Hi everyone! I have been very busy lately with getting samples completed, edits finished and patterns launched. Over the next couple months I will also be making changes to my products. I’m going to only keep pattern listings on here, and all finished products will be moved to my Etsy shop. This will help me keep my inventory properly accounted for, and also makes it easier to deal with shipments. I will post when I have shop updates on Etsy going forward, so you won’t miss anything. Also, I’m going to be starting to have a serious of posts of my studio being built. Yay! The new studio is going to be about 75% of our basement. A few years ago we had 3 bad floods down there thanks to some very heavy spring rains. That has meant a ton of work has happened down there. First the furnace froze up in the summer because of the AC. Then we flooded from the rain, and the carpet came out, then the 2nd flood hit when the water came up through a crack in the floor. That meant a complete gutting of the basement, and all the exterior walls down there had the floor jack hammered out about 8″ back and an internal weeping system was installed. Then an entirely new HVAC system was installed. And now it’s dry and happy in there, and has survived a few seasonal changes, including 2 springs. Now we are ready to put it back together. We decided that it would become my studio. As an extra level of safety down there, we are installing dricore, which is a 2’x2’x3/4″ tile that sits on the floor and is plastic on the bottom. It allows for breathing room and if we flood again the damage will be minimal, as long as it’s not higher than the 3/4″. It also gives me extra insulation to keep my feet warm. We’ve already hired the contractor and are just waiting to hear from them about a start date. It’s looking like mid to late July, but since it’s actually a pretty small job, they may slip us in with other jobs when they have some time. It will take longer in general, but they will technically get it started and done earlier than just waiting for a time. I need to decide on paint colors though. I’m having a hard time with that. I’ve already received my lights, so that was easy, and I’ve chosen most of the furniture. But paint…it feels so permanent. lol Even though I could totally repaint whenever I want, it’s such a big part of the space.
Other than that, I’ve been working hard to get patterns released. First up I have my Diamond Hat. This hat is in 3 sizes, as always, and features a large diamond design on it. The diamond also fades into the crown decreases, without having it stop abruptly.
Next up are my Switchback socks. These socks are a lot of fun. They have decreases and yarn overs that create this meandering effect that reminded me of switchbacks you see running up the mountains. Because of the disconnect of the look of a chart compared to how it actually looks, you will need to pay attention to the chart. Once you see how it works in your knitting it becomes much easier to follow along. It’s not a complicated pattern, but you will need to count for the first bit.
Lastly, I released my Oak Island Scarf. I love this one. I’ve been fascinated by the mystery surrounding Oak Island off the coast of Nova Scotia since I was a kid. Growing up there it was fascinating to think there could be some place so close and so mysterious. That made this design a lot of fun for me. The tv show inspired me to do an acorn design, since the followers of the show call themselves acorns. 🙂
Aside from that, I have a few other designs in the pipes, one of which is a sweater that with any luck I’ll be listing for testing in about a week. I am waiting for the last run of edits, and I’m also going to sit down and do a full recalculation of everything to make sure it all looks good. This one was one of my favorites, so hopefully this will start moving forward very soon. It’s been in limbo since October of last year. I can’t wait to show it off, though. 😀
Making your own design isn’t as difficult as it seems. Sure you can get all kinds of fancy with charts and what not, but if you are doing it just for you, then you can just whip out some graph paper and get going. One thing I should mention about graph paper, though, is that your graph paper design will not look the same as what you knit from it. The reason is that stitches and rows are not the same height/length, but your graph paper is perfect squares. For the best result find yourself some Knitting Graph Paper. You can do a quick google search and there are a few places that will offer it for free, and you can just print it out yourself and get to work. The knitting graph paper has rectangles instead of squares, and will translate much better for knitting patterns.
