The future of Fallingblox & Buildingblox begins to solidify … but first:

Read on if you want to hear an early report on the direction I’m taking with my 2023 (and beyond) workshops — but before that, let’s talk about what’s already on the books:

I will have more virtual and in-person workshops to announce soon, but since time is of the essence, I wanted to let you know that I will be teaching a few workshops at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC next February (2023). VKL doesn’t allow me to link directly to workshops, but here are the ones I’ll be running there; you can go to their main site to sign up. Early bird pricing is in effect until Oct. 27, so get your tickets now!

  • Fri, Feb 10, 2-5pm: Intro to Double-knitting (SOLD OUT)
  • Fri, Feb 10, 6-9pm: Texture in Double-knitting
  • Sat, Feb 11, 2-5pm: Multi-color Double-knitting
  • Sat, Feb 11, 6-9pm: Intro to Double-knitting

I have more to tell you about, but it’ll need to wait until workshops are posted! One hint: expect me later in that same month in the Pacific Northwest again …

Now, to business

If you’ve been following my virtual workshops over the pandemic, you may have heard me wax philosophical about how to proceed into a “post-pandemic” world. While you can read more of those musings in a previous blog post, or watch my recent podcast, I want to keep you updated on my current thinking so you know that there is movement, not just silence, from my desk.

I’m not going to offer numbers just yet, partially because I haven’t fully settled on them yet, but I do want to give you advance notification that my prices are going up. Significantly, in some cases. Why? Bottom line: the numbers I was using were based on faulty math. I’ll explain that in a later post.

It’s hard for me to ask for more, but the fact is that if I ever want to realize this as a full-time job, I need to. And here’s the thing: I’m worth it. I am teaching workshops that nobody else in the world is teaching. I’m doing them for 3 hours rather than 2, and I’m recording them so you have access to them for a long time. Anywhere else, you pay much, much more per workshop, and in some cases you don’t get as much as you do from a BuildingBlox workshop.

Will I lose some customers? Almost certainly. I’ve kept my prices artificially low for altruistic reasons, and that means that some people who have gotten used to those prices will not be able to afford the price increases. But I will always be open to negotiating on a case-by-case basis with those who truly can’t afford the prices.

So here’s the breakdown of what the new BuildingBlox workshops are going to look like:

  1. There will be almost three times as many workshops, including some project-based ones. This means that a workshop might run only once per year, unless I start offering more than 3-4 per month.
  2. Workshops will be scheduled several months out — a whole season at a time, if possible. This will give people more time to plan, more time to enroll, and gives me more time to advertise.
  3. Workshops will be charged under a tiered model. Previously called “Levels”, each tier will have a base price. Lower tier workshops (such as Intro to Double-knitting) will be priced lower. As the tier level rises, the price will rise.
  4. Workshop recordings will be offered to all workshop attendees for a year from the date of the workshop, using a new portal which I am building into my site to keep people from having to navigate a video hosting site.
  5. Workshop recordings will also be sold at a reduced rate (also per tier). So people will have the choice to take the workshop at the time with all the interactivity that entails, or access the recording without the interactivity at a discount.
  6. When a workshop runs again, the recording will be replaced in my shop, but the original recording will still be available to any who purchased access to it earlier (until its time limit runs out).
  7. In order to take a workshop or buy access to a recording, you will need to have an account on my site. This is the only way I can control access (a guest user can’t be given access to the recording in the same way).
  8. Patreon supporters will get a monthly discount code equivalent to a certain amount more than their support tier (in other words, those who support me at $5 might get $10 off a workshop in a given month; supporters at $15 might get $20 off, and so on). It’s my hope that this will encourage more Patreon supporters as well.

In the past, I’ve always tried to avoid making these kinds of big changes without checking with my customer base — I’ve run questionnaires, had focus groups, etc. This time I was counseled from a number of quarters to just make the changes I need to make, and let the chips fall where they may. This is hard for me to do; I care a lot about what my students think about me and my work and workshops, but I also need to make sure I’m able to continue doing this without so many workshop cancellations.

Thank you for understanding. More info will be forthcoming as soon as it solidifies.

Alasdair Post-Quinn, “Softwear Engineer”, Fallingblox Designs

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!


Extreme Double-knitting Pattern Highlight #4

Thanks for keeping up with my Extreme Double-knitting pattern highlights! Today we’re going to dig into one of my most sought-after techniques, and one of the patterns that’s taken a radical turn from the original. If you like what you see, consider preordering a copy!

