Fall 2014 Workshops and more

Over the span of my teaching career, I’ve noticed a pattern — I may have mentioned it to you before. In the Fall, as many people start to think about knitting again (I mean, some of us never stop … but you know what I mean), you’d think people would be excited to work on some extra-warm and fashionable double-knitted items. And perhaps double-knitters already are — but folks who don’t already know? They’re not up for it just yet.

I call it the Holiday Knitting Effect. I don’t teach project-based workshops, but in the Fall people are disproportionately knitting projects for gifts rather than stuff for their own use that may not have as firm of a deadline. So in the Fall, when I run workshops, I’m all about teaching people new techniques. They don’t want to hear it. Heads down, churning out hat after scarf after shawl, using the knowledge they already have and every ounce of speed they can muster (and a fair few curse words). And my workshops don’t fill up.

The Spring is a different story — having hit (or resigned themselves to missing) most of their deadlines, knitters will come out of hiding as early as January to learn new techniques. It may be too late to use them for anything that’ll be useful during that season — but those new techniques will come in handy sooner or later.

What does this mean for me and my double-knitting technique workshops? It means that I’m still willing and able to teach in the Fall, but shops and venues that have their fingers on the pulses of their clientele know that these classes may be a risk. So the shops that do run my Fall workshops are the ones that can reduce their risk in other ways — in other words, my local shops.

So, fellow northeasterners, I was all psyched up to let you know that I’d be teaching in 4 states this Fall, but NH and ME have bowed out until the Spring and I’m back to MA and NY again.

Of course, you can always check my events calendar for the latest listings but for your convenience here’s a rundown of my short Fall lineup. New Yorkers! pay special attention because this is very short notice!

  • Saturday, Sept 20. New York City, Knitty City, 9-12 Intro to Double-Knitting
  • Saturday, Sept 20. New York City, Knitty City, 1-4 Multi-Color Double-Knitting
  • Saturday, Nov 15. Salem, MA, Seed Stitch, 1-4 Intro to Double-Knitting
  • Sunday, Nov 15. Dorchester, MA, Stitch House, 9-12 Intro to Double-Knitting
  • Sunday, Nov 15. Dorchester, MA, Stitch House, 1-4 Advanced Double-Knitting (TBA)
  • Saturday, Dec 6. Salem, MA, Seed Stitch, 1-4 Multi-Color Double-Knitting

And for those of you who like to plan WAY ahead, I’ve got a couple of major gigs coming up in Spring 2015:

In other news …

fircone sachet

Earlier this year I submitted a neat little pattern to the Interweave Knits Gifts issue, and that issue should be hitting store shelves soon (I assume, since it just got posted to Ravelry). It’s called the Fir-Cone Sachet, and it’s a simple DK piece in Shetland wool that can be sewn together and stuffed with spare pine needles from your (or someone else’s) Christmas tree to keep that nostalgic aroma around well past the holidays. Double-knitting means that you can choose the face you prefer when you’re done and the double thickness means it doesn’t need to be lined before stuffing it. I hope you enjoy it!

My double-knit entrelac has gone pear-shaped

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

You may remember back in 2012, I played with double-knit entrelac while considering a new hat design (what’s entrelac, I hear you ask? Wikipedia knows). At that point, I was working out details on double-knit short rows, picking up new pairs along a double-knit edge, and ways to keep the whole thing locked together at the edges of the diamonds, at least. I made a little rectangular swatch that allowed me to try out a bunch of different options for each, and if you’ve taken a class with me or seen one of my presentations in the recent past, you’ve probably seen the swatch in question.

It’s been a while since I’ve thought about DK entrelac any more than in passing. Shortly after I made the swatch, the illustrious Gwen Bortner took one of my advanced double-knitting workshops and it became clear that she had done — and even published — a double-knit entrelac pattern. However, even Gwen said that the photo of the piece doesn’t do the technique justice, and after I picked up a copy of her book, I realized that the technique is not described in any real depth so the method is relegated to the crazy enthusiasts (like myself) who are willing to work out the details for themselves.

