A Song of Wool and Fire

By now, you’ve probably seen this firebreathing photo, either on one of the inner pages of my original printing, or on the cover of the new revision of Extreme Double-knitting. Taken by Shannon Okey of Cooperative Press, it’s a great eyecatcher — and certainly illustrative of the “Extreme” concept. But many have wondered about the photo, and I decided it was past time to tell the story.

First of all, let me quash some concerns. Yes, this is a real photo — not doctored (OK, it’s subtly cleaned up to remove some falling “sparks” — but the fire is real and the model is really breathing fire). Yes, the model has done this before, frequently; it’s not something we made a novice do as a gimmick. No, you should not try this at home (without ample training from an experienced fire performer with an emphasis on safety). Also, no, this is not my wife, although my wife is also a fire performer (but does not breathe fire, as part of an agreement we have).

So what do fire performing and knitting have in common? Well, mostly, they have me and my wife in common. My wife and I met at a knitting group, but I had been taught a number of juggling/object manipulation skills by my father long before that. I prefer the “stick” variety — flower sticks, contact staff, dragon staff — but have also done a fair amount of diabolo (think “giant yo-yo balancing on a moving string”) and some unicycling. As a young raver in the 90s, I developed a rave toy involving free-moving glowsticks at the end of a pair of sticks. You can see me using it at a party I helped throw, in the background of the 60 Minutes segment “Stop the Raves.” Eventually, I was exposed to the fire performing community while attending some party or other, and I thought about making a fire version of that toy. The final product was not great — the sticks were heavy, clunky, and didn’t move as freely as the original. I did, however, return to that party the following year with the fire toy and a girlfriend. It was seeing me spin my weird little fire prop that got her thinking about fire spinning herself — and some years later, she spun fire down the aisle at our wedding (and got in Offbeat Bride for it).

So during our journey together, we knitted together for quite a long time — but fire-spinning has been more of an enduring commonality. She no longer knits much, but she went to Burning Man last year (and I will probably join her there next year). We became part of a fire-spinning community in Boston and attended Wildfire (a fire training/performing camp) regularly for several years. We made friends in the community; some of those we connected with most strongly over the years were (at the time) another husband and wife duo of fire performers named Laa and Dio.

I chose Laa because she appears just effortlessly beautiful; I knew she’d make a good model and I was right. I chose Dio because he’s sort of a more photogenic version of me, and I knew he’d wear the pieces well. And since they came together as a package, so much the better.

The photo shoot was done in early December of 2010 at Halibut Point in Rockport, MA. It’s a good thing you can only see the photos, not feel them — because it was bitterly cold there. It’s on the ocean, of course, so when it’s cold inland, it’s colder there. By the end of the shoot, my models were just itching to light some fire and warm up. The cameras were freezing up, but Shannon did a fantastic job — even though this was her first fire photography shoot. I have been doing fire photography for some time, and have rarely been able to capture a fire breath as well as Shannon did on her first try. Mostly I focused on long-exposure work to capture fire trails.

Laa and Dio had moved to Atlanta since the 2010 photo shoot, and when I had the opportunity to do a new photo shoot for the new Extreme Double-knitting revision, I thought it would be fun to take photos of them nearly 10 years later too. They were up for it, but fire photography was not in the cards. We had “gotten away with it” in 2010 because we were in an isolated area well outside of tourist season. By contrast, the new shoot was over Easter weekend of 2018 in downtown Atlanta. Still, it’s good that you can only see the photos and not feel them — because it was sweltering hot there. Here’s Laa wearing the new revision of the same hat she was wearing in the cover photo above:

If this post has gotten you interested in fire spinning, a few tips:

  • Learn to manipulate your chosen prop(s) really well without fire first. Even firebreathing is practiced with water, not fuel.
  • Find a local spinjam (gathering of jugglers/object manipulators/circus performers) and begin learning there. Find out if there’s a local fire performing training event and go to that.
  • Learn to burn with an emphasis on safety! For you, and for the people you’re performing for.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice!

Stay tuned! I’ve got more news coming. Also, if you’re still reading this, check out the Buildingblox Workshop Week, and maybe come take class or two with me in Cambridge this April/May?