Google is very much your friend for finding knitting stitch patterns. There are hundreds and hundreds of stitch variations that have already been designed that you can incorporate into your pattern. Knitting stitches like the “waffle stitch” are not copyrighted. While a full knitting pattern is copyrighted in terms of reproduction of the printed product, the stitch designs are not. You just can’t copyright a knit or purl stitch. So you can either search for ones that already exist and incorporate them, or use that graph paper to try different things to get a look you want. Also, Pinterest is also a great place to find stitch patterns. If you are really really into doing your own design making, I would also recommend buying books like “750 Knitting Stitches” (this is an Amazon link, but I am not set up as an affiliate and don’t get anything for you clicking on this link) that have a plethora of stitches in all different types, like cables, or lace, or color work. There are numerous other stitch books as well, but this is one of my personal favorites. I do still resort to searching online a lot though. I also find a lot of stitch designs on Pinterest. It can be great to have free sources when this is something you might only look at once in a while and isn’t something you need for your daily knitting life.
Design making, does not have to equate to design selling. If you are not interested in selling your designs, then simply keep a book/binder/etc with your design notes in them in case you want to recreate them. You don’t have to go crazy with writing up a full proper pattern if you don’t want to. I would recommend also keeping notes on what needles you used, what the gauge was that you got at that time, the yarn you used, etc. These will be very helpful later.
When it comes to gauge, you will want to calculate that. I will have a post later that goes more in depth with the gauge and things, but you will want to know what that is before you start your new design. The biggest reason is so that you know how many stiches you will need to cast on. This means you will need to swatch. A swatch is simply a 4″ x 4″ piece that you work up before hand. You can do this in two ways. Many people will do a plain stockinette, which is knit one row, purl the next. To cast on for a swatch, you can be very generic about it, and cast on until it looks like you have approximately 4″, with the stitches spread out. Don’t bunch them all up before you measure, but don’t pull them out tight. Make it look like just a smooth symmetrical stretch. Then work for about 4″ and do a full cast off. Next, which is very important, and you won’t want to skip this…wash and dry your swatch. You want to know how the yarn acts. Some yarns will stretch when washed, and will change the who size of your project. Swatching is actually good for any project, and I highly recommend it. It’s really more about the yarn than about the project when it comes to swatching. Also, if you have chosen a design for your pattern, you might want to consider doing your swatch in the pattern you have chosen. The big reason is that the kind of stitch makes a huge impact on your swatch size. If you have chosen a lace pattern, it will be much larger than a stockinette because of all the open parts. If you have chosen a cable, it will be smaller than stockinette because it pulls the fabric in more. When you dry your swatch, you will also want to block it. I will go into more detail on blocking in a future post, but it is just a way of stretching the piece out on to foam times, or your bed, or whatever you have that you can stick pins into, pinning it down into shape and then leaving it to dry. This is very useful in opening up the lacework and smoothing out your piece.
Here is a before and after picture of a lace project I did. This is my Hexagonal Shawl:
Before in its bunched up glory:
After it is dry when all the lace is opened up and can shine:
I know swatching seems like a lot of work, but it’s worth it. I mean, what if you knit a lovely scarf for yourself, washed it, and now it hangs down to the floor and is twice the size it was when you started. You’ve wasted a ton of yarn and your time on something you might not wear. So, it’s definitely worth it, especially when your yarn is a natural fiber. Those will bloom (stretch) and grow like crazy.
Once your piece is dry you can measure it. I have a handy tool that is a Knitting Gauge Calculator (this is an Amazon link, but I am not set up as an affiliate and don’t get anything for you clicking on this link). You lay this tool down on your swatch, and you can easily count your rows and stitches. You will count every row/stitch in the open spaces on the ruler to calculate the stitches per inch. This tool only goes to 3″, and I normally will do 4″, but it will give you a good idea of where your work is. I prefer to do more than 1″ of stitch and row counting, because your stitches could easily have partial stitches that are not accounted for. Now you take the stitches/rows for 3″ and divide it by 3 to get the number per inch and you can work from that. If you are making a scarf, you’ll be able cast on the number of stitches in that inch times the number of inches wide you want it to be. The same if you are making a blanket. The width you want your blanket to by times that number of stitches per inch. It’s as easy as that!
