Category Archives: pattern design

Both Sides Now, backstory

I started designing Both Sides Now last winter, even before the Knit Picks call for submissions for a brioche collection.

This was from January 2019. I knew I wanted brioche, and a half-pi shawl.

February 2019: I played around with some stitch patterns. The little round leaf pattern didn’t thrill me, and I cogitated for days on how to make that twig pattern bend to my will. Once I figured it out, I contacted Knit Picks to see if they had more of these colors. Nope, discontinued. But they sent me some glorious blues to play with.

I was playing with this at Crafty Moms weekend in March last year.

There was definitely some trial and error and learning curve involved. And then there was a call for submissions for a brioche collection. Perfect! I was halfway there already!

When I blocked and photographed the shawl, I discovered that there really was no wrong side. Both sides looked great. Voilà, Both Sides Now.

I found it fascinating that the twigs on RS and WS faced opposite directions, down and up. And when you look at it closely, the lower sections look like light veined leaves between dark outlines on the RS (left half), but they don’t look that way on the upper section of the WS. Clearly, it’s not an exact reversal of color and texture.

Usually KnitPicks writes their patterns for MC and CC, but I requested that we use DC and LC designations (dark color and light color) because I wanted to make sure those lower veined leaves were reproducible. They’re especially nice if the yarn colors are very tonally contrasty.

After I finished the blue shawl, I went back and finished the purple version as a shawlette to see how far the yarn would go. I used almost every last bit of yarn, one skein of each color.

The leaves show up really well here, too. Instructions for both sizes, shawlette and shawl, are in the pattern.

Here’s the Knit Picks sample, same side as the purple above. In the top section, the light colored twigs point downwards. With less tonal contrast in the greens, the leaf veins in the lower section don’t pop as much as they do in the blue and purple versions. Still very pretty, just different.

This was a lot of knitting that I couldn’t show you last year! Now all has been revealed.

For a chance to win the YO: Brioche Knits ebook, visit the first Both Sides Now blog post and leave a comment there. I’m drawing a name at the end of the weekend. Good luck!

Aspen Leaf scarf in progress

I finished my syncopated brioche Aspen Leaf scarf. It was perfect vacation knitting; the leaf pattern repeats over 10 leaves, and once you understand how the leaves widen and narrow, it’s pretty easy to memorize. This sample is in Huckleberry Knits’ DK Blue Faced Leicester; the gradient is Practical Tactical Brilliance, and the speckle is When You Said Hi I Forgot My Dang Name.

I’ve just finished the pattern and sent it to my tech editor. I’m looking for a few test knitters; let me know if you would like to test knit. Testers should already have experience with syncopated brioche knitting.

I’m also knitting another one in worsted weight, but I haven’t decided if it’s going to be in Knit Picks Chroma Worsted (single ply) or Malabrigo Rios (plied). Swatching now, and the Chroma may be winning…

Knit on!

Both Sides Now, and Window Pane

Have I set an earworm for you? Joni Mitchell or Judy Collins? Read to the bottom for a giveaway opportunity!

My Both Sides Now shawl pattern is on the cover of the new book, Yarn Over: Brioche Knits from Knit Picks! I’m really pleased.

Both Sides Now is a brioche half pi shawl. Both the “right side” and “wrong side” look good. The cover photo is what I think of as the wrong side. The second photo above is what I consider the right side.

My blue version has contrastier colors, so the lower section really pops, and looks like veined leaves. On this side, my right side, the twigs point downward.

But the back side of it is pretty awesome, too. The twigs point upwards on this side, just like on the book cover. The upper section doesn’t show as leaves quite as much, though. I love that you can wear it either way, according to your mood.

Oh! I have TWO patterns in this book; the other is my Window Pane Scarf. It was my first foray into syncopated brioche; I was going to use it as a teaching piece but then I had the opportunity to use it here. So I designed Hopscotch for my teaching piece, and Syncopation after that.

But I love this, too, and it would be a great learning piece for syncopated brioche!

The Yarn Over: Brioche Knits ebook has simple and complex projects in a variety of yarn weights. There’s something for everyone, from beginner to expert.

To celebrate these new designs, I’m giving away two copies of the Yarn Over: Brioche Knits ebook. One will go to a commenter on this post, and the other will go to a PDXKnitterati newsletter subscriber. I’ll be drawing a name on or around January 12. Good luck!

Dotty Cake backstory: Evolution of a hat

Just a reminder, today is the last day of the introductory sale for my Dotty Cake pattern. It’s 15% off through midnight tonight on Ravelry, no coupon code needed.

I’m really happy with Dotty Cake. But it took a while to get there!