Throwback Thursday

I don’t usually take part in internet social trends like #ThrowbackThursday but earlier this week it came up in conversation that my Parallax v3.5 had made an appearance back in 2014 and as far as anyone knew, that was the end of it — it was relegated to a WIP at the back of my closet, maybe to be broken out again and maybe not.

This could not be further from the truth, and I can’t figure out why I didn’t blog any of the rest of the story. So this is a throwback both to the blog post I made when I first began the pattern, as well as its appearance in a gallery show about a year ago!

Firstly, Parallax v3.5 is an expansion of the three-color concept of Parallax v3.0, which can be found in my Parallax collection. v3.5 is not available as a pattern at the moment, for reasons that will become clear soon. I conceived of this pattern during an Illustrator sketching session at the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat some (unknown) years ago. It was one of those moments when a pattern comes together and you get chills. It is perfect and whole at that moment and all that remains is to actually knit it.

The process of knitting it was like that too. Similar to Parallax v3.0, I used Kauni Effektgarn to keep the intrigue up as I went (although I opted to make one of the three colorways solid rather than a gradient). As I went, I enjoyed the pattern so much that I decided I’d just keep working until I ran out of yarn. Since this is Kauni (where a typical ball is around 150g of fingering-weight yarn), you can probably guess what happened: the piece ended up about 10 feet long.

A 10-foot scarf may or may not be a useful item, but one of the things that can take a piece from the realm of craft to the realm of art is the element of scale. While this piece is not large in every dimension, it is considerably longer than usual. I have been told for many years that my work is art and should be in a museum or at least a gallery. As a matter of fact, I was an art major in college, and owned a gallery for a couple of years myself. So perhaps it’s a natural progression for me to think about presenting some of my work as art. More on that toward the end of this post …

In 2017, I had an opportunity to show some of my work in a gallery setting. Full disclosure: it was at the Quaker meeting house which I attend in Cambridge, not a “proper” gallery. But it got me to start thinking about how I would present my work in that context, and I started planning and building. The biggest issue to overcome is the reversibility of my pieces. I needed a reversible method of showing them as well, but one that also protected them.

Long ago, I had envisioned a reversible picture frame, inside which the piece would be suspended via fishing line or a similarly invisible method of support. I visited my local frame shop and started chatting with the woman who works there. She was intrigued by my ideas, and I had her build some simple frames for me. These frames had no glass in them, nor backing. Once I had the frames, I had to work out what to do with them. I had found some clear acrylic sheeting that fit the frames (or rather, I had the frames made to fit the sheeting). Gluing in the sheeting would leave a certain amount of space between them for a knitted object to sit inside. But unless the frames were much thicker, there would be no practical way to mount the knitting in between. Too thick, and the frames would be too heavy.

I decided to forego the mounting method by simply putting the acrylic sheets closer together. This way, when the frames were placed back to back, the small gap between them would squeeze the knitted object just enough to hold it in place by friction alone. Since the frames had a fixed size, I used acrylic shim material, which had adhesive on one side for ease of application, and of course which could be easily bonded to the clear sheet. Various sizes of shim would allow me to make the space between the sheets slightly larger or smaller for thicker or thinner double-knitted fabric.

The next obstacle was how to keep the frames together. They had to stay flush together to maintain the friction that held the knitted garment in place. But various connection methods were either bulky and visible, or too permanent. It was important that the frame be easily opened and closed for repositioning of the knitting — so screws and bolts, even if they could be made nearly invisible, were also out.

Finally, I struck on the solution: neodymium magnets. I found a source for coin-shaped magnets, and through careful measurement and drilling, I managed to mount them in identical locations around the backs of the frames. I then glued them in place and covered them with small circular plastic cutouts to protect them from each other (two magnets that get too close to each other will snap together and possibly shatter — this should be unlikely due to them being glued in place but you can’t be too cautious.

The final step was to install hinges on one edge, and some kind of hanging method on the other. I got some new blades for my old linocut tools and hand-cut clean channels for those fittings so that when the frame is closed, they don’t get in the way.

The little frames were simple — they’re sized for a piece of acrylic that’s 1’x1′. The big one was more of a task — the acrylic is 3’x3′, and the frame is the same thickness. For this, I had to use thicker acrylic to ensure the structural stability of the final product. It made it incredibly heavy, but also quite strong.

