Though She Be But Little, She is Fierce Shawlette

Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce Shawlette modeled by Caitlin ffrench.

I am so happy that I finally have a new release to share with you today. My Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce Shawlette is now live on Ravelry, and soon to be released on my Etsy site too. Here are a couple more photos:


3 wider small

The Though She Be But Little, She is Fierce Shawlette is a splash of colour and eyelets fit for any season. Not too large, the shawlette fits comfortably around the neck worn as a kerchief. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to styling this versatile shawlette.

This pattern is suitable for advanced beginners using the following techniques: circular needles, long tail cast on, knit st, yo, placing st markers, eyelets, worked flat, garter st fabric, bind off, weaving in ends. Everything you need to know to make this shawlette is inside the pattern.

Technical Editor: Katherine Vaughan. This pattern has also been test knitted by my generous Ravelry test knitters.

Models: Caitlin ffrench and Rena Varsakis.

Photography: Rena Varsakis.

I have a special offer on right now for this pattern – if you purchase the pattern before 15 August 2013, you will automatically receive 25% off at checkout.


2 small

What do you think?

x Rena


Birthday Sale!


Happy birthday to me and happy birthday savings for you for the next 24 hours. I admit I’m a couple of days late, what with all of the festivities and all. The offer is 36% off all patterns on Ravelry from The Red Fox and Gown. Now go, quickly, because this won’t happen again till next year! Use birthday36 at checkout.

Now, for another slice of ice cream cake in this 33 C heat wave. And happy Canada Day to the Canadians out there too!

x Rena

The Red Fox and Gown At Wet Coast Wools



This is too cool not to share with you. My designs are on display at Wet Coast Wools in Vancouver, BC, as part of the local designers’ display for June. Thank you to the lovely Glenda for including The Red Fox and Gown. Also, if you’ve noticed the bright yarn, my sister Krista has her Rain City Knits yarn on display too! I love the theme and I’m so glad to be part of this.

L to R: Rain City Knits yarn skeins, Morgan Hat, Red Fox Fingerless Gloves, Cloud Cowl and Foxy Business Hat.

If you’re in Vancouver, stop by Wet Coast Wools for a visit. I joined the weekly Thursday summer sweater KAL yesterday from 1-3pm. The ladies are a riot! Cheers for letting me crash the party.

x Rena

Sneak Peek: Neon Glow Cable Fingerless Gloves

neon glow 2

I have another sneak peek for you behind the scenes this month. There’s been lots of sneak peeks lately! Check out my new Neon Glow cable fingerless gloves sample. This is a sample knit up for TNNA, the knitting tradeshow that happens 3 times a year in the US. I’m not going, but the glove is. Really, this glove is a collaboration with Rain City Knits, my favourite indie dyer, and lovely local wool supplier Pollika, who provided the yarn bases. If you’re in Columbus, Ohio this weekend, check Pollika out at their TNNA booth!


Highlighter Yellow by Rain City Knits

As you’ve probably noticed, this glove is bright. Not just yellow bright, but Highlighter Yellow bright. The colourway is one of the excellent neon yarn colours offered by Rain City Knits. Neon is enjoying a revival in fashion, and here’s a chance to play with neon colour with your accessories. The yarn is a light DK made from Blue Faced Leicester wool in superwash. The yarn is dreamy!il_570xN.466154330_879x

Just because I can’t resist, here’s another of Rain City Knit’s new neon colourways… Glowstick Party! I have to say, it is fabulous.

I bet you’d like a bit of info on the gloves, too. As you can see (on the back at least), they have paired cables on both front and back. The gloves will be available in two sizes, s/m and m/l. I am currently writing up the pattern and I will send the pattern off for tech editing and testing over the summer. And then there’s the small matter of a proper photo shoot too. The gloves should be released by fall, perhaps earlier if you folks want to knit fall accessories during August. 🙂 Just let me know.

What do you think?

x Rena

Design Update: Hatching Ideas

As eggs come in different sizes and shapes, so do design ideas.

As eggs come in different sizes and shapes, so do design ideas.

There’s a lot of wrangling in design work. Often, I work backwards: when do I want this design out? Then comes the reckoning…

Designing is a fine juggling act. Or possibly a chess game, where you need to think several steps ahead and schedule things. Otherwise havoc ensues before you know it. I have been juggling and chess playing for a while now.

