January, 10th, 2016

Friends out West, here I come! Next month, I’m doing a quick mini teaching tour in CA and attending Stitches West.  I’m so excited for this opportunity. I’m a little nervous being away from my family for over a week, but since I will be busy most every moment with nothing but fun, I am sure it will fly by. I can’t wait to visit the 3 yarn shops on my schedule and also to be able to hang out at the Never Not Knitting and YOTH booths at Stitches to meet some knitters for the first time. I wanted to share my expedition plans and give you some links so that you can sign up to take classes :)

Teaching in PA at Mountain Knits & Pearls

Teaching in PA at Mountain Knits & Pearls

February 17: Monarch Knitting (Pacific Grove), Grow With Me 10-1, Math for Hats 2-5

Monarch Knitting has set-up online registration for both classes! Click on any of the above links for all the class details and also to sign up.  

February 19 & 20: Stitches West, signings at 11:30 and 3:30 in the NNK Booth where you can get my patterns and books and also see Trunk Shows for New Guy, New Girl, among others.
From 1-3 pm you can find me in the YOTH booth where I’ll be showing off a couple samples of my YOTH designs (including a new one that will debut at the show) and also we will be giving away patterns and yarn!
February 21: Stitches West, signing at 10 in the NNK Booth

Teaching at Warm 'n Fuzzy in NC

Teaching in NC at Warm ‘n Fuzzy

February 21: Knit This, Purl That (Pleasanton), Tailoring Workshop (new!)  3-6 pm, Meet ‘n Greet 6-7:30 pm

Download a flyer for my afternoon/evening at Knit This, Purl That by clicking on the link above.

February 22: A Yarn Less Raveled (Danville), Math for Hats 9-12, Fair Play 1-5pm

Contact AYLR to sign up for these two awesome classes.  Spend my last day in CA with me!

Fair Play Hat options

Fair Play Hat Options

You can read full details about all these classes on my Course Page. I’ve been teaching for a surprisingly many years…going all the way back to grad school and some students who had me as a graduate TA in a variety of political science courses.  Classes are such a great way to extend your knitting skills with someone there, literally, holding your hand. Nothing can take the place of your local yarn shop when it comes to getting regular opportunities for classes, so take advantage of them and support your LYS at the same time. Winning!

Feel free to send any questions to help at tottoppers dot com or contact any of the above LYS’s for more information. Counting down :)

Behind the Scenes: New Girl Bloopers

October, 11th, 2015

Designing New Girl was a challenge for me as a boy mom! I don’t think I realized just how boy-focused my aesthetic has become over the past few years. I lost count of the number of stitch patterns and edgings I swatched attempting to get the perfect combo of feminine but not over the top girly girl. I texted photos of these swatches to family and friends with little girls and incorporated their feedback as well. The entire process definitely involved way more do-overs than I am used to. It was all totally worth it as each piece meticulously came together in the end. I thought it would be fun to share with you a few of my designing bloopers.

Slipper FAIL
Welcome Mocs from New Guy have been fairly popular so I had an idea to tweak that design so it was the same basic construction but ended up more like ballet slippers that wrapped up baby’s leg. Well. This was a GIANT fail.IMG_3129 I’m not saying it can’t be done and maybe one day I will come back to it but I am telling you, I knit these suckers almost 10 times and in the end I still felt like they were a sloppy mess. This is one of the only times in my knitting history that I have ever totally frogged a project. And I do not regret it. They ended up being replaced with the Cuddle Socks which were just a perfect complement of the rest of the collection. They were definitely meant to be!Cuddle Socks

Stripey No No
I knit the Petite Wrapper twice. The first time, I was working with similar front shaping to the Hello Kimono, but neglected to take into account that the Wrapper was significantly shorter, which led to almost no overlap. That was problem number 1. But stylistically, the first version had stripes on the sleeves. It was cute. Nothing wrong with it. Eliot loves it! Ha!  But he isn’t exactly the intended audience…
But one of my girl-mom-friends stopped by and I was showing it to her and she commented that stripes were not super girly and maybe I could try something a little more delicate. I am so glad she made that comment because this was when I decided to use the pindot colorwork, which turned out to be integral to the collection! The pindots were not only more delicate than the stripes, but they almost looked like tiny little hearts which was just infinitely more endearing to me. I still have the striped version and I think it would look really sweet with a frilly dress or something. It’s definitely not boy-ish at all but I totally agree that the pindot was more of the look I was going for this set.Petite Wrapper

