The Writers Collection: A Series of Knitting and Crochet Patterns

Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorite novels.  It is a Gothic masterpiece, and the story of how it came about is equally intriguing.  Mary Shelley, at age 19, wrote the novel during a ghost story writing challenge with Percy Shelley and Lord Byron.  The story came to her in a dream one night at Villa Diodati in Switzerland.  The backstory of the novel’s origin and the novel itself have always captivated me, and I thought I’d use them as inspiration to launch my Writers collection of knitting and crochet patterns.

The Writers Collection is a series of designs I’ve created inspired by some of my favorite authors, spanning many genres and time periods.  The collection is not meant to replicate the styles worn by those writers or that of characters from their work.  Instead, they are inspired by those authors.  The colors, stitches, and yarns are selected to capture the essence of that author’s work, as I perceive it.  This collection is important to me because it combines two of my favorite things: Literature and Fiber Arts.

The Writers Collection will include designs inspired by the following seven writers:

1.  Mary Shelley

2.  Louise Erdrich

3.  Walt Whitman

4.  Edgar Allan Poe

5.  Jane Austen

6.  Ernest Hemingway

7.  J.K. Rowling

This list is not, of course, a complete list of all writers that inspire me.  It is a snippet of some that have left a major impact.  I will share a bit about a favorite work from each Writer when I publish the pattern that writer has inspired.  That way, you can choose to read that work before you start knitting or crocheting.  Or, better yet, you can listen to the audiobook while you knit.  I hope you enjoy the patterns.

First up: The Shelley Cowl Knitting Pattern, found here.

Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Free baby knitting pattern.

Newborn Baby Hat to Knit – Free Knitting Pattern


(This post contains affiliate links.)

Looking for a quick, classic handmade baby shower gift?  Want an easy knitting pattern to donate to charity?  Look no further.

The following pattern is one I designed years ago, originally published on another website.  I have decided to add it here, as well, where I can update some of the information and give further suggestions for customization.

This teeny tiny newborn hat is made with soft acrylic yarn and size US 7 knitting needles. It is a great beginner’s baby knitting project because it is relatively easy but also requires the use of a few more complicated techniques that beginners should learn, such as decreasing stitches.

This pattern is written for flat needles, but it can easily be adapted to knitting in the round.



Approximately 18 stitches and 24 st st rows = 4 inches.

Abbreviations Used in This Pattern:

  • R – Row
  • K – Knit
  • P – Purl
  • tog – together
  • sts – stitches


  • Cast on 60 sts
  • R1-R10: (K1, P1) across for brim
  • R11: Knit
  • R12: Purl
  • Repeat rows 11 and 12 6 more times. (24 rows completed)
  • R25: (K4, K2 tog) across
  • R26: Purl
  • R 27: (K3, K2 tog) across
  • R 28: Purl
  • R29: (K2, K2 tog) across
  • R30: Purl
  • R31: (K1, K2 tog) across
  • R32: Purl
  • R33: (K2 tog) across

Instructions for Finishing

  • Cut the yarn, leaving a long tail.
  • Using the yarn needle, draw the yarn through the remaining stitches on the needle.
  • Pull tightly and secure the yarn.
  • Sew the back seam of the hat with the right sides facing.  This is called mattress stitch, which you can learn here.
  • Sew in the loose ends.

Variations on Newborn Baby Hat and Instructions for Larger Sizes

For a neat variation on the newborn hat, consider making the brim in a different color than the rest of the hat. To do so, simply change to a new color of yarn after row 10. Try making the cuff a contrasting color to the rest of the hat for a funky look, or simply make the cuff a neutral color, such as white or grey, and then make the rest of the hat in a more vibrant color.  Another option is to add a pom-pom to the top.

For a larger hat, use size 8 knitting needles. The number of cast on stitches may also be increased to fit a larger baby’s head. Keep in mind, however, that the number of stitches cast on are a multiple of 6. Likewise, if increasing the width of the hat, it may also be necessary to increase the length. If so, simply add a few additional rows of stockinette stitch after row 24 before the decreasing begins.

