Tag Archives: design

Math… After Dark

When I start a project, I like to finish it.

And sometimes, when I’m working on something particularly tricky, I want to finish it right now.  Which can lead to mistakes.  Especially when I get stuck on a bit of particularly tricky math.

Which has led me to make a rule for myself:

No math after dark.

I’ve burned myself too many times with this.  I start working on a particularly tricky part of a pattern, or find a mistake, then next thing I know, I’ve deleted and re-jiggered a weeks’ work in an evening.

And invariably, there ends up being some massive mistake in my “fix” that takes three days to re-fix.

(When I worked in an office, I had a similar rule- no mass emails after 4:00, especially on Fridays.  The few really big email mistakes I made always happened when I tried to send out emails right before leaving work.  Like when I accidentally sent invitations to a group of about 50 “no” applicants to interview with our company.  Whoops!)

I’ve been working on a fairly complicated design lately, and I’m 90% of the way there- I just have a few more tweaks (and a little ripping out and re-knitting) before I’m finished.  I almost finished yesterday, but felt myself starting to get carried away last night (and the growing urge to delete big swaths of data that I was sure were wrong).

But, this morning the sun’s shining (as much as it ever does in Seattle at this time of year), I’ve got my fully-caffeinated coffee and I’m ready to tackle some more math.

Wish me luck!

Broken Seeds

I’m currently working on a big project for work (it’s another pattern, and I’m super stoked about this one… buuuuut, I can’t show it to you until next fall), and I’m in love with the stitch pattern I’m using.

This stitch pattern is insanely easy to work, but it looks crazy fancy.  It’s a great way incorporate some color into your knitting, and it’s so simple that you barely have to pay attention to what you’re working on.

It’s the Broken Seed Stitch:It’s literally a 4 row repeat, with nothing more complicated than knits and purls.  In fact, I’m going to give you the pattern right here:

In the round:

  1. MC (beige):  K
  2. C1 (dark brown): K1, P1
  3. MC: K
  4. C1: P1, K1

Worked flat:

  1. (RS) MC: K
  2. (WS) C1: K1, P1
  3. MC: K
  4. C1: P1, K1

It’s easier than I believed the first time I saw it.  It looks so complex- almost like there’s a MC  lattice knit over a C1 background.

I first found this stitch pattern on a pair of socks.  I was looking for a nice pattern to use up some half-finished ends of sock yarn last summer, when I came across the Broken Seed Stitch Socks.  It’s really more of a recipe than a full-blown pattern, but it got me started.  I love using the MC yarn for the details- cuffs, toe and heel.  And I really like how the designer used a variegated colorway for the C1 yarn.  I haven’t tried it with variegated yarn yet, but it’s on my to do list.

I’ve already made a pair of socks with this pattern (which turned out really nicely- this design works so well with stripes- a great way to use up little ends of yarn).  And now I want to put it on everything!  Broken Seed Sweaters!  Broken Seed Hats! Broken Seed Mittens and Blankets and Scarves!Have you come across any new favorite stitch patterns?

Well, it’s done, I guess

Phew!  It’s done!

Well, 99% done.  I still have to weave in some ends on my cursed project, and it’s got to finish drying out (it’s blocking right now).

And, I’ve gotta say, it turned out…. OK.

I love the pattern; the textures and the cables are great.  I love how it looks, sitting on the table, or pinned out for blocking.  But, I gotta admit- I don’t love the fit.

I tried it on when I finished knitting yesterday (after ripping the neck back several times-because this is the cursed sweater, after all).  And, I don’t know what happened with the measurements- I swear my math is right, so on paper, this sweater should fit like a glove.  But, instead, it’s too tight, and the sleeves are too short!  How on earth did that happen?!

As far as I can tell, I probably messed up in one of two ways:

  1. My gauge is off, or my math is somehow wrong.  In which case, I can fix the written pattern fairly easily.  However, I refuse to re-knit another stitch on this sweater.  If this is what happened, I’ll just have to find someone skinnier and shorter than me to take this prototype.
  2. I designed this sweater to use some really stretchy stitches- stitch patterns that block out almost twice as wide as their unblocked counterparts.  I got gauge off of a blocked swatch.  In theory, simply blocking this sweater will make it fit.  In theory.  I really hope that this is the problem.

Fingers crossed!

Have you ever finished a big project and ended up less-than-thrilled about the result?

