Episode 144 – Combining Knitting, Crochet & Sewing – The Valiant Tailoress

Episode 144 is especially educational! Our featured interview guest is Melanie Scharlé, a highly skilled knitter, crocheter, and sewer whom we recently interviewed during the Swiss Yarn Festival. Melanie is German but lives in Basel, Switzerland, and she is the creator of the magazine ‘The Valiant Tailoress’. Madeleine and I have been doing a lot of knitting which we’re very keen to show you. We have some great Patron discounts, and we’ll also give you an update on our Pura Vida Knitting retreats!

The Valiant Tailoress - Sewing, Knitting & Crochet At One Stroke

The Valient Tailoress Magazine combines knitting, crochet, and sewing patterns to inspire its readers to create not just individual pieces but complete outfits for themselves. The first issue came out in 2021 and the theme was “Forest.” The magazine’s first half includes an editorial showcasing coordinated designs, while the second half provides the patterns for all the individual items in each outfit. An additional envelope contains sewing pattern sheets. The magazine also features interviews with renowned designers, emerging yarn producers, and a cultural article about traditional pompom hats from Germany’s Black Forest.

During the interview, Melanie discusses the inspiration and techniques behind some of the magazine’s designs. Quite a few skills and techniques were entirely new to me, which was exciting because I love learning new techniques. Melanie Scharlé is a real gem full of great crafting knowledge.
Sometimes, Melanie combines all three crafts in a single design! Here, it is essential to know how stretchy the different fabrics might be. For example, when combining a linen fabric with crocheted lace, the linen will keep its shape while the crochet might stretch a little. Melanie’s trick is to sew the crocheted lace onto a piece of organza silk for stabilization.

Melanie is in the process of creating a second edition of The Valiant Tailoresse! This edition’s theme is Venice, Italy, and here is one of the stunning designs, inspired by the Bridge of Sighs, over which Giacomo Casanova was led after being sentenced.

When someone was convicted of a crime in the Dog’s Palace of Venice, they were led to their cell over the Bridge of Sighs. The view through these bridge windows was their last glimpse of freedom before being incarcerated. These windows inspired the main pattern of the Giacomo sweater.

When you knit the sleeve, most of it is a simple rectangle until you have to decrease right around the armholes. This beautiful bell shape is achieved entirely by smocking using a dark red yarn for contrast.

Melanie also gives us a short demonstration on how to smock using yarn and an embroidery needle. 

Quite by coincidence, smocking has become the theme for this episode. Both Madeleine and I are working on projects that use smocking but with different techniques. Smocking is an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can be stretched. It was commonly used on cuffs, bodices, and necklines before elastic was invented. Interestingly, it was developed in England during the Middle Ages and was mainly worn by laborers. Smocking was a practical way to make garments form-fitting and flexible. Garments were simply cut and smocking was used to give them shape. The name comes from the word “smock,” which is a laborer’s work shirt.

Finding The Valiant Tailoresse

Patron Discounts

The Valiant Tailoress

Melanie is offering Fruity Knitting Patrons a 20% discount off everything in her online store. This includes the very comprehensive magazine The Valiant Tailoress and her tutorials on smocking and slipped stitches. In part two of the interview, we go into a lot of detail about the wonderful possibilities you have after learning these two great knitting techniques. So a huge thank you to Melanie for this very generous Patron discount. Fruity Knitting Patrons can find all discount details here.


We interviewed Trine Bertelson from CaMaRose back in Ep. 141, and during our interview, I wore one of Trine’s designs. It was a cardigan, but I decided to wear it back the front. You can see me wearing it here. Trine was a bit afraid that people would ask for the pattern and as she predicted, that happened. So now Trine has made a new pattern and has named it Andrea’s Summer Smock. Trine is kindly making this pattern available for free exclusively to Fruity Knitting Patrons for one month! Fruity Knitting Patrons can find all details here.

Our Pura Vida Knitting Retreats in Costa Rica - February 2025

In the last episode, we announced our Pura Vida Knitting Retreats, which we’re hosting together with the Canadian knitwear designer Claudia Quintanilla. I interviewed Claudia back in Episode 140. Earlier this year in February, Claudia and I travelled to Costa Rica to choose a location for the retreat. The Nature Resort and Spa was the very last place we looked at and it stood out way above everything else we’d seen.

The Nature Resort is located right next to Manuel Antonio National Park. So it’s surrounded by coastal rainforest and it also has a breathtaking view over the Pacific Ocean. The property itself is a jungle environment with over 12 acres of wildlife rich tropical rainforest. And there are lots of little pathways leading to secluded spots where you can relax, knit, read a book, or meditate.
This retreat is all about spending time in a beautiful location while we enjoy each other’s company as fellow knitters and of course learn new skills. There are also several walking trails at your doorstep where you can see wildlife such as sloths, monkeys, toucans, and macaws. One of the paths even leads to a small beach where you can dip your feet in the water or go swimming in the warm ocean.

Claudia is creating a special Pura Vida Knitting Retreat design for summer to match the Costa Rican vibe. We’re keeping the design a surprise for now. As our guest, you will receive the pattern, as well as the yarn to knit it. In another of our workshops, called Embellishing your knits, you’ll learn to add a touch of elegance to your designs by using ribbons, applique, beads, and embroidery. The techniques you’ll learn in this workshop are used in Claudia’s upcoming book, which will be released later this year in September by Laine Publishing. All knitting participants will receive a signed copy of the book as well.

