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.

Men’s knitting roundup #3

Time for our regular check-in with men’s knitwear patterns…

First up: one of those patterns that make you blink twice and say to yourself, “Is this pattern really free?!” The Simply Harika hat and mitten set by Renee Burton is a stunning piece of colorwork in a fascinating Turkish-meets-Estonian style.

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The pattern page on Ravelry includes so many wonderful color combinations that you could easily find an idea to suit the wearer. The pattern includes many other options for customizing your hat, including instructions for two different weights of yarn (fingering and sport). If you’re inclined to start holiday gift knitting early, this would make an excellent candidate.

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For the man of more subdued tastes, the Lakewood scarf by Katy Osterwald would make an excellent choice. The combination of subtly variegated yarn and stitch pattern here is so richly handsome. And knit up in the lush superwash Malabrigo Rios, this would be a garment that is both easy to care for and luscious to wear.

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And finally, holy guacamole do I love this new sweater, Inge, from Italian designer Silvia Mancin-Stranalana. (The pattern is available in English and Italian.)

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Knit up in Cascade Ecological Wool (which usually works up somewhere between an Aran and a bulky gauge), this would make a relatively fast project, even with the men’s sizing and turtleneck. If I lived in a colder climate, I would be casting this on RIGHT NOW. The shape and styling of this pullover would be flattering on many different body shapes and sizes.

 

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.

Go go, indie publishing!

Social media have amazing powers. While I agree that it’s going too far to call the democratic revolutions in the Middle East “Twitter-made,” it’s undeniable that Twitter took a deep-seated desire for more accountable government and focused it quickly and inexorably in the same direction.

Since at least the arrival of Knitty and Ravelry, a similar — though admittedly less profound — effect has been going on in the world of knitting and crochet. Where once the world of knitting and crochet design was ruled by a few presses and designers, there are now more than 25,000 designers registered on Ravelry alone.

Please understand that I do not consider Interweave Press the Hosni Mubarak of knitting. From what I can tell at this distance, there is nothing dictatorial about Interweave. Nor do I think that the democratization of knitting and crochet design comes without some price. Among the patterns that are available on Ravelry, the quality control is far from consistent. Many patterns are laden with errors, unclear instructions, and poor photography.

But I consider this a small price to pay for the amazing bumper crop of independent designers that have emerged in the past decade. Many of my personal favorites — Marnie Maclean, Kirsten Kapur, and Kate Oates, just to name a few — rarely if ever publish their designs in the mainstream craft press.

I say all of this to you now because of a new project that I’m really excited about: Shannon Okey, who has made a name for herself as an all-around knitting entrepreneur, is about to launch a series of 10 pattern books called Fresh Designs through her own independent Cooperative Press. Each book focuses on a theme — I have a design in the Kids book, for example, but there are also books on women’s garments, mittens, toys, men’s designs, home decor, and so on.

Shannon already has the funding to make the series happen, but decided to seek support through Kickstarter so that the e-book options could be that much better. You can see the amazing result above: in the mere five days since the project went up on Kickstarter, 72 people have pledged a total of nearly $4,000, which puts the project 4/5 of the way to the initial goal.

It’s quite a testament to how much the knitting community believes in the power of independent design and publishing. Click on the Kickstarter link in the previous paragraph, and you can see why this particular iteration of independent publishing has garnered so much support: the projects, the photography, the styling, and the overall design sensibility are luscious.

There are great rewards for joining the support group — come check it out!