I knew I wanted to use the Dotty stitch pattern I developed for the Dotty Cowl that I designed for Knit Picks last year. And I loved the Chroma Worsted combination of Natural and Pegasus, so I wanted to use that again, too.

I cast on a guesstimate of stitches, based on my gauge from the cowl. The number seemed a bit big, but not totally unreasonable. I have a big head.

I knew I wanted a herringbone braid for the bottom edge of the hat, but I was going to have to be canny about it. I had planned to use it for the cowl, but when I was knitting the braid last year, the soft, single ply low-twist yarn wanted to drift apart in the first row of the twisty braiding process. I figured a hat had fewer stitches, so maybe it wouldn’t have enough time to drift apart.

And that’s when I finally realized…if I made the braid point in the opposite direction, I’d be tightening the twist on the first row, and then loosening it back to normal on the following row. Problem solved.

I finished the braid and began the Dotty stitch pattern, which is simple and easy to memorize. The shifting color was mesmerizing, too. This was great mindless travel knitting as I went to Vogue Knitting Live in Columbus. But as I knit, I started wondering how the heck I was going to finish the top of the hat. The Dotty stitch pattern wasn’t going to play well with my usual swirly crown decreases.

What about a pointy Santa-style stocking cap? I kept knitting as I pondered how to make that work nicely with the Dotty stitch pattern. I wasn’t inspired.

Well, what about a straight up cylinder, kitchener stitched across the top, and then bringing the two corners together like an envelope fold? I kept knitting to get the extra height I’d need, but I started to think that an all Dotty stitch hat with that much height was boring.

And then I tried on the hat and realized it was too big, even for my big head, and needed to be frogged. I had 9 inches of knitting when I finally realized this. Blergh.

So I ripped it all out.

I added more braids to the second version of the hat to make it more interesting, and that’s when I noticed that it looked like a layer cake. That was a happy accident!

Still, the crown shaping had to be addressed. And it needed to work for two sizes. The diretionality of the swirl was giving me fits, so I decided to go with paired decreases for each section of the hat. Perfect!

I needed to knit a smaller size for heads smaller than mine, so I could make sure the crown decreasing would work for that, too. I used the Malabrigo Worsted that wasn’t working for the brioche project I was playing with earlier this fall.

Sometimes a design jumps right off the needles. And sometimes you wrestle it to the ground. Dotty Cake took a while to work out, but I’m so glad it did. Happy knitting!

Introducing: Dotty Cake

I’m in love with my new hat!

Dotty Cake is a fun to knit hat that combines herringbone braids and slip stitch dots. The crown is fairly flat, like that of a tam. The braids create sections, making the hat look like a layer cake! I find that the flat crown is more flattering on me than a traditional closely fitted beanie.

Dotty Cake is knit in the round from the bottom up. It’s a quick knit in worsted weight yarn. I used Knit Picks Chroma Worsted for this larger hat, in Natural and Pegasus.

This smaller hat is knit in Malabrigo Worsted in Sunset and Malamba. Only one color is used per round in the Dotty stitch sections. The pattern includes a video tutorial for the herringbone braids.

The hat is meant to fit with a bit of negative ease; I’m wearing the 19” hat on my 22” head.

The Dotty Cake pattern is on sale for 15% off through December 12, 2019, no coupon code needed. You can find the Ravelry page here.

Thank you to tech editor Meaghan Schmaltz, and test knitters Ann Berg, Susan Schwartzenberger, Jae Tauber, and Nan Wagner. And thank you to my sister Sharon Hsu for taking pictures of me!

Kaleidescopically beautiful

Coming soon, Dotty Cake, a hat that makes me think of Funfetti. Yes, really.

I designed this Dotty Cowl last year for Knit Picks, and I really loved the slip stitch pattern that I created for it. I knew it wanted to be used again. And I finally got around to it. It’s being test knit now, and has already been tech edited. I’m guessing I’ll publish it in early December, plenty of time to make a slew of them for gifts! I knit one in 2 days, and I think test knitter Ann is even quicker than I am.

It’s been a whirlwind of a November, with Vogue Knitting Live, Vogue Knitting Destination: Portland, a raft of full classes at Twisted, and a little time spent on a not-knitting project, too.

I took a block printing class last year with Leslie Nan Moon while I was in Ellensburg, WA. I liked my block, but knew I could do better. So I recarved my block a couple weeks ago, and love it so much more. Here’s a print from the first one.

And here’s a print from the revision:

It’s so much better! I’ll be using this for…something soon!

I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year for DH’s family, so there’s a lot of last minute stuff going on, too. Gotta fly!

What are you doing for Thanksgiving, if you’re here in the USA?