Pattern #7: Open For Business

Open For Business is a sign, most often used in yarn shops. As such signs are wont to do, one layer says “open” while the other says “closed”. This is achieved by using two-pattern double-knitting for the entire pair of words. The chart is challenging to follow simply because of the sheer quantity of two-pattern charting — but a careful eye will follow it easily.

This pattern is not the one that’s taken a radical turn from the original. In fact, aside from recharting to make the pattern fit better in the oblong layout, it’s not changed at all from the original. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even re-knit it.

What has changed is the mounting solution. Since this is a sign, it has to be mounted so that it remains flat. The solution I came up with in the original book involved a couple of bent coat-hangers inserted strategically into the sides of the piece and the sides sewn up over them. The trouble with this solution was that the sharp-ish ends of the coat-hanger would tend to poke out, and it was hard to keep it actually flat.

What I saw many people do was to mount it on a pair of dowels so that one would hold the hanging string and the other would weight the bottom. This is easier to explain and looks nicer, so that’s what I did this time.

Pattern #8: Four Winds v2

This is the pattern that has taken a dramatic turn. The reason is twofold. First, many of the hats in my original book were done in worsted weight yarn. This caused the double-knit fabric to be quite a bit thicker than your average (wearable) hat should be. To make a double-knit hat more wearable, it should be done in a finer gauge yarn.

In addition, it turns out that there was a contract issue between Twist Collective (the original publisher of this pattern) and Cooperative Press, which resulted in the termination of my contract with Twist. This was no big loss as I had not been getting much in terms of revenue from this pattern for some time. However, I didn’t want to compound issues by republishing the pattern in the original form again.

For both of those reasons, I decided I needed to redesign this pattern from the ground up. In a sport weight yarn, I could make it more easily sizeable, and make some other changes.

First, the two-pattern lettering (where the cardinal directions are shown) section is now on a fold-up brim. This means that the letters are worked upside-down so they will be right-side up when the brim is folded.

Second, the fleur-de-lis option is entirely hidden in this version — it’s still worked to keep the fabric stable and the knitting interesting, but unless you don’t work the fold-up brim, it won’t be seen while wearing it.

Third, the points of the compass are now only in off-the-grid double-knitting. If there’s a big clamor for a plain charted version, I’ll consider this when releasing the standalone pattern later.

Finally, the crown decreases are staggered around the crown so that the crown is less square when it’s done.

All these together make for a better-designed and more wearable hat! I hope you enjoy it!

Like what you’ve seen in this post? Preorder Extreme Double-knitting today!

What else is new?

Not much this week! I’m waiting on a report from my Tech Editor but as of the writing of this post, I haven’t heard any update. Hopefully more on that front next week.

Oh wait — there was one thing: I’m booked at Stitches West (Santa Clara, CA) in February, 2019! I’ve been there the last 3 years, so this is probably no surprise, but I figured I should announce it since it is news.

Stay tuned! And if you’re just joining us now, feel free to visit the previous few posts (see the navigation below) for more info.

Extreme Double-knitting Pattern Highlight #3

Good morning! It’s week #3 in my Extreme Double-knitting Highlight reel, and today I’m fit to be tied. Not really, but since things lined up this way, I’m posting about double-knit neckties. If you like what you see, maybe consider preordering the book?

Double-knit neckties have become kind of a signature concept for me — as a guy, I probably wear ties more often than your average knitter. So when I was brainstorming things to double-knit for the original book outline back in the late 2000s, neckties were not quite as far from the top of my mind as they might have been for others. I had encountered knitted neckties before but never found a truly exciting one. Most neckties had construction that was too complicated (knitting fabric the same shape as a sewn tie and then sewing it together) or too simplistic (not even bothering with the point at the bottom). None of them looked good, and all of them were obviously “knitted ties”. Double-knitting was an obvious solution: it doesn’t curl either horizontally or vertically because the two fabrics cancel out that tendency, and it can be used to do complex color patterns within a simple shaped garment. I took careful measurements of a “real” necktie and made a tie form that could be used to figure proper decrease locations for a necktie of any gauge, then used that to design two neckties:

Pattern #4: Silk City

This necktie and its more complicated brother below share some similarities. Of course, they’re both neckties. The original ones were both done in the same yarn (Crystal Palace Panda Silk, a silk-bamboo-wool blend) which, at the time of my redesigns, had not been discontinued, but had been severely limited in terms of color range. This seemed to me a harbinger of worse things to come, and sure enough, it has now been discontinued completely. I selected it because it was a fingering weight yarn with some silk content. Silk being a common tie-fabric ingredient, I figured this would make a nice necktie. When I had to find a substitute, I noticed that the silk content in this yarn was actually only 5% — something I surely knew back when I designed the original but had forgotten.