In designing for knitwear,I need to work several months ahead, usually 3 to 6 months being typical for bigger projects. Sometimes I’m designing an entire year ahead. This is similar to fashion design in general when things are about 6 months to a year ahead too. The reason for this is not only to meet the call for submissions to magazines and the like, but even self-publishing as I mostly do, there’s several stages to the design process.

First I need to incubate an idea. Or eight. And sketch them down in my design book. Usually I sit on the idea for a few days and revisit the sketches. Sometimes I work on fashion style illustrations to visualize what a garment will look like on an actual body. I love sketching and planning out a design.

glaslyn start

Gauge swatch in progress.

Next step: swatching phase. I like this because it’s quick to get results.  To really start planning a garment, I need a swatch of my gauge for the design idea in question. The swatches really vary in size. Sometimes I make multiple swatches testing out different stitches and yarn colours. After blocking, I can then get an accurate count of stitches to continue planning.


I also use the latest in mathematics technology.

Then comes the math phase… admittedly, this is my least favourite part but I have to pay close attention. I can do this by hand for a simple design with calculator, pencil and paper, or for more complex graded designs I spend a lot of quality time in Excel making formulas. As I’ve mentioned before, I use existing standard measurements for determining garment sizing. I can spend a lot time making calculations and revisions.

Next comes the knitting phase, which can take anywhere from a few days to a few months. Partly this is due to the fact that I have various works in progress that I juggle between, usually due to scheduling practicalities further ahead. Sometimes I like to work on projects of different gauges to mix things up for my wrists. I’m always excited when I finish a sample and have a tangible result from my original design idea.


The knitting phase mixes in with the pattern writing phases, which really begins back with the math. I take detailed notes as I knit.  I sit down at the end to write and formalize the pattern.


Photography! There’s both excitement and nervousness when planning a photo shoot. I have to coordinate not only my schedule, but my photographer’s too. Locations need to be thought about, lighting and more. Photo editing can also eat up a good bit of time.

Next stop: the tech editor. My patterns are then sent to the tech editor to check my directions, wording and math. Usually this is a couple of weeks’ turnaround time. Occasionally I also use test knitters too, which can add on a month to six weeks.


I also like to juggle like the ancient Egyptians did.

At last, with any necessary revisions made, the pattern is ready for general release. See how this can eat up some time? Right now I’m juggling several projects behind the scenes which are in various stages of the design process.


Sometimes I don’t feel so patient and I just want the pattern to be ready. 🙂 But slowly and surely, the hatchling idea takes flight and a new pattern is released at last.

x Rena

New Pattern! Thryth Hat for Herdy

herdy cover

This has been a fun week so far, and we’re only at Tuesday! Two sneak peeks and a pattern release to boot. Plus all sorts of fun behind the scenes too.

I would like to introduce the Thryth Hat designed by The Red Fox and Gown for Herdy, a fun British company that I mentioned in my previous post. I love Herdy! And I hope you love the new ear flap hat. I just had to include pom poms and faux thrums. The hat is made from their luxurious bulky Herdywool, which I totally recommend.

The Thryth Hat for Herdy keeps you stylish and your ears toasty during inclement weather year round on all your adventures. The hat is topped with a giant pompom and features earflaps and braids with small pompoms. The hat is available in one adult size.

Skiills Required:
Backward cast on, knit st, purl st, placing st markers, working in the round, stockinette fabric, colourwork, decreases, bind off, sewing, braiding, pompom making, weaving in ends.

Finished Dimensions:
The finished hat fits heads approximately 20” to 23” (51cm – 58.5cm) in circumference.

If you’re interested in a KAL for the new design, check out The Red Fox and Gown group on Ravelry for good times.

What do you think?

x Rena

Sneak Peek: Blythe Doll Bear Hat

blythe bear hat

Pippa in her new bear hat.

This is a double header week of sneak peeks! Today’s sneak peek is a miniature bear hat for a doll. To be specific, the hat fits my Blythe doll, who, after a spa day where she received a sanding, make up and freckles, earned it. I think Pippa looks pretty awesome now in the garden lavender.