Another great thing to do is to keep your notes written somewhere. This can be whatever works for you, but keeping notes on everything you have done is very important. You’ll want to write down the yarn you used, and it’s details of weight, fiber contents, etc, along with the size needles you used, gauge you had on your swatch, and all the important parts of cast on and pattern you decided to put into your design. Even if this is just for your purposes, and you don’t intend on designing professionally, you’ll still want all of this. If you really like what you have come up with and want to make it again, or if you set it down for a bit and need to remember what you were doing, these notes will be very helpful. I will even take a little clipping of the yarn to staple to my page, and even staple the ball band to my page. Honestly, I am terrible at organizing everything like this. I just purchased some notebooks today to be able to start organizing my notes better. I have a terrible habit of losing ball bands and then forgetting what I used. So, now every design will be getting a page or two in my notebook with all the basics of the pattern for the yarn and such. I have a separate notebook where I write all the hen scratch notes of the pattern math and such.
Working up your own design doesn’t have to be super complicated. When you hear that there is math involved it can make it seem daunting. A lot of the math you will come across for scarves and blankets and such are simply division or multiplication. For example, if you want to add a stitch design into your project, how many stitches do you have to work with, how many are in the stitch pattern you want to work with. Do these divide evenly, or will you have stitches left over? Do you want to have stitches left over for an edge? Once you know those things, you can make the numbers work as you want them to.
Example: I have a stitch pattern that is 8 stitches, and I have a scarf I am working on that has a gauge of 20 stitches per 4″ (5 stitches per inch), and I want my scarf to be 10″ wide. To make a scarf that is 10″ wide, I need to have it be 10 x 5 = 50 stitches. Now, 50 divided by the 8 stitch pattern is 6.25. If 6 x 8 is 48, I have 2 stitches remaining. Now I have a decision to make. Do I just go close to 10″ and cast on the 48 stitches and not have any edge stitches, or do I do 5 repeats of the stitch pattern, which will be 8 x 5 = 40 stitches, and will give me 10 stitches left over (or 5 stitches per side) for an edge. I would most likely cast on 50 stitches, and have 5 edge stitches on each side with 5 repeats of the pattern in the center. That gives me everything I want in a scarf. The importance of edge stitches is that they help to prevent your project from rolling at the edges. If you have ever made a project that didn’t have a large enough edge or an edge that was stockinette, you’ll notice that it rolls in on itself. My edges are usually done in garter (knit on the right and wrong side), and it holds up against rolling much better. And of course, if you are looking for something that will roll on the edges, then stockinette edges or taking the pattern right to the edge would be exactly what you are looking for.
I hope these tips will help you to make something that is your own. A lot of these tips will transfer to almost any project you want to try making. They will hopefully allow you to have a better understanding of why a designer made a particular decision in the project you are working on. Sometimes it’s just a matter of having to force the math to work as closely to what they wanted to achieve as possible.
Well, it has taken the first three and a half months of this year to finally be better, but here I am. I had a horrible allergic reaction at the end of December, and am just getting to a point now where I can eat somewhat normally, and my voice is returning. I can never have nuts again, but I’m alive and feeling much better now. 😀 That means I’m back to work! Yay! I have been working on a few projects. I managed to knit a hat sample for a design back in January, but just last week managed to have enough brain power to write up the pattern. It is now in editing, so hopefully you’ll see that come across as a test knit in a week or two. 😀
This is my Diamond hat. It’s made with an aran weight yarn, so it’s nice and fluffy. The diamond pattern consists of slipped stitches, decreases and small cables. It’s actually a great introduction to cables if you were looking to carry on past my How To blog post about them. The cables involve two stitches at a time, and is a great way to practice cabling without a cable needle if you are feeling adventurous. (Honestly it sounds scarier than it really is.) Also, the decreases for the crown all happen in between the cables, so you can keep the pattern going to create a star effect on the top of the hat. It makes it a great hat for a pom pom. 😀
Next up is a scarf I am working on. This is made using the acorn stitch and is called “Oak Island Scarf”. If anyone has watched the show The Curse of Oak Island, you will have heard the fans being called Acorns. I find the show quite interesting, but I am from Nova Scotia originally and have always been fascinated with the Oak Island mystery and what the story really is. So, this is an homage to the story and the fans.
