Design Process #3: Casting On

Swatch and calculations done, I’m finally ready to start knitting. This is my favorite part!
I usually write the pattern alongside the knitting of my sample, as I want to remember exactly what I did. With all those calculations done, sometimes I can actually already write a draft for most of the pattern at this point. As the calculations are based on the pattern process/flow, it’s more or less a matter of writing down each step and plotting in the numbers.

Casting on and knitting

While I knit, I adjust the pattern instructions I wrote to start with. Sometimes it looks better when done slightly different, or the plan I had simply doesn’t work out.

There is also quite often some ripping out happening at this point. As I knit, it might suddenly turn out that the numbers I calculated are wrong, make it look odd, or just should be adjusted a little bit. In this particular case, casting on and knitting for a while happened 3 times, as I didn’t like the look of the yoke to start with. Working this sweater top down (my favorite method – you can try it on while working on it, it’s so handy!), the cast on and yoke is the most complicated part of the pattern, so I can just as well get it right straight away.

Next up: Step 4: Knitting…

 

New Design: Little Sowa

After a lot of requests and comments on my Sowa top from the Impulsive Knits collection, I decided to make a kids’ version of the pattern as well. I had a perfect little model in mind, my darling niece, who is just as jumpy and crazy as I am at times!

Little Sowa is available in the sizes 2-12 years, with the biggest sizes overlapping the grown up Sowa top sizes a bit, with some slight mods like waist shaping removed. Also, there are instructions for working it in a fingering weight yarn only, so you’re not limited to using a lace weight yarn. The use of fingering weight yarn will however make the ruffles a little heavier. This isn’t a big issue for the kids’ sizes, as the ruffles are smaller, but it would make the grown up top look less light.

I made the size 6 years for Frida, as I hope it will fit her for a while. She’s only 4 years now, but big for her age – despite that, I was surprised by the perfect fit!

See the Ravelry pattern page for Little Sowa for more info – and you can buy it straight away right here.

If you want to make a matching kid & grown up set, purchasing Sowa as well as Little Sowa will make you eligible for a $2 discount on Ravelry – which counts towards previous purchase as well, should you have already bought Sowa. Discount is applied automatically upon check out.

And, just because I loved my little model’s own ideas for how to model stuff, here is a bit of picture spam:

         

Design Process #2: Calculating

Having done my gauge swatch, it’s time to do some calculations.

For the calculating, I use Excel spreadsheets. I could of course calculate everything by hand with a pen and a piece of paper, and that would also work fine – but knowing the right formulas and notations in Excel, that just goes a lot quicker. An additional plus is that it will be a lot easier to do the grading (= calculating other sizes) later on, as it will be a matter of copying the same formulas used into the same places in another column, using different numbers for the size only.

Calculating stitch numbers

Now I’m usually doing the grading simultaneously with my calculations for the sample I’m working on. There’s a very specific reason for that: This way, I can find out straight away if the plan I have will also work out for other sizes. It’s pretty handy, as it will make it possible to make sure I don’t need to do all kinds of things specific for one size or the other.

Step 2B: Calculating yarn use per color

Apart from calculating the stitch counts needed for the sizes, I also needed to calculate how much of each color I could use in order to have enough for both body and sleeves. This includes calculating the area of the fabric (cm2, square cm), and multiplying it with the amount of yarn used per cm2 (calculated on grounds of the size and weight of my gauge swatch). A little simple math later, I could see that I could make stretches of around 11-12 cm per color, and only use the 5 skeins I have in the gradient. Hurray! Now I just hope my calculations actually are right (which isn’t always the case at this point in time) :)

Next up: Step 3: Pattern writing, start knitting, ripping out, re-calculating, starting over…

Design Process #1: Planning

For a long time, I have been wanting to share the process I (usually) go through when designing something.

I say “usually”, as it can vary a lot from design to design. Sometimes I start knitting and see what happens, sometimes there is more planning involved. It very often depends on the type of pattern I’m writing: Is it a shawl, a sweater, socks? A shawl can be pretty simple, but may require some calculations. A sweater most definitely requires calculations, and also swatching, so you can do the calculations properly.

Also, what is the inspiration?