For the next couple of years I found myself busy with other things. But now, with the next book on the (distant but visible) horizon, I am working on snippets of techniques again. In a moment of frustration while working on another piece, I decided I’d dedicate some braincells to the entrelac question. Once I’d opened this old dusty crate in the back of my brain, I was able to look at it in a new light, and something that had eluded me before snapped into place. Not only is double-knit entrelac possible, it’s easy — and one of the elements that is unique to my style of double-knitting is going to make DK entrelac even easier. I’ve also been playing with new stitch/pair relationships and new ways of explaining things that will go a long way toward fostering a better understanding of DK entrelac and double-knitting in general.

DK-entrelac-sneakpeek1

So without further ado, this pear-shaped thing was my technique swatch. I ironed out some details but most of it is working in an easily repeatable/documentable method. I’m not thrilled with the closure but I have another idea for that which I’ll try out later. Also, the gauge is way off — too loose and showing too much of the other color because of that. Now that I have the technique down, my next step is going to be to play with the gauge, color changing, and (of course) motifs within the panels.

Just so you can see that it’s reversible, here’s another photo with the pear halfway turned inside out.

DK-entrelac-sneakpeek2

 

Now comes the bad news. This is kind of a tease, I’m sorry to say. This is going to be a fairly technique-heavy pattern and when it’s done it’s likely that I’ll be saving it for the book and not releasing it as a standalone pattern. However, if there’s great outcry I may change my tune on that.

Thanks for your continued interest and I hope to see you back here again soon!

It’s Summer! New Pattern just in time for Fall: Spring Willow. Winter?

OK, now that we’ve got all the seasons covered, it’s time to think (and knit) proactively. Rather than waiting for Fall to think about Fall knitting that you won’t finish until Winter and therefore won’t wear until next Fall, how about starting in on something new and fun in time for the cooler weather coming up? (Again, apologies to those in the southern hemisphere for my north-centric worldview here).

SpringWillow-3

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that I managed to find an even creepier statue to model my new pattern than the one that modeled Parallax v0.5. But hopefully you’ll also notice the stunning thing she’s wearing. Witness the first example of true double-knit lace — not merely two layers of lace stuck together, not merely using lace to embellish an otherwise normal piece of knitting, but reversible lace with subtle colorwork that literally could not have been done in any other way. If you’ve been following me, you may notice that this is the pattern I was working toward back when I made this post.

The pattern is called Spring Willow, and it’s a double-knit lace cowl in luscious Anzula Dreamy superwash merino/cashmere/silk yarn. It has a really nice drape for a double-knit piece, and the combination of lace and two layers makes it an ideal 3-season garment. As with all my patterns, every technique you’ll need is explained — with pictures, when possible. Double-knit lace is surprisingly easy to achieve, and you’ll soon find yourself cruising through this pattern in ample time to have it ready for the Fall and early Winter that it’s so well suited for. And even if it may not be best worn in the coldest midwinter, it can make a reappearance alongside its namesake as you begin to see the spring greens and new-growth browns that the colors were chosen to represent.

I hope you enjoy the pattern — for now it’s available on Ravelry but I’ll be posting it to Craftsy and Etsy as well in the near future. Here’s a closeup shot of the fabric:

SpringWillow-2

Further Updates

Good news for West Coast folks! I have been accepted to teach my full repertoire at Stitches West in 2015 — a couple of regular workshops and then the Sunday-Monday intensive ETC class where you’ll get to learn all kinds of advanced two-color double-knitting stuff. Rumor has it that registration is starting even earlier this year — next week, I believe? so I hope to see some of you there!

For my East Coast family, I am running a short series of workshops in Dorchester, Salem, Portland (ME) and at Harrisville Designs! More info on those once I have everything nailed down.

Victorious Return of Victorian Raffia

If you’ve been following me since before EDK came out, you may remember a scarf I was in the process of knitting back then. Here’s the story.

Once upon a time, I had figured out double-knit decreases but double-knit increases were still a mystery to me. When I finally filled that gap in my knowledge, I decided to work on a piece (a scarf) that allowed me to play with a whole series of different increases and decreases. I had recently discovered the wonder of Kieran Foley’s work and decided to adapt one of his charts to double-knitting.