Donate this Hat to Charity

One of the coolest things about providing free patterns is seeing how they are used by others.  This pattern, in particular, has been adapted in numerous ways.  One Ravelry user, along with her knitting group, knit heaps of these hats to donate to hospitals.  That just makes me so happy!  I have donated finished products, as well, to the organization Bundles of Love here in Minnesota.  So, if you decide to knit some of these for a charity, be sure to let me know how it goes. 🙂

IMG_0436 IMG_0434

Understanding Yarn Weight: Selecting the Correct Yarn for Knitting and Crochet Projects

When I was new to knitting, I was so excited to get started on a project that I just jumped right in.  I didn’t bother to make sure I had the “proper” materials.  I had needles.  I had yarn.  I was good to go.  So, why did my first hat turn out WAY too big?  Why did some of the stitches seem way too tight?  Way too loose?

I began digging a little deeper into the details of the patterns.  First, I saw that I was to use a certain needle size.  Okay.  That is easy enough.  Then, I noticed that there was a specific yarn suggested, along with a number and a weight name (something bizarre, called “worsted weight”).  Then, there was a “gauge” I was supposed to check once I had the right needle size and yarn weight.  My gauge should be roughly the same as the gauge listed on the pattern, and that will ensure the right size and shape of the finished product.

Ah.  Now I knew I needed to slow down and gather all of the right tools in order to successfully create the finished product.  That meant I had to figure out what all of the symbols and numbers on the yarn wrapper meant.  In an effort to make this process easier for any beginning knitters and crocheters, I have provided the following quick “cheat sheet” of sorts.  For now, I am focusing on yarn weight, which is (in my opinion) the first thing to look for on a yarn label.

Yarn Weight

Whenever I begin a project, the first step in selecting the right yarn is looking at the weight.  When working from a pattern, a yarn weight is specified in order for you to obtain the correct gauge, and therefore a correctly-sized project.

There are, as of now, eight yarn weight categories.  They range in number from 0-7, 0 being the smallest, lightest yarn, and 7 being the thickest, bulkiest.  If your pattern indicates a “4” yarn weight, you can almost always choose any yarn, as long as it has a “4” on the yarn wrapper.  The type of yarn will impact that to some degree, as well, but it is important to start with the right weight.

Here are the eight yarn categories, by number and name.  I have also included some of my favorite yarns in some of those weights, just for fun. 🙂

  • 0-Lace
  • 1-Super Fine
  • 2-Fine
  • 3-Light: I like Bernat Softee Baby Ombre
  • 4-Medium: I like Lion Brand Heartland
  • 5-Bulky: I like Lion Brand Homespun
  • 6-Super Bulky: I like Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick
  • 7-Jumbo

Typically, the larger the yarn weight, the larger the knitting needles or crochet hook used.  Larger yarn and needles/hooks work up faster, creating bigger, chunkier stitches.  Smaller needles/hooks and yarn weight create more delicate, tighter stitches.  All the details about each yarn weight, including the yarns that fall into each category type, can be found at the Craft Yarn Council’s Standard Yarn Weight System page.

Keep in mind that other factors will impact the gauge of your project, including how tightly or loosely you stitch and the material of yarn (such as wool, cotton, etc.).  Once you have a handle on selecting the right yarn weight for your project, you will have more things to consider, including the care instructions and yardage of the yarn, but this will be a good place to start.

How to crochet a dishcloth

Emma Washcloth – Free Crochet Pattern


Emma washcloth free crochet pattern

Ready for an easy, cute, and functional free crochet pattern?  I am pleased to introduce the Emma Washcloth!

IMG_5388 How to crochet a dishcloth

I wanted to begin my free pattern series with something quick and fun, something that you can keep for yourself or give as a gift.  Easily customizable, this washcloth design will quickly become one of your go-to projects (it has for me). I couldn’t settle on one color combination, so I made several.  I love the idea of mixing and matching colors, and I opted for a set of spring and summer-friendly shades to brighten up any home.