John Arbon Knit by Numbers

In this particular case, for the design I am using for this series of blog posts, I was inspired by the yarn. I bought it at Unwind Brighton in July 2014, when I fell in love with the shelves full of gradients at the John Arbon stand. You can take a look at the Knit by Numbers merino yarn range here, they even ombré’d it on the website! I am a sucker for that kind of gradients/ombrés, so I just HAD to have it. I bought a grey gradient (the KBN01-KBN06) and a blue gradient (KBN80-KBN84). 6 skeins of the grey one, 5 of the blue one. I can’t for the life of me remember why I only bought 5 of the blue!

In any case, it’s the blue I will be using for this sweater. It’s going to be a sweater, you see – a simple sweater, which can show off the awesome gradient, but at the same time not boring to knit.
As I love texture, I was thinking: What about Half ‘n Half? Half stockinette stitch, half garter stitch?

I didn’t even make a sketch for this one, which I usually do. I was simply so convinced it would work out, that I wanted to get started straight away.

Step 1: Make a gauge swatch!
My thoughts about the stitch patterns I wanted to use keyed in to this. Garter stitch, when done at a loose gauge, will stretch an awful lot. At a tighter gauge, it is better at keeping its shape. Stockinette stitch on the other hand is flat and lovely, and is a bit less prone to change much if done at a right gauge. So I grabbed my 3,75 mm needles for this Sport weight yarn and got going, seeing if I could fabricate a fabric that I liked.

swatching
30 sts is my usual swatch size, and that’s what I did this time as well. A couple of rows of garter stitch, and then the real deal: stockinette and garter stitch. I chose to be lazy and make half the swatch in one, the other half in the other. To get an accurate gauge measurement you need at least 10×10 cm to measure on freely, but in my case it would be around 5×10 cm (5 cm in width). It won’t be exactly accurate, but that doesn’t matter a great deal, as it can be fudged as we go on with the design. I am thinking a garment with no ease, and it’s okay if it turns out with a little bit of positive ease or negative ease.
Done with knitting, I measured my swatch. The stockinette stitch part was 18 sts & 27,5 rows per 10×10 cm, the garter stitch part 19 sts & 35 rows. So some blocking was needed if I wanted it to be alike.

Measuring my swatch
A little bath and a block, gently stretching the garter stitch but not the stockinette stitch part.
Funnily enough, after blocking, I ended with 19 sts & 26 rows for the stockinette stitch part, 19 sts & 28 rows for the garter stitch part. So – the stockinette stitch shrunk in width. Good to know! The garter stitch part kept it’s shape when I had stretched it, which is also a good result in this case. If not, the sweater would become longer on one side than the other, and that would look a bit odd.

Next up: Step 2: Calculating!

New Design: The Road I Took

My newest shawl pattern just went live!

The Road I Took

“The Road I Took” is a collaboration with Rainbow Heirloom, to go with their Nostalgia yarn club. The club colour of the month is “Winding Road”, on a the scrumptious base of Brit Aran, and the colourway name + Emily’s inspiration picture for this month + the yarn itself was an instant inspiration for this design.

It practically designed itself and flew off the needles, once I got everything going. The diagonal rib texture pattern happened “by accident” – I had planned for something else entirely, but due to tiredness forgot to take the increases on every row into account, making the stitch pattern turn out completely different. Pretty cool, I think!

The Road I Took

The Road I Took

I worked this shawl up in 3 skeins of the Aran weight yarn, so it turned out pretty huge. There’s tons of options for substituting yarn weight and amount though, as it’s worked from the tip and up, and is bound off when you have only a little yarn left. I would however recommend the big size – it’s awesome for the coming autumn and winter!

By the way, Rainbow Heirloom have a monthly giveaway of the Nostalgia club yarn of the month. For a chance to win simply sign up for Rainbow mail, which is the RH newsletter. This month, the giveaway is yarn to make “The Road I Took” – 3 skeins of Brit Aran in “Winding Road”!

For more information about “The Road I Took”, see the pattern page on Ravelry. There you will also find test knitters’ projects and photos.

If you want to start knitting straight away, go buy the pattern right here!

The Road I Took

New Design: Trillidium

My newest shawl is something I have been working on for a looooong time – especially since that lace-y border just didn’t want to work out. Initially, I had no specific plan for that border – I was perusing stitchionaries for weeks, but never found anything in particular that I thought suited the body of this shawl.

Until… Well, until I (yet again) stumbled over the Estonian lace flower that has been used in so many different settings.

