Tag Archives: Pattern development

Double Dutch is live!

Yay! My “Double Dutch” hat is officially for sale, announced today on the Bella Knitting blog. Yay!

I gotta say, the pattern support for this is nuts. There’s a video walkthrough, a bunch of photos, careful explanations — the directions are so clear that when I was reading over the final product, I found myself wishing I’d had the instructions while I was inventing the dang thing. I would’ve spared myself a lot of trouble, I can tell you.

Run run run!

Everything right now is a race to the finish! At work, we’re launching some major changes to the Web site’s functionality, and I’m the only developer here. All changes and fixes and edits have to go through me. I’m coding and uploading like a mad thing!

On top of that, I’m trying to finish another one of my brioche-stitch hats before tomorrow, so I can get pictures of the boyfriend in it. Laura over at Bella Knitting wants to debut my pattern at Stitches, and when she heard I was willing press the cute boyfriend into modeling it, she said she’d wait on photos from me before she printed. Stitches is next weekend, she needs a few days of lead time, I’ll need a day or so to process photos, cute boyfriend gets here tomorrow, and I’m busting ass on this hat as much as I can while fixing bugs and nursing the carpal tunnel.

I’d be stressed out by the page if I didn’t love it so much …

Woot! Kitty hat!

For some reason, I seem to have more forward momentum than usual — I’ve finally deduced, transcribed, tested and written out my kitty hat pattern. Now all that’s left is to find a yarn option (the ones I’ve made so far have all used yarn I made by cutting up old thrift-store sweaters), write and shoot the tutorials, retool it to a kid’s size, get decent photos for each version and put the pattern together. Fortunately, I can crank out one of these bitches in an hour and a half, and I think I can do the kid version just by changing the gauge. I’m stoked!

What’s especially funny to me is that I’m putting so much effort into something that’s been made so many times, thanks to my crazy-ass incredibly high standards. But the end result is something I love, and I think it’s worth it, dammit.

Only one way to find out

There are a few areas of my life that I’d like to push:

  • Knitwear design
  • Information design
  • Complex design projects for print & Web
  • Product/portrait photography
  • Being a better boss and manager to myself
  • Hitting deadlines
  • Finding, feeding and creating independent media

So the obvious conclusion is that I should create and publish a book of knitting patterns.

The idea scares the snot out of me … which is exactly why it’s so appealing. And, thanks to things like Lulu and the booming prosumer camera market, it’s also entirely feasible.

Maybe something like this is beyond my reach. Then again, maybe a project this big will extend my reach. Only one way to find out, right?

Closing in

One reversible brioche stitch hat: finished. Check it!

perfect decreases!
Peep those perfect decreases!

The decreases turned out exactly as I’d hoped. I also like that the hat construction has a pleasing symmetry to it: the hat is 64 stitches around, there are 32 rounds before the decreases, and the decreases are worked four times per round over four stitches. It’s also reversible, meaning it has two sides. It’s nerdy, but damn I love powers of two!

The hat itself is super easy to make, once you get used to the whole brioche thing. The decreases take a bit of concentration at first, because each decrease has to be set up on the previous round to get that nice, neat spiral, but they’re not so bad. I managed to get through the whole hat without consulting my notes, so it’s pretty easy.

I took copious notes while making this, so I think there’s a real possibility that I could write a legible pattern for this.

[And here it is! Check out the pattern, “Double Dutch,” on Ravelry!]

Do not trust a smile this cheerful

Bella silk peek-a-book scarfLili models the silk peek-a-boo scarf from Bella Knitting. Observant readers of the Bella Blog will notice the scarf is tied in an Ivy knot.

Photos of knitting count as knitting content, right?

That’s been my big knitting thing this week: taking photos for Bella Knitting. My friend Lili was my model, and the photos turned out great. The part that cracks me up when I go through the photos from the shoot is how perky Lili looks. We’ve been best friends for ten years, and in all that time I’ve known her as fiery, opinionated, raunchy and hilarious, but all the photos for this shoot came out so dang wholesome. We’re talking a Sears photo department level of charming.

