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  • Take a Woodland Ramble with Jessica McDonald

    November 07, 2022 6 min read 0 Comments

    Woodland Ramble & Forest by Jessica McDonald

    Hello! I am Jessica McDonald, an independent knitting pattern designer and publisher. Rachel invited me to write a guest blog post about my two books she has here in her shop. My two books are Forest and Woodland Ramble. Both of them are forest-inspired collections of knitting patterns. Forest is the adult-sized version, and Woodland Ramble is child-sized.  

    I live in the mountains of Idaho (a state in the USA), and my beautiful, natural surroundings inspired me greatly. For Forest and Woodland Ramble I took my inspiration from the forests we love to spend so much time in. Woodland Ramble was written and published first. I wanted to create knits that would be perfect for wearing on a walk in the woods on a rainy day. The designs needed to be cozy, practical, and beautiful all worked up in a complimentary color palette of woodsy, earthy colors.


    Woodland Ramble & Forest by Jessica McDonald

    For the yarn, I settled on De Rerum Natura. Being woolen spun and having a wonderful selection of colors, I knew Gilliatt and Ulysse would be perfect. I chose four colors to work with so that the collection would have a cohesive color story. Forest, Caramel, Goeland, and Bouleau were the perfect colors. Forest-y and warm, I fell in love with them all.

    Woodland Ramble was written first. The designs were so stunning that I was receiving constant requests for adult-sized versions of all the sweaters. So, then I wrote Forest, which was published this fall.

    The sweaters in both books are the same design with the children’s sizes in Woodland Ramble and the adult’s sizes in Forest. There are some minor changes to adjust for the larger sized sweaters in Forest. Colorwork yokes are expanded and cables widened to keep the scale appropriate.

    The two books have different accessory patterns. Both books included fully inclusive sized accessories. The hats, mittens, and cowl can be knit for everyone from toddler to adult. Only the Snowy Shawl is one size. The accessory patterns were designed to use up the leftover yarn from the colorwork sweaters. If you knit Ponderosa or Snowy Pines, you can use the leftover yarn to make the Snowy Hat and Snowy Mittens. The leftover yarn from Cedar or Red Cedar can be used to knit the Juniper Hat or Juniper cowl.

    The designs are not just beautiful, timeless creations that you will love to wear for years. They’ve also been designed and written in such a way to give you a joyful, uncomplicated knitting experience. The patterns are written clearly with simple and easy-to-understand instructions. Knitters with skill levels from adventurous beginner on up will enjoy knitting these patterns.

    Not only that, I’ve created helpful blogposts and video tutorials to help you should you need it. Forest includes an entire page dedicated to resources found on my blog and YouTube channel. These resources were created specifically for these patterns, and are freely available to help anyone who needs it.

    Here is a little more detail on all the patterns included in the two books!


    Snowy Pines & Ponderosa

    Snowy Pines & Ponderosa knit in De Rerum Natura Gilliatt

    Snowny Pines [sizes 32 - 63.25"] and Ponderosa [age 2 - 12 years] knit in De Rerum Natura Gilliatt

    Ponderosa (kid’s) and Snowy Pines (adult) are my personal favorites. Green, gray, trees, and colorwork yokes are my favorite things so these two sweaters are special to me. Both share the same trees in the upper part of the yoke, but are a bit different otherwise. When sizing the design up for the adult sizes, I needed to add more colorwork to the yoke to keep the scale appropriate so these two yokes are not identical even though they both share the same inspiration and intent. These two sweaters have a few rounds of three-color knitting so they are the most difficult sweaters in the books.


    Red Cedar & Cedar 

    Red Cedar & Cedar knit in De Rerum Natura Ulysse
    Red Cedar [sizes 32.75 - 65.5"] and Cedar [age 2 - 12 years] knit in De Rerum Ulysse


    Cedar (kid’s) and Red Cedar (adult) may very well be the most popular designs in the collection. The colorwork is beautiful and simple to knit, and the alternating colors and motifs in the yoke make it interesting and fun to knit. Since two colors are used as contrast colors, you can play with fun color combinations in the yoke, and because the two contrast colors never touch, you
    don’t have to worry as much about choosing colors that contrast strongly with each other. These two are a lot of fun to knit and instant classics.


