Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hat Pattern Sale - 30% off this week!

Happy Fall! 

Through the end of this week, you can get 30% off any of my hat patterns in my Ravelry shop. No coupon code needed, the discount will be automatically applied at checkout. Spread the word to your crafty friends before Sunday the 22nd!

Clockwise from top left: Stegosaurus Cap, Gitana, Leaves and Branches, Melt Slouch

Stegosaurus Cap knitting pattern
$6  $4.20

Gitana knitting pattern 
 $5  $3.50

Leaves and Branches knitting pattern
$5  $3.50

Melt Slouch knitting pattern
$5  $3.50

All other hat options in my shop are also 30% off... check 'em out!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hello and Nice to Meet You.

Since I've gotten an influx of new followers lately, I thought it was about time that I properly introduced myself.

Hi! I'm Leah Coccari-Swift.

I was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin by my parents, Diane Coccari and Ken Swift, who are also amazing public school teachers. Ever since I can remember, they have instilled in me the importance of doing and making (rather than buying). We always had a big vegetable garden. My parents met while living in India and I have a big Indian extended "family" and grew up eating mostly Indian food. Consequently, I love spicy food and have been known to travel with my own hot sauce.

Since I was pretty young, I've struggled with depression and anxiety. Currently the anxiety is more of an issue than the depression, and I consider myself very fortunate. I have a plan of attack that works for me and I am sticking with it.

I have a 4-years younger brother named Caleb who is a farmer, beekeeper, sometimes-butcher, and all-around hardworking and inspiring dude. I have come to realize how lucky I am to have close family that I love and admire.

I love outdoor adventures. When I was 17, I canoed (with 7 other young women) through the Canadian wilderness to Hudson Bay for 55 days. We covered about 750 miles of mostly uninhabited wilderness. We had a polar bear encounter. Remind me to tell you about that sometime.

I went to Beloit College and majored in Studio Art (drawing/painting). I wrote a children's book for my senior show called Margo and the Monster.

The monster under your bed can be your friend!

I met my husband Louis Marquis while we were both working at a summer camp... picture Wet Hot American Summer and you won't be far off. He works for a wonderful nonprofit called Playworks that is changing the lives of young people in under-served communities.

Louis and I lived in Los Angeles for 7 years. I have very mixed feelings about the city. Everything that anyone says about LA is true, good and bad. We found amazing friends through the Sociology department at USC, otherwise I don't know how we would have found our people. It's a fucked-up place but we had a wonderful life there for a time. I miss being wild and crazy and living near the ocean.


  • My grandmother M'lou taught me to knit when I was 4 (see photo! She knit my sweater/hat, naturally)
  • I am 1/4 southern Italian--my Coccari family is from Calabria (toe of the boot)
  • I started cooking and babysitting when I was 10  #latchkeykid
  • I have only ever had rodents as pets so far (3 guinea pigs, one rat)
  • Opened my first shop at age 6. It was called "Rainbow Color Shop" and I sold jewelry and accessories to passersby in my neighborhood
  • Got big thick glasses when I was 2 years old, immediately snapped them in half with my tiny hands. Didn't have the effect I wanted. I still wear glasses (or contacts when I am feeling fancy)
  • In Los Angeles I worked at an LYS for 5 years, met lots of fancy famous people who knit
  • Both my parents are feminists who raised me to be strong and independent
  • I've worked many retail/food service jobs over the years. My first "real" job was at Sears in the Men's clothing department when I was 16. Can I show you to the Dockers shelf?
  • Like many a nature-wanderer, I've had Lyme disease

I am always working to get better at social media, and posting regularly, and all that jazz that is so important for us small-business people. I greatly admire all the (mostly) women that run their own creative brands like badasses. I hope you stick around to see what's next! And as always, if you have any questions for me, don't hesitate to ask. Thanks for reading.

Kickstarter--one month out!

Teresa's owl mug cozy is available for test knitting!

What's all this about?

Teresa did a post on the Great Northern blog about what's happened in the month since our Kickstarter was funded, head over there to check it out!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Firestarter Scarf

It's been a beautiful, warm fall so far in Chicago, but we have had a couple of chilly days. One of those days, I headed to Rosehill Cemetery with Allyson to shoot my new pattern, Firestarter Scarf.

I was very glad to have this cozy scarf, sitting on cold marble, while Allyson took photos. I love this thing.

Firestarter is a reversible, fast, simple (just increases and short rows), fun garter stitch knit. Big needles, simple shaping, and a dramatic edging give it a nice balance of mindless knitting and fun technique.

The short-row edging flies by, and you don't have to knit the wraps together with the stitches in this pattern! It's a time saver and gives the edging a more open, light look.

Lots of ways to wear it

Using 3 skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (or your favorite lofty worsted), there are so many gorgeous color combinations possible.

Since this is a quick knit, I'm thinking this is a perfect gift knitting pattern! I hope you enjoy it.

Firestarter Scarf knitting pattern PDF


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Post-Kickstarter Fugue State

I don't know if it was the excitement, the stress, the not sleeping, the joy, the endless work, or WHAT, but the Kickstarter campaign really threw me off my game. For the last almost-month since we got funding, I've been in a sort of hushed, exhausted state from which I am just emerging.

Swatching for Great Northern outdoors, naturally

So, I apologize for the lack of updates! I'm still here, working, and sending out packages to our backers. If you haven't gotten an address survey from us yet, you will soon.

Now, the real work begins again! Designing an amazing collection piece by piece to knock your bobby socks off. I am so excited to start knitting again.

Keep up with Great Northern news on our blog!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

YarnTalk Season 1 Finale! Clip Show

Over the last 6 months, I've worked with two amazing women, Heidi Gustad and Allyson Dykhuizen, to produce an episode of YarnTalk every two weeks. It has been a wonderful, fun, intense learning experience, and I can't believe how far we've come since the first episode.

Well, Episode 12, the Season 1 finale, is here!

Heidi takes the spotlight to share our favorite segments from our first season, including the knitted film, math and science crafting/hyperbolic crochet (my fave), and talkin' indie publishing. We all also picked our favorite Can't Wait To Cast On project... patterns from Kieran Foley, Courtney Spainhower, and Susanne Sommer.

My favorite from Season 1 -- Atlas by Kieran Foley

We're so excited to get started on Season 2! Yes, we will definitely be back for a second season!

What do you want to see the YarnTalk gals do for Season 2?

  • Should we visit a fiber farm?
  • Should we spotlight spinning or dying yarns?
  • Would you watch us in a house? With a mouse?
  • Would you like to see a particular person interviewed?
  • Should YarnTalk have its own instagram, twitter etc. account?

We'd love your ideas. Leave me a comment here, or on under episode 12.

YarnTalk! Talkin' bout YARN.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A walk in the neighborhood

... yielded these autumn beauties.