Hanging them was also an adventure, but with the chains it was easy to get them level simply by moving a hook up or down a link. Ideally, they’d be shown in a free-hanging location or perhaps perpendicular from the wall, to allow people to see both sides — but the space at the Meeting house was not conducive to that. I decided that I would return once a week during the show and flip them around so that people could see both sides on a repeat visit.

My work was shown alongside fiber art from several other artists in the Meeting, including (in large part) Minna Rothman, a self-taught tapestry weaver who has shown her pieces internationally. The show ran during January and February of 2018. It is my hope to continue creating a body of work which can be shown as art, and to refine the process of building these reversible frames for future shows.

This finally brings us to the question of craft vs. art. Despite the fact that I have an art background from college, I also have a much older craft background, as I have been crafting since I was a small child. I have shown my work as art, and I’ve sold my work at craft shows. In recent years, I have been selling only patterns so that people can craft their own versions of things I design. But what makes a craft art-worthy? Is it simply about presentation, or is it something more? This is a discussion that more qualified people have been having for years, but I believe that one of the things that makes a piece art instead of craft is its uniqueness. If I sell the pattern for this piece, it becomes craft because other people will create their own versions and mine is no longer unique in the world. If I don’t sell the pattern, it remains art, as there is only one like it. I realize that this is a simplistic distinction that doesn’t apply everywhere — for example, printmaking is still art; similarly, the art-worthiness of my piece doesn’t diminish because someone zooms in on a photo, charts it for themselves, and knits a copy. But if intention matters, then if I intend to make a body of work that can be displayed as art, I can’t also release patterns for the same pieces.

Does that mean that I’m going to stop releasing patterns for my work? Absolutely not! I still want to create things that other people will enjoy knitting. But I also want to have the freedom to explore concepts that may not be marketable in the same way. And if I can use my patterns to support that freedom, then perhaps I can sell my art — at art prices — it will help support the crafting side of my business as well.

Winter/Spring Workshops!

It’s officially the beginning of my “Spring” workshop season — the longest workshop season, as it actually encompasses Winter and Spring, and no major holidays get in the way. I find that people often prefer to take my workshops in the Spring because I teach techniques — not projects, which are more marketable in the Fall as people scramble to make gifts for the holiday season.

So without further ado, here’s the list of my appearances and workshops in 2019!

  • January 19-20, Pawtucket, RI: I’ll be vending my books and patterns at the Slater Mill Knitting Weekend! I’ll also be teaching an Intro workshop there on Sunday morning but that is SOLD OUT! Still, drop by and see me at the vendor area all weekend!
  • January 25-27, New York, NY: I’ve got two SOLD OUT workshops at Vogue Knitting Live. My books and patterns will be with Lady Dye Yarns, who will be making their second VKL appearance in NYC this year!
  • February 21-24, Santa Clara, CA: I’ll be teaching 6 workshops at Stitches West! This is my 5th time appearing there and it’s always a great time. There are still spaces in my intermediate/advanced workshops! My books will be sold at the Yarn Guys/Wall of Yarn booth, and I will be doing book signings at 5pm on Friday and 12:30pm on Sunday.
  • March 28-31, Loveland, CO: I’ll be teaching 8 workshops (several of which are repeats) at Interweave Yarn Fest! I’ve been away from this venue for 2 years, so I’m looking forward to returning. I’m not yet sure who’s going to be vending my books, so stay tuned. There’s still plenty of room in most of my workshops.
  • April 27-May 5, Cambridge, MA: I’ll be hosting my own event called the BuildingBlox Workshop Week, in which I will be teaching one of EVERY class I offer! This is an unprecedented opportunity to take classes that don’t run frequently. It’s not a retreat; there is no scheduled activity outside of the workshops, but Cambridge is beautiful in the Spring and there is much to do if you are coming from away. If you’re local, it’s convenient to the T and parking as well.
  • May 31-June 2, Atlanta, GA: I’ll be teaching 4 workshops at Stitches United‘s new location in Atlanta!
  • September 20-22, Amherst, MA: I’ll be returning to the WEBS Fall Retreat to teach 4 workshops — specific curriculum TBD. I’ll be vending my own books there (and WEBS will have them in stock as well).
  • September 27-29, Bakersfield, CA: I’ll be running two instances of two workshops (specifics TBD) at the What The Knit? Guild Retreat, along with Janine Bajus.