Never one to do things by halves, I realized that if I were to work the chart exactly as he’d created it, I’d be missing some important techniques. So I modified it subtly to make it a better practice piece.

The chart I created has directional single increases and decreases, and centered double increases and decreases. That’s 6 techniques, each (of course) done on front and back of the work for a total of 12 different types of increase and decrease. This was assured to make me an expert in double-knit increases and decreases in short order.

Victorian Raffia Scarf

Victorian Raffia Scarf

The piece came out beautifully, and got lots of attention in knitting groups and on Ravelry. When my book was in progress, I was about 2/3 done with the scarf. I wrote to Kieran and asked him if he’d allow me to publish the changed pattern in my book (with suitable attribution to him as the originator). He turned me down. To be fair, I was a little relieved — I had a lot to do and this just meant I didn’t have to finish the scarf. I bagged it up and it has been bagged ever since.

Four years later, I got an email out of the blue from Kieran Foley. He’d reconsidered and decided to allow me to publish the pattern on Ravelry, with a 60/40 split for joint authorship. I was intrigued, and accepted his offer. I could finish the last 1/3 of the scarf and have it ready by the Fall easily!

However, in those four years, I had learned much about double-knitting and designing in general, and I felt that the piece was no longer up to my usual standards. First of all, it was entirely done in twisted stitches — something I enjoy the look of but most other knitters will never do. In addition, it’s a pain and a half to do double-increases into twisted stitches, even with very pointy needles. Second, unlike any of my more recent scarves, it was done without selvedges, which meant the edges were harder to keep smooth and clean. Finally, it was done without any embellishment to the bottom edge, which meant that the increasing and decreasing created a couple of bulges along the bottom. After much deliberation, I broke the yarn and started again with a fresh cast-on.

VicRaffia2The new revision of Victorian Raffia has a section of mock-ribbing similar to the ends of Corvus. However, because of the main pattern, the mock-ribbing flows seamlessly into parts of the chart. The new chart is an 80-row repeat rather than the 76 of the original, so that the “river” sections which are a 20-row repeat will be able to match up nicely with the larger chart. The river sections themselves use some no-pair elements to smooth out the movement of the knots-&-crosses pattern. There’s a new type of increase I’ve never used anywhere else, which means there’s a total of 14 increase/decrease techniques now. And of course, it’s now done with a selvedge and “normal” stitches so that it will more closely resemble other people’s work.

Now it’s time for me to apologize, once again, for the next part: this pattern will be done when it’s done. I can’t release it until the scarf is finished and photographed, and I’ve got several other things to do at the same time, which will necessarily slow this one down. The good news is that I’m very much enjoying working on it, and will endeavor to get it done as soon as I can. But the nature of the piece means that it will take a while to finish, and I hope you will be patient in the meantime.

Sneak Peek on a new pattern

It’s been a while since I’ve spent time actually working on a new technique to incorporate into a pattern, and it’s both as exhilarating and time-consuming as I remember it. This one is doing double-duty as a set of samples for one of my upcoming workshops at Interweave Knitting Lab, but I’m pretty happy with the results so I wanted to show it off. Also, I’d love some feedback if you feel so inclined.

As you may (or may not, I won’t judge) remember, I released a pattern a while ago using double-knit openwork. It was part of a book by Artyarns, and as such I think it didn’t really get the wide exposure it probably deserved. In retrospect, releasing a brand new technique in a method that requires that I sign away all rights to the pattern was probably not my wisest move. Fortunately, the pattern, while fun to knit and a great excuse to play with yarn I would probably never otherwise have been worthy to lay my hands on, was not the best use of openwork in the world and I was sure I could do better.

Unfortunately, I didn’t. I let the technique lay dormant for a while — and in the meantime, I got one-upped by someone else who independently developed their own technique for double-knit openwork. I’m happy that pattern came out — because it opened more eyes to the untapped possibilities of double-knitting, and that’s my bottom line — but part of me feels I should have been more proactive, and gotten double-knit lace out there faster (and bigger, and better) than I did.

But it’s all water under the bridge now. The best I can do is to show what I can do with this technique. So without further ado, here are a couple of samples, done in Anzula Dreamy. The colors aren’t perfect here — it’s more of a spring green and dark tan — but you get the idea.

