DMK Podcast, Episode 26: The Design Process

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WATCH NOW: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/ep-26-the-design-process_39960

As I’ve been spending more time on my own knitting designs lately, I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the process that goes into creating a pattern. For me, that process is slightly different each time, so I’ll talk about both how wildly things can vary and about the steps that I always visit when I’m designing. The process is both invigorating (really gets the creative juices flowing!) and challenging (grading for different sizes is HARD).

The technique segment in this episode gives you some tips for joining into the round without twisting your stitches.

Mentioned in this episode:

Who’s ready for a fun hat KAL?

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Yesterday, the yarn company Knit Picks released its 2015 Spring Accessories Collection, and I’m proud to say that I have a hat design (pictured above) in this lovely, 26-pattern book.

The hat is called the Bloccare Cap (direct Knit Picks link / Ravelry link). The name comes from the Italian word for block, since the overall effect is of color blocking.

This is a really fun knit that involves a number of interesting but not complicated techniques. The main body of the hat starts with a provisional cast on and is worked flat and sideways, using short rows to shape the crown. You join the whole thing by using a three-needle bind off and then pick up stitches from the bottom edge to work the ribbed brim.

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Does this look and sound like something you’d like to try? I’m getting quite an enthusiastic response to this pattern on the various social media, so I thought I’d schedule a knit-along (KAL) to begin March 1 (ending April 15).

Why join a KAL? You’ll be able to …

  • show off photos of your hat-in-progress (and admire others’)
  • ask questions if any step of the pattern confuses you
  • get links to tutorials that can help you with any unfamiliar techniques
  • enjoy the camaraderie of other knitters working on the same project you are
  • potentially win a prize if you finish by the closing date and your name is drawn!

What will you need to participate? Gather these things by March 1, and you’ll be ready to go!

  • A copy of the pattern. It’s available as an individual download on the Knit Picks website and on Ravelry, or as part of the 2015 Spring Accessories Collection (available in PDF or print format).
  • Sportweight wool yarn in 5 different colors. The photographed samples use 1 ball in each of five colors of Wool of the Andes Sport. For the largest size, I used about 110 yds of the main color (gray in the sample above); about 70 yds each of the 3 contrast colors that are used in both the hat body and brim (burgundy, blue, and yellow above); and about 50 yds of the last contrast color that is only used in the hat body, not the brim (white above). Knit Picks makes it easy to order kits if you order the pattern from them (and the entire project costs less than $25 including shipping).
  • 16-inch circular needles in US 3 (3.25mm) and US 2 (2.75mm), or the size you need to get a gauge in garter stitch of 21 stitches and 45 rows = 4″/10cm in garter stitch worked flat, blocked.
  • A Ravelry account and membership in the Dark Matter Knits group, both of which are free and fabulous. 🙂

I’ll leave you with a final photo of me wearing my own prototype of the hat. As you can see, there are near-infinite color possibilities. For more variation possibilities, I include instructions on how to make the hat fit more like a traditional beanie instead of as a slouchy hat as shown here. The sizing and styling make it possible to knit this for just about anyone, male or female, child or adult.

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What colors will you choose? Come play with us!

A modeling career begins

Look who I found grinning at me when I opened the October KnitPicks catalog:

The cute little guy in yellow is my son, Liam, modeling a sweater that I designed for KnitPicks’ Independent Designer Program. I was thrilled to see that they featured the design in the catalog.

I still need to write to you all about Fiber College, an absolutely gorgeous event in Maine that I attended two weekends ago. Soon, my sweets, soon. Meanwhile, a girl’s gotta grade.

Finally, I can show you one!

After much (by necessity) secretive knitting, I can finally show you a completed design. A few days ago, KnitPicks posted my pattern –called Dawson — for a men’s shawl-collared pullover knit from their new merino-cashmere blend.

There’s my dear boy modeling it on a typical, blistering summer day here in Austin. Impressive how he’s not even breaking a sweat, isn’t it? I had to arrange the shots carefully so as not to show in the background the 20-somethings in bathing suits diving off their boats into the river and the 30- and 40-somethings on shore who were dripping sweat into their iced coffees.

I’m really proud of this design, mainly because I calculated all the measurements completely from scratch. That is, I took the standard measurements for men of different sizes and calculated how that would translate into directions for each size. This was a bit of a nightmare when it came to the set-in sleeves because the shaping on that kind of sleeve is complex.

I’m also really happy with how well the stitch pattern married up with the yarn. Capra, the yarn used in this design, develops a slight halo after being knit and worn, so you need a stitch pattern with some sharpness to it. But then, most sharply defined stitch patterns are either ribs or cables — totally expected for a men’s sweater, yawn — or a bit too femme. After much swatching with different stitches, this simple combination of knits and purls fit the bill.

I loved working with this yarn. It provides rather affordable access to cashmere. While $90 for a size small might seem like a lot, it is a cashmere blend, and that is a men’s small we’re talking about.

I’d be grateful for any feedback you are willing to offer.  Also, let me know what patterns for boys and men you wish were available. I’m in the market for new ideas to pursue!

A honey of a sweater

I’m so excited! This Thursday, my latest knitwear design — the sweater you see above — will be posted onto the KnitPicks web site. KnitPicks, one of the major U.S. yarn companies, has a new Independent Designer Program through which independent designers can sell patterns that are made in the company’s yarns.

I approached them with this idea and they liked it. Earlier this week, the completed pattern was officially approved. This is exciting for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that KnitPicks gets hundreds of thousands of hits. For a novice designer like me, this kind of exposure is invaluable.

KnitPicks also lets designers sell their patterns elsewhere simultaneously, so I’ve already posted the pattern to Ravelry. In the six hours since I posted the pattern, it has already received more love than either of the first two patterns that I posted. I feel like I’ve finally hit it this time.

The design is just what I usually shoot for — something that looks more complicated than it is. The honeycomb stitch pattern is actually just a simple combination of knit, purl, and slipped stitches. The sweater is also worked together in one piece so that little sewing is required at the end.

I’ve named it Langstroth after the man who developed some of the modern techniques used in beekeeping. Get it? Honeycomb? Beekeeping? Yuk yuk yuk.