I’ll post more when I’ve got more to post — and if you’d like me to come somewhere nearer you, get in touch with me (or better, get your local shop, guild or retreat to get in touch with me)!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas (or seasonal greeting appropriate to your winter celebration of choice)!

I wanted to share a memory from my early days of knitting. 2005 was the last year my family celebrated Christmas together before my mother sold the house in Vermont and moved out to find other work in her field. For as long as I can remember, my sister and I had Christmas stockings hand-knit by my mother; for this last Christmas, we wanted to give her a stocking as well.

I had never done stranded colorwork before, so I used this Christmas stocking kit to teach myself how to do this type of colorwork, as well as basic sock construction. One of the perks of learning sock construction with a Christmas stocking is that you don’t necessarily have to make more than one!

Here’s hoping you learn something new next year too! If you’d like it to be something related to double-knitting, I’m teaching a whole slew of classes in 2019! I’ll have a post about those soon, but in the meantime, you can visit my calendar.

Give the gift of Extreme Double-knitting!

Whew … it has been a busy month! Thank you for your patience with me! Here’s what’s been going on.

I received the shipment of Extreme Double-knitting on October 15th, more or less as expected. With help from a couple of friends, I got the majority of books into storage, and a bunch of them back home. For the next few days, I spent much of my time fulfilling preorders. The weekend after that was Rhinebeck, which I attended with some friends from one of my knitting groups. Rhinebeck was fun but exhausting, and I spent much of my time in the Dirty Water Dyeworks booth chatting with passers-by and occasionally selling a book. I don’t know how the sales numbers were yet, but I feel like they were pretty good.

I had two weeks between that event and my next one, and while I should really have been pushing the book harder, I had just spent the better part of two years working on a project that was finally complete — and I wanted some downtime. I took a couple of weeks off, fulfilling a few new orders here and there, preparing for Stitches SoCal, and also working on another crazy new project that I’ll talk more about in my next post.

Stitches SoCal was the first show where I was both teaching and had Extreme Double-knitting available for sale, and it sold pretty well again. While at that show, I was able to do some networking — and made the acquaintance of a woman who may be helping me expand my reach via social media (which I am admittedly not great at). I am excited to see if her work can help to boost my sales as we go into the holiday season.

Which brings us to right now. If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember a detail from last year: due to high seasonal rates of package theft, I will be turning off Media Mail as a shipping option beginning on Black Friday (next Friday) this year. Priority Mail will be the only domestic shipping option for my physical books and patterns until New Year’s Day, 2019. So if you want to save on shipping, order your books between now and next Friday! For international customers, there’s no change.

If you’re interested in buying Extreme Double-knitting from Amazon, you may have noticed that the listing has been posted — but it’s not yet in stock. I have been in conflict about this since I saw another artist I follow leave Amazon — both as a political protest against rampant corporate profit and control over our lives, and because Amazon just doesn’t pay very well — but the fact is that Amazon is where people often look first for books, and nothing I do can change that. Amazon will not allow me to ship new product past Black Friday for sale this holiday season, so it is likely that I will ship them a couple of boxes between now and then. Keep in mind, however, that if you want the Print+PDF deal, you’ll need to order your books from me directly.

Thanks for your interest and stay tuned — I’ll have another post soon about Winter/Spring 2019 workshops!

 

Extreme Double-knitting shipping October 12th!

 

I have been reluctant to post anything due to a number of delays on the Extreme Double-knitting project, but I have a shipping ETA of October 12th. This is the date the printer expects to ship books to me, so there will be some time in transit before they arrive and I can begin fulfilling preorders.

There is the possibility that they will arrive in time for me to bring a case to Rhinebeck, but I don’t want to make promises. As soon as I hear from the freight company with a definite delivery schedule, I’ll reach out to those who preordered to let them know.

For digital-only customers, the Ravelry version will be updated around the same time as I begin shipping.

Haven’t preordered yet? Please feel free to visit my Extreme Double-knitting page. Not sure what I’m talking about? Take a look at the last 7 posts on this blog to check out what’s new in the patterns. Thanks!

