Posts from the ‘design’ category

Gusset magic

I’ve recently pushed myself out of my bootie designing comfort zone and I’m starting to design some accessory patterns. I’m particularly excited about working on some sock patterns as I love to knit socks and typically knit about a dozen pairs each year. Look for my Wavelength Socks pattern coming out in September 2022!

This new pattern has options for working cuff-down or toe-up. I really wanted the two styles to mirror each other pretty closely, so I opted for gussets and a flap heel for the toe-up version to match the cuff-down version. Magic loop is my preferred method for anything worked in the round, but sometimes there can be a few awkward sections where you feel like you have too many stitches on one needle to work comfortably. In the toe-up version of the pattern, when you reach the Heel Turn section, you have your heel stitches and all your gusset stitches on needle 2 (N2) which can make turning the heel hard to do. Here’s how I (temporarily) rearrange the gusset stitches to make it easier!

Step 1: Heel Turn Setup Round, part 1:

  • N1: work across (in pattern if applicable)
  • N2: knit your right hand (RH) gusset sts1 (the stitches increased on each side of your heel stitches)
  • Clip a lockable stitch marker onto the RH cable
Step 1

Step 2: Heel Turn Setup Round, part 2:

  • Slide the RH gusset stitches back down the RH needle to the cable
  • Pull the RH needle through, so the gusset stitches slip back onto the cable next to the instep stitches, separated by the stitch marker
Step 2

Step 3: Heel Turn Row 1

  • N2: knit across heel stitches (half your original total foot stitches)
  • Clip a lockable stitch marker onto the left hand (LH) cable
Step 3

Step 4: end of Heel Turn Row 1:

  • Slide the LH gusset stitches back down the LH needle to the cable
  • Pull the LH needle through, so the gusset stitches slip back onto the cable next to the instep stitches, separated by the stitch marker
  • Turn your work, ready to work flat doing German short rows for turning the heel
Step 4

The Step 4 picture above shows the instep (patterned) stitches with the gusset stitches either side, sitting on the cable, waiting while you work the Heel Turn as directed. Once it’s completed, rearrange your stitches again as follows:

Step 5: Heel Flap Row 1:

  • Make Double Stitch (DS) (this is the last one to even out the DS on each side of the center heel stitches), knit to last DS (making sure to work the DS through both legs as one stitch as you come to them)
Step 5

Step 6: end of Heel Flap Row 1:

  • Use your lockable stitch marker to gently pull the LH cable out between the instep stitches and the gusset stitches
Step 6

Step 7: end of Heel Flap Row 1:

  • Slide the gusset stitches back onto the LH needle
  • Complete Row 1 by working an ssk (with the last DS and the first gusset stitch)
  • Turn your work, ready for Row 2 of the Heel Flap
Step 7

Step 8: Heel Flap Row 2:

  • Slip 1, purl to last DS
Step 8

Step 9: end of Heel Flap Row 2:

  • Use your lockable stitch marker to gently pull the LH cable out between the instep stitches and the gusset stitches
  • Slide the gusset stitches back onto the LH needle
  • Complete Row 2 by working a p2tog (with the last DS and the first gusset stitch)
  • Turn your work, ready for Row 3 of the Heel Flap
Step 9

Now you should be all set to continue working the Heel Flap as the pattern directs, decreasing away one gusset stitch at the end of each row.

This sock in progress is in Republica Unicornia Merino Sock Superwash, in colourway Just a Jump to the Left.

1If this isn’t specified in your pattern, the formula to work it out is: (total # of sts after gusset increases minus original number of foot stitches) divided by 2

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floating around

Several of my recent patterns have “floats.” Floats are traditionally the strands of yarn carried *behind* the fabric in knitted colourwork. The unused colour travels behind the currently worked stitches while not in use.

Sometimes floats are carried across the front of the work for a decorative effect. My Making Waves Booties have a simple, and easily memorizable, 4-row pattern with individual slipped stitches having the yarn floated in front of them.

If you tend to be a tight knitter, floating the yarn can cause your finished object to be a little snug. Sometimes this can be overcome by consciously not carrying the floats too tightly, but sometimes you need a little trick to help you out! I have a new pattern recently released: Gather Booties. This one has sets of two slipped stitches with the yarn floated in front. One of my clever test knitters came up with a brilliant solution for this potential issue: adding in a yarn over after the float:

sl2 pwise wyif, yo (up over needle to the back, then under needle back in position to purl) …. Next round, just drop that yo off the needle when you come to it.

Thanks for the brilliant and simple tip Jodi! (Find Jodi on Instagram and Ravelry)

Gather Booties were released August 18th, 2022.