I will also be giving a workshop on some of the techniques that have been total game changers on my knitting journey. I haven’t yet decided on the exact program, but it could include things like how to cut up your knitting and graft it back together again to fix mistakes, how to catch the floats and weave in the ends as you knit (even on the purl side of colorwork), or how to cable without a cable needle. It will be fun!

You can join the retreat together with your knitting friend and even share a room. We’ve also had quite a few knitters sign up together with their non-knitting partner. Your partner can join us for all meals and our non-knitting activities, including a Jungle Tour, Gala Dinner with Live Music and an optional Latin Dance Class!

While we’re busy with our knitting workshops, your partners can hang out together if they want to and go off on their own adventures. There are many other activities in the surrounding area and we’re happy to help organize some for them. These include visiting a chocolate and coffee plantation, fishing or kayaking on the open sea or amongst the mangroves, sailing along the coastline and exploring the nearby national parks.

Join one of 4 Pura Vida Knitting Retreats in February 2025

Under Construction - Smocking

Smocking my April Cardigan by Petite Knit

I had not considered smocking my knitting until I interviewed Melanie Scharlé. I just happened to have the perfect project on my needles for some spontaneous smocking. These past few months have been especially busy for Madeleine and I, preparing and filming interviews at the Swiss Yarn Festival, organizing our Retreats in Costa Rica and, of course, producing this podcast. Knowing that I wouldn’t have the mental capacity for anything complex, I chose the simplest design I could find to work on during this highly stressful period.

This is the April Cardigan by PetiteKnit. It has a V-neckline and is worked top down and it’s a very practical choice because I’m in need of a light and versatile springtime cardigan. Melanie has awe-inspiring crafting skills, and when she talked about adding smocking to your garment as an afterthought, I immediately thought of my very simple plain cardigan as the perfect canvas to play around with.

This design is meant to have a 1×1 ribbing, but I decided to do the 2×2 ribbing and try out the smocking. I’ve used the smocking technique to sew together the two inner columns of knit stitches that are closest to each other. Alternatively, I could have chosen to sew together the two outer columns of knit stitches (as marked in red), which would have drawn the fabric together even more.

During this episode, I give a little demonstration of how to do smocking on a double rib. This includes how to mark the stitches before sewing them together and how to avoid tightening your ribbing if you’re only smocking for decorative purposes as I am.

Madeleine's Jenny Jacket by Petite Knit

Madeleine is still working on her Jenny Jacket by Petite Knit, which she is making for her best friend, Antonia.

While my smocking was a spontaneous decision, Madeleine’s cardigan is an all-over smocked pattern, also by Petite Knit. But, although our end-results might look similar, the techniques are very different. 

The cardigan is worked top-down in one piece and is drop-shouldered with German short-rows at the back. The short-rows are there to create a gentle slope which results in a better fit along the shoulders compared to the traditional drop-shoulder which is a simple rectangle.

The all over pattern is also called a smocking stich but it’s done as you are knitting the fabric. This is basically an all-over double rib but every few rows you repeatedly gather 6 stitches together and wrap them. Because she didn’t know much about smocking, Madeleine looked it up in “The Principles of Knitting” written by June Hemmons Hiat. I interviewed June back in Episode 68.

Aside from the traditional embroidery techniques, June also explains other stitches, including wrapped stitches and couching stitches, that create a similar look. So, Madeleine found out that to be technically correct this is the horizontal couching stitch which creates a fabric that looks exactly like it has been smocked.

Support the show and become a Patron

We rely entirely on our viewers for financial support to keep producing this show. If you would like to be one of those viewers who enables this show to continue, you can do so by visiting our Patreon page and signing up as a Fruity Knitting patronYou can choose between three levels of support: Hebredians, Merinos and Shetlands.

We also try to provide some extra benefits to our patrons like discounts and live events as a thank you. So, once you’ve signed up, you will receive updates on these benefits in your home feed. You can also browse the different collections directly on our Patreon page.

We have a fun community of Shetland patrons who join us at our online live events twice a month: once for a knit-and-chat session and once to meet a special guest whom we’ve previously featured on the show. Luckily, we also record these events and turn them into an audio podcast so that our Shetland and Merino patrons can listen to them at a later date.

What we are wearing

Andrea is wearing her Maeron by Moonstruck Knits on the couch and her Barbroe Blouse by Knitting For Olive during the interview. Madeleine is wearing Andrea’s Celestial by Martin Storey on the couch 😉


2 thoughts on “Episode 144 – Combining Knitting, Crochet & Sewing – The Valiant Tailoress”

  1. Margaret Black

    I loved the Red bolero in episode 144 shown with you wearing it when you were interviewing Melanie Scharle about slip, smocking stitches & Welt stitches. Not sure where I can get that pattern. I live in NZ and have looked on Ravelry
    but no luck. Absolutely love Fruity Knitting, it’s the highlight of my day when the next “ episode” comes out. Andrew would be so proud of “his girls”.

  2. I’m interested in the slip stitch techniques shown at the end of episode 144. I didn’t see any reference to the designer in the show notes.

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