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: 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: 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

 

Syrma on the loose

One of the people in my knitting group test knitted a shawl a while ago – Syrma by Cailliau Berangere / L’île aux fils. When Christina showed it to us, everyone gasped and exclaimed we wanted to make that too (which isn’t a weird thing, as Christina’s projects are always amazing! She has the greatest taste in colors and patterns.).

So, our first KAL was born!

I had a hard time choosing colors, but ended up with Madelinetosh Sock in Jade, which I had fallen in love with and impulsively purchased only months ago. That’s a very quick in-and-out-of-the-stash for me, considering that I didn’t buy it with a specific intention to start with!

Syrma is a fun shawl with very pretty details, which makes sure you aren’t getting bored. However, you also need to keep on your toes – stitch counts are important, else the “stars” won’t align correctly and it will look odd. I got a hang of that quite quickly, but it only happened after some moments of puzzlement and tinking back.

Getting towards the end, I could see that my 2 skeins of yarn might not be enough for the whole shawl as stated… Christina used approximately 1,8 skeins, so I had thought that I (knowing I knit loosely) would have enough, if not plenty, in 2 whole skeins.

Ehm – think again?
This is the photo I posted on Instagram Sunday morning:

The garter stitch edge is supposed to be 20 rows in total.

I made it 7 rows :D

(Technically, that means I actually didn’t win yarn chicken this time around. But considering that I had yarn enough to bind off without having to tink back a row first, I considered this a win!)

Fast forward to a couple of days later, when I in the morning put out the shawl to block.
I was laughing out loud – no wonder I ran out of yarn on the way! Can anyone say “giganormous shawl”?

Before blocking, it was a generous 150 cm in wingspan, and 58 cm deep at the center point.
When I pinned it out, it suddenly became 204 cm x 76 cm.
Compare that to the measurements in the pattern: 175 cm x  66 cm.

Syrma

Oops. I guess I know why I ran out of yarn :D
I know I’m a loose knitter, and this just proves it once more. I didn’t bother to check my gauge either, so it’s good I had plenty of yarn ;)

In any case, I love this shawl, and I love the gradual increasing of the little star pattern stitch. It’s perfect to wrap yourself in, warm and soft and cozy!

Syrma

Syrma

Check out my project page on Ravelry for more info and pics.

Edible knitting – a knitted cake

This website being “Knitter’s Kitchen” – there ought to be a blog post about something edible once in a while, right?

Well, the past weekend I made something edible: An apple pie with knitting on top.

I had seen a project on Ravelry a long while ago of someone making a knitted bread (link only works with a Ravelry profile, I’m afraid – those are the settings by the user who posted it!), and had determined I wanted to try this out.

Let me just say that cake dough (based on butter, mainly) is not the most easy material to work with! Sticky and quickly softening, I soon abandoned the knitting needles I had planned on using, and started out just laying the “yarn” in the right shapes on the kitchen counter. Having done that, then trying to transfer that onto the pie, was really not a good idea… It all fell apart.

I ended up “knitting” it by hand directly on the cake, trying to connect bits and pieces of dough strips of around 10 cm / 4 inches. A little bit fiddly, as the cake tin I was using was taller than the cake itself, so there wasn’t much room to work on. I didn’t want to make a full portion apple pie, as it would just be me eating it, and a whole cake is, well, a little bit much… So I used a ring that can be adjusted in size, and set it to the minimum size possible (about 16 cm / 6.5 inches in diameter).
I think it turned out pretty well anyway!

Knitted cake

With some egg wash and baked, the worst flaws evened out a bit. Still a bit wonky – but pretty good for a first try, if I may say so myself – and after having been fiddling with that dough for a full hour ;)

Knitted cake

Knitted cake

Pretty, innit? Also on the inside :)

Knitted cake

Knitted Cake

The apple pie recipe I used is the one my mom always makes – I put that recipe on the blog a couple of years ago: Apple cake recipe (on demu.dk). I made a full portion of the crust, but didn’t use all for this cake – also, I didn’t make a full portion of the filling. I used 2 quite big apples, a little handful of raisins, and a little handful of almonds.

Are you giving this a try as well? Please do! And show some pictures :)

Incidentally, I saw on Ravelry this weekend that someone else made an apple pie with a knitted crust a couple of years ago. This is her project page on Ravelry, it’s pretty cool!

Papyrus – a fun cowl

Approximately mid December, I finished a seldom knit which was not my own design – the Papyrus cowl by Lili Comme Tout.