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flower power

So, sometimes I design slightly wacky things. Sometimes the things I design are a bit wacky to actually knit. My Flower Shop Booties have a few *really* fiddly sections which can be a little awkward to work. Let me show you how I tackle some of these sections …

Final round of the cuff: this is where you’re attaching the top of the cuff to the base of the cuff after folding it over halfway. I strongly recommend using dpns for this section, even if you’re a diehard magic loop fan like me. Below, you can see 5 stitches already picked up on one dpn and the tip of that needle is inserted up and through the next CC1 (purple) stitch from the first (purl) round of the cuff:

I’ll then knit the next stitch on the left-hand needle (which has the remaining stitches from the final seed stitch round of the cuff), and pass the picked-up stitch over that stitch. This method joins the top of the cuff neatly to the bottom of the cuff, ready to work your Petal Base.

If you’re making booties with the Multi Petals, after you’ve worked the Petal Base, consider transferring your stitches, in pairs, from your needles onto lockable stitch markers. It will be much easier to wrangle each petal without dpns sticking out everywhere (and sticking into you, lol). You can just work the stitches straight off the stitch markers for each petal. I also like that I can easily see how many more petals I need to work, just by counting the remaining stitch markers. πŸ™‚

If you’ve decided to make flower booties with the Multi Petals in two layers, you’ve probably chosen the fiddliest of the bunch! When you have finished that first layer, you have to pick up stitches for the second layer. You can see, on this Star Magnolia bootie, that I’m inserting the needle up and through the next MC (green) stitch from the last round of the instep section, directly below the first layer of petals:

Definitely use lockable stitch markers again to wrangle your stitches, if you found that this trick worked for you on the first layer!

Seven plastic locking stitch markers hold pairs of stitches for petals on a knitted baby bootie made to look like a flower.

All the petal types use the same edging format (the sl1 pwise wyif, yb …… k1 tbl). This creates a nice line of elongated chain-like stitches along each side of the petal. When you “puk” (pick up and knit) and CO down the side of each petal, you’re picking up into these elongated stitches and creating a matching edge over the top of those. Here’s what it looks like when I have one stitch left on the needle at the top of a petal and I’m about to pick up the first stitch along the side:

I hope these tips and tricks help you make your Flower Shop Booties! Aren’t you glad you persisted?

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blinded by the …

… eyestrain brought about by working 2- and 3-stitch cables on US 1 needles (2.25mm) in black fingering weight yarn. Yep, tiny, tiny, black cables on tiny, tiny needles. Am I crazy?

Well, yes, probably. But I really wanted the cuffs on my newest design, Taxi! Booties, to look like little car tires/tyres (tomayto/tomahto all over again). The only way to achieve that was by suffering for my art and working out just which little cables, in which sequence, gave me the look I wanted.

A pair of yellow, black and white knitted booties with a cabled cuff made to look like a car tire sit sole to sole on a gray tile floor.
I think it was worth the eyestrain, don’t you?

The solution? An OttLite, of course! These wonderful daylight bright, adjustable lamps make all the difference when you need to *really* see what you’re doing. Mine is a floor model with dual shade and a USB charging station. I must admit, I don’t often use the charger, but the little iPad/tablet stand is handy for keeping my pattern notes. Mine looks a lot like this one:

White Ottlite dual shade floor lamp

It also doubles as an excellent reading light. I keep mine right next to a comfy Ikea Poang chair and I can plonk myself down anytime for some knitting or reading. They’re not cheap, but I think one of these is a worthwhile investment no matter what kind of crafting you do!

Taxi Booties will be published on April 22nd, 2021. Watch my social media feeds for details!

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going sideways …

I’ve made and designed quite a few things where you work an edging sideways onto live stitches. Sometimes it’s as simple as an attached i-cord edging, other times it’s a bit more of a challenge.

A pair of orange, pink, and yellow knitted baby booties sit on a weathered deck in front of a glass of pink lemonade.

For my Sunny Day Booties pattern, I really wanted the effect of the narrow stripes of bright, contrasting colours, but I had absolutely no desire to achieve those stripes with colourwork. It seemed like it would be much easier to knit the outer cuff of the bootie sideways, joining it to the live stitches at the top of the inner cuff as it’s worked.

Of course, to finish it off neatly and (hopefully!) invisibly, grafting is required. So, that means a provisional cast-on. There are a lot of different methods of casting on provisionally, like the crochet chain method, the needle & hook method (which is really just the crochet chain method worked directly on to your knitting needle), using Judy’s Magic Cast-On (JMCO) as a provisional cast-on, the long tail provisional cast-on, and this one, which I really like for the easy way you can retrieve your provisionally cast-on stitches.