What makes this design really special is the feminine detail of the scalloped border, adding a decorative twist to a classic washcloth.  Using a contrasting color for the border provides a whimsical, modern feel to a vintage-inspired design. This pattern is appropriate for beginners of crochet, and it can be completed quickly by those more experienced.  I recommend using Lily Sugar ‘n Cream yarn, though any cotton, worsted weight yarn will do.  The colors pictured are: Mod Green, Hot Purple, Rose Pink, and Yellow.  One 120-Yard skein will create a center of one washcloth and the border of another (with a little to spare).

And now, the pattern:

Emma Washcloth – Free Crochet Pattern Materials:

  • 100% Cotton Yarn, Worsted Weight in Two Different Colors
  • H-8 Crochet Hook
  • Scissors
  • Yarn Needle

Gauge: While gauge isn’t important for this project, I’ll let you know mine anyway. 12 HDC = 4 inches 8 HDC Rows = 4 inches

Finished Dimensions: Approximately 11.5 inch square

Difficulty: Easy


With First Color, ch 31.

Row 1: HDC in 3rd ch from hook and in each ch across. (29 HDC)

Row 2: Ch 2.  Turn.  Work 1 HDC in each HDC across. (29 HDC)

Repeat Row 2 until the piece measures 10.5 inches.  Turn, joining Second Color in the last loop of the last stitch.

Border: Chain 1.  Turn the work so you are working along the side.  3 SC in the corner.  SC evenly along the side to the next corner.  You will have approximately 28 SC stitches along each side.  3 SC in the corner.  Continue working around the piece, spacing SC around evenly and 3 SC in each corner.  Join with a ss to the first SC stitch.  You will have roughly 116 SC stitches, though it is okay to have a few more or less, as long as you have a multiple of 4. Ch 1.  (1 SC, skip 1, 4 DC in next st, skip 1) around.  Join with ss.

Cut yarn and fasten off.

Weave in all loose ends.

I hope you enjoy!  Post pictures if you decide to complete this project.  I’d love to see what you come up with. 🙂

Also, if you don’t want to make your own, you can purchase the entire set from SwanJay shop.


Hand-knit newborn baby hat.

Why You Should Learn to Knit (or Crochet)

Why should you learn to knit or crochet when you can just buy a hat or blanket already made, and likely cheaper than the cost of yarn and supplies?  There are actually numerous benefits, both physical and emotional.

I stumbled into the hobby of knitting when I was in grad school.  I was studying English Literature, and I had a lot of work to do, especially while writing my thesis.  I am also prone to stress and anxiety, and I needed an outlet, a way to relieve stress while still feeling productive.  I’ve always liked art and making things, so I decided to try knitting.

At first, I found it overwhelming, and the results were less than fabulous on my first few attempts, but I quickly found it to be a rewarding, ever-evolving source of peace and fulfillment.  Naturally, I had to learn to crochet, as well, which has produced many of the same results.

Without further ado, here are my top reasons to learn knitting or crochet:

1.  It relieves stress.  They have actually done studies on this, like the one found here.  The process of knitting or crochet keeps your hands and your mind busy while producing a tangible result for your efforts.  It is very soothing in that respect.

2.  You can do it (almost) anywhere.  If you’re like me, and you don’t enjoy idle time, knitting and crochet are great hobbies.  They are portable, so you can do them while riding in a car, on a plane (if regulations are followed, of course), or while watching TV.  Unlike other arts, such as painting or quilting, for instance, you can get your creative outlet on the go.

3.  You can make pretty, unique things.  If you get the hang of knitting or crochet, you can make beautiful things with even basic stitches.  You can make yourself a new hat and scarf set, or you can create matching cable-knit sweaters for your children.  Soon, friends and family will be requesting all sorts of items for birthdays and holiday gifts.

4.  It keeps your mind sharpResearch has shown that knitting can actually keep your mind sharp.  Once you have a handle on the knit and purl of it all, you can start creating your own patterns, which only ups the brainpower used during the stitching.

5.  It’s fun.  Last, but certainly not least, knitting is fun.  It is really cool to see something come to be from yarn and two sticks.  You can express your personality in what you make, and it is enjoyable to see what you can create.

So, there is really no reason to hold back.  Pick up a set of needles, a skein of yarn, and get knitting.  If you’re looking for a great place to get started, check out the Lion Brand website‘s tutorials.  They are very helpful.Knit unique items for special occasions.