dusktreader knits

February 7, 2012

I did what I said I would do!

Filed under: Designing — Tags: , — dusktreader @ 9:20 pm

I took one of the many ideas milling around in that there brain of mine, and I turned it into a pattern for some armwarmers! It’s been through test-kniting, and will be available as a free download within the next week. Pretty exciting. And now I’m working on swatching out another idea. Designing is getting to be as addictive as knitting itself.

January 6, 2012

Bitten by the Design Bug Again

Filed under: Designing, Projects — Tags: , , , , , , — dusktreader @ 7:33 pm

Maybe you remember that when I started this blog, I was excited about designing my own knitting patterns. That was about two years ago, and I spent a few months reading about designing, sketching out ideas, playing with stitch combinations, and learning as much as I could. Then summer came and I let my designs-in-progress lapse. Last year at this time, I started having ideas again, but the urge wasn’t as strong, and then my knitting life got taken over by a mammoth project which I can now reveal was an afghan for my mom’s wedding present. Since I couldn’t blog about it (secrets!), and I was enthralled with the project (I have always wanted to make afghans), I stopped blogging and let my design ideas stew for awhile in the back of my head.

I finished the project in December, and  it was followed by a wave of enthusiasm for smaller projects. I finished the mittens I’d been working on for three years (on and off), made a hat in two days, and started a scarf. And then the ideas started flooding in again.

I have all sorts of ideas, and my main problem last time was picking one and focusing on it. Most of them don’t make it to the detailed sketch phase, where I plan every section. Sometimes I’d get stuck on one detail that wasn’t working right, or sometimes I’d try to swatch and find I’d made things too complicated for myself. I’d have multiple ideas for different things I could do within a project, and be unable to settle on one. This time, I am picking the most straightforward and developed idea that I have, and seeing it through from start (idea, sketch, swatch) to finish (pattern write-up, getting test-knitters, publication). I am going to tweak it until it is just the way I want it, I am going to make sure that other people can understand the pattern I’ve written, and then I am going to publish it as a free download.

And last night, after a few sketches, I managed to make a swatch that I’m pretty happy with:

A swatch of knitted fabric showing a cabled arrow pointing upwards.

It’s a cabled arrow pattern that I want to use as the main design element for a pair of wristwarmers. Fairly straightforward to do, but I searched the Ravelry pattern database and didn’t see anything like it. There’s still a few tweaks I’d like to make. For instance, at the points where three columns of knit stitches converge, I’d like to use a centred double decrease instead of the k3tog that I used here, so it looks more polished. I think I will make the shaft of the arrow a little bit longer by adding more rows. But it’s enough to get me started on knitting the first wristwarmer, which I was up late last night doing. I forced myself to stop so that I could try to get some sleep, but I was too buzzed to fall asleep right away. (What was that I said about knitting before bed again?) I was so happy that it came out the way I wanted I pictured it in my head. This feels like something that I can actually finish.
And when I finish, I have another idea all lined up that I’ve worked up a detailed sketch for. I am excited for that one too, but it’s a little more complicated.

March 8, 2010

New skills

Filed under: Designing — Tags: , , , , , — dusktreader @ 5:54 pm

It turns out that designing knitting patterns, particularly if you want to publish them, requires a whole host of other skills besides knitting. I am better at some of these things than others.

  • Writing. In addition to understanding the abbreviations and grammar used in knitting instructions (k1, p1, *k2tog tbl twice, sl2 pwise, yo p1* rep from * to * anyone?), pattern designers have to be able to write descriptions that sell their patterns. I have experience in communications and outreach in the non-profit field, so this one comes easier to me than some of the other things. Except for thinking of appopriate names for my patterns. That’s the hardest part, for some reason.
  • Sketching. It is one thing to make little sketches of ideas in my notebook that only I have to decipher later. But pattern publishers expect sketches of what the finished object will look like when you are submitting a proposal to them. I have always been envious of people who can represent on paper what they can imagine in their heads. Sketching has been a topic in the designers group on ravelry lately, and someone posted a link to a tutorial series she’s posting on her blog that looks like the kind of step-by-step beginner breakdown I need.
  • Photography. I can point and shoot with my digital camera, turn the flash on and off, and do basic editing on digital photos (cropping, resizing, using the red-eye reduction tool). But I do not really understand ISO and composition escapes me. The boy went over the rule of thirds with me (which I should have remembered from my student film society days) and that seems to be helping already. Sometime this spring I plan to take some photography books out of the library and at least get a better grasp of the settings on my camera and practice better composition. Expect lots of practice pictures of Metadata Futurecat!
  • Self-promotion. There are so many patterns out there, which is great, but if you want people to see your patterns, you have to put some effort into getting the word out. Again, I have experience in web marketing so I’m comfortable doing it, but there is only so much time I’m willing to put into self-promotion. That’s fine: I’m not trying to build a knitting pattern empire here. Maintaining a blog and posting links to my patterns on social networking sites like twitter and ravelry is about as much effort as I’m willing to put in, and only because those things actually enrich my knitting life and online interactions with other knitters.

January 24, 2010

I haven’t biked since November but…

Filed under: Designing, Projects — Tags: , , , — dusktreader @ 2:55 pm

I finished another project this week, a balaclava for wearing while biking. (I’m kind of a wimp about biking while there’s snow and ice on the road, but I do bike in cold spring and fall weather sometimes.) It’s from the pattern Anti-Freeze, by Jenna Adorno.

Mask with helmet

I didn’t make any customizations other than substituting the yarn to whichever black worsted I had on hand. It’s a pretty briliant pattern: it’s knit from the bottom up, using short row shaping to create the face. Kind of like the short row heel of a sock, if the heel was the back of your head, the toes were your face, and the foot was upside down? You know, like that. I am going to have to explore short rows some more, because I think there’s more things that can be done with them.

In other news, I am working on a pair of cabled armwarmers for my cousin at her request. I picked a cable stitch pattern from the Vogue cable stitch dictionary, and am reminding myself how cables work. I especially like cable stitches featuring isolated columns of knit stiches on a reverse stockingette background, where the columns meander around and intertwine. I want to work on designing my own like that. I may end up making a cabled version in my scarf series next.

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