Kourtney Robinson – Dollybird Workshop Rotating Header Image



Ever Notice That There’s Always Something?

Have you ever noticed that?  That sometimes, it seems like whatever you want to do or have planned, there’s some higher power out to thwart you.

There isn’t.  There really isn’t.  If there is a higher power (and I sort of think there must be), I am confident that it is as about as interested in my knitting projects (and able to directly affect it) as I am in an ant`s attempt to move a breadcrumb.

For example, I have three patterns I’m in varying stages of writing, and a year of bookkeeping for the company to wind up.  I’d like to get all of this done by the end of next week.  And of course, a couple evenings ago, my ceiling chose to fall.  Does that sound dramatic?  It sort of was.  The littles had been in bed for maybe twenty minutes; the man & I were watching tv, and SPLAT.   Part of the ceiling stipple fell down.

SPLAT!  Splat splat.  The man got a drill, I got a bucket and a drop cloth, and we spent the next several hours messing with the ceiling and trying to figure out what was happening…


Turns out that one of the lag bolts on the toilet was broken, and the wax seal was either broken or unseated or had decided it really needed a break, and short of a trip to a beach in the Bahamas, the Calgary landfill would do.


I was feeling oppressed by it.  I’m glad we were home and awake when it happened – that would have been an awful surprise to wake up to – and the first chunk of ceiling landed on my favorite chair.  So I fixed** it.  With a staple gun and a roll of craft paper.


Call it an art installation – Phoenix Rising.  It’s about the emotional life of the ceiling.  Conceptual art.  Very high concept, actually – I could hardly reach the ceiling with the staple gun!

Anyways, despite the little voice in my head that says “Man, it’s a sign. This pattern is crap and you should trash it and do something useful”, I continue to edit the three patterns.  There’s always something; and I’ve learned that every single project of mine goes through a stage where I just want to walk away from it.  It varies from a mild feeling of distaste to a strong desire to light it on fire. It’s a neat trick to discern between that demoralizing voice, and the voice of reason that occasionally pipes up and says “Gee, that doesn’t look like the right ____and it hasn’t looked like the right ____ for about ten rows now…

I tend to err on the side of optimism, which means a good deal of the projects that I end up frogging have more work invested into them than they really should have – but I am happier knitting on an obvious failure that trashing a really fine idea.  Depression and self-doubt are sneaky bastards, I have to be vigilant against them.

Speaking of vigilance, I am due to start to work on the bookkeeping.  There is a deal I`ve made with myself – a couple hours on patterns, a couple hours on books.  The books are a heck of a lot easier, and yet, less fun!

*First we both ran upstairs – because that spot is pretty well directly below the kids’ washroom.  There was no water visible.

**Fixed, as in, rendered it funny so that until it is properly fixed by a professional, it makes me want to laugh, instead of cry.

Introducing Suki’s Shawl

This is Suki.  Best Knitter’s Cat EVER.  Suki’s shawl is dedicated to him; the pattern is available here: Suki’s Shawl Link for $6.00USD.

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Last year, I let go of him. He was a good cat, who spent many hours purring companionably next to me. The last thirteen years and the initial version of this shawl were worked under his close supervision, and every time I wear this I think of him. I loved him as well as I could, as long as I could.

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This pattern is for two sizes of shawl – one smaller, and one that’s almost generous enough to use as a blanket; both are a size progression of a single motif, from largest to smallest. You may work additional repeats of SECTION II, II, or IV, OR Chart B, C, or D. If you choose to work additional motifs, you will need to work extra repeats across subsequent rows, and be aware that you will need additional yarn. As well, if you wish to move from smaller to larger motifs, you will need to make sure that you have an appropriate number of stitches for the repeats to work.

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Small[Large]: Upper wingspan 150cm/60”[210cm/84”]; center depth 75cm/30”[105cm/42”]

Small: Malabrigo “Rios” 100% superwash Merino wool; 192m/210yd per 100g/3.53oz skein; colour: 027 Bobby Blue; 3 skeins.

Large: Verdant Gryphon “Mondegreen” 60% Blue-Faced Leicester wool, 20% silk, 20% baby camel; 183m/200yd per 113g/3.99oz skein; colour: Nude; 6 skeins

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Available here: Suki’s Shawl Link for $6.00USD

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Introducing the Adriatico Cowl!

