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 ┬ámajor 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!

Happy Holidays from Fallingblox Designs

As I begin what is likely to be my last post of 2013, I wanted to thank you for making it a great year for Fallingblox Designs. While I haven’t been able to take time to design exactly what I wanted, I’ve been designing lots of new stuff for the Willow Yarns Colorwork club, the KnitCompanion kClub, the My Mountain competition, and an extra for my Craftsy class (which has just passed 5000 students)! With the help of Craftsy, my book sales have been up this year as well.

All this is well and good, but I hear the rumbling now and then: “When is he going to release something new for mere mortals?” It’s true — most of these designs have been exclusive in some way: you’ve had to buy in to something else to get access to them. But never fear — time heals all wounds and I’m happy to say I have some news.

Rustle Of Leaves

Photo copyright 2013 Craftsy Inc

First, I’ve got a new pattern just released on Craftsy. It’s called “Rustle Of Leaves” and is a fascinating keyhole scarf pattern with bold ruffles and a double-knit panel of falling leaves down the center. Craftsy is selling it as a standalone pattern as well as in kit form (with all the lovely Miss Babs yarn). It’s a fairly quick knit, for a double-knit item.

Second, SMC finally released the Moosalamoo pattern as a free download on their site. This is the hat that I had in their My Mountain Hat Contest for which there was much drama a few months back.

The patterns for Willow Yarns and the kClub will also eventually be available and I’ll post about those as soon as I can.

Finally, I’d like to announce that I have added a few more dates to my Spring workshop schedule:

Tues, Feb 4 (evening workshop): Kent, WA (Makers’ Mercantile)

Thurs, Feb 20 (daytime event): Boston, MA (Greater Boston Knitting Guild)

Sat, Feb 22: Wayland, MA (Wayland Winter Farmers’ Market Farm Fiber Day)

Mon, Feb 24 (evening workshop): Cambridge, MA (Mind’s Eye Yarns)

Sat/Sun, Apr 26/27 (tentative): Fairport, NY (Yarn Culture)

Thu-Sun, May 15-18: Manchester, NH (Interweave Knitting Lab)

 

Thanks again for a great year and I hope yours has been as good or better. I’m looking forward to 2014! So whatever holiday you celebrate, or even if you don’t, have a happy one and I’ll see you again soon!

Spring 2014 Workshops, early warning edition!

Whew! It’s been a long year and a long time since I’ve taught workshops, it seems. In honor of the close of my first decade on the knitting scene, I’ve revamped my workshops and will give several new ones a shot this coming Spring. Right now, I’m gearing up to leave for Thailand (in about 7 hours) and before I go off the grid for 2 weeks I wanted to let folks know about my confirmed workshop weekends in Spring of 2014. Some of these are fully confirmed and some are merely tentative; some are also far enough in the future that shops haven’t begun advertising yet. If one of these is your shop (or near you), you’re welcome to pursue them to get more details. I’ll be adding the details I have to my events calendar, but I’ll also post up here with a summary of all my workshops once I have them all confirmed.

Without further ado, here’s the list of locations where I’ll be teaching in Spring of 2014:

Sunday, Jan 12: Madison, CT (Madison Wool)
Sat/Sun, Feb 1 & 2: Eureka, CA (Northcoast Knittery)
Sat/Sun, March 22/23: Mt Holly, NJ (Woolbearers)
Sat/Sun, March 29/30: St Louis, MO (Greater St Louis Knitters’ Guild)
Sat/Sun, April 12/13: Northampton, MA (WEBS)

I’ve also got some tentative (unconfirmed) dates at my local yarn shop, Mind’s Eye Yarns in Cambridge, MA — and I have several more weekends in later April and May that haven’t been grabbed by anyone. They’re far enough in the future that if you’ve got a local shop that’s interested in running double-knitting workshops by me, you can put them in touch and we’ll hammer something out.

Keep your eyes on this space and perhaps I’ll see you in the Spring!

Leaves (and prices) are falling

It’s officially Fall now, and a young man’s fancy turns to … well, knitting, in this case.

I hope your fancy is turning to double-knitting. Here in New England, the weather is getting noticeably cooler, and we’re starting to see hints of the coming foliage color in the trees (Actually, in the cemetery I ride through every day, the leaves have been falling since mid-August. Go figure). Before we know it, we’re going to be bundling up and watching our breath escape in clouds of steam — and wishing we had some warm winterwear. If you’re not in a climate that gets cold (or a hemisphere where the oncoming season is Winter) you’ll have to excuse my Northeast-centrism, and make your own excuses for double-knitting.

To encourage folks to get double-knitting, I’ve done some recent legwork (ok, mostly mousework — my legs don’t do much when I’m on the computer for hours on end) to take many of the patterns available only in my book and create standalone patterns as well. So if you’ve been itching to make something from my book but didn’t want to spend the money on the whole thing, maybe it’s available now as a standalone pattern! Also, I’m having a pattern sale to show you my appreciation for your love of my designs.