I made the hat from some Alessandri Filati Super Kid (70% mohair, 30% silk) in Light Blue, a perfect sort of yarn for making a bear hat. I did a little bit of reckoning and cast on. I think Pippa likes the result.

bear 2

Don’t tell Pippa, but this was also a miniature bear hat practice run to see if I liked the result. Which I’m pretty sure that I do. My dilemma now is whether to make this in people sizes, from infant to adult like the Foxy Business Hat. Which you folks seem to enjoy. So would you enjoy a bear hat too? Should I release the doll pattern too?

x Rena



The Baby Bear Hat is now available for purchase on Etsy.

Sneak Peek: Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce Shawlette


At last I can reveal a secret project that has been under wraps. I have a new shawlette design moving from the secretive design phase to the tech editing and testing phase, hooray! Here she is: Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce Shawlette.

I love simple shawls, and the design of Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce is perfect for vareigated, showboat sort of yarns like the Handmaiden I used in the sample.


If you’re curious about the name, it’s from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare. I thought the name perfect for this feisty little triangular shawlette.

The pattern should go live in mid-July 2013. What do you think?

x Rena

Parcels in the Post #2: Colours of Shetland Book

Colours of Shetland by Kate Davies

Colours of Shetland by Kate Davies. I want to knit that Scatness tam so badly!

Look what arrived in parcel #2! If you missed out on what was in parcel #1, check this blog post out. But look! My very own copy of the Colours of Shetland by Kate Davies. If you don’t know who Kate Davies is, she is an amazing designer of hand knits drawing inspiration from her life in Scotland, and particularly the Shetland Islands. She is also an accomplished writer and historian. As an archaeologist myself who has also lived a scholarly life, I really appreciate the insights and history she often shares about knitting and textile history. She is one of my favourite designers with her modern take on traditional motifs and colourwork.

Her book Colours of Shetland was published in 2012, available both as a softcover book and an e-book. If you purchase the hard copy, you will receive a complimentary free copy of the e-book too. Currently available for £14.99, I think this is an excellent price for this handsome book.

I’ll let you peek into the table of contents, outlining the 10 patterns included in Colours of Shetland. There’s also a couple of handy tutorials included in this book. And have I mentioned yet the stunning photography for the collection shot on location in the Shetland Islands? As if I didn’t want to go there badly enough before…


I also love how she explores a design and offers it in various forms. For example, the Scatness Tam that is on the cover (which I looove) is also available as a tunic too.

kate2And here is another example, the Stevenson Sweater and Gauntlets as shown in this photo. I could happily knit any and all of the patterns in this delightful book.


Also deserving an honourable mention here is a note about Kate Davies’ wardrobe aside from her gorgeous designs. She often wears fashions from England’s stylish Cabbages & Roses. All designs and fabrics are made in England, and encapsulate fun and enduring fashion at the same time. If you don’t know Cabbages & Roses, I strongly recommend that you check them out too. They’ve also partnered recently with UNIQLO for a playful line.

In conclusion, if you haven’t picked up a copy of this book, I recommend strongly that you do. Her patterns are clear and well written, and for a connoisseur of colourwork, this book is not to be missed. As she is in the midst of relocating from Edinburgh, she has noted on her blog that only a handful of hard copies are left, so you better order quickly before they disappear. It may be some time before there is a second print run. Happy reading!

x Rena

A Global Thank You


Hi foxes! Wow, this giveaway is real hit, I’m happy to report. From Bangalore to Bonn, Manchester to Madrid, Las Vegas and so many more, patterns from The Red Fox and Gown are finding good homes. I very much appreciate the notes and comments sent to me via Ravelry. Although I couldn’t reply to everyone, believe me that I’m ridiculously pleased to hear from you and that I appreciate the time taken out of your busy days to write. I’m glad that knitting can unite people like this! Thank you, as always, for your interest and support! It means a lot to me.

As a new designer, I’m usually working on my own, so it is very exciting and helpful to get feedback from you. Notes, Ravelry pm’s, comments on pattern pages, favouriting and queuing patterns gives me information about which way to go with my designs. I always have loads of ideas and it’s interesting to see what is a hit with you. So please, keep the feedback coming and I would also love to see finished objects up on Ravelry on the pattern pages.

This is the last large scale giveaway that I will conduct. But don’t worry, there will be lots of fun still to be had. There will be the occasional promotion. But at the end of the day I also need to cover costs and earn an income so pattern purchases are always welcome! 🙂

Thank you all again! Also, if you like this blog, please follow the blog and/or Twitter (on the sidebar to the right) for more news and events.

x Rena

PS – The giveaway is still on until midnight PST. See my previous post for details.