And the last project on the go right now is a pair of socks. These socks look complicated, but the pattern is very easily memorized. It will make them great for tv viewing! They are cuff down which make them a great beginner sock. I know how hard those toe up cast ons can be, and I have a lot of toe up socks, so I wanted to make another pair of cuff down, so as to include a variety of skill levels. They look very lacy, but honestly the pattern repeat only ever has knit stitches, a decrease and one yarn over. Again, these are another great way to get into the adventure of lace knitting, and you’ll get a comfy pair of socks out of them. 😀 Unfortunately, while these can be knit two at a time for the small and medium size, the large size is going to have a few rows that have yarn overs at the beginning or end of the row, which is going to make them a bit tricky.
I am hoping to get the scarf and socks knit in the next few weeks to then get them through editing. Thankfully the scarf is short and simple and shouldn’t take much time by the editor. That will mean a much faster turn around. 🙂 I am also going to start working on my last batch of edits for the few remaining un-edited patterns. That should be heading out in a few weeks, and then everything I have in my store will be tech edited. That will really free up my mind, because I constantly worry that there is a mistake in those patterns that I or testers never found. I’m too much of a perfectionist to let mistakes slide, so I want to make sure everything has had yet another set of eyes on it, and that everything looks as good as we can possible get it.
Oh Cables. Those delightful details that look so scary and complicated. I remember as a kid when I was learning to knit that cables were far too complicated for me. It really put me off for a long time, because I really wanted to make those cables and felt very discouraged. When I started knitting again, I was determined to figure them out. I did some looking online for videos, found out that I needed a special needle, which I promptly bought, and set to work. You know what I realized? They really are not that complicated. Honestly. They look difficult, but you don’t even need that special cable needle. Although, for starting out it definitely helps, and I highly recommend having it. I do still use mine when doing larger or more complicated cables. However, if all you have a small double pointed needle, it will work just as well. I was so happy that I was able to conquer cables. I have been improving on them ever since, and for many of my cables, I don’t need a needle at all. What I would like to do in this post is to alleviate any fears you might have for cables, and make them as straight forward as I can make them.
So, before we get started on making cables, you are probably asking what a cable needle is. It’s simply a small double pointed needle, that typically has a little bend in the middle to hold your stitches a little better.
As you can see in this picture, I have a short little double pointed needle with a small bend in it. That allows me to slip the stitches off the left needle, position the cable needle and still have a pointed end to knit/purl the stitches off. If you find that it is a bit fiddly, or the stitches don’t hold, you can stick an end into your piece just to hold it in place.
Now for those cables. 😀 First, what are cables? Cables are created by simply rearranging the stitches on your needle. You will slip some stitches on to your cable needle, then work some stitches, and then work those stitches that are still on your cable needle. This gives you a twist in your work that is your cable. How it is formed changes only by whether those stitches you put on your cable needle are brought to the front or the back of your work. This creates the lean to your cable, which means the stitches that are in front of the other stitches are leaning to the left or the right. Cables create a very pronounced and visible lean.
I want to start out with some simple cables. I’m going to start with 1/1 cables. That means we will only have two stitches involved in the cable. Lets start with the 1/1 RC. This abbreviation means that you are going to make a Right Cross (right leaning). To accomplish this, we will use our cable needle and slip the first stitch of the left needle onto it as if to purl (which means you slip the cable needle into the next stitch in the same direction as you would purl, but just slipping it off the needle instead of working that stitch), and let that cable needle hang at the back of your work (away from you). The cable needle will keep this stitch from unravelling as you then knit the next stitch on your left needle. Once that is worked, pick up the cable needle, and knit the stitch that is on it, as if it were a regular needle. You now have a stitch in front that has moved from the left position on your needle to the right, which makes it lean to the right. Next is the 1/1 LC. This one means we will create a Left Cross (left leaning stitch). This time, slip that first stitch onto the cable needle as if to purl, and this time let the cable needle hang at the front of your work (towards you). Knit the stitch that is on your left needle, and then knit the stitch from your cable needle. You will now have a stitch in the front that has moved from the right to the left.