Alana Marchetto’s cowl was inspired by the waves of the Adriatic.  It’s available here: Adriatico Cowl for $6.00USD.

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The Adriatic Sea can be as varied as the countries that border it. Sometimes it’s warm and calm; sometimes it’s cold with white capped waves. This cowl was inspired by the changeable Adriatic, and it is beautiful whether you use a monochromatic yarn, a semisolid, or a dizzying variegated hand-dye. Wear it long over a light dress for a late night in the summer… or double it up to keep you warm while sipping espresso in the piazza in winter.

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The single ply yarn gives drape to the soft waves in the simple but effective stitch pattern.  The two samples are knit in Tosh Merino Light and Malabrigo Mechita.


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The pattern is written, and gauge for this pattern can be easily adjusted (but you may require additional yarn). Any elastic cast-on will work, but the long-tail cast on best coordinates with the bind-off. The depth is easily adjustable.

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Cowl measures 22cm/9” high and 173cm/68” around.  It’s available here: Adriatico Cowl for $6.00USD.

(Re-)Introducing Mrs Whatsit

Yes, at long last, Mrs Whatsit is back!  As usual, the pattern is available through my Ravelry store for $6.00USD:


What’s that?  You don’t remember Mrs Whatsit?  Well, it was originally published in January of 2011, by Sanguine Gryphon.  The rights reverted to me some time ago, but I wanted to rework the charts and re-knit it and, well, life intervened.*  I ended up not doing the re-knit – my amazing test knitter did the knitting, and as always, her work** increases the quality of my patterns.

The instructions are fully written and charted out, and you can cross reference between the two.  I’ve also included construction and blocking schematics.

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I chose a new yarn weight for this re-release; I decided on the delicious Mondegreen by Verdant Gryphon.  It’s currently on a hiatus so they can carry a couple other bases***, but I happily stocked up some time ago.  You can use any worsted weight, although it really will shine (hyuck) with a blend featuring some silk.

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Yes, I look smug about that terrible pun; forgive me.

Mrs Whatsit is a character in a book from my childhood.  She is an angel disguised as a tramp: “It seemed small for Meg’s idea of a tramp… it was completely bundled up in clothes. Several scarves of assorted colors were tied about the head, and… A shocking pink stole was knotted about a rough overcoat, and black rubber boots covered the feet.”  She transforms to show “…a pair of wings…made of rainbows, of light upon water, of poetry.”  A Wrinkle In Time, Madeleine L’Engle. 

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I think here, you can see the idea of wings spreading.  The construction is unusual – you begin at the nape and knit out, much like a neck-down shawl.  When the shoulder depth is reached, the center portion is bound off, and each ‘wing’ is worked outward separately.  Due to the nature of the increases & decreases, the only place markers are used in this pattern are to note the BO’s of the Center Panel. 

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The piece looks quite large here, but because of the lines of yarnovers, it happily wraps around your neck to act as a scarf as well as a stole.

I hope you’re as glad to see Mrs Whatsit back as I am – again, the pattern is available in my Ravelry store for $6.00USD.

*This also explains the pause since my last pattern publication.
**All mistakes are all mine, as always.
***Yes.  I’ve been working at this for a while.  Trust me, if you can find Mondegreen you will be so happy…  Think it looks familiar?  It’s the same yarn that I used for His Golden Lair… http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/his-golden-lair

His Golden Lair Errata (v2.9)

Well, this one is all mine.  Actually, all of the errata are my fault – but this one smarts because I “corrected” something in v2.8 and instead of fixing up one small error in a line, I added another error to it.  Which does not actually fix anything.

So, version 2.9 is now correct to the best of my abilities.  Again, I sincerely apologize if this caused any of you confusion or irritation.  I certainly hope that I am humble, and it certainly seems like His Golden Lair is here to make sure I stay that way.  It was ambitious to include fully written instructions in such an intricate pattern, and while I’m glad that I did*, I’m trying to figure out a better way to proofread in the future.

