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The Fledgling mittens are baby emperor penguins for your hands. They are one of the 11 patterns in Penguin: a Knit Collection and the first I am properly introducing you to. I’ll share the others, one a day, till they’re all covered.

Cute, as well as practical, these colourwork mittens are knitted in the round with afterthought thumbs. They start with a ribbed cuff and progress to simple 1×1 checkerboard colourwork. The tops of the mittens (the little emperor penguin chick faces) are charted separately for each of the 3 sizes. The densely knitted wool fabric has the added bonus of floats (from the colourwork) at the back, which make them extra warm.

Fledgling is the generic name for baby birds after they have gained their flight feathers, but penguins can’t fly (unless you count how they travel through water). Birdies tend to buck the trend of baby animals being adorable straight off the bat. They are often bald and pinkish red (not in a cute way) with dark blue grey bulbous eyes that shine through their thin skin even when closed. Not to mention their cavernous beaks. Hatching pre-feathered, penguin chicks get to skip that phase and be instantly can-I-keep-it? cute. They need those feathers to equip them to withstand intensely cold temperatures and wind (though they still have to snuggle on the feet of their parents for additional warmth).

Knitted in three shades of Navia Trio, a DK/worsted weight yarn that’s 100% wool and which you can purchase from The Island Wool Company, you’re looking for 28 sts x 30 rows to measure 10cm / 4” x 10cm / 4” over the checkerboard pattern. This is significantly tighter than you would knit a DK/worsted sweater in, where you would look for a tension of 19sts to 10cm/4” from the same yarn. That makes it a heavy DK for us in the UK and somewhere on the borders between a worsted and a light worsted in the USA. Navia is a Faroese yarn and comes in the traditional Nordic weights of 1-Ply, 2-Ply and 3-Ply, hence Uno, Duo and Trio. These equate loosely to laceweight, 4ply/sport and DK/worsted.

I have indicated the places in the pattern where you might want to make adjustments to tailor your mittens to your specific hands (or whoever is going to be the lucky recipient): at the cuffs, the length of hand before the colourwork face and the length of the thumb. I designed them to have nice deep cuffs of 6cm / 2¼”, which in combo with the ribbing should hold them on your hands snuggly. Regardless, I’d be tempted to sew a long length of elastic between them and thread that through my coat sleeves like my mum used to do with my gloves and mittens when I was little. I’d hate to lose one of these! They have faces on, which means they have characters and should have names.

Lynn Manderville did me the honour of test knitting them for me. She knows a thing or two about colourwork mittens (just look at her Weeds pattern). As well as tech editing the pattern, Rachel Atkinson couldn’t resist knitting a pair. She is still settling on what to call hers. Archie and Isaac, Milo and Steve or Pete and Petunia are in the mix. Any further suggestions welcome. What would you call yours?

You can find the Fledgling pattern details on Ravelry and Get your copy of PENGUIN: A Knit Collection HERE!

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OK, so I could bang on about Marlisle for days. I’ve had so much fun cooking it up and teaching it. Sending my students off, buzzing with ideas for their own designs using this method is so satisfying. This might be partly because they are forced to – I hadn’t published any Marlisle patterns until now. This is the first one. The term is a mash-up of “marl” – two noticeably different shades of yarn plied or in this case, held together – and the “isle” from Fair Isle. Regardless of geographic origin, Fair Isle 
is often used as a catch-all for stranded colourwork. Marlisle allows this circular knitted sweater to have small patches of pure white on the front, but not the back without working intarsia, yet spread over distances that would be unworkable using regular stranded colourwork (because the floats would be epic).

To achieve this, a strand each of charcoal and white yarn are held double and worked in garter stitch for the majority of this bottom-up sweater. The white yarn is separated out where required and worked akin to stranded colourwork in stocking stitch to produce that pop of single colour. Because you are always carrying A&B colours around, you have both colours available to use individually at all times. The density of the fabric changes little, as the yarn is always double thickness thanks to the floats behind the colourwork sections.

The sweater used for the photoshoot was knitted combining a strand of Snældan 3-Ply in Fleece White held together with a 2-Ply in Charcoal. These are traditional Nordic weights of yarn as Snældan comes from the Faroe Islands and is a mix of Faroese and Falkland wool. I fell in love with all the Faroese yarns thanks to The Island Wool Company making them available in the UK. These two weights are equivalent to DK/worsted and 4ply/sport. In combination you are looking for a tension of 16 sts x 28 rows = 10cm / 4” over garter stitch using one strand of A and B held together, after blocking.