    Silver Birch & Birch 

    Silver Birch & Birch knit in Re Rerum Natura Ulysse

    Silver Birch [sizes 36.25 - 71.5"] & Birch [age 2 - 12 years] knit in De Rerum Natura Ulysse. Birch shown worn with Juniper Cowl

    Birch (kid’s) and Silver Birch (adult) are both really fun to knit. I’ve designed the cable charts in such a way that it is easy to keep track of where you are, you only have to cross cables on two rows in a twelve-row repeat, and moving through different textures keeps it fun. The charts are all on one page so you don’t have to flip back and forth while you are working the pattern. There are no short rows or complicated techniques in these ones. They are very simple so that you can enjoy making a beautiful cabled sweater without much fuss.


    Larch & Tamarack

    Larch and Tamarack knit in De Rerum Natura GilliattLarch [sizes 32.25 - 61.5"] & Tamarack [age2 -12 years] knit in De Rerum Natura Gilliatt


    Tamarack (kid’s) and Larch (adult) are possibly the simplest sweaters in the collection. A basic raglan shawl collar cardigan paired with a simple texure. It’s utterly timeless. Every row is written out so you don’t have to worry about “at the same time” instructions or getting lost somewhere in the neck-and-raglan-shaping part. And very importantly, I’ve taken care to make sure that the back neck will not stretch out and leave you with a cardigan that constantly falls off

    your shoulders.


    Snowy Hat & Mittens

    Snowy Hat & Mittens knit in De Rerum Natura Gilliatt

    Snowy Hat & Mittens, [toddler to adult] knit in leftover yarn from Snowy Pines or Ponderosa

    If you have leftover yarn from Ponderosa or Snowy Pines, the Snowy Hat and Snowy Mittens were designed to use it up. Both of these patterns are written in several sizes from toddler to adult. The Snowy Shawl follows the same design scheme, but requires too much yarn to be a leftovers project. Although you could perhaps use the leftovers from the shawl to make the hat or mittens.


    Juniper Cowl

    Juniper Cowl from Woodland Rambles knit in De Rerum Natura Ulysse

    Junpier Cowl can be knit in yarn leftover from the Juniper Sweater.

    The Juniper cowl is an incredibly relaxing feast of colorwork knitting. There is no shaping or anything else going on. You can simply enjoy the pleasure of knitting colorwork for a while. This pattern includes three sizes from toddler to adult. Juniper is the perfect pattern for any of your leftovers. The small motifs beg to be knit up in a wide range of colors. A test knitter knit hers in a rainbow color scheme from all of her leftovers, and it was stunning!


    Juniper Hat

    Juniper Hat knit in De Rerum Natura Ulysse

    The Juniper Hat matches the Juniper Cowl perfectly and is knit in Ulysse

    If you want a matchy hat / cowl set, the Juniper Hat coordinates nicely with the Juniper cowl. Also perfect for leftovers, it is a stylish and cozy way to use up any yarn you have left from Cedar and Red Cedar. If you’ve knit both the sweater and the hat, you will have a beautifully coordinated outfit.


    Alder Mittens

    Alder Mittens in De Rerum Natura Ulysse

    Alder coordinates with all of the collection and can be knit in Ulysse

    The Alder mittens were inspired by traditional Norwegian mittens. The back feature variations of the same star that is on the Juniper cowl and Juniper Hat although the star on the mitten is expanded, shrunk, used singly or doubly in order to accommodate different sizes. The sizes will look a bit different, but all of them are absolutely gorgeous.


    Snowy Shawl 

    Snowy Shawl in De Rerum Natura Gilliat

    Have fun knitting the Snowy Shawl in the round and finish by steeking

    The Snowy Shawl is the star of the whole collection in my opinion. It is a colorwork shawl that is knit in the round and then steeked. Don’t be scared off by the prospect of cutting your knitting! I’ve created video tutorials to show you how to do it and practicing with a swatch can give you confidence before you cut into your final project. Knitting a shawl in the round is quite uncommon, which makes it amazing fun to knit. It is sure to impress all your friends whether they knit or not. And in the end, you have a beautiful cozy shawl to snuggle up in all winter long.

    I really love having all these handknits in my wardrobe. They are cozy and beautiful, and I think you will love them as well. The knitting process will be very enjoyable, and then you’ll have gorgeous, warm knits to keep yourself cozy.

    Happy knitting!


    Order your copy of Forest and Woodland Ramble now and save £5. Use discount code FOREST5 - the offer ends midnight (UK time) November 14th, 2022.