So, please stop by Ravelry ( http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/his-golden-lair ) or your Ravelry library to download the newest version.  The exact errata for v2.9 (and anything downloaded after Apr. 27, 2014) corrects the following error in the written instructions:

In Section VII, R5, the both repeats should end with a “p3” not a “k3”.

Hope all is going well and you are enjoying spring – I myself was just debating whether I feel stronger about snow in April or errata I’ve made myself…

*I’ve actually gotten lots of feedback from people that they wouldn’t have tried knitting HGL from the charts, that they are not comfortable with charted knitting.

Knitting Classes!

Are you in the Calgary area and want to add to your knitting skills?  This Saturday Apr. 26 & next Saturday May 3, Alana will be teaching a class at the Loop using my Praline pattern.

You’ll need to call the Loop to register, a copy of the pattern, 180 6/0 seed beads, and 400 yards of fingering weight yarn.  (And  a 0.6 mm crochet hook & a 3.25 mm (US 3) 24″ circular needle).  I do believe you can get most all of those things through the Loop… 403-457-3020 or theloopkensington (at) gmail.com

The class is noted as “Advanced Beginner” and you can work on basic skills plus repetitive stitch patterns, simple color changes, and simple shaping and finishing.  And adding beads!

Full information is here:


PS: I’ve taken several cracks at adding in images as Praline is one of my favorites, but the technology is set on foiling me today.  Sigh.  Here’s the Ravelry page, if you care to follow the link you can feast your eyes on the beauty… http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/praline-2

Introducing the Kalmer Triangle!

This is such a simple project; it’s hard to credit how long I tinkered with it to get it just right.  I’ve just released it; it’s now available on my Rav pattern page for $6.00USD (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/kalmer-triangle)

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This wide, triangular scarf is knit from the tip up, with increases at the beginning and end of every row.  Variegated yarns will be flattered, as will almost any weight and fiber content.  

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Be sure to swatch to ensure that you like your knitted fabric; try going up two to four needle sizes from what is suggested for your yarn.  I’ve listed my gauge in stockinette & pattern to give you an idea of how much the stitch pattern will draw in.    

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16 sts/22 rows = 10cm/4” in stockinette stitch; 22 st/42 rows = 10cm/4” in pattern.  Available now here:  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/kalmer-triangle

As always, happy knitting!

FREE!, Now With Added Kitten!

Well, it’s the last day of the free pattern gift that I spontaneously set up… and you knitters, you have knocked my socks off.  If you haven’t yet, you’ve got until midnight to pop over here –> http://www.ravelry.com/designers/kourtney-robinson and use the code ‘Free1’ for a free pattern.

I’m still reeling (in positive delight) about how many of you have downloaded a pattern!  I wanted to cheer myself up, by cheering others – and holy wow.  I’m still downloading the file from Ravelry so that I can make a pivot table to see how many people, how many patterns, etc.  I’m probably going to make charts.  Because you know, I love Excel.  And pivot tables.

I don’t need Excel though, to know how much awesome there is.  LOTS.  Far more that I anticipated!  Saturday was a ridiculously busy day – eye appointments for the kids and a pupil dilation and retina exam for me – we’re all fine, although I spent a bunch of Saturday squinting and reeling, until my pupils came back to normal.  After the eye exams, we travelled to Canmore to see family and have a mini-Xmas.  Luckily, my pupils had calmed down by the time I needed to help build a Lego van and bbq set… Then home, supper, bedtime…

I’d popped on to Rav and seen that my patterns were doing amazingly well*, and I saw that there were a whole pile of messages in my inbox.  It was around ten pm when I updated my blog.  Then it was about 11 when I started reading through my Ravelry inbox.  I plan on replying to all the messages, but I’m still  tad too overwhelmed (again, in a good way).  In person, you could see me making goldfish faces and flapping my hands, but that doesn’t really come across all that well in text.

Anyways,  a couple people let me know that it looked like they could download all my patterns, as long as they did it one at a time.  A couple more people sent messages, genuinely horrified that they got more than one free.  I replied to them that it was okay; no big deal.  And after some thought, I altered the offer so that you need to enter a code (Free1) and it’s limited to one pattern per person.