Extreme Double-knitting Pattern Highlight #7

Happy Friday! It’s the last Extreme Double-knitting pattern highlight post — as usual, if you like what you see, consider preordering the book! I’m in between workshops at Stitches Midwest as I write this, so I’m going to keep it short!

Pattern #13: Footsies v2

When I first designed the Footsies (official tagline: the most adorable baby booties ever), I had never designed a truly sized garment of any type before — hats barely count. Even though baby feet are simple to enclose as compared to adult feet, I only had time when first designing these to execute a single version, which translated to a single size. If the size wasn’t good for your child, you’d need to adjust the needle size or yarn size.

This didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for these booties, but I’m sure it did reduce the number of people who made them. This time around, I decided it was time to properly grade this pattern. There are now 4 sizes, spanning newborn to 2 years old. The heel turning method is more elegant as well, and the instructions are clearer (of course now using my “marled knit” and “marled purl” terminology rather than the weird way I described the technique previously).

Pattern #14: Whorl’d Tree v2

This shoulder bag suffered from a number of weird design choices, not least the fact that it was done entirely in twisted stitches (see post #5 for more about why I did that for multi-color DK and why I don’t do it now). The major issue aside from that was that the background of the outer layer and the solid color of the inner layer were the same, which made it impossible to use the multi-color linked pair properly along the edges of the flat parts. To be fair, I hadn’t completely formulated the technique for the multi-color linked pair in the previous version of this book, but I have added it now. To make this pattern compliant, I made the inner layer a different color from the background of the outer one. There was only one choice — of the four colors used, only two are used in every row/round, and one of them was the background (white) color. So I used the other one — the blue, in the sample I made.

An unintended consequence of the reworking in untwisted stitches is that the stranding did not completely hold the fabric to the original dimensions — and the new bag (using essentially the same charts as the old pattern) is fully 50% wider than the original (twisted) version. To make sure that people still had the option of the smaller version, I designed a second small bag that is 2/3 the size — 4 repeats around instead of 6. So the Whorl’d Tree bag is now actually two complete patterns.

One bonus for knitters of this bag is that I am offering a service that is somewhat unprecedented. Most of the charts in this book have a uniform coloring scheme — two monochrome colors for the two-color pieces; the same two plus a red accent color for the three-color pieces. For this 4-color piece, I decided it was best to leave the original colors in place and offer to recolor the charts for anyone who wants them. This offer is good once per customer, and there’s a bunch of other fine print that you’ll need to see the book in order to read. I figure that the number of people who actually get to the point of being willing to commit to this pattern will not keep me too overly busy. Let’s hope I’m right (or honestly, let’s hope I’m wrong?)

What Else is New?

I’m at Stitches Midwest as I write this, and my plan had been to finish the edits before leaving, then doing a final once-over when I return home and then sending the manuscript to the printer. However, my tech editor is once again MIA after delivering me the first 4 chapters of edits and suggestions. I’m at her mercy here, so we may be pushing the print date back. I am hoping to have it ready by Rhinebeck at the latest.

This concludes my pattern highlights! I’ll be doing one more post next Friday that’s a kind of overview of what else is changing in the book. Hopefully by then I’ll have a better idea of the print date.

Thanks for your interest and please consider preordering!

Extreme Double-knitting Pattern Highlight #6

Hello and happy Friday! It’s the second to last Extreme Double-knitting pattern highlight post, and things are starting to heat up … or maybe that’s because I did the photo shoot on Easter weekend in Atlanta.

Pattern #11: Vasily

I love the fact that temperatures don’t come through in photos. You might never guess that it was in the upper 80s when this photo was taken.

Vasily is the double-knit cabled hat that appears on the cover of the revised edition. While the version on the cover is the original (and that is still an option in the pattern) I had always felt that the pattern didn’t show its reversibility (and therefore its whole reason for being double-knit) very well.

As with the other hats, the best way to show reversibility in a hat is to make sure that the brim can fold up. Since this fabric is fairly thick to begin with (even in a sport weight yarn, double-knit cables end up thick at the crossings), doubling it seemed a little ridiculous. Also, the two layers honestly don’t look appreciably different.

