Category Archives: Pattern Design

Playing around with handspun fun

So, I recently received some lovely handspun in the mail as a gift. It’s truly lovely. I mean gorgeous. It’s a great, super-soft blend of seacell and merino, with a nice, even twist, great color depth and gentle variations.  I think it’s fabulous. For those of you interested, it was handspun by a fellow Raveler named capsforqueers, and her yarns are amazing.

Anyways, this yarn is great but it has one little flaw. There isn’t much of it. At 98 yards, it’s only about 65 grams worth of yarn. This, obviously, doesn’t make many knitted items. I had a couple of appropriate “small skein” patterns picked out for it, but when the yarn arrived I realized that the patterns I had thought were so great for the yardage, they weren’t really appropriate for the handspun.

So I made up  my own pattern! Well, to put it correctly, I am currently “making” up my own pattern. It’s not quite finished yet, and every once and a while I hit a roadblock and find myself scolding it quite ferociously. This yarn stands up to frogging and tinking quite well!

I’m pairing it with some lovely Reynold’s Rapture in a dark pink and the two together look amazing. The idea is to take two yarns that have very short yardages but complement each other and put them together to create a truly unique and “stinkin’ cute” design. Stay tuned for more news shortly!

An epic cat’s paw lace sampler (and review thereof)

Well, tonight I watched the Count of Monte Cristo (2002 version) and knit myself a handy-dandy lace sampler, featuring the ubiquitous cat’s paw lace stitch, which apparently can be made out of anything and everything (stitch-wise). Or just about. I only chose to look up and knit eight variations of the pattern, so this sampler can be considered expansive but certainly not all-encompassing. For the fibery freaks out there, this sampler was knit using KnitPicks Telemark in the Drift colorway on a nice pair of vintage size 4 US 10″ aluminum needles.

Cat's Paw Lace Sampler

The top two stitches (which were the last two I knit, naturally) both feature a k2togtbl stitch. The left one is from Jennifer Jones’ blog,  The Knit Monster, and has a stitch called a double decrease, which I’d never done before. The double dec was interesting in general, as it creates a very straight bar running through the center between the yarnover. However, for the purposes of the cat’s paw motif itself, I thought it made the yarnovers below it look uneven.

The right one is Elizabeth Lovick’s version, from her website Northern Lace, which has, in addition to the k2togtbl, a k3tog in place of the double dec. I think this stitch, while it created an even-looking design, was not my favorite. The k2togtbl made one side look a bit “wonky” (there’s your techy term for the night) and the k3tog was quite simply, just a pain to do.

The bottom six cat’s paws were all knit directly from the chart compiled by Wendy Knits, as I have cited previously:

Courtesy Wendy Knits

The top two motifs on the chart, as well as the bottom-most right one, all feature a sl1, k2tog, psso stitch between the final two yarnovers, and I rather like the way this stitch creates a nice roundness to the center knitted portion of the design. The top right one seemed to be most effective at this, in part because of the alternating k2tog and ssk stitches around the yarnovers. Every motif that used the mirror design of the ssk stitch (symbolized in this chart by the “\ ” mark leaning to the left) created a more round, even appearance in the final lace.

The second stitch down on the left side in the chart had a unique center yarnover, which I thought was interesting. However, it did not create the appearance of either a cat’s paw or a flower, but rather a simply honeycomb design. The two stitches that I found looked the most like cat’s paws were the bottom left design and the right motif in the second row up. The placement of the k2tog and ssk stitches caused the yarnovers to stretch toward the highest point, making the midle yarnovers so small they are almost nonexistant and creating very large holes at the base. They look like the arching, flexing claws of a cat.

Even as I begin to finish cataloguing and describing the different traditional cat’s paw lace motifs I’ve knit, I am seeing where I could have tried other variations of the stitch. For example, you could substitute the k3tog with any of the other patterns, or moved the k2tog to the other side of the “honeycomb”-looking one for a more even appearance. Really, the combinations and possibilities therein are nearly endless. I shall leave that for others to take on, however, as I am quite satisfied with my own results. Enjoy!

Nothing is ever simple

I’ve been knitting a Flutter Scarf for my mother for Christmas. Ok, I lie. It was for her birthday, but I discovered, shockingly, that I couldn’t knit as fast as I thought that I could. So, since her birthday was yesterday and the scarf is only 1/3 of the way done, it has become a Christmas gift.