Here’s how I do it in my Sunny Day Booties pattern …

Here’s the bootie with the Inner Cuff finished in the main colour (MC: yellow). I’ll use the MC tail as my waste yarn and use it and my first contrast colour (CC1: pink) to provisionally cast on (PCO) the stitches I need for the Outer Cuff. I’ll use the last method I linked to above. I’m working the PCO onto the needle with the MC tail attached.

Here, I’ve completed my provisional cast-on. The MC Inner Cuff stitches are on the right and the CC1 provisional stitches are to the left of those. Don’t forget to use the MC tail as your waste yarn to save on ends to weave in! When you work this PCO, your working yarn – the one you want to continue using, in this case the CC1, will form the stitches on the needle, and your waste yarn will run neatly through the bottom of them.

I’ve turned the needle around and I have my CC1 PCO ready to work row 1 of the Outer Cuff, with the MC Inner Cuff sts also on the needle. I work my booties using the magic loop method, so you can see half the Inner cuff sts on one needle and the other half on the other (the cable is out of shot here, to the left).

Here, I’ve worked row 1 of the Outer Cuff in CC1 and CC2 (turquoise). The Outer Cuff will be joined to the Inner Cuff by working together 1 Inner Cuff stitch and one Outer Cuff stitch in a decrease at the end of every even-numbered (right side) row. You can see the nice straight line of the MC waste yarn sitting under the CC1 PCO stitches.

When it comes time to undo your PCO, just gently ease the waste yarn out of the PCO sts. I like to use a much smaller diameter double-pointed needle to do this, then I transfer them to my working needle. You may have to realign some of the stitches as you transfer them over. Then you’re ready to graft your live stitches from the last row of the Outer Cuff together with the PCO stitches. Grafting, (commonly known as Kitchener stitch), is a method of joining two sets of stitches together so that the join is invisible (it looks just like another row of knitting). It’s most commonly used to finish the toes in socks knitted from the cuff down.

The finished booties have a nifty little striped cuff, with the stripes going sideways (perpendicular) to the rest of the bootie.

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Sketches & swatches & prototypes, oh my!

See these swatches and single mis-matched booties? They don’t look like much, do they? The good thing about designing mostly booties is that I can actually knit a whole bootie as a “swatch.” Usually, though, I start with some sketches and my coloured pencils, then I start creating tiny swatches that represent a section of the cuff (if that’s the part of the bootie that makes up a new design element). After that, I work my way up to a whole bootie.

For most patterns, even if I have a specific yarn in mind, I usually start with some kind of “workhorse” yarn from stash. I have a *lot* of Dale Baby Ull, so I often start swatching with that. Sometimes I frog my swatches to start over, sometimes I just bind them off then start the next one. I don’t really want to keep knitting, ripping back, and frogging with the yarn that I’ve bought specifically for a pattern concept, so it’s easier to use something I don’t find too “precious.” I typically make a fresh page of notes for each swatch. That way I can refer back to the earlier versions to check changes & adjustments. Most of the rest of the design process happens digitally. I use Google Sheets to track and grade bootie directions, dimensions, and sizes.

With this pattern and the first swatch, I realized that I really wanted 2-row stripes, not 4. The next few were much closer to what I had in mind, but still needed a few little tweaks. The first single bootie showed me that the i-cord edge I was using wasn’t going to work at all. The second single bootie was almost there, it just needed a tiny adjustment to the beginning and ending rows of the Outer Cuff section.

The idea for these booties came from looking at logos and colours when I was working with a graphic designer on a new logo for shake your booties! It also stemmed from feeling like a gloomy, wet winter after a *really* hard year might never end. They are a little ray of sunshine! The final booties will be knitted in three colours of Mountain Sock by Teton Yarn Company. I ordered half a dozen mini-skeins for this pattern, but, unfortunately, they are in some kind of USPS black hole somewhere between the west coast and me. 😦 If they’re not here by the end of this week, I’ll knit up a pair in the yarn I have so that I can get testing started. I want to release the pattern on March 20th, so I don’t have long.

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Just “trust the pattern”

How many times have you had someone tell you to just “trust the pattern” about a particularly tricky or counter-intuitive section of a pattern you’re making? I know I’ve struggled with quite a few patterns that other people have breezed through (I’m looking at you Hitofude, for one) because I just couldn’t visualize what was supposed to (magically?) be happening.

Several of my patterns have directions for knitting the cuff with the bootie turned inside out. This is typically because they have an outside cuff which folds over an inner, ribbed cuff, and it’s easier to knit the cuff inside out, than purl it right way out. (Unless of course, you’re someone who prefers purling to knitting!)