Only Knitting

I’ve got a problem.  (Surprise!  I feel like I begin a lot of posts this way.  Maybe I have a lot of knitting-related problems?  Or maybe I think that you guys are particularly good at fixing my problems.  One or the other.)

This problem is kind of a first world problem, a problem of “too much.”  I’ve taken on too much knitting work. It’s great- because I’m really making knitting my “big girl” job, which is amazing and exciting.  I never even considered “professional knitter” when I did those “What I Want To Be When I Grow Up” assignments when I was a kid.  I always thought it would just be a hobby.  So, it’s fantastic that I’m actually getting paid knitting design work.

However, I may have bit off more than I can chew this month.  I (accidentally?) agreed to three contracts this month.  I should be able to manage everything, after all I’ve got until the end of the month, which is a long way away.  But in the meantime, I’m going to be knitting like the wind!

It feels a little like the month before Christmas- working as fast as I can, in every available minute.

Cross your fingers and send good knitting vibes!

Do you ever take on too much knitting?  What do you do to help yourself go faster?

Project Tea Cozy- Finishing Up

It’s done!  Woo! My tea pot isn’t naked any more!

I finished up the top of the tea cozy last week, working it just like the top of a hat.  This week I’ll start by working the spout opening the same way I would work the thumb on a mitten.  I transferred the 12 reserved stitches (saved on my stitch holder/safety pin) to my dpns, then picked up and knit 4 stitches in the little cast on edge.  I then worked a little 2×2 ribbed cuff around the spout and bound off.  Easy!img_3389Then I sewed up the bottom of the handle hole (I still need a better name for that), so now it fits snugly on my tea pot without me having to safety-pin it in place.img_3402But, you know what… It looks a little… sad?  Like it’s missing something.

Something like a pompom.

So I made a nice, tight 2″ pompom with bits of all 7 colors and sewed it on top.  img_3667Perfect!  It’s all finished and ready to go out on its maiden tea voyage!  I can’t wait.

And, next week, I’ll write up the pattern in a nice finished form and you can make yourself a tea cozy!

(And, don’t forget!  I’m giving away a copy of Knit Picks’ new Garter Ridge collection on Friday!)

Project Tea Cozy: The Top

All right, it’s time to close up the top!  After all, this is a tea cozy, not just a pretty rectangle with a couple weird holes.

I switched to dpns (because I didn’t have a short enough circular needle in the right size), and started working in the round.img_3373I did a few rows even, then decreased all the way around, once every 8th stitch.  I kept going, knitting one row even, then decreasing in pattern, making the decreases line up.

Once I got right to the top, I cut my yarn and passed the tail through the active stitches, the same way I would work the top of a hat.

img_3380Voila! closed up nicely!  If I wanted a smoother top (and less-obvious pleats around each set of decreases), I probably could re-knit it and decrease at a more relaxed rate, but I think I kind of like how the top turned out.

The spout is still pulling in what would be an uncomfortable way if this were a garment for a human, but I think that’ll be sorted out once I work the spout cuff, so I’m not worried.

img_3384The one thing I don’t love is that the handle hole ended up a bit too big- see that gap at the top of the handle?  I’m not a fan.

I mean, not enough to fix anything, but if I were to re-knit this pattern, I might change that.  Otherwise I’m pretty happy.

Speaking of pretty, let’s talk about my notes.  Because those are not even close to pretty anymore.  Observe:

img_3385

I don’t think there’s a line I haven’t scratched out or adjusted.  I think just about every number had to be re-calculated and each measurement ended up slightly adjusted.

But that’s how designing a new pattern goes- you’ve got to be flexible and ready to find and fix any mistakes, because there will be mistakes.

What do you think of this design so far- I’m getting close to being done!

Project Tea Cozy: The Spout

It’s spout time!

My original idea was to make a gusset for the spout, in the same way that I would make a thumb on a mitten.  But then I cast on, started knitting, and promptly forgot about that.

Oops.

So, I had a big rectangle of knitting that wrapped nicely around my teapot.  I knit it until it reached the split between the spout and the ‘body’ of the pot, in between two stripes (so I wouldn’t have to worry about making a hole and maintaining the colorwork pattern at the same time).  First I thought I would make a simple 8-stitch button hole, but that didn’t seem right.  I thought it would make the tea cozy pull funnily, and I want a little cuff around the spout of my tea cozy.  So, I decided to do a slight variation.