This reminded me of other “Christmas” gifts I’d like to make. Like my Forget-Me-Not Shawl for my grandmother. I’m not in the mood to wrestle anymore with mohair this week, so I decided to look up a nice cast-on, pick a number, and start knitting some soothing rows of stockinette stitch. I feel that this project would make me feel accomplished because I could get through 100 rows of stockinette in a finger-snap. Unfortunately, there are multiple methods of casting on. I’m undecided which is better and what I should use, or how many rows of a knitted border I should have.

So I moved onto looking for examples of the lace pattern – the Shetland cat’s paw lace. The cat’s paw lace creates six holes that resemble petals, and even though a forget-me-not flower only has five petals, a cat’s paw only has four main digits, so I think that I can be as “imaginative” as the Scottish people were and say that this is the abstract idea of what a forget-me-not flower looks like.

Unfortunately, there is not one single way to knit the cat’s paw lace pattern. Oh no. It could never be that simple. There are oodles of ways to make the lace pattern that causes the lace holes to shift and slide in different directions. Wendy Knits’ blog has a nice diagram that outlines most of them. And by “nice,” I mean, “it hurts to look at it too long.” Then there are a couple others that involve strange things like k2togtbl that I found other places. So now, before I cast on for anything, I must knit myself multiple little swatches of the Shetland cat’s paw, using all sorts of methods, until I hit on the one that creates the nicest, most round version. headdesk

A pocket, a posy…

…a ring around the rosy…

Obviously I have  pattern design on the brain now. This week, it’s the contemplation of the perfect shawl for my grandmother. Well, I suppose I’ve been building toward this. First I had to acquire the perfect yarn:

Check.

Then I had to find some inspiration:

Check.

Then I had to find the perfect pattern:

Uhh…

See, the problem is that the yarn’s colorway is called “Forget Me Not.” The yarn itself looks like the flowers from a forget-me-not, and I was immediately drawn to the idea of creating a shawl for her that looked like forget-me-nots. At first I thought Miriam Felton’s Seraphim Shawl would be divine, but hers used fingering weight yarn and I really wanted something a bit more flowery. Unfortunately, the only flower-like shawl patterns are either ugly, or, in the case of the Forget-Me-Not shawl patterns on Ravelry, look nothing like the petals of this flower.

So I’ve done some research today. I wandered through my favorites first, looking for something that might look like a flower, and then through the other flower patterns on Ravelry. And I found something! As I was wandering through one of my lace books, Victorian Lace Today, I noticed a really intriguing edgework that implemented a design feature that looked like the six petals of a forget-me-not flower.. “A Curved Shawl with diamond edging” apparently uses the traditional Shetland lace stitch “cat’s paw” with some success. I think the best picture of the edging can be seen here, on jeanneknits2’s Ravelry project page. I don’t think “cat’s paw lace” looks anything like a cat’s paw. Well, ok, it remotely resembles a cat’s paw, but what it really resembles is a small button-type posy of a flower. After seeing it knit up on some other shawls I’m excited by the idea of a whole shawl knit out of it:

Photo courtesy the blog, "Knitting Through the Looking Glass" by Pamela Lee

I tried to find a pattern that used the petals like I wanted them to be used (starting at the shoulders with just a few and eventually scattering outward until the shawl is covered with them), but that pattern just doesn’t exist – except in my mind. I’m not sure I’m experienced enough yet to actually physically design this pattern, as currently my only lace shawl, the Ishbel, is sitting in purgatory until it learns to behave itself, but…we shall see. My grndmother is old, and doesn’t have many years left, so that should spur me into learning how to do this quickly!

I am officially published!

IT’S HERE! MY FIRST PATTERN! I DESIGNED IT ALL BY MYSELF!

Ahem, and now back to your regularly scheduled programming. No seriously, I am very excited about my pattern. People have been favoriting and queuing for a couple days now, and I was getting anxious because after I wrote it up, it occurred tom e that I needed test knitters to check my work and make sure I didn’t make a mistake! So I dawdled, people found my errors, and now it is finally ready to go, a day late. I’ve been having so much fun watching people favorite and queue the pattern – I’m up to almost 80 hearts! – and cast on and knit it as well.

This was so freeing – I feel like I can design anything now! Now go check out my work, and knit it up if you so desire!

Ruched Sleep Eye Mask

Mask is done!