So when I chose a new yarn, I wanted something with a higher silk content, but still plain yarn in fingering weight and solid colors. This proved quite challenging, and what I eventually settled on met all but one of those criteria. Jaggerspun Zephyr is a 50/50 wool/silk blend, comes in a variety of lovely colors, and is a plain yarn — in lace weight only. I actually swatched this with lace weight, but as I struggle (with my big man hands) below US1 needles, I was unable to get a good gauge. But I was determined to use this yarn, and I discovered that it makes a really nice fabric if two strands are held together.

The pattern has changed very little from the original. Again, chart notation has changed for clarity — but there was another weird issue that I cannot remember my rationale for. For some reason, I had charted the pattern so that some of the charts had an even number of rows and some odd. This meant that you might end up following a chart beginning with a Layer-2 row (in opposite colors from the chart). This should not confuse a veteran double-knitter, but in a book meant to teach the technique it made no sense. I have fixed this issue in the new revision of the pattern: all charts, as they should, now begin on a Layer-1 row (the “right side”)

Pattern #5: Silk Road

The Silk Road tie was actually an outgrowth of a pattern design adventure I had embarked on many years earlier. You can read about the saga of the Victorian Raffia scarf in an earlier blog post. To make a long story short, when I was denied the opportunity to include that scarf in my original book, I decided to use some of what I had learned to expand on the necktie concept.

The fabric in this necktie helped me develop the “off-the-grid” style I mentioned in the last post. This is an extreme example; due to the all-over pattern of increases and decreases, there isn’t a single stitch traveling vertically in this entire pattern. Every stitch travels at a diagonal in one direction or the other. The spirals are also a little signature move that I have developed further in the patterns Atyria II and Hesperos in my book Double or Nothing. They look complicated, but they’re just a little visual trick that I’ve enjoyed playing with over the years.

The real challenge with this pattern was the decreases in the tie form itself. Combined with the constant increasing and decreasing, there were rows where decreasing simply meant leaving out a couple of increases, and others where it was a little more complicated. There are places where the rapid change in direction causes the fabric to ripple a little bit along the edge; I have done my best to reduce this effect but can’t eliminate it completely.

The main difference in this pattern is in its notation. I will freely admit that I did not have a good understanding of increase notation (decreases were OK) when I wrote the original book. I explained how to follow my notation, but it was not intuitive and definitely not the standard way of expressing increases in a chart. In later revisions of the pattern (which was, for a time, sold as a standalone pattern), I tried to make my notation clearer but kept the underlying issue intact. Eventually, I had an epiphany about how increases should be charted in a colorwork context. In retrospect, since I learned the technique from Kieran Foley‘s patterns, I should have learned from his notation as well rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Later patterns, and especially the ones in Double or Nothing, use the corrected notation. With this revision, Extreme Double-knitting also joins the fold.

What Else is New?

I’ve got one very early update for Boston-area folks. I have not been teaching much in the Boston area, and I know that there are people who would be interested in taking a double-knitting class or 2 with me. The difficulty has been in finding a venue where I can get enough people to make a class worth my while. Most shops around here have been cutting back on teaching — using local talent rather than bringing in national teachers. While I am local, my fees are national-level, so shops need to fill classes to capacity to make them worth their while too. Many shops don’t have the space they’d need. So, while I feel conflicted about cutting the shops out of the picture, I am looking into ways to teach my classes in the Boston area without worrying about low turnout cancelling classes. The plan is to do a huge workshop extravaganza in April or May of 2019: I’ll be teaching two whole weekends, plus evenings spanning the week between those weekends. I’ll be running one of every class I teach, plus one extra intro class, Students will be able to pick and choose which classes they take; I will probably offer a discount for bulk purchasing of classes as well. If you’re interested in learning double-knitting or expanding your skills in it, and you’re in the Boston area or willing to travel here, get in touch with me and I’ll keep you posted.

Extreme Double-knitting Pattern Highlight #2

Hello! This is the second in a series of weekly posts highlighting patterns from my upcoming revision of Extreme Double-knitting, which is now available for preorder in print and digital. It’s my hope that people who have been on the fence about preordering will get excited by one pattern or the other and decide to bite the bullet.

