Book Countdown: Month 3

04.5-Reordering3Pairs-01This past month has largely been spent in taking Double or Nothing‘s technique photos. I’ve set up part of the guest room as a photo studio, and I’ve taken hundreds of photos which I’m now flipping through and selecting for processing. I’m planning on compiling each pattern with its techniques, photos and charts to send to my tech editor before the end of the month. While she’s poring over them, I’ll begin the layout and determine what I’m still missing.

Since I don’t have much to show, I thought you might find it interesting to see my studio setup. Aside from the budget photofloods on either side, the camera rig is kind of unique. Anyone who’s taken a live class with me in the last couple of years will probably recognize the tripod — but instead of a webcam, I’ve got an iPad Mini in an iOgrapher case (which primarily gives me a tripod mount). So I’ve got lights and a camera — but the really fun part is how I trigger the iPad’s camera. I’ve got my hands under the iPad; I can see the framing and focus, but I can’t free a hand to take a picture, nor would I want to tap the screen since it’ll jostle and blur the photo. In the absence of a psychic link, I figured voice control would be ideal. Some years ago, someone wrote an app called “Snap!It”, specifically for knitters with this problem, but it’s kind of buggy and I got tired of yelling “snap!” at my iPad over and over until a photo was taken. Instead, I recently found the WhistleCam app, which allows you to whistle for a photo. If you can whistle (which I can), it’s a super-responsive option that is far less buggy than the alternative. Getting the photos out of the iPad was more of a challenge since they don’t automatically go to the camera roll, but that’s a less interesting story.

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As of right now, I’ve got 336 people on my preorder mailing list, or an average of 30 per post since I started my promo push! Thanks, everyone! If all of these people buys one physical book when the preorder site goes live, I’ll be funded for the bare minimum needed to do a print run. Of course, I’m hoping that over the next 5 weeks that number will grow. However, I’m not yet at the point where I can begin considering sweetening the deal for the members of that list, so please do join the list if you’re interested and share this around if you know anyone else who might be.

In non-book news, I have my first couple of confirmed gigs for 2017! I will be at Stitches West again in Santa Clara Feb 23-26, and I’ll be appearing at Yarnover in Minneapolis on April 22! This year I’ve got one more workshop weekend at Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC, September 25th. There’s still room if you’re in the area and want to learn basic or two-pattern double-knitting!

Also, I had an interview with Marly Bird on her Yarn Thing podcast and I think it went really well. If you missed the live broadcast, check out the recording!

If you’re just tuning in, go back to Month 5 where I explained what I’m doing with my promo push, and then check out the pattern previews I’ve been posting once a week since then. Also, stay tuned because I’ve got 5 more previews to go and they just get better from here. Thanks for visiting!

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Double or Nothing Patterns: Ferronnerie

This is week 9 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.


Ferronnerie is worked in Quince & Co Finch, a fingering weight wool.

Ferronnerie-GZ1This is one of those patterns that will probably require an entire chapter of techniques to support it. Like many colorworkers before me, I played a bit with entrelac to better understand this fascinating basketweave-like fabric, but honestly never liked the messy “wrong side” of the work with all its exposed seams. It seemed to me that it was ripe for the double-knit treatment, but there was a lot of problem-solving that needed to be done before I could proceed. After experimenting with a few swatches, I began to understand something critical: double-knitting and entrelac are made for each other! There are all kinds of ways that the two techniques just fall naturally together. I’d go into more detail here but I don’t want to give everything away. I do want to point out one thing here, though. If you’ve ever done entrelac in the round in multiple colors, you know that you do a round of diamonds in each color so you get concentric rounds of diamonds. But if you look at this pattern, you’ll notice that the color changes are radial, not concentric. The hat is still worked concentrically, though. This is a trick that I can achieve because I’m doing it in double-knitting — and I’ll explain it in the book for those who haven’t yet figured it out.

Ferronnerie-GZ2The yarn I’m using here is from Quince & Co, which is super popular lately; when I first stumbled across them at a shop in Maine, the patterns they had were, by and large, done in a single colorway. This seemed a shame to me since they have so many colors and good weights of yarn for colorwork. Since then, their colorwork patterns have perhaps not exploded, but many other designers have seen the possibilities and there are now plenty of colorwork patterns available — not to mention all the patterns originally worked in something else that people have decided to use Quince for instead. Still, I love their yarn and particularly the stitch definition in Finch; I wanted to showcase it with something really stunning, so it was a shoo-in for double-knit entrelac.