I reknit the mask and it’s gorgeous. It took a bit more yarn than the last one (26 yards), but every design flaw has been mended. I immediately laid it on the table that I use for photographing my yarns and moved everything else away from it so that it didn’t get rumpled. I finally got a chance to photograph it and edit the images yesterday, and I think everything came out pretty well. It was kinda dark outside (ok, raining and miserable), so I decided to go for a moody, spa-like look. I nabbed a crappy candle that I’d never used from one shelf and a shell that was filled with stylish toothpicks from another and shoved them together. Then I prayed that I didn’t set the curtain on fire, since I create my “lightbox” effect by wrapping the white sheers around the table. Oy! Everything went well. I found a wee little mistake in my seed stitch border on the mask (oops!) but it’s tiny and hopefully no will notice or care. Oh, and I used the pink ribbon for color and to mimic the effect of ties (if you are into that sort of thing, which I am not). Here’s some photo p0rn for you:

Oh! And I’ve been working on getting submitted as a pattern designer on Ravelry! It’s harder than it looks, so I’m actually glad I started before my official “release” date, which I randomly decided would be Oct. 1. I got OK’d today, so here’s a link to the page, even though the pattern isn’t up yet. People are already favoriting it!

Rainforest mask

Hester made me a shawl in 2008, and along with it she gave me the remnants of the Alchemy Silk Purse she used, about 40 yards. I’ve not known what to do with it until now. The first ruched sleep mask I made was out of cotton, and I like the idea of a fanciful silk one as well. Based on how much worsted yarn it took to make my other prototypes, I wanted to attempt a DK weight and see what the difference would be. I knit this yesterday, and, as usual, it worked up quite fast. This yarn seems more like a heavy fingering or sport weight than a DK weight yarn, so I had to knit it on size 4 needles! Shoot me now. I cast on 23 stitches, and surprised myself by only using 22 yards!  However, this yarn proved to me that the mask really does have to be knit with worsted weight yarn. I had hoped that a DK weight yarn would make for an even lighter, fluffier mask, but the DK is just too thin for filling in all of those holes between the stitches and its limp as well. It’s meshy even when knit tightly. Since I had the extra yardage, I decided to make up a backing. I cast on 19 stitches, knitting it flat, and used up about 17 yards of yarn. I’m going to alter this backing and add it to my final design as an “extra” element. It’s gorgeous, but not really as useful as my last eye mask. It’ll be a nice eye pillow.

More ruching fun

Yey! I am shocked at how fast my masks knit up! It was much harder to actually come up with the design than it was to actually knit them. I did two – one which I am calling my “prototype” and my second one which was perfect.  It  took me a couple hours to knit them, and I was watching TV and taking notes while I did it, so I think it went pretty well. The hardest part was making sure I got the ruching to look correct – I had to knit and then tink and then scratch out my notes and then reknit and then frog and then recount and reknit multiple times.

I made a seed stitch border, and had to do that a couple different times to make sure I was hiding the cast-on edge and the bind-off as well. I feel like I am teaching myself a lot as I knit this. The first one was a  little too large for my head and doesn’t really have great “lift.” I used size US 8s, as your average worsted weight yarn calls for, and after examining it, decided the mask would work much better on smaller needles. I cast on 13 stitches and only used 27 grams yarn, or 24 yards.

For the second prototype I cast on 17 stitches using size US 6 needles, and I could tell right from the beginning that it was working much better. The seed stitch pattern was more even (I had to make sure everything was symmetrical) and instead of a seed stitch band across the nose bridge, which lets in too much light, I just continued the stockinette stitch pattern. Tomorrow I’m going to make a third mask for photographing purposes because this poor mask is so beat up from my ripping back multiple times to get the pattern written correctly.

The ruching, the ruching…

…what what the ruching.

So I’ve gotten this idea in my head to make a sleep mask. I really dislike all of the sleep mask patterns that are free on Ravelry, for various reasons. Some are wonky-looking, others are padded, and still more are just plain ugly. The problem is that I’m very picky about my eye masks. My uncle bought me an eye mask for Christmas one year when I was in college. It was made of silk and stuffed with lavender, a scent which I absolutely detest, and always lay really heavily on my eyes. Sometimes I actually had trouble falling to sleep because it pressed down on my eyes so much. Luckily, I eventually lost it, and no longer had to suffer with the damn thing anymore.

But a couple nights recently the neighbors have left the lights on, making my bedroom fill will light and giving me a frustrating night’s sleep. So I started contemplating a lightweight mask that wouldn’t lay flat against my eyes. It needed to be gathered, to give it a little lift, and made out of something super-soft, like Blue Sky Alpacas Cotton.

I found a cool, little-used design element – ruching – and then scavenged through patterns on Ravelry for how to do it. I think I know now, but there aren’t really any properly designed free patterns that use this technique, so I’m kind of winging it based on my knowledge of increasing and decreasing and from looking at photos. I’m going to use this very nice cotton/rayon/acrylic blend yarn that I got from my friend Crystal (bradymom29), and I’m hopeful this will work!