More news later in the post; for now:

Pattern #3: Wrist Chakra

The Wrist Chakra wristwarmers were a last-minute addition to the 2011 printing, as is evidenced by the fact that the original photo was clearly taken in my living room, on my wife’s hands, with the yarn that had just been broken off and woven in. I realized I hadn’t included any truly basic double-knitting in the round, and time was of the essence so I whipped up a couple of small double-knit tubes as wristwarmers. I offered an option for a headband, but I hadn’t actually knit one so the measurements were simply gauge-based. I figured this was a relatively simple calculation, and it was.

However, I wanted to do it properly in the new revision, and as fate would have it, the yarn I had used (Araucania Nature Wool) was out of production. I had a hard time finding a good kettle-dyed DK-weight yarn in my local shops but eventually settled on Jojoland Splatter Dash, many colorways of which are at least reminiscent of kettle-dyed yarns. This time, I also made sure to work out a really nice headband version as well.

Pattern #4: Bratach

Bratach was my introduction to what I now call “off-the-grid” double-knitting in my classes. It’s a tongue-in-cheek name for a method of using increases and decreases in a decorative way. Much more is done with this technique later in the book but this is a good place to start.

In this case, I felt the product was pretty much exactly what I wanted — so no redesigning or reknitting was needed — but the process left something to be desired. Because of my relative inexperience in 2009-10 when it was designed, I did some pretty weird things with chart notation, and even made up my own chart symbol for a technique I called a “shift” which was something like a mock-cable. Essentially, it was a combination increase and decrease, done in such a way that the lifted increase was worked off of the top leg of the decrease. It was necessary to keep the traveling stitches moving dramatically while the crown decreases went on, and it worked nicely — but it can be notated over the span of two pixels in the chart using standard knitting notation. I also gave the pattern a little more rigorous sizing, whereas the older version relied on some weird math you had to do. It’s still very easy to change sizes simply by adding more space between the “banners” but most people would probably rather just follow instructions for the size they want rather than do a bunch of math.

What Else is New?

My tech editor has signaled that she has gotten the manuscript and given it a once-over; she really likes some of the changes I’ve made! Now let’s see how I like the changes she’ll be making :>

I have finished the edits to my website, and on the pattern page I’ve even included some other patterns I designed that are not available through my site — but are available for purchase elsewhere. I had links to these in a previous revision of my site, but links kept changing and it was sometimes unclear whether patterns were actually available. In the end, I decided to only link to the patterns I was (a) reasonably sure were available for the long haul and (b) reasonably proud of, as well as (c) double-knitted. There are a couple of other patterns out there that aren’t double-knitted; I’ll leave finding those as an exercise to the reader.

Thanks for your interest, and don’t forget to preorder! I’d love to be able to fund my first printing with preorder money only, but we’re only about 1/3 of the way there. Stay tuned next Friday and Fridays in general most of the summer for more pattern highlights and progress reports on Extreme Double-knitting!

Extreme Double-knitting Pattern Highlight #1

Today I’m starting a mini-series of blog posts about the patterns in the upcoming revision of my first book, Extreme Double-knitting. As you may have heard, I got the rights back from Cooperative Press last year, and have been spending much of the time since Double or Nothing came out working on making Extreme Double-knitting a book I could be truly proud of in 2018.

Many people have been very happy with the 2011 version, and are understandably wondering what’s up with the changes. So I’m going to do a series of pattern highlights — 2 patterns per post, 1 post per week, every Friday for the next 7 Fridays. I’ll also include any progress updates on the book itself at the end.

Without further ado, here we go with …

Pattern #1: Corvus

This is a little bit of an underwhelming start; very little has changed in this pattern. Corvus was the first pattern I ever published. Pre-Ravelry, it was a free download from my website, and it has remained free on Ravelry since then. Predictably, it is one of my most popular patterns. I’d like to think that the reason for its popularity is because of its elegant simplicity and suitability for beginning double-knitters, but it’s probably equally due to the fact that it’s a free pattern that has been around for about a decade.

The changes to Corvus were twofold: one was a charting detail, and the other was a design choice so minimal that few people ever really noticed it except me. When I first began charting my patterns, I used a strange custom symbol for my selvedges that confused many people. It looked like a little half-circle, and was easily overlooked while following charts since it didn’t look like the rest of the chart. In more recent patterns and most notably in Double or Nothing, I have changed the notation to make it more clear what is going on in each of those pairs. The current notation is now reflected in Corvus, as well as in all patterns worked flat in Extreme Double-knitting.