The resulting fabric is intentionally dense with definite structure thanks to the yarn and the garter stitch combo. Using two same-weight yarns or an aran/worsted with a heavy laceweight to achieve the required tension when combined is also an option. If you prefer a lighter fabric, you could try stranding two 4ply/sport yarns or even a DK/worsted with a heavier laceweight. I think you get the idea – dive into you stash and see what you have. It might be the perfect time to use a laceweight skein with many many metres/yards on it in combo with something heavier. Do keep an eye that you use the thicker one for the main colour in the rib and the motifs, or you could run into tension issues.

I promise I’ll bang on about Marlisle here a lot more in the future, not just on Instagram, but you know, gotta start somewhere and I am so excited about the possibilities of it. Also, you might notice that the photoshoot I did with Elle (fate that she trades as Yellow Bird Photography?) totally references my #yarnandoldcars habit.


The Humboldt is a graphic, cropped sweater with a boxy body balanced out by fitted sleeves. It is one of the 11 patterns in Penguin: a Knit Collection. I give instructions for sizes from XS to XXL and you should pick a size that allows the bust measurements to fit with 20-25 cm / 8-10” positive ease. You can find the pattern details on Ravelry and soon purchase it from your LYS (you might need to ask them to order it in, if they aren’t already stocking it).

If you’re lucky, you might win the giveaway that’s happening over on Mason Dixon Knitting which will get you a copy of the book AND the yarn to make your own Humboldt.

If not, you can get the yarn straight from The Island Wool Company and Get your copy of PENGUIN: A Knit Collection HERE!!!

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I’ve made a book. Penguin: a Knit Collection will arrive back from the printers this week. I know some of you have been waiting for it patiently and that has really helped the process along. The responses I’ve gotten when giving sneak peeks at places like To Gather DTLA, AVFKW, Unravel, Stephen & Penelope, Ja, Wol and Yarndale were totally encouraging. It’s the summation of well over a year of work in collaboration with many amazing people and their skills. I am beyond excited to finally be able to share it with you.

It’s 80 pages of full colour, printed on a proper, huge, Heidelberg press in London. It was great to be able to hop on public transport and go and see it be printed last Monday (and bring my dad and editor, Amelia Hodsdon along). In addition to being local, Park Communications take the environment seriously in their print work, which was important to me. The uncoated paper we decided on for the book has good environmental credentials, making it even coooooler. It also means on you can write on it with pencil (or pen) to keep track of where you are in the pattern, make notes of any personal adjustments or just draw some of your own penguins in the margins. They were so generous about satisfying our curiosity about, well, everything.


Here are my Dad and Amelia having the Heidelberg press explained to them by Michael.

There are 11 knitting patterns in the book, all inspired by penguins – 2 cardigans, a sweater, 2 hats, a beret and cowl set, a shawl, a pair each of socks and mittens and a cuddly penguin called Pinglwin, who wears a removable knitted tuxedo hoodie (because otherwise she is all white and she gets fed up explaining why). The whole collection is tied together by a strong palette of black and white, with a smattering of greys, mustard yellow, soft brown and pale pink. Only Pinglewin and the Fledgling mittens are noticeably penguinish. For the other knits, the inspiration link is much more subtle.

The book is filled with little stories and a long introduction essay explaining how and why it came about: my love of knitting, fun, community and… PENGUINS! It’s crammed with photographs of the 10 garments photographed around my neighbourhood of London Fields in Hackney, East London. I had the most wonderful photoshoot with Elle Benton. Ania Grzymajlo did double duty as model and doing hair and make-up, so it’s not only my face you’ll see in there. Thijs groot Wassink did a great job coaxing a slightly shy Pinglwin into be photographed while knitting. There are photographs of real penguins from Chuck Graham and Lori ann Graham, hand-drawn schematics (by me) and the most glorious watercolour endpapers and illustrations from Narangkar Glover.

I had an amazing tech editing team checking things over and a couple of great general editors keeping an eye on the flow, style and clarity of all the stuff I really wanted to tell you. (One of the hardest things about making the book was limiting it’s size to be manageable to print and post, then read and knit from.) And my test knitters were the BEST. I am not going to go into everyone in detail, because I do it in the book, but I also think it might be a nice idea to tell you about them even more extensively here, at a later date.


This is a small view of the Aptenodytes cardigan, mainly so I can show you the penguin nails.

It has kept me immensely busy and now I’m ready to celebrate. I hope you’ll join me. If you can make it to London, please come say hello at the launch next Saturday, 5 December, at Wild & Woolly from 2pm. Dress like a penguin or at least in black, white, pink and yellow. I’m cooking up a prize for the most penguin-y of you and I’ll give penguin manicures to the first few through the door. I’ll also be at the PomPom Xmas Party on December 11th at Foyles. I have a growing list of LYS who I am thrilled will be stocking it. (Do drop me a line if you are interested in stocking it or have a favourite LYS you’d like to recommend I contact). And of course, you can Get your copy of PENGUIN: A Knit Collection HERE!.

See you soon. I’ll start introducing each pattern over the coming week.