Fussing with finished knitting

Do you ever go back and adjust things, after you’ve finished? Or are you all for good enough and done? Apparently I’m a fusser.

My Parquetry Cowl sample came back to me, and I decided I wanted it to be just a little more…more. So I frogged the ending and I’m adding a half repeat, which will make it 8 inches tall instead of 7. It will look about the same, but there will just be a little more squishiness to enjoy.

I wasn’t sure what needle I had used, and I wanted to use the same material to keep consistent gauge. Ebony? Stainless? I scrolled through my phone to see if I had taken any progress pics.

Bingo! Looks like my Hiya Hiya stainless. Ravelry and the pattern told me it was a US size 6. No guessing here! Did I re-use the yarn that had previously been knitted into the cowl? No. I had plenty left over, and the previous steam blocking left the yarn a bit kinky. I don’t mind knitting with kinky yarn, but I didn’t want it to mess with my gauge. Fresh yarn was a better choice.

Almost done! And because I’m really a fusser, I edited the pattern to add the half repeat ending to it, too. If you recently bought Parquetry from my Ravelry store, you will have received an email regarding an update. But don’t worry; the previous pattern instructions work well, too. BTW, Parquetry is still on sale for 10% off through October 11, 2019.

Also in the fussy column: I decided that my very cropped Soldotna Crop wanted to be just a little longer, too. So I frogged the ribbing at the bottom and added one repeat (6 rows) of the dot stitch pattern, gaining 3/4 of an inch. That’s really all the MC Iris I had left, so that’s long enough! Not worth purchasing another skein for any more length, and it’s perfect now. I’m really happy with it.

So…do you fuss? Tell all!

Re-introducing: Parquetry

I designed Parquetry last spring for The Fiber Gallery for the Puget Sound Yarn Tour. It’s just come back to me, so I can now introduce it here.

I designed it to be a simple and easy knit. Garter stitch and simple brioche stitches combine to form the checkerboard pattern, like a parquet floor.

Knit cowl with cat in reflection

I used two coordinating colors Of Hazel Knits Lively DK. I think this was the first time I used their DK, and I liked it so much I used more of it for my Soldotna Crop. It’s great yarn to knit with. But you can use any heavy DK/worsted yarn for your Parquetry. Just adjust your needle size to get a fabric you like.

The pattern is now available on Ravelry, link here. And it’s 10% off through October 11, 2019, no coupon code needed.

Happy knitting!

Nymphaea Shawl FO number 3!

I started this shawl for the Nymphaea Fall Shawl Retreat last year, and set it aside sometime after my last post about it in November 2018. Other design projects were calling my name. You can see my progress up to that point in the previous blog post, with lots of thoughts about color and beads.

So when the Bead Biz ladies asked if they could borrow my sample for their shows, I decided now would be a good time to finish!

I was already on the 10th repeat of the ZigZag Lace pattern, and that was about where I wanted to end up. There’s enough yarn left for at least another partial repeat, maybe a half? But deadlines are deadlines, so I finished the 10th repeat and went on to the edging.

I was planning to use the dove gray pearl beads on the edging, but the yarn in the Soft Kitty colorway was tabby striping, and the beads weren’t really adding anything to the story. So I ripped back and changed to peacock beads, to pick up the teal from the last repeat. I love it.

The finished shawl is so beautiful; can I really stand to let it out of my custody to go to west coast shows with Bead Biz?

Sure, as long as it comes back soon. The yarn is from Fierce Fibers, her Abyss base (with silk!) in the Surf and Sand gradient. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Finally!

The original shawl was knit with a mini skein gradient.

The second shawl was knit with 2 435 yard semi solid skeins from Bumblebirch. (Lots of CC left over.)

And this third shawl was knit with a 650 yard gradient from Fierce Fibers, plus a 50g skein of contrasting yarn.

I love them all!

Color is a funny thing

Color is a funny thing. I learn a lot about it by trial and error.

I bought these two skeins of of Malabrigo Worsted to play with some more brioche ideas. I wanted the multi-color to be the main color, and the Polar Frost to be the contrast color.

But the multi doesn’t really stand out here, or look very organized.

The back side is a little more cohesive; you can tell where the stitch columns are. This made me think that the semi-solid should be the MC, and the multi should be the CC. But this combination doesn’t really have much spark.

So I bought more yarn. This is how a non-swatcher accumulates a stash, by the way.

Now we’re cooking! I like this orange on the right side.

And because of the contrast with the bright orange, the multi-colored wrong side looks more cohesive, too.

What am I making? I’m just playing with a couple brioche ideas right now. We’ll see how it turns out!