Contract this!

Shawl-1Huzzah! With this piece, all of my 2013 contract designs are finished! And with more than a month to the deadline, as well! This one was so much fun to design and knit — and is the largest knitted object I’ve ever made. It’s a double-knit shawl in Willow Yarns Everest, and it’s 35″ tall with a 56″ wingspan. It’ll be headed to Willow Yarns, never to be seen again, once I finish working up the pattern (the chart is going to be a doozy). Apologies for the background; the only place large enough to put this for photographing is on my bed, and the cat wouldn’t be moved so I piled the sheets around her in the corner. Check out the other side here.

Now that that’s over, I’m free … to start knitting again! I’ve got the long-neglected Parallax eBook to finish, a secret project I’m working on in Bijou Basin Ranch Tibetan Dream (so secret that even Bijou Basin doesn’t know about it) and — serendipitously — I was just accepted to my second Cat Bordhi Visionary Retreat this coming February. So I need to double down on my new technique development to have something new and groundbreaking to show the other Visionaries (and yes — this does mean I’ve got my sights set on a second book in the not-too-distant future).

Yeah, I’m never going to be without deadlines — but for now, even though there’s a lot to do, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders because the deadlines are now only self-imposed. Thanks everyone for your patience — 2014 is going to be a fun year to be a double-knitter.

Summer knitting, winter garments

I’ve recently finished a couple of pieces I thought you might like to see, and I’m well past the middle on my other current project. I’m going to make this quick and to the point, for a change!

At TNNA, there was a contest flyer circulating around the designers and some free yarn offered by SMC. I took the yarn, not certain I’d be able to do anything with it, but willing to give it a shot. It’s bulky, neon, acrylic-blend yarn. In short, nothing I’d normally work with. But I had some ideas, and if I either couldn’t hit the contest submission deadline or didn’t like what I came up with, at least I’d have a hat I could wear to raves in the future. So I knit a prototype, but it was too small. The rave I went to that weekend didn’t have blacklights and was probably 90 degrees indoors, so no loss that I didn’t have a hat that fit. Around that time, SMC extended the contest deadline to the end of August, so I requested more yarn from them and knit another. This one was too big, and the rave it was destined for was outdoors but again had no blacklights so again no big deal. I made the final one and the size is “just right” — but now I have no more raves in my immediate future. So I submitted the hat to the contest after all, and I’m not too worried — if it wins, I get some more publicity, and if it doesn’t win I get a chance to wear the hat to a party that actually has blacklights — and I’ll probably rework it in different yarn and in double-knitting to release as a pattern in the future.

My Mountain contest entry in SMC BostonI’m modeling the hat in question here. It’s using increasing and decreasing to make a motif of pine saplings and tall pine trees meeting at the crown. It was lots of fun to knit and the bulky yarn made it really fast to knit up (not to mention that it’s stranded, so even faster). You can check out another view closer to the crown here.

Intarsia/duplicate stitch insanity for Willow Yarns

Intarsia/duplicate stitch insanity for Willow Yarns

Meanwhile I was finishing up the stitching on Pattern 5 for Willow Yarns Colorwork Club. I had originally planned not to do an intarsia project but I felt it was probably a good thing to teach simple intarsia and duplicate stitch for the sake of completeness. Thanks much to my friend Doria for weaving in close to 100 ends for me (don’t worry, I paid her to do it)!

Last but not least, the gorgeous Pattern 6 for Willow Yarns — a full-size double-knit shawl with tessellated Scandinavian traditional “snowflakes”. It’s about 2/3 finished now. Having done this, I’m actually pretty psyched to get working on the other shawl pattern I have in my mental queue. You can also check out another view of it (with the tip flipped up so you can see the opposite side).

Final Pattern for Willow Yarns' Colorwork Club

Final Pattern for Willow Yarns’ Colorwork Club

Apologies to Anna Dalvi, who is a fellow Cooperative Press designer and already has a similar shawl which I didn’t see until after I’d designed this one. It’s still pretty different due to the type of tessellation, but it has a similar feel. Not to worry, Anna, since I’m not selling this one myself I doubt it’ll make much of an appearance on Ravelry anytime soon.

Looking forward to getting done with all this contract designing so I can get back on the Parallax patterns! October, here I come!

P.S. I’ve just revamped my workshop offerings as well as my website where they are offered. It does this funky CSS popup thing for each workshop offering, which was what I originally envisioned but couldn’t figure out how to do. Anyway, I’ll be sending out my 2014 Spring workshop dates to shops on my Workshop List soon, so if you want to be one of the first people to take one of my new workshops, get your shop to sign up soon!

Taking a break from knitting for a bit

… to do a blog post! Hah, gotcha!

DuvinoMuscat1Anyway, I’ve got a whole bunch of news, and I’m going to start with this new pattern. Well, it’s only sort of a new pattern. If you’re in my Craftsy class, you might recognize it. Originally, I designed the Duvino cowl/headband/cuff thing with a grapevine — you know, with grapes — rather than just a sort of “could be grapes, could be ivy” look. But I fixated on the yarn I wanted to use, and I couldn’t get the colors I needed in the contrast I wanted, so I changed the pattern and went in a different direction. Well, because I thought people might be interested in seeing my creative process, I showed the prototype version with the grapes on it in the intro video, and that resulted in this influx of requests for “the pattern with the grapes on it.”