The term “entrelac” is derived from a French word for “interlacing” which describes what the fabric looks like when finished, especially in single-sided versions. Double-knitting it sort of flattens the fabric out a bit but the interlaced look is not diminished completely. Because the technique is named in French, I looked for a French word for the pattern’s name. The chart I’d chosen for the colorwork parts is based on a common wrought-iron shape, so I found a term “ferronnerie d’art” which refers to wrought-ironwork. “Ferronnerie” evidently just means “ironwork” — which, since it’s worked in wool, calls to mind another play on words: irony.

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Eureka-SM1

Double or Nothing Patterns: Eureka

This is week 8 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.


Eureka is worked in A Hundred Ravens Aesir, an 8-ply sport/DK superwash merino yarn.

Eureka-SM2To put a cap (pun intended) on the textured double-knitting in this book, I decided to cram all the techniques I still wanted to teach into one pattern. As is typical for me, I loaded all the techniques into a very small space and designed a hat with them. I love hats — they’re a great way to try out and learn a technique (or techniques) without resigning yourself to a massive project. You don’t need to knit a sweater in order to learn RDK decreases or quilted DK. Sure, both techniques could come in handy in a sweater, but why not just do a hat? The sweater can come later. This hat is made up of triangles; all of the inverted triangles are done in purls. However, you may remember from elementary double-knitting that the fabric may only be held together by color changes within a row. When two large triangle bases meet horizontally, as happens frequently in this hat, what you really get is a big hollow diamond. In order to stabilize the fabric, I had to use a horizontal linking method. Lucy Neatby and I independently developed our own methods of doing this technique, so we talked and decided to be consistent with the name: quilted double-knitting.

Eureka-SM1I first encountered A Hundred Ravens at a local sheep & wool show; a good friend and sample knitter of mine was staffing the booth and lured me in with soft yarn and vibrant colorways (as you probably understand). While I have lately been trying to avoid superwash merino, the base is so ubiquitous that it’s hard to avoid it completely. And sometimes it’s worth it. AHR is another local yarn company, like Dirty Water Dyeworks back in the first post, that I’ve had the pleasure of watching grow from a local to a regional and perhaps even national brand. They’re still small, but they’ve got great colorways and are well worth checking out. The yarn I chose for this hat, Aesir, may be a superwash merino, but it’s an 8-ply sport/DK which has an unusual look and great stitch definition.

The original name for this hat was going to be “Achtung” but when I showed it to my local guild (while Kate from AHR was presenting, no less!), someone noticed the exclamation point on the front and called it a “thinking cap” — so the name “Eureka” was born. There is a second version called “Eureka?” that has question marks instead of exclamation points (worked in two-pattern DK, of course) for those who are less confident about their discoveries.

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Hexworth-SM

Double or Nothing Patterns: Hexworth

This is week 7 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.


Hexworth is worked in Bijou Basin Ranch Tibetan Dream, a yak and nylon fingering weight yarn. Thanks to Mari Weideman for knitting this one for me!

If the last pattern was a gHexworth-GZood example of the beginnings of double-knit texture, this pattern shows the next steps. Instead of creating a garter-stitch fabric that can be worked alongside double-knitting but isn’t actually double-knit at all, true textured double-knitting creates purls on the outside of the work where there normally are only knits. If a fabric is worked entirely using this method, you get reverse double-stockinette; I call the technique used to do this “reverse double-knitting” or “RDK” for short. The honeycomb pattern is adapted almost verbatim from a standard single-color or two-color stranded pattern — but because I want the two sides to remain together, I needed to adjust things a little bit. While working, the pattern looks like slightly distorted bricks; it’s only when you block it that the hexagons really take shape.

Hexworth-SMWhen I work with a yarn company at one of the big shows, it means that they’ve agreed to sell my books and patterns for me so that I don’t have to be there when I can’t be (during my classes). It’s also a boon for them — they get to show off some eye-catching pieces that hopefully draw people into their booth. With any luck, once they’re in there and perusing my patterns, they might also see some of the luxurious yarn that’s also there. What’s always a little awkward, however, is when I don’t have a single pattern done in that yarn. I’ve been working with Bijou Basin Ranch for a long time, and they have a policy. If I’m sitting in their booth, waiting for people to come by for a book signing, and I want to knit to pass the time, I can only use their yarn. Lucky for me, it’s awesome yarn. As a result of their policy, I’ve designed a couple of pieces in their yak-fiber blends and Hexworth is the most recent. Sometimes when I choose colors, I like to go with a solid and a variegated, just to keep up the intrigue. With bold patterns like this one, where each yarn has a chance to shine, that works really well. Sometimes, when the pattern is too intricate, the solid gets lost among the variegated stitches. With this pattern, the end result is excellent — but the process was a little fiddly. There are places where the variegated gets a little close to the natural brown, but it’s not like Kauni — another color will be coming along very shortly and will reduce the confusion. The end result is well worth it, I think.