When you’re doing this working in the round, the first step after turning the bootie inside out can be a bit confusing – especially the first time you do it! Here’s what it looks like when I do it:

I’ve just finished the last round of the instep and my yarn is at the back needle. Ordinarily, I’d start knitting into that front needle with the yarn from the back.

The bootie is now inside out so the yarn is hanging from the front needle instead.

Now I’ll knit into those stitches on the front needle. Because the yarn is at the front, and not being carried around from the back, there will be a slight gap at the beginning of this round. It will be hidden later by the outside cuff.

I hope this helps anyone who’s stuck on this bit of any of my patterns!

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Style sheets for designers?

What is a style sheet? It’s an explicit guide to exactly how you want to write and format your pattern. I use one when I’m writing my own patterns and if you have one, it makes pattern writing easier for you and saves time for me as your tech editor (thus costing you less!). If you don’t have one, and would like one, that’s a service I offer.

You might already have a pattern template and be wondering why you need a style sheet and what’s the difference anyway? I like to think of the template as the guide to making your patterns look consistent and the style sheet as the guide to making your patterns consistently easy to read. Consistency across your patterns is important, both for you as the designer and for your customers. First-time customers will appreciate a well-written, edited, and laid out pattern. Repeat customers will become familiar with your pattern style and will find it easier to knit your patterns. With a style sheet, both you and your tech editor will easily be able to ensure that everything you need is included in the pattern and that the layout is consistent with your style.

What’s in a style sheet? All that you need to write a complete and consistent pattern! There’s a lot to include in a knitting pattern and it needs to be as easily comprehended as possible by your customers. You’ll need most or all of the following components in your pattern, and possibly more:

  • Title, image, romance
  • Notes (including construction, techniques, etc.)
  • Materials needed (needles, yarn, notions, etc.)
  • Gauge
  • Sizing information
  • Abbreviations used throughout
  • Pattern directions
  • Charts and/or schematics 
  • Contact information

Your style sheet will outline how and where you put all that pattern information.

When it comes to phrasing directions in your patterns, style sheets are invaluable. For example, my style sheet includes guidelines like:

  • Instruction repeated until a specific number of sts: use β€œ*…; rpt from * to last X sts,” (followed by instructions for last X sts)
  • Measurements: use inches (to the quarter inch) & centimeters (to the half centimeter)
  • Written instructions for charts should end on same row/rnd number as chart (even if using β€œRow 2 and all WS rows: …” -> write out the last WS row instructions)
  • Notes re techniques: β€œWork rows 1-15[17,17,-,-] from Instep Chart 1 on p. x then row 16[18,18,-,-] below; or work entirely from written directions below:”

A style sheet also includes includes information about your pattern template, i.e. exactly how to format your knitting pattern. Are your patterns formatted into two columns a page? Do you use page numbers? Is your list of abbreviations at the beginning or end of your pattern? These are all elements that your style sheet will help you keep consistent from pattern to pattern. In my style sheet, I also spell out specifications for fonts used, colours, sizes, and heading styles. Armed with my comprehensive style sheet, I can easily check off each stage of a new pattern to ensure that I’m being completely consistent.

As a tech editor, I can work with you to develop a good style sheet that helps you write the clearest patterns and maintain a consistent style. If you check your new pattern against your style sheet before tech editing, you can save yourself some money! Please be in touch if you’d like to know more or have questions and, in the meantime, happy knitting and designing!

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design inspiration

Sometimes, I have a brilliant idea and it takes months (or even years … I’m looking at you “Flower Shop / Knit Your Own Ending Booties”) for me to execute the bootie design to mesh with the inspiration.

Other times, I have a flash of inspiration and it takes some swatches and playing around with colours and textures to achieve my vision (e.g. Bacon & Eggs Booties).

And, every now and then, I see something that forces me to immediately swatch, then, remarkably quickly, put together a pattern and knit the prototypes.

About a month ago, I was looking for a particular stitch pattern … fell down that particular internet rabbit hole … stumbled across this stitch pattern, which I’d previously used in the cuff of a pair of socks … and that was it!

Daisy Chain Booties are currently being tested and will be released on the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere: March 19.

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bringing home the …

bacon, part 2!

My Bacon & Eggs Booties pattern has been published on Ravelry! September is “Better Breakfast Month,” after all, so why not knit up some super cute booties for hungry babies? πŸ˜‰

There was much swatching while designing this pattern … clockwise, from the top, bacon swatch 1, egg yolks 1 & 2, bacon 3, egg yolk 3, bacon 4, egg yolk 4, bootie 1, bootie 2, and, in the center, the finished design!

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