DK-lace-sneakpeek

These are mockups for an eventual cowl. Obviously, there will be more repeats in both directions, and I need to play more with needle sizes to get the best lacy-ness while keeping the stitch definition clear. So why are there two? Well, actually there are three but the third is still on the needles. These two showcase two separate ways of processing yarnovers, both with their pros and cons. The third way is single-sided — the holes show up only on one side but the colorwork shows on both.

The one on the right uses “standard” double-knit yarnovers, which are easier to process and result in a very nice and solid fabric since the two sides lock together at each yarnover. The resulting fabric shows the opposite color as background for both sides, but working it causes the ends to twist once around with each yarnover. Here, the color changes offer a chance to untwist the yarns as you go, but there are more YOs than color changes so you’re stuck untwisting manually every now and then.

The one on the left uses “reverse” double-knit yarnovers — and when you encounter them on the next round, you need to work into the back loop for both stitches to keep the hole nicely open. This method does not lock the fabric together at the yarnovers, which results in more visible holes all the way through the fabric since the two sides are free to move. Here, the color changes offer places where the fabric locks together to keep the entire fabric from separating.

The third way has a similar structure to the one on the left — in that the two sides end up disconnected — and solves the issue of having no background to the holes by making no holes on the opposite side. However, it’s not quite as reversible so you need to make your color choices carefully.

This is why, when I teach Double-Knitting Lace and Openwork, I let people practice all three methods — any of them can be easily done off a standard lace chart, assuming you know how to translate from single-sided lace to your chosen method of double-knit lace.

There is a fourth method that’s similar to the third and even cleaner, but it will require recharting (and some new chart elements as well).

I’m inclined to use the second method (the one on the left) because it reacts better to yarnovers directly after colorwork, and the rhythm of the TBL stitches is easy enough once you get used to it. But here’s where I ask for feedback — what do you think of the pattern? Too complex? Would you (want to) knit it if it were cowl-sized? Or should I go back to the drawing board?

If you’re interested in learning double-knit lace and openwork, I’ll be teaching in Manchester at the Interweave Knitting Lab — and probably not again until next season.

In other news:

My Craftsy Class has hit 6000 students as of this morning! Thanks everyone — now let’s see if I can hit 7000 by the end of the year!

There’s a list of independently-published knitting books on Goodreads that Shannon from Cooperative Press has been asking people to vote on. I have no idea what the votes are good for, but go check it out and vote for my book, if you don’t mind. It can’t hurt :>

Return of the son of 52 Pickup

52 Pickup Covers.inddIf you’ve been following my progress for the past few years, you may have heard that, back in early 2012, I released an ambitious double-knitting pattern called “52 Pickup“. Sales have continued to trickle in as equally ambitious double-knitters buy the pattern.

In time for the winter holidays in 2012, I decided to release a very limited pressing of the 52 Pickup pattern in book form, and compiled a few kits as well. I had been touring around some of the big shows with this pattern and along the way it caught the eye of Sally Holt, author of Knit Companion.

Sally was gathering presenters for the 2013 kClub, a series of webinars and KALs, and asked me to present — alongside other luminaries Cheryl Potter, Cat Bordhi and Lucy Neatby — a new and exclusive version of 52 Pickup. I set to work designing one.

52PickupkClub-600Now that the kClub is over, it’s time for the new 52 Pickup to come out of hiding. The kClub Edition pattern has smoothed-out lettering, new card backs and a wealth of new yarn and gauge options to give you more ideas about how to use the card charts in new and creative ways. You can read more about it on the pattern’s Ravelry page.

Everyone who bought the original pattern (those who bought it digitally on Ravelry as well as those who used the Free PDF code inside the pattern book) should have gotten a code to get the new version for more than half off the normal price. If you didn’t get the code, let me know and I’ll check my records.

For anyone who hasn’t gotten either of them and wants both, you can add them both to your Ravelry cart and use the code “blackjack” to get a hefty discount too.

Finally, since the demise of WePay and the advent of my new website, I have relisted the original pattern book and kit on Etsy, if you want to help clear space in my apartment. As before, both the book and kit will get you a free download of the original PDF, and I will send you a separate email with a discount code for the new pattern as well.