This was the big one! The first piece I designed and the one that drove me most crazy. Probably not where you’d think though. The neckline construction is something I’ve done in several other projects, so that part was fine. I worked the front and back, performed the join, did the colorwork strip, continued with the skirt and finished the entire thing. Unfortunately I had this nagging feeling the entire time that something was just not quite right and that was the colorwork strip. Now, when you’ve knit almost 20″ of stockinette in fingering weight yarn, you really don’t want to think about frogging it, even if it is baby sized. But alas I couldn’t settle with the stitch pattern. More swatching commenced and finally I decided on the replacement motif. I performed some surgery on my gown by placing lifelines above and below the colorwork portion, cutting straight through the middle of it, ripping the top half back to round 1 of colorwork, knitting in the new motif, and then using kitchener stitch to graft the two pieces together in the end.
IMG_3093 IMG_3095 IMG_3096 IMG_3097
Swaddle Smock

It worked perfectly! Instead of having to reknit for a couple of days, it was fixed in just a matter of hours. If you have never tried it, cutting your knitting and then getting it back into shape is pretty fun and empowering.

Hope you enjoyed hearing about my designing mess :) I assure you, there is still lots of trial and error going on depending on the occasion!


hello New Girl

September, 11th, 2015

Photography by Erica B. Studio + Design
Graphic Design by Mary Joy Gumayagay
Sample Yarn: The Plucky Knitter Plucky Feet in Twill, Buzz Lighter & Brooch


From the moment the New Guy collection came together, I knew I had to create a counterpart for little girls. Though my household has not been graced with the presence of a tiny Her,  I just recently got my very first niece.  I finally have the opportunity to make dainty wee things whether she likes it…


… or not!


Like New Guy, the designs are sized from Preemie to Toddler with a variety of options.  For example the newborn bunting can be knit like this for the tiniest recipients:


Or, finished like this if they are ready to rock it all over town:


And maybe you want to make it with long sleeves, directions are included for that too. Or, pair it with a delicate little cardigan:


The cardi is very versatile, it even looks good with no pants! Bahahaha. 


There are 3 accessory designs in the collection and they are sized even for older little ladies past the toddler designation. I feel like these warmers need to be knit in every size so she always has a pair. 


The colorwork included is whimsical and minimal and any of it can be simplified by working duplicate stitch after you knit, replacing the stranded work with stripes or even leaving pieces solid, the better to match everything in her wardrobe. I used scrumptious Plucky Knitter Plucky Feet for my samples and the colors were just perfect. 


The New Girl e-book will be released in early October and the hard copy booklet will follow a few weeks later.  You can get the booklet at your local yarn shop while you are snagging your New Guy.   Friends will call you the baby shower Queen. You can also pre-order the collection from me through my website.  If you choose to pre-order, for the price of one version of the booklet ($12) you will receive:

•  E-book as soon as it is released
•  Booklet as soon as it is available
•  Custom Tot Toppers stitch markers
•  Custom New Girl gift tags

The pre-order offer is available only up until the e-book is released, as early as October 1. After that, both versions of the booklet will be sold separately at their regular prices.  To get the package, place both the booklet and the e-book in your cart on and apply the code NEWGIRL at checkout.


I have one other little incentive for you.  If you’ve not snagged your copy of New Guy yet, and you choose to purchase it in the same transaction as your New Girl pre-order,  I’ll follow up with you and send you a 25% off coupon for the pattern of your choice from my shop. I’m also able to apply this to previous purchases of New Guy that were placed on my website but please do drop me a note about it after you purchase New Girl.  


Yarn shops, I have an offer for you as well.  NNK Press will be offering a 10% pre-order discount on your wholesale purchases of New Girl until they get the booklets in stock in October.  You will also receive a complimentary e-book as soon as it is released so that you can whip up some samples for your shop. These projects are so tiny and quick that it will take you no time at all. Click here to view my books at NNK Press.


I hope you’re ready to create a delightfully squishy ensemble for a very special little lady.  No matter whether you’ll get to hold her every day or see her in pictures from afar, she’s sure to feel the love in every stitch.  Pamper that darling for as long as she will allow it.