Knit leafy sea dragon

Hello, my darlings. I have a little PITA treasure of a pattern almost ready for you. This is Muriel:

Knit leafy sea dragon
Muriel is a leafy sea dragon, the third in my dragon series.

Muriel, an Irish name meaning something like “brightness of the sea,” is a leafy seadragon. She is named partly for her own nature, and partly for my great-aunt who passed a few years ago and who was herself a shining spirit.

I do not want to discourage you from giving this pattern a try, but I have noticed some consistent feedback on my two easier dragons that makes me feel I must give you fair warning. The skills used to create Muriel are in and of themselves pretty basic. Muriel is, however, tedious at times. She is decidedly fiddly. Most importantly: she requires artistic interpretation. I have given explicit instructions for reproducing the body exactly and for general ways to make all the different types of fronds, but what fronds go where, how long they are, and which ones you mix and match is entirely up to you.

I fully expect that this means that some of your Muriels will outshine mine, so I hope you’ll share pictures with meĀ on Ravelry. And if you run into rough spots, I also hope you’ll message me–I’m happy to give clarification, make corrections, or offer general advice on my designs.

And here’s where you find her when you’re ready.

UPDATE: The Ravelry code I sent out is apparently malfunctioning for folks. I’m trying to solve the problem, but if you can’t make it work, just reply to the enewsletter that went out and I’ll reply with the PDF. Thanks to the folks who pointed the issue out!

Cnuic Gloves

Fingerless gloves in handspun.

Ta-da! I spun AND knit these, finger gussets and all. I’m calling my iteration of the pattern Cnuic gloves because the rolling green-gray shapes makes me think of the hills in a book of Scottish fairy tales I remember reading as a kid.

Fingerless gloves in handspun.
Piano fingers!

And I’ve put the instructions together for you, completely free of charge. šŸ™‚ Which is nothing, really, because finger and thumb gussets are pretty standard knowledge, and the stitch pattern is from Cookie A.’s Pomatomus socks and the two belong together.

Made from lightly green-gray handspun
Cnuic Gloves


Read about the spinning processĀ Ā»

Sock Monkey Mittens

Monkey Mittens

I had a request to create some sock monkey mittens this Christmas. The basic mitten structure and sizing comes from Elizabeth Durand’s free mitten pattern–color switches, ears, and mouth are my design.

Sock Monkey Mittens

Although these are made with acrylic because the recipients have a wool sensitivity, I would recommend something with superwash wool or a wool/acrylic blend for better warmth and water resistance while still retaining the washability of straight acrylic.

Adult Sock Monkey Mittens

Download the Free Pattern!Ā Ā»

A Stocking Full of Snow

I think I deserve a Ph.D. in Pattern Notes Archaeology, specializing in my own damn notes. After much wrestling, I believe I have captured the complete instructions for reproducing this delightful stocking. As always, I will be paying attention to Ravelry and the comments here if you run into any confusions with knitting this pattern.

Christmas Stocking_9

Buy Snowflake Stocking Pattern NowĀ Ā»

This lined stocking is worked from the top down in the round. It will easily hold an orange in the toe (a Walshe family tradition) and anything else you would expect Santa to stash in an oversized sock.

Happy Knitting!

Woolly Ball Sacks

A while back, I made a set of wool laundry balls for myself. A friend pointed out to me that they’re useful for cutting down drying time and softening the clothing without use of chemical-laden dryer sheets.

Making them is pretty easy. So easy, in fact, that I decided to make a whole mess of them as Christmas presents for various people. (I had some very cheap wool acquired from the farmer’s market and a yard sale–not nicely suited for spinning, but great for dyeing and felting.) I ended up with four sets, which is few enough that I figured I might as well make sacks for them too.

I used the Grrlfriend Market Bag as a template, sizing it WAY down and only adding one handle bit enough to hang over a doorknob (which is where I store my woolly balls). I love the pattern and it works up so quickly that some folks might just see a few market bags in their stockings this year too. šŸ™‚

Woolly Ball Sack

Here’s my quickie mod of the pattern, sized down to hold four tennis-sized balls.

  • Needles: DPNs, size 5 and 10
  • Yarn: Worsted weight cotton (I used scraps of Peaches & Cream)

With size 5 needles, cast on 8 stitches. Join to work in the round.

  • Round 1: Knit.
  • Round 2: *k1, yo, k1, pm, repeat from * a total of 4 times (12 stitches)
  • Round 3: (and all odd rounds) Knit.
  • Round 4: *k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, sm,Ā repeat from * a total of 4 times (20 stitches)
  • Round 6: *k1, yo, knit to 1 before marker, yo, k1, sm,Ā repeat from * a total of 4 times (20 stitches)

Repeat rounds 5 & 6 until you have 13 stitches between each marker (52 stitches total). Switch to size 10 needles and move to lace netting stitch:

  • Round 1: *k2tog through back loop, yo, repeat from * around
  • Round 2: (and all even rounds) Knit.

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 of the netting stitch until you reach the desired length.

  • Work garter stitch (knit a round, purl a round) for 4-6 rounds.
  • Cast off knitwise, all but last 3 stitches.
  • Work in i-cord for six inches, pull stitches through and sew end of cord to the border to form a loop.

Weave in your ends and use your new little bag to store your handy homemade laundry balls!


That’s a hiccup slipper, a slipPIPper. Say it out loud, go ahead. Are you giggling yet? Hrm. Maybe I need to lay off the mimosas when I’m knitting. Might lead to a few less hiccups in my slippers anyway. Don’t look at the pattern stitch too closely.