In pattern-related news, I’m still working on the two-color brioche hat and scarf set, and the thing is finally near done. The pattern design process was pretty typical for me: I usually spend a day working out the difficult major premise (in this case knitting two-color brioche with two colors at the same time, one in each hand) and spend a month on the details. I’ve been trying to work out a way to decrease brioche stitch neatly, easily and in pattern, and it’s freakin’ killing me. I checked out the Interweave Knits issue with the big brioche article but their method looked even more complicated and silly than the one I had brewing in my head, so I resigned myself to spending weeks knitting and re-knitting the top of the hat until I had something I loved instead of tolerated.

I’ve ripped out the same two inches of fabric for two weeks so many times that I no longer even flinch at the prospect of taking 64 stitches and their associated yarnovers off the needles, ripping back and capturing all those stitches again. The perseverance is paying off, though: by the time I’m done, the decreases at the top will be just as beautiful as the rest of the hat. By my guess, it’ll be at least another couple of weeks before I get the pattern out: what with school, working at the paper and some freelance gigs on the side, I barely have time to sleep, let alone knit.

Brioche stitch hat in progressBrioche stitch in progress. Touching this thing feels like being hugged by a winning lottery ticket covered in kitten fur and clouds.

Pitching zombie

Well, so much for my first pitch. Months ago, I came up with a way to make an old t-shirt into yarn. I wrote a pattern for something I called a Zombie Beanie, as a way to put new life back into beloved but ragged old gear. Right around that time, the Anticraft put out a call for patterns, and I submitted it.

Zombie beanie
Instead of sending in a sketch of a willowy, long-necked, sleek city girl modeling my knitted design, I sent in this.

I got an autoresponse e-mail from them … and the months went by. Finally I spotted something on their blog that said “we have officially emailed everyone who submitted for the book.” Except me. Which is fine, I guess. It was a last-second attempt and I screwed up royally on the submission guidelines and just generally fell flat in my attempt to get the thing out the door. I don’t mind, though. It proved I could get something done and create a mock-up, and it demystified the process for me.

But that also means I have a pattern on my hands, and I don’t know what to do with it. I’m thinking I could get my shit together and shop it out to Knitty and Craft magazine. The pattern itself isn’t too exotic; it’s mostly the shirt-to-yarn technique that makes it interesting. But I think it’d be fun to go through the process and get comfortable enough for it that just submitting my stuff isn’t scary anymore.

And if all that doesn’t work, there’s always here!

Same hat time, same hat channel

Finished another “Montague” hat for Pretty in Pink. It took a couple days longer to finish than I’d have liked, since the yarn got into an almighty tangle.

I worked at a yarn store for a while, so I thought I’d learned how to tackle a ball of yarn that looked like it had gotten into a fistfight with an octopus. The key is patience. Untangling yarn is an excellent zen exercise: after trying to outsmart enough balls of stubborn string, you learn that untangling yarn takes as long as it takes. There’s no rushing it. After butting heads with slippery ribbon yarns and half-felted wool, not much fazed me — not even a skein that looked like I did when I was an 8-year-old tomboy whose parents had to occasionally cut the knots out of my hair with a penknife.

But this skein was a different story. I’d wound the yarn on a nostepinne because Montague is knitted with the yarn doubled, but instead of pulling the yarn from both the center and the outside of the ball, I’d wound the two strands together. Instead of just doubling the number of quirks and knots that can happen with a grabby, loosely plied yarn, I accidentally and idiotically squared the amount of hassle. After spending a good four hours shifting knots around and working the yarn free a foot at a time, I’d untangled a pathetic 20 yards or so of yarn. The absolute bare-bones minimum I’ll work for is $17.50 an hour — which meant I’d wasted $70 of my time trying to rescue a $2.50 skein of yarn. The hell with that, I said to myself, and hurled the whole jellyfish-like mess into a corner.

Anyway. Montague. The pattern’s transcribed and laid out; I just need to get a good photo of it, and it’ll be ready to unleash on a defenseless public!

Slouchy kitty hatOh, and I’m also completely in love with my slouchy kitty hat. It’s got me a couple of compliments and a whole lot of weird looks. The hell with them! Fall is well and truly setting in: the rain’s starting, and shirtsleeve weather is disappearing fast. Weird stares don’t mean much to me when my head is wrapped in a cute, one-of-a-kind hat made of butter-soft cashmere.