Hexworth-AWLike the last pattern, the name here is fairly straightforward. I wanted a sort of refined, masculine name that also referred to the shape of the motif, so the name “Hexworth” popped into my head and I haven’t been able to think of it as anything else since. I toyed briefly with the name “Graphene”, referring to the hexagonal carbon nano-structure, but I figured that would be a little too inaccessible of a name. But you know, the book’s not done yet, so it’s possible I’ll settle on Graphene instead. Which do you like better?

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Rustle-GZ

Double or Nothing Patterns: Rustle Of Leaves

This is week 6 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.


Rustle Of Leaves is worked in Miss Babs Yowza!, a light worsted superwash merino yarn.

Rustle-AWThis is a pattern that was bouncing around in my mind, looking for a way out, when Craftsy rang me up to see about doing a kit to support one of the new yarn lines they were beginning to stock. This was back in 2013, not too long after my first Craftsy class came out. I was delighted to see that Miss Babs was one of the yarn lines they wanted patterns for, since I’d been seeing them at Rhinebeck and other shows for some time but their booth was always so mobbed that I had barely been able to set foot inside, let alone become familiar with their yarns. The idea behind this scarf was to have a maple leaf motif that tumbles down the center column, and the outer edges would ripple and ruffle around it, mimicking the movement of a leaf on the wind. I chose colors that evoked “autumn maple leaf” and “clear blue sky”, knowing that the other side would be somewhat surreal — blue leaves against a Martian sky, perhaps. I made it a keyhole scarf, because I was short on time and because it was an interesting twist — and because, if the hole was the same width as the center section, the ruffles would flip out on either side and lock the scarf in place. I finished it and sent it off to Craftsy, where they took a lovely set of photos which only showed the Martian sky side. Oh well. The piece is relatively simple but intriguing, and shows the beginnings of double-knit texture very well: the combination of double-knitting and doubled-yarn knitting.

As I mentioned above, Miss Babs yarn had intrigued me due to its popularity aRustle-GZt the shows I went to, but I’d never really been able or willing to wade into the throngs of admirers to understand why it was so popular. One of the reasons, it turns out, is that they don’t wholesale to shops. The only place you ever get to fondle the giant, luscious skeins is at places like Rhinebeck. Otherwise you can order it online but that really only works if you’ve already been to a place where you can fondle it — or you’re willing to take a chance on reviews alone. Since it was offered, I took it, sight unseen (or unfelt, anyway), and, like many before me, I am a convert. Miss Babs, who I have had the pleasure of meeting in person since, has an incredible range of colors and fiber contents, not merely the standard stuff. OK, I ended up working with a 100% SW merino because it was what was offered — but I look forward to playing with more interesting fibers from them in the future.

The name of this pattern, “Rustle of Leaves” is straightforward. “Rustle” sounds like “ruffle” and the leaves are right out where you can see them. I like wordplay, but sometimes simple is best.

This pattern is already available but will also be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Book Countdown: Month 4

DoN-title

With (almost) all the model shots done and the blog posts written and scheduled — and Amanda out of the house for a total of 13 days — this past month has been my time to really get down to writing. At the time of this writing, the manuscript is 55 pages long, which doesn’t include any of the pattern instruction text, 3 more chapters or the appendix — not to mention photos. After layout, I think we’re well on target to having a book of a similar length (in the realm of 200 pages) to the last one.

I’m trying to finish as much of the manuscript as possible this week and next so I can begin figuring out the technique photos. Once those are done, I’ll be able to send the patterns to my tech editor and simultaneously begin layout. The current plan is to work the book in landscape format — since so many of my charts are wider than they are tall — which will also open some really interesting layout options.

As you can see above, the title graphic is (more or less) complete. The original idea was to have the “nothing” appear as a shadow of the “double” but it was looking tacky or hard to read and I finally settled on this, which has the added op-art effect of making you question the angle at which you’re viewing it. Since the whole point of my work over the past decade has been to look at double-knitting from new perspectives, this is fitting.