IKL-2014In other news, all of my workshops at Interweave Knitting Lab are full enough to run, but since I get paid more the more people who sign up for the class, I’m going to need to continue to shamelessly self-promote. That said, please consider signing up for my workshops at Interweave Knitting Lab! I’m teaching at least one of every workshop I offer, and I will be debuting two new classes, Double-Knitting Lace and Openwork and Double-Knitting Cables! Read more about all of my workshops on my website.

Introducing my last contract design … for a while, anyway.

One of the perils of being a newly-successful (for some values of successful) knitting designer is that people see your work and say “Hey, I want to get in on that”. Shortly after my book came out, yarn companies, publications and even shops began to see my work and said “Ooh, we’d love it if you designed something for us!”

And I was flattered, and I said, “Sure! I’d love to!”

So if you’re wondering why I haven’t been designing much lately, that’s why. I got bogged down in design contracts, and put my own work to the side. The Parallax eBook had literally been pushed aside for more than a year, while I designed things for yarn companies and other folks. I’ve always put a lot of stock into keeping one step ahead of the crowd, so that you’ll always have something to learn from me, but I’ve been stagnating a bit and I need to get back to what’s important to me — pushing the boundaries of double-knitting for the benefit of the knitting community at large.

Now don’t get me wrong — I did the contracts because I was interested, not because I felt forced into it. I wanted the opportunities, I wanted to get my name out into other areas of the knitting world, and I wanted to get out of my niche a little bit. I designed things that were (gasp) not double-knitted! But I took gambles, and in some cases I lost. The pieces were mostly good, but they didn’t reach as far as I wanted them to. They didn’t help expose the rest of my work all that well. But I’m glad I did them. And I’m also glad that I’m not going to be doing as many from now on.

Severn-Thicket-1

All that said, I’m pretty proud of the last one I designed. Back in early 2013, I was invited to teach at the Knitting Boutique in Maryland, under their “Famous Knitters” program. I was flattered, of course, to be considered famous enough for that. While I was there, Dianna (the shop’s owner) unveiled a bag of new yarn samples — a new line of yarn she was going to be releasing in the Fall. I gravitated, naturally, to the one which was a BFL and silk blend. Dianna, for her part, gravitated to a sample I had brought with me, which I use to illustrate double-knitting cables. It is, of course, based on the iconic Barbara Walker “Twin Trees II” chart. Dianna wanted me to do a cowl in her new yarn, based on that chart, but simpler. I told her I’d be able to start designing in January, when the rest of my contracts were done, and I did. Also, in another first for me, I contracted a friend who has test-knit for me in the past to sample-knit this time — saving me yet more time to work on other things.

The pattern isn’t released yet (sorry) but I wanted to show it off before I mailed it in. As soon as it’s ready for primetime I’ll let folks know. I assume they’ll be selling it online as well as in the shop, but we’ll see.

Severn-Thicket-2

In other news:

  • If you’re in Western Mass and want to learn two-pattern double-knitting, WEBS still has a few slots left in my Saturday afternoon class on April 12th
  • If you’re in New England in general or want to travel here to take a bunch of classes with awesome designers (myself included), come to Interweave Knitting Lab, May 13-18, where I’ll be teaching all 6 of my workshops.
  • And finally, I registered a new domain: metapixels.net. Bookmark it! Something interesting will eventually show up there.

Introducing Parallax v3.5

Parallax v3.5-2

You’ve probably already heard about my Parallax project. If not, go check out the recent post about it, as well as the eBook I just published.

While I was working on the concept for Parallax v3.0 (the three-color scarf in the eBook), I began playing with some other three-color ideas. This is the one I really wanted to knit from the beginning, but I knew I had to start (relatively) simple.

But as soon as the eBook was published, I chose colors and cast on for the one that I’d really been waiting for. This one, you see, really shows what I’ve been trying to prove with my multi-color Parallax concepts: In two colors, a checkerboard is still just a checkerboard. In three or more, new options are available. Sure, you’ve got an extra color to play with, but also new shapes. I’ll expound on this more later — but suffice to say, I can use the third color to emphasize different parts of the design that would not have been immediately visible with only two.