I decided to use it for the edging of this shawl, setting off the sheer striping effect (acquired by alternating one and two strands of yarn) perfectly. Also, after the soothing (some might say boring!) knit of garter stitch for the body, what is better than finishing it off with some intricate lace?

Trillidium

Trillidium is named after the trillidium govanianum, a rare Himalayan plant of the Trilliaceae family. The plant has three leaves, and the flower three petals.
The yarn I used is a little “rare” as well – actually, I used a discontinued yarn. I know, I know – a designer should NEVER do that! I’m so sorry! I just couldn’t help myself, as I found the yarn (Juno Fibre Arts Bliss) and colorway (Ocean) perfect for a shawl this size and type. Luckily, there are lots of companies out there that deliver yarns which resemble the one I used, and I’ve given a couple of suggestions in the pattern as well.

Trillidium

Trillidium

Trillidium

For more photos and details, take a look at the Ravelry pattern page: Trillidium
There you will also find links to other knitters’ versions of the shawl. Some of my testers have tried out two-color versions, with fabulous results!

Click here to buy the pattern now.

New designs: Impulsive Knits Collection

About a year ago, I met Justyna Lorkowska in person. She is an awesome knitwear designer, and I am a huge fan of hers. We hit it off pretty well instantly, and decided that hey, why not do a little project together?

That little project grew and grew, and we ended up having to limit ourselves in order to not make it too huge. Which might be a good thing, right?

As a theme, we pretty much instantly agreed on “Impulsiveness”. We’re both very impulsive people, and the whole idea of working on a project like this was impulsive to start with. Thus Impulsive Knits was born!

Take a look at the awesome website created by Marcin Lorkowski (Justyna’s husband), and the lookbook created for this collection as well: www.impulsiveknits.com

Here are a couple of compositions of the designs in the collection, modeled by the person who designed them:

Impulsive Knits - my designsImpulsive Knits

 

Read more and see more about each design on www.impulsiveknits.com or on the pattern pages on Ravelry!

Feather & Fan-tastic – explanations on sizing

When I published the Feather & Fan-tastic pattern, I chose to make it available in 3 sizes that I called S, M and L. However, these sizes might not necessarily correspond to your usual sizes – it was just a naming I used to distinguish between them. The notes I added to the pattern:

Size: S/M/L
Actual garment measurements: 79-113-146,5 cm / 31-44.5-57.75 inches.
Garment is intended to be worn with quite a bit of positive ease: 10-15 cm /4-6 inches is recommended.
Sample shown is size M on a 94 cm / 37 inch bust.

A note on sizes:
There are only 3 sizes between which the span is pretty large – this is because of the nature of the Feather & Fan pattern and the number of repeats. You can’t just size the pattern up or down by adding or subtracting a number of repeats. However, some testers have successfully substituted heavier yarn weights (and larger needle size), thus scaling up one of the sizes given. Check your gauge before you begin, so you can calculate the final size!

As people have been asking, the longer explanation is:
In order to keep the garment looking the same in different sizes, I calculated the sizes upon a modification of the feather & fan pattern (being a repeat with either 4 holes, 6 holes, or 8 holes). There is a difference of 6 stitches per size – and with the lace pattern being repeated 7 times across the garment, the total difference in width is 42 stitches. For bust circumference of the sweater that makes 84 stitches difference per size!

Yes, I did think about doing the grading for different sizes in another way, by for instance omitting a repeat of the feather & fan pattern or adding one. But doing that would affect not only the width of the garment, also the size of the neck opening and the final look of the sweater. It would complicate the pattern too much too my liking, so I chose this method.

However, there are ways to get around these very limited sizes!

Beware: Math coming up!

These are the measurements of the sweater if you work it exactly as in the pattern:

Feather & Fan-tastic sizing schematic

A couple of my testers have done gauge substitution by choosing a heavier weight yarn and working a smaller size. The calculations are made like this:

The pattern requires a gauge of 25 sts over 10 cm / 4 inches. Let’s say you swatch and find that your gauge is 20 sts over 10 cm / 4 inches. Your calculations will be:

25 (pattern stitch gauge) / 20 sts (your stitch gauge) = 1,25.
divide the pattern stitch gauge with your stitch gauge.

This means your gauge will give you a finished garment with a bust measurement that is 1,25 times as large as the one in the pattern.

