Winter Is Coming

I’m not going to make a big ad push, just sending this out on social networks and letting it percolate naturally. Visit my Fallingblox Designs store on Ravelry and use the code winteriscoming to get $2.00 off your purchase. Thanks for your interest in double-knitting!

In other news, I have confirmed a new Spring workshop weekend at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival, March 27-29, 2015! This completes my four compass points — N(CO), E(PA), S(TN) and W(CA). I also have a weekend penciled in at Harrisville Designs in NH but will publicize that once it’s all settled.

Knit the forest for the trees

One of the things I look forward to in the winter is the stark, quiet beauty of the New England landscape after the leaves have fallen. Don’t get me wrong — I love autumn even more, for the colors and the perfect comfortable weather for knitting (inside or outside!) — but being from Vermont, winter holds a special significance for me. As a child, I’d treasure the silence while walking (or skiing) through the forest trails near my home, and the promise of a warm fire when I got home.

For obvious reasons, one pattern I really loved back when I started knitting was the classic Barbara Walker “Twin Trees II” (which I have erroneously called “Twining Trees” for a long time). I added my own touches to it, giving the trees a curved purl “hill” to stand on and an arching window around and above them to echo the shape of the hill and enclose them in the frame I felt they deserved. When I began working out double-knit cables, the trees made another appearance, and it was that swatch that Dianna at the Knitting Boutique gravitated to, asking me to write a pattern for her using these trees — but a simplified version, if possible.

What I came up with was a sort of reversal of the process I used to translate another pattern to cables — I translated the trees from cables to a simple colorwork chart, then began to play with further overlapping them so they could run all the way around something without any gaps.

Marianne1This cowl was the final product; Dianna has been selling it at her shop, using it to show off one of the yarns in her new yarn line, named “Severn” after the river in Maryland (although it could just as easily be the river in the UK). I decided to call it “Severn Thicket” since it looks like a cluster of trees. Of course, since I sent it to her in April, it got a wholly incongruous springtime backdrop in the photo — and since she has the finished object (and I am out of time to knit another myself) I was unable to take new shots. In the end, I decided it was better to use the shots I had (with Dianna’s permission, of course) when the pattern left exclusivity earlier this month. Since this shot is not the best for seeing the pattern (for the trees), here’s another shot.

Now, as to the price: I realize that by my current standards it’s a little high — but the price was set by the store and I don’t want to compete since they’re still selling it via their own methods. Unless the store lowers their price, I’m honor bound to keep it where it is.

In other news:

Next Spring (2015) will now officially be The Spring of the Big Shows for me. I have no other engagements, but registration is now open at all three events:

Also, NEXT WEEKEND I have workshops in the Boston area, at Seed Stitch in Salem on Nov 15th, and Stitch House in Dorchester on Nov 16th — I believe there is still space in both so please sign up if you’re interested.

Breaking my radio silence (and new ground)

I’ve been a bad little blogger (surprise surprise) but I have an excuse … I’ve been in “creative mode” for the past month or two, working on new ideas and, finally, I have a prototype for a new pattern.

Unfortunately, until the book is out, it only shows that this is possible and practical — there will be no instructions on it outside of the book for now. The sheer quantity of new techniques is going to make this piece prohibitively complex to release as a standalone pattern — sorry.

ferronnerie-1Without further ado, this is Ferronnerie. A French-named technique deserves a French-named pattern, and since this is double-knit entrelac, its name translates to “wrought-iron” in French. The yarn is Quince & Co Finch, and it takes less than a skein of each of 4 colors, even for the largest size. Check out the brim as well.

There are a number of unique things you can do with DK entrelac that you can’t (easily) do in standard entrelac, but I’ll describe those at a later date. In short, for a number of reasons, I feel like double-knitting is incredibly well-suited to entrelac and I hope this will open some new creative doors for other designers in the future.

As you may have seen in my previous post on double-knit entrelac, I had a number of hurdles to overcome before I could do this. It’s what kept me from working it out earlier — but now that I’m in “creative mode” I’m in the mindset to systematically resolve many problems. Documenting them is still sketchy, however. In order to do this piece, I had to work out double-knit invisible short rows, double-knitting backward, picking up stitches along edges, keeping all 4 edges of each diamond fully locked, decreasing the sizes of the diamonds appropriately to shape the closure properly, and creating a final closure that requires minimal seaming. As you can imagine, this will take a whole chapter in my new book to properly document. I look forward to it — but it’s going to be a while.

In other news

I have yet to schedule any LYS workshops for the Spring — if you know of any who’d be interested, please have them contact me — but in addition to the upcoming gigs this November and December, and the two big shows already scheduled for the Spring (see my previous post for dates), I’d like to announce that I’m now scheduled for ANOTHER big show: Stitches South in Nashville, TN, from April 23-26, 2015. I’ll post more upcoming dates once I’ve got them nailed down.

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.