Now, I didn’t (and don’t) want to be stingy – but I wanted you, dear knitter, to know that I set value on my patterns.  I wanted to give each of you a gift of a pattern.  (If you took advantage of the electronic loophole, I am not upset.  I’m not mad.  Enjoy the knitting.  Don’t feel bad.  Pay it forward somehow.)

I wanted to create a feeling of a gift.  I didn’t want things to feel like the flyers that get dropped off on the steps every week – they are free, but I don’t feel like they have much intrinsic value**.  Sometimes, when things are free, their value is eroded.  It’s s fine line; I put a lot of effort and energy into even the simplest of my patterns.  I’m glad to have thrown open the doors to the library, so to speak.  It was an impulse, but a good one.

Years ago, when I was still working in an office environment at an engineering firm, I was having my annual review.  My boss asked me about my five year career plan, and I goggled at him.  “I don’t have a plan.”  Then he goggled at me.  I explained that I don’t do too much firm planning; I believe in keeping my eyes open for opportunities as they present themselves.  If I’m too focused on a single goal, I may miss chances that present themselves.  I try not to overthink things.  That said, I think that the Universe is showing me an opportunity here – so I’ve started a group on Ravelry.

I’ve been thinking on and off for a while that it’d be nice to have one spot where people knitting the same design can discuss things, post progress shots, and we can all help each other answer questions.  The group is here: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/dollybird-workshop , and I’m going to pop on over and start a couple topics.

I’m very excited because I plan on showing you all SQUEAK, who is S___’s new kitten.  And utterly adorable.

Yes, I’m becoming one of those people who put pictures of cats on the internet.  Don’t tell me that you’re really surprised.

*You might have heard me saying “SQUEEEEE!”

**Unless I’m looking for washing machine sales.  Etc.

Introducing Moonraker!

No, no, I haven’t produced a remake of the wonderful 1979 James Bond movie.  How could I improve upon Jaws?  Moonraker is a sibling pattern to Spinnaker; both are named after sails.  The Moonraker cowl pattern is available through Ravelry for $6.00USD, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/moonraker-cowl .

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I used my super-spy skills to create a variant of my Spinnaker Capelet; the lace is now fully reversible and still sparkles with beads.  The stockinette and reverse stockinette move along intuitively, and they fold and crease wonderfully when worn.

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Two sizes offer you the option of a snug neck warmer or a longer infinity cowl, for however you like to tackle adventures.

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The green version uses Wollmeise Pur in Schwefel (o schwefel, how I love thee).  It used 112g of the 154g skein, and 660 beads (almost 60g).  The coral version is Tosh Sock, in Grapefruit – I used .9 of a skein, or thereabouts, and about 500 beads.

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Finished (blocked) measurements are S[L] – 38 x 60cm[22 x 133]cm / 15 x 24”[9 x 52]”.

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And as I mentioned, the lace is totally reversible, which is especially nice for the infinity cowl.

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(Does that look like a front and back?  It totally is!)  Again, Moonraker is available on Ravelry for $6.00 USD.  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/moonraker-cowl  .

Happy knitting!

Introducing Acer!

The hardest thing about this design was settling on a name.  Sometimes patterns are like that – they have a working title (Big Leaf, in this case), but their formal name is a struggle.  I ended up using part of the Latin name for the big-leaf maple (acer macrophyllum).  When winter first arrives, I crave colour and something to snuggle up in.  Macro lace and super bulky yarn combine for the perfect accessory to ease into winter.  Acer is available on ravelry, for $6.00USD.  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/acer-shawl

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As you can see, Acer is knit with a super-bulky yarn (Malabrigo Rasta, two skeins) and a very large gauge.  Two stitches to the inch, to be exact!  It’s a quick but athletic knit, on 12mm/US #17 needles.

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Although “exact” is a tad misleading for the gauge in this project.  The next commonly available smaller needle size is 10mm/US #15 and the larger needle size is 15m/US #19.  Unless your gauge varies extremely, I suggest knitting with the 12mm/US #17 needles.

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Like Mistaken and His Golden Lair, this shawl also has a broader triangle shape that is lovely to wrap and flattering to wear.  Again, it’s available through Ravelry for $6.00USD; http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/acer-shawl .

Happy knitting!  I’m going to tackle the next pattern… the finished samples are sitting on my lap, even as I type!