So if you work the size S at this gauge, that would give you a final size of approximately 98 cm / 38.5 inches around the bust:

79 cm (pattern size) * 1,25 = 98 cm (your size at your gauge)

One note to be aware of: Substituting for a heavier yarn weight and changing the stitch gauge will also affect the row gauge. This means that if you follow the instructions with the number of repeats stated in the pattern, your neckline depth will become a little different as well. You might want to check that your neckline doesn’t become too deep by making that little calculation as well. The same as for the stitch gauge:

36 (pattern row gauge) / 30 (your row gauge) = 1,2.
divide the pattern row gauge with your row gauge.

Your neckline depth will then be 1,2 times deeper than the one in the pattern – in this case 8,4 cm / 3.25 inches.
It most likely won’t be a big issue, it’s just something you need to be aware of if you like your necklines to be at the high end. There are ways to remedy it; Work a couple less lace repeats over the shoulders, or add some extra rounds to the neckline finishing.

Personally, I used to hate swatching and found it the worst chore ever. But in situations like these, I am happy that it is an option!

Take a look at the Ravelry pattern page for Feather & Fan-tastic, or you can directly buy the pattern right here.

New Design: Feather & Fan-tastic

In October last year, I watched an episode of season 5 of Downton Abbey in which Lady Edith was wearing a sweater which I immediately fell in love with. I didn’t find many good images of it, so I took some screen shots, and decided this should be possible to deconstruct. There was some feather & fan lace, no real shaping, drop shoulder sleeves… Couldn’t be that hard, right?

Screen shot from Downton Abbey on itv.
Screen shot of Lady Edith wearing this sweater in Downton Abbey, Season 5, Episode 6. From itv.

I did a lot of calculating, ending up with something which looks a lot like it, but not really being identical. Regardless, I am in love with this one!

Feather & Fan-tastic

It is the perfect garment for when you want to dress up a bit, but at the same time can act as casual wear. Being someone who tends to fall into that last category a lot, the former option is great, as it just depends on what I combine it with.

Feather & Fan-tastic

The yarn (Madelinetosh Tosh Sock) combined with the color (Glazed Pecan) made for a very enjoyable knit, as I kind of drooled over it – and the sweater itself consists of good stretches of stockinette stitch with the feather & fan lace portions spicing it up a bit.

The body is worked flat from front to back, dividing the work in two when reaching the neck opening. After knitting the shoulders, the two halves are combined again when casting on stitches for the back of the neck.
The sides are seamed using mattress stitch – the side seams are almost invisible, as they look like yet another little purl ridge like the ones in the stockinette body. Stitches are picked up along the armholes and the sleeves are worked top down, ending with a delicious little bit of lace.
To finish it off, stitches are picked up along the neckline and a couple of rounds are worked in garter stitch to give a neat edge. The feather & fan lace pattern helps shaping the neckline.

Feather & Fan-tastic

 

Do you want to join in knitting this one?

It’s for sale right now – and until end of day March 16th (Copenhagen time), all Ravelry purchases of the pattern are 25% off if you use the code “FAN-TASTIC” (no quotes) upon checkout.

Furthermore, if you’re attending Edinburgh Yarn Festival this weekend, keep an eye out for me. I will be wearing this one on Sunday, and if you spot me and say hello, I’ll be happy to give you a coupon code for a free download of this pattern! I’m so very much looking forward to the festival!

Take a look at the Ravelry pattern page for Feather & Fan-tastic, or you can directly buy the pattern right here.

Feather & Fan-tastic

Feather & Fan-tastic

 

New Design: Experioche Cowl

Last week I published a new pattern: The Experioche cowl.

Experioche, because it’s kind of experimental, and it’s brioche!


IMG_3604


Experioche cowl

The brioche stitch used makes it squishy and warm. The experiment is the braided part – I wanted something in several colors (single skeins from stash, anyone?), but without the usual stripes or color block. Personally I think it turned out quite okay! ;)

It’s really fun to make. The brioche stitch became addicting, and working it up in worsted weight yarn was pretty quick. I had a fun challenge figuring out how to graft the cowl in the end (you see where the two colors are grafted together?), but ended up creating a video where I hopefully explained it well (find that here).

Until end of day today (March 11th, Copenhagen time) the pattern is 30% off when purchased on Ravelry. Go grab it while the discount lasts! 30% is automatically subtracted upon checkout.

See the Ravelry pattern page, or buy it now!

Experioche cowl

Experioche cowl