If you’re just tuning in, I’ve been posting a pattern preview per week every Friday. I’ve just finished the first 4 (of 14) previews from my book and they’re getting lots of love over on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. What I’m really trying to do is to get people to sign up on my preorder mailing list. You can read more about that in my Month 5 blog post. In the book, the first 4 patterns are mostly using techniques that were in Extreme Double-Knitting, with a few tweaks to keep them interesting. The next 10, however, are all using new techniques so I hope you’ll stay tuned.

In other news, my workshops on July 30th at the Big Apple Knitters Guild (website is under construction) are filled — but if you’re interested you should be in touch. They’ll probably have a waiting list, but it’s also possible that they’ll decide to run a second day of workshops. Let them know if you’re interested.

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Double or Nothing Patterns: Kontinuum

This is week 5 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.


Kontinuum is worked in Yarn Carnival Goat Roper, a superwash merino, cashmere and nylon fingering weight yarn.

Kontinuum-GZI mentioned in the last pattern that I haven’t done many designs in multi-color double-knitting, but this pattern is worked in 6 colors. However, you’re only working with 2 at a time, with some small areas where you’re holding 4 colors at once — so it doesn’t really qualify as the same technique. This pattern is where I really start introducing new concepts, not just subtle adjustments and refinements to existing techniques. As with any of these pieces, the term “new” is not meant to imply that something has never been done before, just that it’s very uncommon and poorly, if at all, documented. In the case of double-knit intarsia, I am aware of a couple of other people using the technique, and I can’t even claim to have done it before them. This is one of those techniques that I put off for a while and finally began work on it as I decided on the patterns for the new book. But not being one to leave well enough alone, I wasn’t content to just teach one technique — I wanted to teach several. So not only will you get to learn how to do double-knit intarsia, you’ll learn how to move the color change to the right or left from the previous row and still hide the yarns — and you’ll also learn how to do it in the round. This hat is remarkably stretchy; it fits my big head as well as my models’ smaller heads. The colorwork is really interesting as well — the intarsia color changes run in one direction and the double-knitting color changes run in the other. This is one piece where the opposite side is not particularly different, but where double-knitting is nevertheless useful because we can hide all the ugly twists and do neat things with colorwork that would be much harder to do in standard intarsia.

Kontinuum-AWI struggled quite a bit with the yarn for this. I had to find a good mini-skein set, and tried several from yarns I really wanted to use — but the colors had to be just right and all the other stuff I wanted to use was either variegated or semi-solid in such a way that it made it harder to see what the pattern was doing. I wanted to avoid using a gradient set, although that may have been a better idea in the end. I was at the first Stitches Texas and got to visit the Hill Country Weavers booth, where I fell in love with these amazing mini-skein sets made by Yarn Carnival. They’re just a superwash merino blend, but the color saturation and combinations were just so interesting — not quite gradient, but related colors. I could see so many good combinations, so I bought 3 different ones, figuring I’d decide later. I later found out that these seemed to be one-offs, which under normal circumstances would preclude my using them — but the fact is that there are hundreds of independent dyers doing mini-skein gradient kits, and as long as the weight of yarn is correct I think you’ll have no problem.

The original name of this pattern was going to be “42 Skidoo” which is a play on the early 20th century slang phrase “23 skidoo” and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where the number 42 has universal importance, to say the least. But it was named such because the original repeat was 42 pairs across, and when I redesigned the piece for new yarn, the repeat had to change. As the closure came together in this dramatic spiral, I thought of more sci-fi names related to black holes and the like. The word “continuum” resonated with me, but there are already lots of patterns with this name so I changed it to “Kontinuum” for a little distinctive flavor.

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Waterford-GZ

Double or Nothing Patterns: Waterford Crossing

This is week 4 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.


Waterford Crossing is worked in Plucky Knitter Oxford, a heavy fingering merino and cashmere blend. Huge thanks to Charles Parker for knitting this one for me.

Waterford-PGI’m a big fan of cables and cable-like motifs. I also love working in multiple colors, as you may have noticed in my previous book and standalone patterns. While I have not done many designs in multi-color double-knitting for this book, I thought it would be a good idea to cover one or two things I hadn’t really done in Extreme Double-Knitting. While the multi-color patterns in that book are, by and large, in the round, I have since honed my techniques for working flat multi-color double-knitting. The body of the work remains much the same as, say, the Struktur hat, but because you are working flat, you’re going to be seeing both sides as you work, which means a slightly different way of following the chart. In addition, you will need to process the edges differently to make sure that all strands are linked into the edge. These are techniques that are covered to some degree in my standalone patterns 52 Pickup and Parallax v3.0, but having them in a book gives me more room to really cover them in-depth. I’m also covering a row-end cast-on and a partial-row bind-off, although those are not specifically multi-color techniques. There are a couple of other little tweaks to the pattern as well, but I’ll leave those as surprises.