Take, for example, the scarf in the picture. There are two distinct alternating patterns. Would you find it surprising to learn that both of these patterns are based on the same warped-checkerboard grid? It’s hard to see — but it’s true. The same gridwork repeats throughout the entire scarf — only the way the three colors are used is changing.

As usual, Parallax v3.5 is done in Kauni — but this time, I’m using a more subtle trio. One color is a Kauni Solid; one is the very subtle Kauni Effektgarn EN; and the last is a slightly less subtle Kauni Effektgarn EF. I chose subtle colors for this one because I wanted the pattern to stand on its own merit, not necessarily as a celebration of unpredictable colorways like v3.0.

Finally, for those who want to know when this pattern is coming out, I have mixed news. It’s likely that I will not release the pattern for this anytime soon. It’s very complicated and I am under no illusions about the marketability of complex patterns. However, enough people have told me that my recent work “belongs in a gallery” that I am going to begin working on a new body of work that will be Parallax-based, very complex, and geared toward eventual display and sale as art pieces, not patterns. Depending how this venture goes, I may choose to release select individual patterns later, perhaps in a book dedicated to my Parallax explorations. But that won’t be for many years to come.

Parallax v3.5-1

A little Boston love among my perambulations

Many of my local peeps have been watching me bounce all over North America to teach double-knitting workshops and wondering, “When is he going to come back and teach us?” Well, Boston-area folks, wonder no more.

When I get back from my long visit to the West Coast to teach at Northcoast Knittery and Makers’ Mercantile, the next 3 workshops I teach will ALL be in the Boston area. OK, they’re all intro workshops, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right? (And if you want more advanced workshops, have your LYS get in touch!) They’re mostly clustered around the same time, but they’re far enough apart (geographically and market-wise) that it’s unlikely they’ll step on each other’s feet. Sorry — that’s just how it worked out for some reason.

First, on Thursday, Feb 20th, I’m presenting to the Greater Boston Knitting Guild, and then teaching an intro workshop. To get into this, you’ll have to be free during the day on a weekday, but like I said — different markets in different areas. This is Boston’s  major TKGA-affiliated guild and it’s a great honor to be asked to present to them.

Second, on Saturday, Feb 22nd, I’ll be teaching an intro workshop from 1-4pm at the Wayland Winter Farmers’ Market and Fiber Day — so for those in the Boston Metro West area, this is your time! It’s also quite a deal, and you can book ahead online (or you can show up and pay at the door if there’s still room)

Third, for those who live in my actual neighborhood, I’m teaching at Mind’s Eye Yarns on Monday, Feb 24th in the evening (from 6-9pm).

Fourth, I’m going to be at FiberCamp Boston the weekend of March 15 and 16. The workshop I teach there will be more of a tasting — but for less than the price of your average single workshop, you can try out a whole bunch of new skills or even teach your own. It’s all about skill-sharing at FiberCamp!

Finally, for those of you further out but still in the Northeast, I’m teaching at WEBS on the weekend of April 12 and 13, and at Interweave Knitting Lab from May 15-18.

Parallax eBook Released!

Three years to the month from its inception, the Parallax project is finally finished. Other things got in the way here and there, but I persevered and last week I bound off Parallax v3.0 and Parallax v1.0. On Friday and Saturday I blocked v1.0 and v2.0 and on Sunday, in the bitter cold, I froze my fingers taking photos of them on the Parkman Plaza statues in Boston.

Last night at 12:30 I finally went to bed, having finished creating patterns, projects and uploading the eBook on Ravelry — and this morning, it’s ready for purchase.

Parallax_Cover

Thank you for your patience and I am sorry for the long delay. I hope you’ll find the wait was worth it. And now, with the release of these long-awaited patterns, I am finally free of (almost) all obligations and can begin to focus on new ventures. In a little over a week, I’ll be at Cat Bordhi’s Visionary Retreat again and beginning to think about a new book project, continuing the vision I had for the first one.

For those eagerly awaiting Parallax v3.5 and v4.0, they’ll be released as standalone patterns once I have the time to work on them. Or, who knows — they could end up in the new book!