While playing with the fabric, I decided to try something different. I noticed that the gauge of my cabled swatch was almost exactly 2/3 the width of my double-stockinette swatch (for the same CO). This is not a surprise; cables often pull the fabric in, so it’s common to do increases before beginning cables. I had simply never done the math before. With the math done, a new idea came up: why not make a brim that’s not cabled? The repeat is already a multiple of 18 pairs, so it was trivial to make the brim 2/3 of that by casting on a multiple of 12 pairs — then increasing each 2-pair vertical stripe to 3 pairs just before beginning the cables.

The really fun thing was realizing that the brim would cover a significant portion of the cables regardless of which layer was worn to the outside, so it made more sense not to do the cables that would be hidden. This new revision of the Vasily hat has a brim of more than 5″ before the cables begin; the brim is then folded a little more than in half so that it appears that the cables go all the way down even when they don’t. This also means that the hat just fits better.

Pattern #12: Box of Delights

This was probably the most underrated pattern in the original book. The idea behind the pattern was to cram a whole bunch of techniques into a small space, but the execution was not great and the photography was terrible.

I had originally used a bulky yarn on US4 needles to get the fabric density I wanted, but I even admitted in the pattern that this was very difficult and that I broke more than one DPN in the process. This (rightly) scared some people off. In the new revision, I’m using US5 needles with an aran-weight yarn — so, still dense but not as much so. In order to increase the fabric’s rigidity, I used a modification of the two-pattern technique (see post #4 for more on that) to keep the inside of the box a solid color.

In addition, I both simplified the start of the pattern and created a cute little knob for the top of the box in a single step! The knob is just barely visible in the photo above, but you can see it in more detail on the Box of Delights pattern page.

Once the pattern was redesigned and reknit, the other major weakness of the original pattern was the terrible photography. Fortunately, my model had plenty of jewelry, candles and mirrors available so it was trivial to stage something much nicer. I hope that the new redesign and the upgraded photos will get more people to try out this pattern!

What Else is New?

As I alluded to in the previous post, I had been having difficulty getting my tech editor to respond over the past several weeks. Predictably, she replied within two hours of that post going live. So this week, I’ve got some actual progress to report!

In the past week, I began combing the manuscript for formatting issues and integrating suggestions I’ve collected from various people who have seen various parts of the manuscript. I have a prolific friend who just learned double-knitting from me earlier this year and wanted to test-knit the Footsies pattern (about which you can read in next week’s post). She had some good input on various elements of that pattern and the associated technique instructions, some of which I have integrated. The suggestions she made had a ripple effect through other parts of the book as well.

Tonight I’ve been spending time making little tweaks to the manuscript based on my tech editor’s input; the first 4 chapters and associated patterns were delivered a few days ago and I expect the rest shortly. I will be heading to Stitches Midwest next weekend, and I am hoping to have the majority of the editing done before then so I can send the work off to the printer more or less as soon as I return.

In other news, I will be appearing at both California Stitches events, and both of them are currently open for registration! I have no idea how my numbers are looking under the hood, but all of my classes at Stitches SoCal in 2018 (and of course Stitches West in 2019, which just opened registration) have room in them — so have at it! Stay tuned for more workshop announcements as contracts come in.

Hope you’re enjoying the posts — please preorder Extreme Double-knitting if you haven’t already! Stay tuned for the final pattern highlight post next Friday (and if you’re just joining us, use the navigation below to check out the previous 5 posts highlighting 10 more patterns from the new revision! Thanks!

Extreme Double-knitting Pattern Highlight #5

Happy Friday! We’re over halfway through the Extreme Double-knitting highlight reel and it’s time to get into some really colorful stuff! The next three patterns are my first three-color designs, but as with some of the other patterns here, I found it refreshing to go back and look at them with new eyes. The two in this post have been heavily redesigned in some interesting ways. If you like what you see, please consider preordering the book from my site!

Pattern #9: Struktur v2

When I used to show off the original version of this hat at trunk shows, the “trick” I would do would be to fold up the brim and then set the hat upside-down with the crown in my palm. It held its shape perfectly — more of a bowl than a hat, to be honest. This was due to a number of factors: the yarn choice (Cascade 220), the stitch orientation (twisted) and the simple fact that it’s done in three-color double-knitting. All of these went together to make a relatively rigid, dense, thick fabric. Great for a bowl, not so much for a hat. If you could manage to control your tension well enough that the hat remained somewhat stretchy, it would still be about 5 layers thick at the brim fold, and when those layers are in worsted weight yarn, the fabric is ridiculously thick. Even more so when the stitches were twisted, which makes them more square but also makes them a little thicker.

