Posts from the ‘design’ category

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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bringing home the …

bacon?

One of the groups I belong to on Ravelry (hi LSG!) has a standing tradition about bacon. If you run a poll in a discussion thread to get opinions, you pretty much *must* include a bacon-related response.

I recently sought opinions on whether my prototype Cornflower Booties (another post for another day) looked better with one cuff or another. Of course, I included a bacon option.

Challenge accepted! Bacon & Eggs Booties are currently some tiny swatches and lots of chart versions. The group responsible for my Dragon Baby! Booties has struck again. Stay tuned for an update!

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