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April, 2nd, 2018

Just a quick note, please follow me here on my new blog for more tutorials and reviews and design stories!

This blog will stay here for reference but will not have new posts. Additionally, the shop is located at instead of here at Tot Toppers. We hope you will enjoy the new space and set-up.

Comfort & Joy by Melynda Bernardi

December, 7th, 2016

Christmastime is my favorite time of year. Hands down. Without comparison. I just love it. I go crazy with decorations inside & outside of my house. I throw cookie parties. I build gingerbread houses. Traditions abound! For years I have looked in awe at photos my friend Melynda has posted of the stockings she has made for her family members.  When I started talking about Grown, Melynda told me about her own book project and I was so excited to see it and basically was ready for Christmas back in October or whenever it was that I first got a glimpse :)

I interviewed Melynda about her process putting this book together. I love hearing backstory! I hope you will enjoy hearing her perspective.

K: What design from the book was most challenging for you to create?

M: Honestly, the plain stocking was the most difficult!  I designed “Tannenbaum” first so I could find my ideal stocking shape.  Because of this, it was knit a couple times, with lots of ripping and tinking back involved.  Once I had this pattern written, I based all the other stockings (stitch numbers, heel, toe, etc) on it.  Plus, I really enjoy the process of knitting colorwork, so this one just seemed like it took me a while to get through!

K: How long did it take you from conception to print copy in hand? 

M: Every year I get many questions from knitters (and others who are stocking shopping) about my family’s stocking collection.  I’ve always wanted to release a stocking collection, so the idea has been with me for a while.  About a year ago I quit my full-time job in order to be home with my kids.  My grandiose plans for knitting and designing daily were quickly squashed after a few weeks home with the little ones.  My husband made a career change to become a teacher, and the first year was very tough.  He works about an hour from home, so between the commute and work, we weren’t really seeing him,  But, then summer hit- yay!  My husband was home the whole month of July, and the layout, patterns, and charts were all done during this time.  Because I was self-publishing, I was able to do things on my own time (a blessing and a curse), and the book was in my hands by early October.

K: Did you do all the knitting yourself? 

M: Yes!  Like I mentioned, I love colorwork, and my favorite part of the design process (if time allows), is when I can listen to an audiobook while sitting and knitting.  With the exception of the first stocking that I re-knit a few times, all of the stockings were knit as part of the Ravellenic Games!

K: What is your top tip for knitters new to stranded colorwork? 

M: Keep doing it.  It might not be pretty at first, but do what feels natural to your hands.  When I teach colorwork, I encourage students to use both hands to carry both colors.  But, if that really isn’t working for you, just find a way to work it that your enjoy.  I started 2-color knitting with yarn in both hands, but now I throw both colors with my left hand.  It feels natural, so I enjoy it.  You may have issues with tension, twisting, and other general awkwardness- but soldier on.  With anything, practice makes (almost) perfect!

K: What was your favorite part about self-publishing your first book? 

M: I guess the timeline.  I liked being able to work on a project on my own terms with my own deadlines.  There were many times I thought it wouldn’t happen within my self-imposed deadlines, but it all seemed to come together!

K: How about your least favorite part? 

M: There were so many times I wished that there was someone else to consult.  Sometimes you get so in to a project that you can’t look at it with fresh eyes.  In the future, I may try to work on more collaboration projects!

There is something about Christmas that makes me just want to do everything myself.  We don’t currently have handknit stockings hanging on my mantle…but I am SO tempted to try and make it so.  This collection is inspiring and modern and just beautiful.  Would you like to win a copy of Comfort & Joy?

Head on over to the book’s Ravelry page, give a heart to at least one of the stockings in the book, then come comment on this post (include your Ravelry ID please!) to be entered to win my giveaway of this fabulously festive collection. A winner will be announced next week!


Within // Blog Tour

November, 21st, 2016

The warmth from a handknit is multifacted.  First, as a creator, we delight in watching each stitch turn into each row and finally into a garment. Once your project is done, it provides physical warmth amongst the elements.  Shannon and Jane have tapped into the true cozy of knitting with their new book, Within.

The first part of the book is a visual journey through a cold winter day. Beautiful photos are uninterrupted to bring you into a charming story that begins with sunlight smiling into a cup of coffee and concludes by the fire.

The second section includes patterns and more photos of the garments laid flat. These images are so helpful for the details you want to see as a knitter.

There are six patterns in Within (each of the photos here link to Ravelry pattern listing).  You can really knit this entire book.  Jane & Shannon have outdone themselves with the details and have even created a full trailer of the book which I just think is such a lovely and original idea.

You can purchase your copy of Within here, or from your local yarn shop, or you can get the e-book only.  All the print copies of the book include a download code so that you have access to both versions.

Living in a milder climate, this book made me feel like I got a glimpse into real winter!  Although I don’t quite have the same necessity for these cozy garments as some of you might, these patterns are really appealing.  I just wouldn’t have to layer them up quite as much :)

I do have a copy of Within to give away and we are going to play a little game! I have a mini Scavenger Hunt for you to learn a little bit more about the book.  Here’s how you play:

1. E-mail answers to the first 5 questions to

2. Post your answer to the final question here as a blog comment

3. You can play along all this week and I’ll announce the winner early next. I’ll come back and close the post so if you’re reading this you can still play!  Congratulations to Leah our winner!  The game has come to an end.

This is Jane and Shannon, they are so adorable I had to share this photo! You can join their ongoing knitalong for Within at any time on Ravelry.

And now for the game! Remember, e-mail answers 1-5 to and post the answer to number 6 as a comment.

Scavenger Hunt Questions

1. How many different yarns are featured in Within?

2. Which design has the most projects on Ravelry (as of 11.21)?

3. How many sizes are available in the Fireside Pullover?

4. When is the knitalong for Within?

5. How much yarn do you need to knit the Entwine Scarf?

6. What special person in your life might you like to knit from Within for this holiday season?