The design change is a smaller detail. If you look at the photo above, you may notice that the mock-ribbing section at the ends of the scarf has a slightly wider stripe at one edge than the other. This is because the selvedges remain the same color as the background, but the cast-on is an even number which means that the 1×1 mock-ribbing begins with one color and ends with the other. One of those will match the selvedge, creating that wider stripe. The solution was simple: cut a column out at the end. This makes the beginning and end of the scarf cleaner. I removed a column from the center of the crow charts, and from the space between the crows’ feet in the middle section. All of this makes the whole pattern look just a little cleaner, but made for such minor changes overall that I didn’t feel it was worth it to have the whole pattern re-knit.

Pattern #2: Sierpinski L5

In stark contrast to the minor changes in Corvus, Sierpinski got the largest changes of any pattern in the book — to the point that the pattern is not even recognizably the same. It’s clearly based on the same motif (the fractal called the Sierpinski Carpet) but is more of a pure distillation of the concept than the original. For this reason, the pattern gets a new name — Sierpinski L5, referring to the “level”/iteration of the fractal in question.

In fact, a level-5 Sierpinski Carpet was my original plan for this blanket, but my sample knitter at the time did not have the time to do the work it would have required. So, for the original 2011 book, I designed a smaller blanket using a ring of L2s, a ring of L3s, and a single L4 fractal in the center. Predictably, this came out smaller than the original concept, and was billed as a baby blanket.

In an attempt to get the full L5 pattern to stay within the same category (and also to make the fabric a little thinner) I switched from worsted weight yarn to sport weight. Since it was possible to stay with the same yarn, I did so: the original was in Cascade 220 Superwash; the new version is in Cascade 220 Superwash Sport. However, the attempt failed somewhat: the gauge did not change appreciably and the resulting blanket is a 45” throw, not a baby blanket.

Around the same time I determined this was going to be the case, I read an article about how babies aren’t supposed to be getting blankets anymore, so I decided I was ahead of the curve and just billed it as a throw rather than trying to redesign it again.

Aside from the redesign itself, the charts have changed radically as well. Because the previous version was a collection of Sierpinski Carpets arranged in a particular way, the entire pattern needed to be charted and took up 9 pages to do so. However, Sierpinski L5 is a fractal in itself, so it’s charted in an appropriate way: 2 pages, with a single charted L4 fractal and a schematic indicating how to assemble repeats of the chart into a single product.

Because the pattern has changed significantly, I have reworked the original Sierpinski pattern and released it as a standalone pattern on Ravelry. I was able to condense the charts from 9 pages to 6, made the same notation changes to the selvedges that I mentioned in Corvus, and updated the rest of the pattern text as well to reflect current standards. While the pattern doesn’t say this, it can probably be worked in the same sport weight yarn I used for Sierpinski L5 without any appreciable change in size.

What Else is New?

Since the manuscript for Extreme Double-knitting has gone off to my tech editor, I have a little free time to do some of the things I’ve been meaning to catch up on. However, first and foremost, I opened up preorders for the book on my website and on Ravelry and informed my preorder mailing list. A couple days later, I sent the announcement out to a larger audience, and am working to expand visibility in other ways as well. If you have a following yourself and would like to signal-boost for me, I’d appreciate if you sent people either to last Monday’s blog post, or to the book page on my website. Thanks!

I am also working on refreshing my website. Predictably, the first thing to get refreshed was the Extreme Double-knitting section — but everything else is following suit. The changes may not be immediately noticeable, but if you navigate to one of the pattern pages, you’ll notice that some of them have new photo sliders that allow me to show more views of a pattern than previously with static images. Because I am using a new product to do this, it is actually requiring a complete rewrite of each pattern page (long story). Fortunately I have a template which is keeping this process manageable but it’s still a bit of a slog.

Finally, in the last shipment of Victorian Raffia printed patterns, I received some copies that were not in great shape. They’re still usable, still come with a free PDF download, but I am selling them as “factory seconds” for the same price as the Ravelry download. You are welcome to grab one, although they are probably best purchased along with something else, given how thin and light a single pattern is.

Thanks for your continued interest and stay tuned! I’ll have a post like this each week for the next 7 weeks until I’ve talked about all 14 patterns in Extreme Double-knitting. I hope I’ve given you some more reason to consider preordering!