FBD-FallSale-Banner

First, go check out my new patterns page — I’ll add more to it as I get more photos and design more patterns, but for now it’s looking really good and working really well on most browsers I’ve tested. If it’s not working for you, you can just visit my Ravelry designer page for most of the patterns. Also, please do email me if you have problems with the page so I can make sure it works for as many people as possible.

Second, remember the phrase “One if by hand, two if by tree”. What does it mean? I have no idea. But remember it.

Third, go buy some patterns! Every pattern I have available on Ravelry is $2.00 off (except Corvus, which remains free), and even my 52 Pickup pattern book and kit are discounted. I’ve even discounted my kit’s base price $10.00 before the sale, so you’ll get a total of $12.00 off if you use the code. What’s the code? Oh right — “twoifbytree“.

A couple of notes and caveats. The “View Cart” button is only for 52 Pickup (the physical patterns I’m selling) right now. Eventually it’ll be for paper copies of my patterns and other hardcopy stuff I might print but for now it’s just a convenient thing for 52 Pickup. Any other pattern eligible for the sale is sold directly through Ravelry. Which brings me to my other note: Any pattern not sold through Ravelry is not eligible for this promotion, nor is Extreme Double-Knitting. This sale is going on through Sunday, Nov 3rd.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be in touch again soon!

Contract this!

Shawl-1Huzzah! With this piece, all of my 2013 contract designs are finished! And with more than a month to the deadline, as well! This one was so much fun to design and knit — and is the largest knitted object I’ve ever made. It’s a double-knit shawl in Willow Yarns Everest, and it’s 35″ tall with a 56″ wingspan. It’ll be headed to Willow Yarns, never to be seen again, once I finish working up the pattern (the chart is going to be a doozy). Apologies for the background; the only place large enough to put this for photographing is on my bed, and the cat wouldn’t be moved so I piled the sheets around her in the corner. Check out the other side here.

Now that that’s over, I’m free … to start knitting again! I’ve got the long-neglected Parallax eBook to finish, a secret project I’m working on in Bijou Basin Ranch Tibetan Dream (so secret that even Bijou Basin doesn’t know about it) and — serendipitously — I was just accepted to my second Cat Bordhi Visionary Retreat this coming February. So I need to double down on my new technique development to have something new and groundbreaking to show the other Visionaries (and yes — this does mean I’ve got my sights set on a second book in the not-too-distant future).

Yeah, I’m never going to be without deadlines — but for now, even though there’s a lot to do, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders because the deadlines are now only self-imposed. Thanks everyone for your patience — 2014 is going to be a fun year to be a double-knitter.

Sometimes the Mountain climbs you

You’ve probably heard a lot in the past week about the My Mountain contest I’m a finalist in. The prize is a feature on Schachenmayr’s website, a Ravelry ad, and an iPad Mini.

Last night, my wife and I had a conversation. She said, “Why do you care so much about winning this contest?” I said, among other things, “because I want to see one of the hats that does something really interesting and unique with their yarn get recognition … and I could use the publicity”.

The contest started out as “one vote per person”. Then, “one vote per person per IP”, because they couldn’t keep people from voting twice using multiple machines. Finally, they changed it to “one vote per person per IP per day”. When SMC made this last change to the rules, this contest became something different from its intended goal. Originally, it was a contest at least partially based on the merit of the design — sure, people with larger/more active social networks and/or smartphones would be able to get more votes, but people whose designs were interesting and innovative would still have a fighting chance. Now, the contest is unfairly skewed toward people who have large and loyal followings — the very people who don’t need to win. Now I’m not saying that I need to win — after all, I’m ostensibly a successful designer in my own right — but I feel like most of the other hats that are truly creative and unique are not getting the votes they deserve.

Perhaps this is because, like me, their creators spend time being creative and unique people, and don’t spend as much time being social butterflies. Unlike me, they probably realized they weren’t going to be able to compete on this playing field a while ago and just let the votes fall where they may. But when one person can add 200+ votes to their total in a matter of hours while the rest of us are asleep, I cannot hope to compete. Also, I found myself in the unenviable position of competing with someone who I consider a friend, and if I can help him win by letting myself fall behind, then that is the better part of valor.

My conversation with my wife ended with a realization and a resolve — not to double-down on my vote-whoring, but to back off. The contest is not about who has the best hat anymore. It’s about who’s able to get Schachenmayr the most Likes on Facebook, and who’s able to keep their vast networks engaged long enough without alienating their followers. I barely post on FB and Twitter. I don’t even make one blog post per month! I am clearly not going to be winning this one.

The other part of the conversation was to ask myself what’s really important to me? Is it to spend the week worrying about a silly game? Or would I be better served by working on my many unfinished knitting projects? Do I want to be a prolific knitwear designer, constantly jumping from contract to contract, deadline to deadline? Or do I want to continue developing techniques and working on new patterns in pursuit of an eventual second book? The answers are fairly obvious, if you know anything about me.

All that said, I’m going to stop with the daily posts and go back to my usual periodic updates. If by some magic I win anyway, I’ll be happy but I’m not going to hold my breath. All I ask is that you vote for the hats — not just the people — you want to win, because only by rewarding unique and creative knitting will you get more unique and creative knitting.