DMK Podcast Episode 29: More Behind-the-Scenes Design

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Episode 29: More Behind-the-Scenes Design

WATCH NOW: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/ep-29-more-behind-the-scenes-design_44828

Today we spend some more time looking behind the scenes at how knitting designs are made. I review the new PatternGenius app (by the same cool developers who made knitCompanion), and talk about what I learned from organizing the photo shoot for the book Defarge Does Shakespeare.

[Correction: I discovered after recording that in PatternGenius there are lots of other cables in the free version of the app—the cables are much more customizable than they at first appear.]

The technique segment gives some tips for how to approach charts when they’re worked back and forth and you find reading the wrong side confusing.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Giveaways:
  • What I’m knitting
    • Honey Cowl pattern by Antonia Shankland; I’m knitting it in White Bear Fibers Sport, Mother Earth colorway
  • KAL: Bloccare Cap (March 1–April 15, 2015)
    • information about the pattern available on the Knit Picks site and on Ravelry (pattern available as individual download or as part of a 26-pattern collection)
  • PatternGenius: charting app for your iPad
  • Defarge Does Shakespeare, edited by Heather Ordover (available in digital and print format from Cooperative Press)
  • Our group on Ravelry—come join us for fun discussions about fiber crafts and to enter for giveaways.
  • Receive the Dark Matter Knits monthly email newsletter: exclusive coupon codes, news about patterns and the podcast, and more!
  • If you’d like to make a donation to the podcast (which helps immensely with hosting fees and prize mailing costs), you can do so using the button below:Donate Button

Boys’ knitting roundup #4

Time for another roundup of recently published boys’ knitting patterns! This time around, we’re looking for some color to cheer those of you stuck in week bazillion of gray, cold weather. (As I type this, it’s 75 degrees here in Texas. Before you shoot daggers out of your eyes, remember that you can have your own moment of Schadenfreude when we here in TX have had our 40th straight week of 100+ degree temperatures.)

ImageFirst up, a design to keep your eye out for: the Benjamin pullover by Gabrielle Danskknit. The pattern is currently being tested, but will be released next month. Wouldn’t this be a fun use for some leftover bits of colorful worsted yarn? Maybe even some leftover bits of handspun?

ImageThe pattern will come in an impressive range of sizes, from newborn up to 12 years—and the simple, charming quality of the design can easily support that kind of size range. The garment is worked top-down, so there’s very little seaming—just the kind of quick knit you might be looking for as spring hovers around the corner.

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ImageI know that technically this is a knitting roundup, but I couldn’t resist including the great-looking, crocheted Zigzag Spiral hat by A la Sascha. This design also comes in a wide range of sizes, from newborn to adult large, but I can see this appealing particularly to boys aged about 9–18.

This is the kind of hat that just might get your son to pick up the crochet hook himself. I know my three 20-something nephews would all want to make this.

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ImageSome boys are not particularly keen to wear knitted items, but would love to play with something that you knit for them. Polar Pete by Cilla Webb is an absolutely charming (and ridiculously inexpensive) pattern for a knitted bear that has a complete wardrobe of hoodie, overalls, and boots. He even has his own fishing pole and fish to catch! The shaping of the face, body, and clothing have some really nice attention to detail.

This would be an ideal gift for a younger boy (say, around 4–7 years old), but I’m pretty sure my nine-year-old would also covet this hard.

Boys’ knitting pattern roundup #1

As someone who enjoys designing knits for men and boys, I’m beginning to do regular roundups of patterns for the guys. Here’s my first roundup for men, if you missed it.

Today, we’re going to see what’s available for the younger dudes. In the roundups for boys, I’m going to focus on patterns for school-aged kids (around sizes 6-14). It’s not that I don’t love your chubby thighs, baby boys, but you get more than your fair share of attention in the knitting pattern arena. It’s the older boys that have slimmer pickings, so these roundups are for you — and the lovely people who knit for you.

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First up this month: a gorgeous colorwork sweater in sizes 3-10 from Rowan designer Marie Wallin. Called Eton Mess, this pullover design makes brilliant use of color. (Just because a kid is done wearing dinosaur and truck sweaters doesn’t mean he’s done with color.) The pattern appears in “Little Star,” new Rowan booklet of 20 kids’ designs — about one-third of which will work for boys.

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What about even older boys? Teenaged boys unfortunately have the fewest options when it comes to garment knitting patterns, but the steady trickle has recently brought us this great-looking cardigan, called Bloch Ness, by Anne Hanson of Knitspot.

Anne has a wonderful talent for taking classic shapes and updating them just perfectly. I love how the shawl collar rests snugly against the shoulders and chest, and how the oversized fit still fits well around a narrow waist and hips — all great details for a guy who’s eating half the refrigerator and growing 3″ every night.

The pattern has a very expansive range of sizes from 34.25-62.75″ finished chest. Designed to fit with 4-6″ of positive ease, this will easily fit most guys aged 12 and up.
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Looking for a quicker fix? I just released the Cattywampus Hat pattern, which is sized to fit anyone from babies to adults. (If the boy in question is enormous-of-noggin like mine is, the largest size will fit.)

