love.


Lately I’ve been making even more than usual, for a damn good reason: they’ve been samples for a pattern I’m re-releasing today as Temescal, the first in a series of hats inspired by Oakland neighborhoods. I made four different versions of the hat and shot photos all over town, from way out by the cranes of West Oakland, to a vivid mural outside a pop-up poutine restaurant 40 blocks north.

One version of the hat is really special, both for the stunning yarn and the way it fits my local theme: it’s made with a gradient set of mini skeins by Pigeonroof Studios, an indie dyer based in Emeryville, just north of Oakland.


(Go check them out. Seriously. Everything’s incredible. The colors, the saturation, the … oh, just go look. It’s my favorite local yarn, hands down.)

It can be hard knitting multiple samples of the same pattern, but I never got bored of knitting this hat. It’s knit on relatively big needles (seriously, I had to break out the size 13’s for the largest gauge, which I almost never use these days) and the stitch pattern has what I call a “popcorn” quality: easy enough I can do it on autopilot, interesting enough to stay hooked, and completely addictive. Each one had a different pattern, from all one color to a variety of stripes. Once I was done with one, I would start thinking right away about making the next.

(It wasn’t just me, either. Some of my test knitters bound off, just to immediately cast on for second — and even third! — versions of the hat. When I heard that, I cackled. That right there means victory to me.)

Anyway. It’s here, and I’m stoked. Check the pattern out on Ravelry or heck, buy it now!

New pattern: Columella fingerless mitts

Introducing a new pattern: Columella!

Columella fingerless mitts

These top-down mitts work up fast in worsted-weight yarn, and the zillions of cables make for a plush, stretchy fabric with lots and lots of texture. Columella is everything I like in a mitt: super dense, super stretchy, subtle without being bland, fast to work up and neatly tailored. The thumb flows neatly into the cables, and it narrows at the wrist for a comfortable fit.

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X-ray of a Charonia shell showing the columella

The natural world is a huge influence on me, and you can see its tracks all over my sketchbooks. When I’m drawing patterns in my head as I fall asleep at night, I think of cliffs, hills and cracked desert playa. My cell phone has hundreds of photos of close-ups of natural details like bark whorls, feathers, or the neat mesh of a predator’s teeth. (The nearby California Academy of Science’s skulls exhibit alone takes up about a gig of space on my iPhone.) In keeping with that, the name I settled on for the pattern release comes from columella, the solid core of a gastropod shell that the hollow chamber of the shell gradually spirals around.

I’m reaching way into my past with this pattern: I started the first prototype in 2007. (It’s one of my very first Ravelry projects!) Since then, it’s endured multiple apartment moves, software migrations, red-pen markup and who knows how many name changes and rewrites, and become a great example of how much my pattern-writing skills have changed since I started. The one part of the written instructions that remained from the first draft when I picked up the pattern again? Gone, and rightfully so, after it managed to confuse and throw off nearly half of my test knitters. Thanks to them, those instructions are now easy to follow and crystal clear.

Columella fingerless mitts

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Check it out on Ravelry!

Pattern update: Double Dutch

Yay! My reversible Double Dutch brioche-stitch hat is out! It’s been revamped to work with a range of yarns from sock-weight to bulky. It’s also gotten a whole new layout and photography, which I did myself — a fun adventure all on its own.


You can learn more on the pattern page or check it out on Ravelry.

Or you can also buy it now!

Many thanks to the test knitters and my models who allowed me to trade hats for modeling sessions.

Dead Kitty Skull Chart update

After eight years, that free colorwork chart finally got a refresh. It’s the same old chart, on a fresh new PDF that’s bigger, easier to print, easier to read and (thankfully) monochromatic, which makes it easier on your ink cartridges. It’s also available through my Ravelry store which means you can add it to your library. Much better.

Get it on Ravelry.