The other notations you will see that make variations on the cables is when you introduce purls into them. For example, the 1/1 RPC. This means it’s a Right Purl Cross. You will begin the same way as the RC above, but instead of knitting off the cable needle, you will purl the stitch. You will have a knit stitch that cross over to the right, in front, and then your cable stitch will be purled and will now be on the left. In the 1/1 LPC it’s similar. Your cable needle will be hanging in the front, and you will purl the next stitch from your left needle, and knit the cable needle stitch. As you can see, both of these variations keep the knit stitch as the one that is in front and visible. The purl is tucked in the back of your work and hidden just a little.
One of the things that will come with time is the is the tension you need when working cables. You will find that you can get a bit of a gap because of how the yarn is pulled when working those cables. A great way to work on tidying this up as you go, is that when you are on the next row, you can pull your stitches a little bit as you are working them to even them out just a little. Unfortunately, depending on the size yarn you are using, just pulling the yarn tight when you work the cables isn’t always enough to tighten up the cables, and can lead to puckering in other areas of your work. I find that giving the stitches a little pull with your needle as you are working them in the next row helps even them out just enough.
And that’s it for the explanations. Now it’s time for the demonstration. From here it is just variations on how many stitches you have on your cable needle and that you work from your left. To allow you to practice I have created a dish cloth pattern. This will help you learn some larger cables, and on larger needles, but also teach you the way this looks on a chart, not just written directions.
I will include the pattern at the end of this post for you to follow, but I want to give you some visuals on how these cables will look as you work them and when they are finished. I have chosen to use 3/3 LC and 3/3 RC. That means you will be crossing 3 stitches across the front of 3 other stitches, either going right or left. These are also all knit versions. Let’s start with the 3/3 RC.
Your first step is to work your pattern until you get to the symbol in the chart, or the notation of ‘3/3 RC’ in the written directions. Then you will work it as instructed. The 3/3 RC means you are going to slip the next 3 stitches on to your cable needle as if to purl, and hold it at the back of your work.
Next, you will knit 3 stitches from your left needle. Be sure to snug up that first stitch just a bit to close up the gap that is left where those stitches on your cable needle had been. Next, grab your cable needle, and use it like another knitting needle. You will knit 3 stitches off that cable needle as normal. You now have your 3/3 RC. As you can see your front 3 stitches lean to the right, giving you that right cross.
The next cable you will find in this pattern is a 3/3 LC. As with the RC cable, work until you reach this part of your instructions. Slip the next 3 stitches on to your cable needle as if to purl, and hold the cable needle at the front of your work.
Knit the next 3 stitches from your left needle as normal. As you can see from this next picture, you have knit the 3 from the left needle, but still have that cable hanging out in front. This will give you a good idea of what the cable looks like half way through, and how it closes up and twists.
Now we can finish up the cable, and knit 3 stitches from the cable needle. You will now have a completed 3/3 LC. As you can see, the stitches from the cable needle make up the front stitches, and have a visible lean to the left.
As an extra note on this pattern: I have included both written and charted directions. Take a look at the chart and look at the symbols used for the cables as you work them. The image used will actually look like the stitch you are working. So, for the 3/3 RC, you can see that the first 3 stitches of the image end up going behind the second 3 stitches, to create the cross. That gives you the indication that your cable needle will go to the back of your work, and the front stitches should have that right lean. The 3/3 LC has the first 3 stiches being in the front, so your cable needle goes to the front, and they will become your left leaning stitches. It’s a great extra notation of where your stitches are being held.
These are the only cables used in this pattern. You can now go ahead and work through your little dishcloth. It will give you little ripples for scrubbing texture, and give you some visual interest. This also means you can use these skills in any other project you encounter without fear! As I said above, all cables are derived from the same skills. I hope this post has helped! I know that cables can look complicated, but now you will be able to give them a go, and will be able to start making projects that wow your friends and family!
Needle: US 7 / 4.5 mm Straight needles.
Notions: Cable needle
3/3 RC: Slip the next three stitches purl wise on to a cable needle and hold it to the back of your work. Knit three stitches from the left needle. Knit three stitches from the cable needle.
3/3 LC: Slip the next three stitches purl wise on to a cable needle and hold it to the front of your work. Knit three stitches from the left needle. Knit three stitches from the cable needle.