The great thing about knitting this hat for boys is that you can start with a very sedately colored yarn (like this lovely, subtle worsted from Hiwassee Creek Dyeworks), and finish with a classic, wearable hat — but in between, while you’re knitting, you have the fun of working an unusual-but-simple short-row construction. Try adding a stripe of a different-colored yarn in there, and it will swirl surf-like around and up the hat.
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And finally, don’t forget Katya Frankel’s entire book of boys’ sweater patterns (for sizes 4-14)! It’s an oasis in the desert.

Prairie knit companion

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As often as I can, I look around and marvel at my good fortune. It nestles around me everywhere in the dear family and friends that I have, the basic comforts of life that I try not to take for granted, and the fulfilling work that I have always had the pleasure to do.

Yesterday, the publication of the booklet pictured above reminded yet again of how lucky I am. Prairie Bliss (book 1) is a collection of gorgeous knitted and crocheted patterns by Austin-area designers, commissioned and published by Hill Country Weavers, an equally gorgeous yarn store that has been thriving here for more than 30 years. And I feel very lucky indeed to be a part of it.

With this and several previous design collections, HCW’s owner, Suzanne Middlebrooks, has savvily grabbed the age of internet craft by the horns. Rather than despair at the rise of online commerce, the store has positioned itself both as a physical respite from the internet’s intangibility (Google still can’t help you feel the yarn, I’m afraid) and as a destination for web-savvy customers.

Today’s knitters and crocheters are hungry for well-crafted, independent design that uses well-crafted, independent yarns. These collections go right to the heart of that hunger, using yarns like Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter, MadelineTosh, Sweet Georgia, Habu, and the Fibre Company.

Suzanne has always asked us designers to take our inspiration from both the yarn and Austin’s unusually rich environment (physical and cultural). The photography for these collections (by the very talented Kennedy Berry and Meg Rice) reflects that same heady blend.

One of my favorite designs in the most recent book is the Enchanted Rock cardigan by Jennette Cross. If you haven’t come across Jennie’s finely crafted pieces yet, take a look. You’re going to be seeing a lot more of this brilliant designer, I can guarantee you.

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This is one of those garments that is just as beautiful and meticulously made when examined up close as it is when seen through the gauzy lens of great photography. Woman’s got serious talent of both the aesthetic and technical sort.

And then there are the designs that make me want to pick up the crochet hook again, particularly Ana Clerc‘s masterful Prairie Point Skirt. Ana is another one of those women with a brain firing on all 82 cylinders. Watch for some beautiful dye work from her soon, too.

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There are so many lovely things to choose from that it’s hard to control myself — you’ll just have to go take a look at all the lusciousness yourself — but I can’t resist showing you Kathy Bateman‘s beautiful knitted child’s dress, Little Honeysuckle, modeled by her insanely cute daughter. I’ve also examined this up close and talked with Kathy about its design and its another ingeniously constructed, fun-to-knit piece.

My own design in the collection, the Blue Sage Shrug, was originally published in a different form, and I love how the new photography and styling has fluffed some fresh air into the garment.

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As I say, feeling very lucky to be part of this talented crew. When I think about what inspires me most, it’s the artistry of my fellow designers.

Hamlet the Knitwear Designer: A soliloquy on whether to publish one’s knitting patterns in summer

To publish, or not to publish, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of hottest summer,
Or to raise Addis against a sea of knitwear designs,
And by hording increase their fortune? To haunt, to stalk,
No more; and by a delayed release date to say we end
The heart-ache of no Ravelry sales, and the thousand natural shocks
That a neglected blog is heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To purl, to chart;
To chart, perchance to grade – ay, there’s the rub:
For in that spreadsheet what errors may come,
When we have shuffled off this spring weather,
Must give us pause – there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long instructions.

Martha wrap

Now here’s one that has been in the works for a while.

I completed this design, called the Martha Wrap, back in October, and it has finally appeared in print! This is my first knitting design to appear in a magazine — to be specific, the inaugural issue of UK-based Knit magazine (formerly Yarn Forward).

This is also my first design for women. Getting the fit right on a women’s sweater is a lot more challenging than getting the fit right on a boys’ or men’s sweater. Women tend to like their sweaters more fitted, so you have to get the shaping just right. Plus, this magazine requires all designs be sized for 30-50″ bust sizes, so that just ups the challenge.

The sweater looks pretty good on the model that the magazine chose, though I have to say it looked even better on the very kind college student who let me fit this sample on her. (No photographic evidence, unfortunately.) If you have a fuller chest or broad shoulders — or both, this is definitely the sweater for you.

The main idea behind this sweater was to feature handspun yarn. When I first thought up the idea for this wrap, I had just taken a class on spinning and dyeing from Martha Owen at the John C. Campbell Folk School. (Yes, the wrap is named after her — I loved her class, and her.) It takes so long to hand-dye and hand-spin yarn. I wondered how I could make the most out of the precious, small amount that I got after hours and hours and hours of dyeing and spinning.

I have always liked sweaters with oversized, overlong cuffs, so that was my starting point. Then I thought of the collar that becomes a belt. The rest of the sweater needed to be in a different yarn, and I liked the idea of a strong contrast in weight and color. So I chose a sock yarn and a simple lace pattern to help break up the monotony of doing a whole sweater in fingering weight.

The magazine — ahem — chose the colors. Not my choice. I think my next move is to make one of these for myself in colors that I like. I’m thinking a semisolid mustard yellow for the main color and a handspun that has lots of earthy fall colors.