Waterford-GZI already told the Plucky Knitter story, and this is done in another of their yarns (and despite the similar fiber blend, this one looks and feels completely different). Instead, let me explain about the colors. These 3 colors are not, at first glance, particularly compatible. Perhaps they’re even a little jarring, or would be if they were any brighter. I wasn’t sure when I picked them up why I thought they worked so well together — but every time I looked at them I thought about Kristin Nicholas, who taught me that “chartreuse goes with everything!”. So this piece became a homage to Kristin Nicholas, and that’s all the justification these colors need.

Waterford-AWThis pattern was originally called “Knots & Crossings” — but that didn’t make much sense since there’s no knots & crosses pattern involved. There are Celtic-style knots and colorwork crossovers all over the place — but the wordplay just wasn’t as deep as I generally prefer. So I cast about for a new name. I thought about the pattern and the knots and realized what was unique about them. Celtic cables in knitting don’t often change direction in the middle of a row, but the adapted Viking patterns do, as evidenced by Elsebeth Lavold. Since part of the pattern’s name was already “Crossing” I started researching Viking crossings and found out that Vikings actually founded the first city in Ireland, named Waterford. It’s a fact that Scandinavian crafts influenced Irish folk art, but I am not a historian and I can’t be sure that the cable motifs so prevalent in Irish illustration were an evolution of this early infusion of Viking aesthetics. But I’ll take some poetic license and acknowledge the similarity between some of the art of the two cultures with this pattern’s new name, “Waterford Crossing”.

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Hesperos-PG

Double or Nothing Patterns: Hesperos

This is week 3 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.


Hesperos is worked in Plucky Knitter Primo Sport, a superwash merino, cashmere and nylon blend

Hesperos-AWYou may already know the story of my pattern “Victorian Raffia” but I’ll begin it here. Before my last book came out, I had begun double-knitting Kieran Foley’s pattern “Scandinavian” as a way to practice my increases and decreases. I had made some changes and figured I’d ask Kieran if I could include the pattern in my book, with attribution. He turned me down, kindly but in no uncertain terms. I was a little hurt, but to be fair I was a little-known designer at that point. True to form, I instead took what I had learned and applied it to a pattern of my own — the enigmatic Silk Road tie. This tie was the result of a bunch of sketches I had made in which I played with the different ways two horizontally-mirrored sets of chevrons could interact. The simplest was the spiral I used in the tie — but there were plenty of other options. I wanted to show them all off, but I didn’t want to make a huge number of patterns to do it. Instead, I opted to show them all in one scarf and Hesperos was born. In this scarf, the underlying chevrons show in the middle, but they begin to shift around as I work the next set of chevrons subtly offset from the previous one, in one direction or the other. Using only the clearest, cleanest versions, I generated mazes, Greek keys, diamonds, and, yes, spirals. To further show off the reversible nature of the fabric, I worked the increases and decreases into a more widely-spaced pattern, unlike the dense 1×1 patterning in the tie.

Hesperos-SMOne of the first patterns I discovered after the spirals was a sort of Greek key pattern, also known as a “meander” which is a synonym for “wander”, referring to the way that the path wanders but ultimately ends up going in a particular direction. The name Hesperos is ancient Greek, both a god and of one of the “wandering stars” that were eventually determined to be planets — in this case, the planet Venus. Venus is also the name of the Roman goddess of beauty. So the name Hesperos for this pattern is meant to express the beauty of wandering, getting lost, finding yourself, and getting to your destination in the end.

Hesperos-PGPlucky Knitter is another yarn company I stumbled across while at one of my teaching gigs. I was lucky enough to be teaching at Stitches South, the only such event that Plucky Knitter vends at, and their booth was mobbed — and rightly so. A fellow designer introduced me to the owners and they told me what makes them special: unlike many independent dyers, they don’t use bases that are commercially available — all of their bases are exclusive to them, so their yarns are unique. In addition, they have a stunning range of colors, and most of their bases can be dyed in any of these. Spoiled for choice, I picked an unconventional combination, and have never regretted it. The one thing I do regret is that I have not managed to attend another show where they were vending — but I’m sure our paths will cross again and more amazing things will come of it.

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!