Amber’s Blaithin — Swatching, Swatching

We’ve got a great group of ladies lined up to help me with out WIP series so I don’t go prattering on by myself! First up is the amazingly multifaceted Amber, who will show you what she made with the very limited-edition, unlikely-to-be-repeated Cormo Rusticus that we sold a couple years ago. I’m very excited to see her progress with this sweater, and I’m sure you will be, too! – Lauria


Hello there! My name is Amber, but if you’re active in the Juniper Moon Farm group on Ravelry, you’ll know me as HowdyPandowdy. I’m going to be doing some guest posting over the next few months to share my progress on BlΓ‘ithΓ­n , which I am knitting with some luscious Juniper Moon Farm Cormo Rusticus,

JMF Rusticus again - in the morning light

JMF Rusticus again - in the morning light

and some stunning Gilead Fiber Farm Shetland (dyed and spun by owner Kristen Judkins).

Gilead Fiber Farm Shetland "Fuego"

Here is where I admit that I have a slight tendency to be a bit, shall we say, long-winded? So instead of launching into a fourteen chapter back story about all the neato connections between pattern, yarns, designer, etc, I will cut to the chase and present it all in list form. (You’re welcome.)

1) For some time now, I have had quite the knitting crush on the genius that is Scottish designer Kate DaviesΒ  (and especially her gorgeous color work). I could never quite muster up the courage to try anything before, but after my dear friend Lyn “gifted” me this pattern on Ravelry, it was time to dive in!

2) Kate Davies also happens to be one of the designers for The Shepherd and The Shearer. I managed to snag a spot before that announcement, so it was basically like being given an entire orchard’s worth of delicious cherries on top of what was already the best sundae ever.

3) In honor of Susie’s trip to Scotland, one of our group members on Ravelry suggested those of us stranded stateside should come up with some Scotland-inspired activities to enjoy, which is what spurred me to re-ogle all of my favorite patterns in the first place.

4) Shetland sheep (the breed I have to thank for the beautiful, autumn-colored yarn from Gilead) originated in the Shetland Isles. One of the tinier islands, Fair Isle, should be familiar to all knitters as the namesake of the popular colorwork style featured in many of Kate Davies’ designs.

5) And finally, Kristen Judkins, gifted dyer and spinner and owner of Gilead Fiber Farm, got her start as a shepherd when she won a flock of goats in a giveaway from Juniper Moon Farm!

So now you know that I play most of my life like some sort of bizarre Six Degrees of Separation game, but hey! At least you got the abridged version.

But anyway, swatching?


Because I am doing only two colors for my sweater and knitting the main body in the JMF Rusticus, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue the Rusticus right up through the yoke background, like so,

white background

or switch to the GFF Shetland.

color background

I decided I didn’t want to lose the nicely contrasting yoke background (which is one of the things that drew me into the pattern in the first place) and did a third swatch featuring the Shetland as the background color. This time, I tried holding the Shetland double (it’s a fair bit thinner than the Rusticus), and modifying the bottommost edge slightly to better transition my color change.

washed and lightly blocked

Doubling the Shetland makes a sturdy-without-being-too-thick fabric that I think will lend itself very nicely to the yoke structure, and the Rusticus washed up like a fluffy sheep cloud dream. (Technical description, of course.) Despite some pulling here and there, I think it came out nicely and feel confident in my ability to not destroy my finished product — well, not until it comes time for steeking anyway, but we’ll deal with that when we get to that point…

For now? Lots of knitting going on here, and hopefully I’ll have some good progress to show you next time!


Amber resides in sporadically idyllic Berks County, PA with her husband and three children.

She can most often be found knitting, making soap, sewing, or puttering around in her garden. She should probably leave her house more often.


  1. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!! You’re going to have to steek??? Just thinking about someone ELSE steeking makes my heart race. You are a brave, brave woman. Looking forward to following your progress!

    • Oh believe me — I have been looking at picture after picture and just staring in horror at scissors meeting sweaters. I am putting my faith in the pattern though and trying it! (I think.) πŸ˜‰

  2. I’m so flattered that you chose my handspun to use in this project. This is going to be a stunning sweater, I look forward to following along.
    And I agree with Erin, you are very brave to be planning to steek something so precious. You go!

  3. I love how you have worked out the yoke. That transition change will be fantastic!!

    • Thanks! I saw some other people do similar tweaks for various reasons and am quite happy with it!

  4. BEST POST EVER!!! Omg I’m so excited about this project and reading all of your updates :)

    (Also… “those of us STRANDED stateside” — PUN ALERT! πŸ˜€ Assuming that the colourwork is stranded. But I think it is. Right?)

    • Hahaha, let’s just hope I can keep up the excitement now, right? πŸ˜‰

      PUN! I wish wish wish I could say it was intentional (yes, it is stranded colorwork), but alas, it was just my subconscious doing my work for me.

  5. This is gonna look magnificent! I love Kate Davies as well and eventually will muster up to a pattern of hers!
    Keep up the fantastic work~

    • Thanks Jamie! I *almost* did Owls a few years ago, but the yarn I was going to use wasn’t quite right and then I just never started it. Not sure how I feel I can leap right into this one, but hey, I’m doing it now!

  6. So glad you are sharing your progress on this. As one who is still “mustering up the courage” for color work, I’d love to see photos of the wrong side of your work as well as the beautiful right side. Your swatches are lovely. The yarns are just right
    for your pattern.

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying following along! I will gladly share wrong side pictures too once I get to the yoke.

      Colorwork was a lot like cables for me — the nervousness about trying it for the first time was worse than actually doing it. With colorwork, I just keep reminding myself to keep it relaxed and not pull too tight, and I am happy with the results!

  7. I just love reading your work!! You never fail to make me smile. I love this color combo so very much that I may be inspired to try my hand at some color work but some that will not involve steeking!!!

    I also wanted to let you know that your about you description made me spit out my beer…she should probably leave her house more often πŸ˜›

    • Aw, Brenda, thanks! I love these colors too!!! Fall colors and natural whites, heaven!

      And about the description… Totally true. πŸ˜‰

  8. Hi Amber,
    Beautiful work, great blog post – you are just naturally funny and it totally comes through in your words. Looking forward to future posts.
    Dina (dinaknitsinct on ravelry)

  9. If it makes you feel better about the steeking, I cut up about 12 sweaters when I was making the canoe cover last month, and not a single one of them even started to unravel, despite some massively rough handling. Your steeks will be juuuuust fine!

    • That makes me feel a lot better, thanks! I’ve cut sweaters before for crafts, but they were always at least fulled, if not totally felted. I appreciate the courage boost!

  10. Amber – the adventure begins!! This will be a beautiful sweater and I look forward to your progress! Steeking!!! how exciting – I haven’t tried it πŸ˜‰

  11. Amber, I grew up in Berks County, PA – in the city of Reading. Don’t miss Reading so much, but now that I live in a more rural area in MA, I long for rural of Berks County.

    • Wow, what are the chances??? I actually live right outside (thank goodness!) the city of Reading!

      There are some amazing areas all around here, so I take comfort in knowing I can escape to farmland or forests in a matter of minutes whenever I need to. :)

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