 

I had my eyes on this one for a while, hoping to see more color combinations arise. As it was a club pattern from the (Vi)laines yarn club, I also had to wait for it to become available for me.

My reason for knitting this? I needed a quick cowl to match my winter coat. I’ve been talking a lot about this coat and things that should match it, without me really doing anything about it. This is partly due to it being quite hard to match something to it, as it has a quite distinct burgundy color, and partly due to it actually being too warm to wear accessories with! On the one hand that’s awesome, on the other hand I don’t really get to use any scarves, shawls and cowls at the moment.

But hey – I had this gorgeous skein of Lioness Arts Silky DK in the color “Dark Rose” (a one of a kind color), and I still had a bit of dark grey Swans Island Organic DK left after doing my Moraine cardigan. I could whip this baby up in no time!

It took me 4 days – mostly because the flowers pattern is very addictive. It’s worked over 6 rows, which makes it very easy to say “hey, let me just do one more round right now to finish this repeat…” – that’s like crack for me! Want more details and see where you can get the pattern? Go to my project page on Ravelry.

Papyrus4

 

 

 

 

New Design: Plates Blanket

A short while ago, there was a sale at a yarn shop that was going out of business. They had a lot of yarns which I would not usually go for – rustic wools and Icelandic yarns, which I would usually find too scratchy.

However, when I saw this pile of Plötulopi (unspun Icelandic wool, or pencil roving), I was in love:

Plates

I spotted a gradient, and straight away knew what it wanted to become.

PlatesBlanket2

PlatesBlanket3

PlatesBlanket1

Plates Blanket is a blanket worked with two strands of Plötulopi, creating a subtle gradient. The knitting is kept interesting by the textured stitch pattern, and as two strands of yarn are used combined throughout, it knits up very quickly!

Use 5 skeins of Plötulopi or a sport weight yarn (approximately 300 m / 100g), holding two strands together. Or use 800 meters of a Aran weight yarn, just one strand at a time.
Make a simple textured blanket using just one color, or make striped sections, or create a gradient like I did. The possibilities are endless!

My blanket now lives on the couch, and I’m using it all the time. It’s perfect for the colder temperatures, and combined with a candle, a cup of tea and a knitting project, it feels like heaven! :)

See the pattern page on Ravelry here: Plates Blanket

Buy the pattern now!

 

 

       PlatesBlanket5

A blanket as a family project

To go directly to the instructions for making your own big blankie, click here!

The person who taught me to knit, my mother’s mother (Oma!), is turning 95 today. She hasn’t been knitting for years, but it used to be a very big part of her life, and she used to knit sweaters for all of us. With 3 children and 10 grandchildren, she was occupied! ;)

For her 90th birthday (I think – or was it the 85th? In any case, some years ago!) we did a “fashion show” showing off all the creations Oma had made – and there were many! All children’s garments have been passed down from grand kid to grand kid, then great grand kids, and they probably have many years in them yet.

When my sister announced that she encouraged people to think of entertainment for the afternoon of the birthday party a couple of weeks ago, she prompted me to think about the knitting that Oma and I have in common. I’m not entirely sure, but I think I’m the only grand kid who knits regularly (at least in the extend that I’m doing!), so really that should be me, right?

The activity should contain the following: Knitting with Oma, involving other family members, and making a usable result.
So the idea formed: To knit a big blanket, out of thick yarn, with thick knitting needles! It should be fun, involve Oma, and also keep others entertained.
My thought was to have two people each holding a giant knitting needle, a third controlling the yarn, and Oma telling them what to do. Should be doable, right? Oh, and it needed to be done on the day, so Oma could bring the blanket home straight away…

So I went in search for thick yarn and big knitting needles. Initial idea: Buy some of those giant skeins of yarn and using broom sticks or the like to knit on. But looking at the thick yarn online, prices are going through the roof for that…
Some googling brought me to pages where the suggestion was to make your own thick yarn by making an i-cord of existing, thinner yarn. The alternative would be to use multiple strands of a yarn, and I thought that would become too messy, with so many people involved. Also – I wanted it to become pretty. Oma has a sense of quality, so it needs to look nice and feel nice! Wool, no cheap acrylics or such!

First, though: No way in h*** that I would be knitting enough i-cord on a couple of knitting needles. So I went in search of alternative methods – first starting with the manual little knitting dolly, then discovering a quicker method: An i-cord machine!

I found a used one online for cheap moneys, and here’s the Instagram video I posted of it a couple of weeks ago:

Awesome, innit?