And in other news that’ll probably only earn me more weird looks, I’ve decided that it’s time I finally learned to play an instrument: the musical saw.

Back on the needles

Montague: on the needles again

Montague: progressI’m making the pattern for Montague, the top-down chemo cap I made, and it is fun. The knitting itself isn’t remarkable, and the transcription is no fun, since it basically means turning all the winging-it and shorthand and shortcuts into something that can be replicated by another human being.

But the layout! Oh, man! It’s been a couple months since I cracked open InDesign and it feels gooood. After a year doing daily, non-features layout for a newspaper, it feels amazing to have free rein. I can use as many fonts as I like and I can indent them any way I want! I can use whatever photos I want! The number of columns of text? Up to me, dammit! It’s amazing! Not to mention, it’s InDesign on sleek, stable Mac OSX. Using (slow, quirky, unstable, frustrating, counter-intuitive) Quark XPress on (slow, quirky, unstable, frustrating) OS9 was excruciating.

I’m going to make the pattern available as a PDF, for a couple of reasons. Usually I’m all about plain text so I can decide myself how much text and color to use when I print something out, but knitting patterns are the big exception. Every time I have to print a written-out pattern from something I find online, I spend a good 20 minutes trying to puzzle out the most efficient way of doing it that won’t waste loads of paper. You’d think that the Internet’s been around long enough that we’d have figured out a reasonably smart way to print from it, but I guess not.

PDFs aren’t always much better. I was pretty disappointed when I bought a couple patterns from Rowan: The “Red Hot” sweater came with a tiny photo, with no schematic for how the pieces should be shaped and sized, and no photos of the back or side or any detailing. Grr.

Then I ordered a Stitch Diva pattern and … whoa. Beautiful. Large, good-looking photos. Easy to read. Lots of schematics and charts. Arranged to fit neatly on two pages, or on both sides of one page. Pattern name and page number at the top of each corner. Yay.

I have a couple few pet peeves about patterns:

  • No pictures. That, or pictures that don’t clearly show what the finished item looks like.
  • Leaving only a narrow margin down one side. I end up punching holes in the instructions when I put patterns like this in my pattern binder. (I’m not a fan of sheet protectors; I like to flip through multi-page patterns.) The Stitch Diva pattern was guilty of this one, but I forgive it because it got everything else right.
  • Too much whitespace. This one happens with a lot of pattern pages that look like they were saved right out of Microsoft Word, instead of put together using pro layout software. There’s all kinds of empty space on the page, and it takes way too much paper to print out. It shouldn’t take eight pages for a hat pattern.
  • Bad placement of photos. A little more obscure, but still annoying. When you’ll have a photo on the front of a page and another photo on the same place on the back of the page, the paper gets totally saturated with ink. The paper gets soggy, the ink runs and gets blurry and the page dries all warped and bubbled. Yuck. Sure, I could print the pattern out on heavy-duty paper, but that stuff’s expensive. Sure, I could print it on two sheets of paper, but dude — I’m a native Californian. We get all weird about things like wasting paper. I get mild anxiety fits when people leave the tap running, ferchrissakes.

Anyone else have any pattern peeves?

So much pink

Pink! So much pink!

At least I’m getting to a point on the bag where I have to start thinking about finishing. This whole “create vast swathes of fabric from string” phase is nice, seeing as it’s near-impossible to screw up, but I’m spoiling for the more challenging parts of the project.

Yesterday my brain was practically spilling over with neat ideas for an appliqued design to go on the front of the bag and I can’t wait to get rolling on them. Note to self: Draw at least a few rudimentary sketches in the sketchbook before the ideas disappear into the ether, blown there by a few hours of pagination while I’m at work. Nothing like drawing boxes in Quark to slowly kill the spirit!

Man. The macro capabilities of the camera I’m using are, like, suck and a half. I’m all spoiled by the boyfriend’s beautiful digital SLR. I kept trying to get one part in focus and in all the pictures, the plane that’s nice and sharp is actually six inches behind where I told the camera to aim. I ain’t no raw amateur at macros, either, so I know it’s not just me, and I know I had it set to “macro.” The Cann S45 is a great, sturdy little camera, but it definitely balks at being told to take pictures of things less than two feet away. Which is a problem — who wants to see pictures of yarn taken from across the room?