I knit to where I wanted the hole to be, then transferred 12 sts to a stitch holder, then I cast on 4 sts using a backwards-loop cast on, and knit the rest of the row.

img_3357The way I made the hole reduced my total stitch count by 8, so now I was working with 112 sts instead of 120, but that felt right to me. After all, I was going to decrease for the top of the cozy in a few inches.  I continued knitting, following the established pattern without any more shaping until I got to the top of the 10 colorwork repeats I had planned.img_3366And, when i put the unfinished cozy on my tea pot, it fit surprisingly well!  I still have to seam it on the bottom and the top needs to be knit.  The spout hole fit really well, sure the safety pin is pulling a bit, but the when I knit up those stitches into a little cuff around the spout, I’m sure it’ll fit like a glove!

 

Project Tea Cozy: In The Belly of The Beast?

Last week I did my first try at writing up the Tea Cozy pattern.

This week I did a bunch of knitting (and proofreading)!

Remember that math I did last week?  I determined that I needed about 120 sts around the belly of the pot.  I could just cast on 120 sts, but I want the ribbing at the bottom  to be a little tighter.  I think it’ll look better that way.

I figured if I want to increase about 1 st per 8, that should give me the result I’m looking for- just a little tighter, without any weird puckering.  So, a little more math, a bit of estimation, and I’ll cast on 106 sts.

I worked a p2 (k2p2) rib for a generous half inch (5 rows), then worked an increase row to get me up to 120 sts.

Then it was colorwork time!  img_3348Hoo boy, did I underestimate the amount of ends I would be generating!  So many stripes, so many color changes.  Oops!  At least it looks pretty.

Also, I want to bring your attention to a detail I’m really proud of.  Look at the edge of the handle hole (I really need a better word for that):img_3370See the brown edge?  I made a little mini-skein of brown for each side, and used intarsia to work a few stitches of garter stitch to keep the ends from curling.  I think it makes the tea cozy look really professional.

Now I just have to figure out how I want to make the hole for the spout…  Hmm.

Project Tea Cozy: Let’s Begin

I’ve got the gauge, I’ve got the stitch pattern, and I’ve got the design in my head.  It’s time to start getting this pattern on paper.

I’ll start by measuring my teapot.  19″ around the fattest part, which, with some math, can give me my stitch count.

img_3316Then I’ll sketch out my design, adding in notes about all the details- where the increases will be, what stitch pattern to use, etc.  I’m going to make this tea pot like a modified hat.  So, I’ll start from the bottom and work up, but I’m going to knit flat (until I make it to the “crown”).  That will make it easy to make the big hole for the handle; I’ll just sew up an inch or so at the hem, and voila!  Tea cozy.  (Or at least that’s the plan.)img_3331Then, starting with the cast on at the bottom, I write a first draft of the pattern, knowing that a bunch of it will be wrong.  But that’s OK, that’s what first drafts are for!img_3337Then, I finalized the stitch pattern…

Oh.  Except…

I totally used up most of the yarn I was planning on using (I got excited about another project and used up almost all the red and yellow and blue… oops!)img_3323Well, I’ve got lots of neutrals, so I guess this teapot will be more neutral than bright and colorful.  Ooh!  I can use neutrals for the stripes and colors for the dots.  That should look cute!img_3342OK, now that everything’s set up and beautiful, it’s time to start knitting!  (And time to start figuring out where all my mistakes are!)

Project Tea Cozy: The Swatch

Woo! It’s tea cozy time!  (Almost.)

I know no one likes swatching, me included.  (And, if I’m being honest, I rarely make a swatch if I’m following someone else’s pattern.)  But, when you’re designing a pattern making a swatch is an absolute necessity.

So I pulled out my favorite colors and made one great big swatch with three different patterns, to see which I liked best.

The first pattern was a wide stripe-and-polka dot combo.  I like it, but I think it’s a bit big for a tea cozy- after all my teapot is a little on the small side.img_3299Then, I thought, “Maybe something fancier-something more Fair Isle-y.”  I like this diamond pattern quite a bit.img_3312But, again, I think it might be too big.  So I worked up a scaled-down version of the first pattern.  Narrow stripes with teeny polka dots.  Sure, I’ll have to deal with a million little ends, but I think I like the result best.img_3304So, I’ve got my swatch and decided on my pattern.  I measured the gauge, and made sure to write it down in my book.

img_3344I’ve taken my measurements and have a plan in my head.  Next time, we’ll get down into the nitty-gritty of math.

Don’t forget!  I’ve got 2 (count ’em!) giveaways going on as we speak.  Comment here for a chance to win a copy of On the Go Knits, or here for a chance to win Knits for Everybody!