I bought 20 skeins of one of my favorite heavy duty yarns – good quality, 100% wool, superwash, keeps it’s shape, and relatively cheap in this part of the world – Drops Karisma. In a color that I hope goes with all Oma’s furniture, and is neutral enough to go with anything else over time. It makes for a total of 1 kg, each skein (50g) being around 100m, and I thought that should prove quite enough.

Making the first skein into i-cord, I had 7 meters… Which would make my 20 skeins amound to around 140 meters of i-cord. Should be enough for a big big blankie, eh?
Each 50g skein took about 20 mins to turn into i-cord. So processing all the yarn into i-cord must have taken… just under 7 hours! (I didn’t time this, and I didn’t do it all in one stretch – it took me around 3-4 evenings to get it done)

I-cord yarn

As for knitting needles… Broom sticks might be a bit unhandy and I would have to rely on broom sticks being available on site of the party. Perhaps not that handy (and not super pretty either ;)). So I was on my way to the DIY store to get a thick rod to make knitting needles of, when I discovered a rod from an earlier project standing in the corner of my living room. Roughly 2 meters of a 22mm diameter rod = roughly 1 m long knitting needles, size 22mm! It took around 15 mins to make those.

Giant knitting needles

Once the yarn and needles were finished, I started knitting. I mean – if I wanted this blanket to be done and ready to bring home on the day itself, I would need to make a start on it, yes?
So I cast on and started knitting. That’s heavy work on your own! And not for my wrists, no – for my arms and shoulders. But fun, so fun! I’ve never had knitting that grew bigger so quickly :D
I actually had a hard time putting it down. But when I got to about halfway through using all the yarn, I had to stop myself – there should still be a bit to work with on the day itself!

On the day, there were a lot of activities and things to show, and my blanket was only a little part of it. But I had Oma knitting with a couple of her great grand kids, just one row, and then I took over again myself.

I don’t have any photos of it in action though, which I’m a bit bummed about – but someone did take photos of me knitting on the blanket!

Knitting giant blanket

(I had a little helper right there. He was really good at wrapping the yarn around the needle, and it actually went a lot quicker with him doing that part!)

I finished it there, while it was also still light out, and gave it to Oma. She was happy, but also very overwhelmed with the whole day.

Oma 95

Ain’t she looking good for a 95-year-old? :)

Here are some shots of the blanket, finished and all:

Giant knitted blanket

If you didn’t know the size, you’d think it was just a gauge swatch. It makes me giggle a bit!

IMG_2549

Giant knitted blanket

Now I want one for myself. Who wants to volunteer to make the i-cord, please? :D

 


 

Big yarn blanket

Approximate size: 70 cm / 27.5 inches (width) x 50 cm / 20 inches (length).

You will need:

  • around 140 m / 155 yards of i-cord yarn.
    To make your own:
    –  approximately 2000 m of DK weight yarn
    –  an i-cord machine (or 4mm / US 6 DPNs, if you’re crazy enough to knit the i-cord by hand!)
  • 22 mm giant knitting needles
    To make your own:
    –  a rod of a diameter of 22mm / 7/8 inches, a length of 2m / 6.5 feet.
    –  a saw, a sharp knife, and some sanding paper.

Make the i-cord into one big ball of yarn – if you have several lengths (the i-cord maker doesn’t take 1kg in weight!), graft them together. It doesn’t matter if it is done seamlessly or not, as long as you don’t make big knots – small flaws won’t be visible in the blanket.

If you don’t have giant knitting needles yet, make them by sawing the rod in half, use the knife to make one end pointy, and sand them to make it snag free.

To knit: 
Weigh your yarn and make a note of how much you have!

Using the crocheted provisional cast on (for a nice looking edge that will resemble your bind off edge), cast on 30 stitches. Use your working yarn to cast on with, as it won’t be unraveled at the end (like all tutorials show) – and use your hand as the “crochet hook”. Place the “crochet hook loop” on the needle as the last (30th) stitch.

Knit 4 rows in garter stitch (knit every row).
Weigh your yarn again, and note how much you used for this first part. You’ll be needing just as much to finish off the blanket in the end! I had used about 150g.

Work in pattern:
Right side row: knit across.
Wrong side row: knit 3, purl until 3 sts remain, knit 3.

Continue in pattern like this, weighing your yarn periodically, until you have as much yarn left as you used for the cast on and garter stitch border. Make sure to end with a wrong side row.

Now work 4 more rows in garter stitch, and bind off from the right side.

“Weave” in the ends by tucking them in around the garter stitch border. If you have the nerve (and patience!), wash your blanket and let it dry flat. It’s thick and heavy, so this will take ages! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tadaaa, you got your very own huge blanket!