I’ve been playing around with the Must-Try Stitch Sampler Slippers from the Summer 2013 Creative Knitting and I LOVE them as a Christmas present. Why?

  • Super easy and fast!
  • The principle works with just about any stitch you want to mess with.
  • Hello, sexy use of i-cord!

This is also one pattern I like acrylic for (my favorite is Caron’s Simply Soft) because it wears pretty well and doesn’t tend to pill as badly with multiple washings and abusive use, which is what I need in a slipper. Two strands held together in a light worsted makes a pretty sturdy fabric and, of course, acrylic is cheap enough that I can afford to make these for ALL THE PEOPLE.

Regarding the i-cord, I can’t stress enough how I love this. I hate doing i-cord that I then have to go back and attach. It’s boring and stupid. I LOVE magical i-cord that gets worked into the edge of something as you go, making it look all purty.

I’m going to make the next pair up using the Bee Stitch, which I think will make them thick and fluffy. I haven’t done the gauge or the decreases for the toe, but here’s the stitch with the i-cord.

Cast on a multiple of 2 + 7 stitches.

  • Row 1 & 3: k to last 3 stitches, slip 3 purlwise with yarn in front
  • Row 2: k4, *k1b, k1, repeat from * to last 3, slip 3 purlwise with yarn in front
  • Row 4: k5, k1b, *k1, k1b, repeat fromĀ * to last 3, slip 3 purlwise with yarn in front

k1b means knit 1 below. The link for the Bee Stitch above has a video demonstrating the technique if you’re not familiar with it.

Keldan’s Dice Bag

Free pattern! Whee! I promised you a few holdover freebie while I’m getting through a sweater design that’s slowing down the dragons, and here’s the first of the bunch!

Keldan's Dice Bag
Druid’s Dice Bag of Tippy Toes +1 (Click image to download pattern PDF.)

This dice bags houses the luck-wielding devices of a level 4 half-elf druid named Keldan. His finest moment in battle was an inspired transmutation in which he turned into an enormous tree, holding a door shut against a boss and her outsider minions for three full rounds while our barbarian tank gathered her wits. He is very good with brambles and his hawk companion, Fara, has been known to save the party from doom with a well-aimed swipe of her talons.

View Pattern in My Ravelry Store

You can sell stuff made from this pattern!

I know not many of you are likely to do a booming trade in handmade dicebags for Pathfinder geeks, but if you do, feel free to use this pattern. I’m licensing it under CC BY-SA. In short, that means you can use this pattern to make items you want to sell or use it as the basis to do something new under two easy conditions. (1) Anywhere you sell items made from this pattern, please include the following attribution: Designed by Melissa Walshe, Variations on a String. (2) If you make a new pattern that build substantially off of this one, please make it available to other folks under the same terms.

This license will not apply to all of my patterns, so pretty please do read the copyright line carefully before you use my patterns for for-sale items. šŸ™‚

Techniques you might need for this pattern!

Adjustable Loop Cast-On


Yes, this is a crochet technique. Just pop the crocheted stitches onto your needles as you make them. It works, I promise, and when you finish, you’ll be able to cinch that bad boy nice and tight.



Nothing too fancy about this i-cord, but if you haven’t worked it before, learning from a video if much easier than learning from written instructions.


Dragon number two is here at last! Sleepy Morgran is ready and waiting for your needles to whip him up in whatever bright scraps of sock yarn you have left in your knitting basket.



Morgran is worked in the round from nose to tail. Legs, wings, and general adornment are picked up to work or worked using a crochet hook for seamless construction. Short rows, nupps, and simple yarn overs give Morgran a fun bit of flavor.

Morgran 2

Next up: a sea dragon. I’ve got a sweater on the needles with a looming deadline, so it may be a while. I promise to hold you over with some fun, geeky free patterns while you wait.

Reminder: Email subscribers get my patterns for free!

Knit Cornelius

Cornelius has arrived! He’s now for sale on Ravelry.

Cornelius is seamless, worked entirely with picked up stitches and picot bind-offs. His wings are double knit using a slipped rib technique with short rows to shape.

Word to the wise: my second dragon, Morgran, will be free to anyone on my mailing list when I publish him.

Morgran’s winning feature is the spined back, creating using nupps. His chest is shaped with short rows for a more impressive stature, but he’s a sleepy one.

As always, I’m happy to answer questions on my patterns or fix errors if you connect with me on Ravelry.

Happy Knitting!

Osprey Distaff

This distaff, or “wristaff,” was born out of sheer necessity. I’ve been spending more time with spinning, and it’s incredibly helpful to have a tool to keep the roving out of your spun yarn. I played around with a few techniques to make it as seamless as possible.

Osprey Wristaff, detail shot

The pictures were taken at Wolf’s Neck State Park. There’s an island just off shore that’s protected as a sanctuary for roosting ospreys and watching them interact was quite the lesson in bird drama. And it didn’t hurt that blowing off every other thing I probably should have been doing Monday afternoon to take pictures with my husband at the beach made me feel just a bit like I was borrowing the freedom of those birds.

Osprey Distaff (click to download pattern)

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Update 4/14/12

A few people have kindly pointed out some errors in my pattern–those have been corrected in the document linked above. Thanks to everyone who test-knits my patterns and lets me know where I’ve made mistakes–it really helps me offer a better pattern for everyone else.