I used twisted stitches especially with three-color double-knitting because of a misguided attempt to hide the internal strands. I reasoned that it would be a good idea to reduce the number of holes in the fabric (most often visible when stretched) by removing the holes in the centers of stitches. I liked the look of the twisted stitches, and chose to keep using them even after I learned to control them better, especially in multi-color work.

However, I have done some very nice three-color patterns since then without any such conceit and the strands are no more visible there than in the twisted pieces — and the twisted stitches were a barrier to entry so I removed them as a requirement.

Similar to the Four Winds revision (but with somewhat more urgency), I wanted to make the default fabric less bulky so I opted to remake it in Cascade 220 Sport. Predictably, this changed the gauge, which necessitated a redesign of the pattern. Rather than using the same chart I used in the original, I reworked it from scratch to make a smaller repeat so that this new revision can be sized more easily.

Pattern #10: Falling Blocks

This pattern has long been sort of a signature piece — a combination of two unusual double-knitting techniques that are actually related. Having done three-color double-knitting and two-pattern double-knitting, the natural progression was to do them both together. The result was a hat with two radically different three-color patterns on either layer. Similar to Struktur, I had designed the original in twisted stitches. Because of the yarn choice (Berroco Ultra Alpaca), it was not as rigid and more wearable — but still so dense that it was hard to hear while wearing it due to the number of layers folded over your ears.

The interesting thing about redoing this piece in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light was that the gauge of the original yarn in twisted stitches and the gauge of the new yarn in untwisted stitches ended up being identical. So the basic pattern didn’t require a rewrite (hence no “v2” in the title). However, that wasn’t all I wanted to change.

In the original pattern, I didn’t have the time or the expertise to figure out how to work the crown decreases in both patterns, so I made a graceful transition from one pattern to a color-rotated version of the other; the crown operated in a similar way to the Struktur hat above. This time, with more time and more expertise, I decided I would find a way to make the patterns on both layers decrease all the way to the crown. The process for this was interesting and hard to describe, but suffice it to say I completed it.

The new crown required a new concept of two-pattern decreasing too — if the two layers have no logical connection (i.e. you can no longer say that if Layer 1 is Color A, Layer 2 must be Color B), then decreases also need not have any logical connection. In other words, a left-slanting decrease on one layer may have a mirror-image decrease on the other layer — or a decrease in the other direction, depending on the needs of the pattern in that location. This allowed me to chart two-pattern decreases in a more intuitive way as well.

What Else is New?

Without naming names, I’m seriously considering going to print without a tech editor. My tech editor has not been in touch with me for the better part of a month. I have written to her specifically asking for updates twice and have heard nothing back. To be fair, I gave her no specific deadline, but I did explain the timeline I was hoping for and she said it seemed reasonable. I have worked with her before and I know she does good work and respects my time as well. I can only assume something is going on in her life that is keeping her from doing the quality of work I am used to. However, if she won’t communicate, I can’t know what my ETA is for having a final manuscript to print. I am OK shifting the print date later if need be, but I would really like to have it out by Rhinebeck.

So what would it mean to have a book printed without tech editing? Well, in this case, it wouldn’t be so bad. This is not an entirely new book. The original text was tech edited, and many of the patterns have been exhaustively tested by regular knitters who’ve been working from the original book, as well as sample knitters who have knitted the newest pattern revisions. Yes, there is new text, some new photos, and some newly-redesigned patterns. It is possible that there are some small mistakes in the patterns. This would mean that some people will be confused and errata will be posted. If I am lucky enough to have a second printing, I will have the opportunity to integrate those errata into that printing. I don’t like using my readers/knitters as guinea pigs, but it’s not quite as bad as it might have been if the book were entirely unvetted. Also, the people who knit my patterns are (by and large) more resilient, creative, and adventurous than your average knitter — so any missteps will probably be taken in stride.

Predictable update: My tech editor got in touch with me about an hour and a half after this post went live. She is on schedule so we are also on schedule! More substantive updates on this front next week!

Stay tuned for more updates next Friday, and thanks for your interest! Don’t forget to preorder your copy of Extreme Double-knitting soon!