I should have known.

So, as soon as I had a moment to breathe, I recharted the pattern with the grapes in it, made a few other little tweaks, and reworked it in some different yarn. I’m afraid I didn’t dig very deeply — I was in a hurry — so I just threw it together with Cascade 220 and Araucania Nature Wool. Of course, any worsted-weight yarn will work fine, and I trust that people will be happy to make their own colorway and yarn substitutions if they want to.

In keeping with my Parallax v0.5 model outing, I ventured further afield and found the statue of Abigail Adams to model the cowl for me. It was a gray and rainy day, and there were some aspiring thespians having conversations with the other nearby statues so I edged in, snapped a few shots, and headed off.

This pattern is available on Ravelry, but it’s also available for free to anyone taking my Craftsy class.

In other news, I’ve got a couple of last-minute class additions — if you’re in the Boston area, and especially if you’re one of those people who never cross the river, I’ll be at Newbury Yarns teaching my Intro class and my Advanced 3-color class on June 8th and 9th! I haven’t taught there in years and I look forward to teaching in her new shop. Space is limited so sign up now!

The kClub (where I’ll be showing off some new modifications to the 52 Pickup pattern) is now open for registration, and if you’re interested in attending a live webinar with me and trying some other neat things with three-color two-pattern DK, you should sign up.

930277 CW2 CoverAnd last but not least, my Willow Yarn Colorwork Club patterns continue to come out — the newest one is this lovely pair of mittens. If you join now, you’ll still get the previous patterns as well as the next 4 that haven’t come out yet. Learn stranded colorwork, corrugated ribbing, intarsia, and of course double-knitting, from yours truly.

Thanks for your continued interest and I’ll see you next time I can get around to posting!

Willow Yarns and Craftsy and Lucy Neatby, oh my!

Well, my Spring classes have been going wonderfully so far, and I’ve gotten to some great new shops which I hope I’ll be visiting again in the future! Thanks to the good folks from Montpelier, VT, York, ME, and Mt Holly, NJ for your hospitality and enthusiasm! I’ve gotten in a bunch of good knitting time while in transit, and I thought you might like to see the fruits of my labors.

But first, I wanted to mention a change in schedule — I’m going down to Glen Burnie, MD (right outside of Baltimore, but you probably already know that if you can make it there for a class) in a couple of weeks, and teaching at the Knitting Boutique. We decided to run my full complement of workshops there — an intro, a two-color advanced workshop and a three-color advanced workshop. The three-color advanced workshop is one of my favorites to teach, and it’s happening on Sunday, April 21. The intro and 2-color advanced workshops still have space and are running on April 20th. You should come if you’re in the area and free!

Shadow Boxes Hat 1Recently off the needles is this shadow-box hat, which is a two-color modification of my Falling Blocks hat. Get another view of the inside here. But where can I get the pattern for that, you ask? This will only be available in the Willow Yarns Colorwork Club, where it’s Pattern #3! The first pattern is already up — an elegant stranded hat with cable motifs — and the second, a pair of stranded mittens with corrugated rib cuffs and Eastern thumb gussets, is going live on April 15th. After that, there’ll be a basic double-knit hat, then a scarf in intarsia and duplicate-stitch, a cowl in stranded inc/dec colorwork, and finally a full-size double-knit shawl. This Club works in an unusual but smart way — because each pattern takes a different amount of yarn, it’d be difficult to market it with patterns plus yarn for a single price. Instead, they sell access to the club which gets you access to the patterns for $19.99, and discount your choice of yarn when you start each pattern. Stay tuned and I’ll post some of the other patterns as soon as I’ve got good photos.

Last but not least, the Craftsy class is going really well — I’ve been averaging about 1000 students per month, although it’s slowing down now. I wanted to mention that the Craftsy Spring Sale is on now until Monday. There’s a different selection of discounted classes each day, so keep coming back and trying again if you don’t see the one you want. I think mine is on today (Friday) but if you miss it, you can always use my permanent 50% off discount code. Also, if you’re into double-knitting or haven’t been living under a rock in the last decade, you’ve probably heard of Lucy Neatby. She’s got a class on Craftsy in double-knitting as well! Hers is mostly on the tubular style, with a little colorwork thrown in at the end. She takes a different approach and I think her class would be an ideal one to start with and then move into my more advanced topics. Or, if you’ve already taken my class, take hers as well to gain a deeper understanding of the foundations.

Thanks for keeping up and keep me in your RSS feed so you don’t have to keep checking back for my very infrequent posts!

 

Winter is half over, and Spring workshops are … springing up?

It’s almost time for me to start my Spring workshop season. It’s a short season this year, but that’s OK with me. To be fair, it’s probably the busiest season I’ve ever had, with just under 2000 students currently signed up for my class on Craftsy! Haven’t signed up yet? You can still sign up for half price by using this link!

For those of you who want more hands-on experience, and are lucky enough to live on the East Coast, I’m teaching in MA, VT, ME, NJ and MD this year! You can poke around in my calendar, or just look at the synopsis below. Unlike the last time I posted this, the links now go to the workshop page where all of my workshop details are now posted. By the way, if you’ve taken my Craftsy class, you are now qualified to jump straight into the Advanced workshops if you so choose!

  • Cambridge, MA: Mind’s Eye Yarns. Intro workshops on Feb 17th and March 24th; 2-color advanced workshop on April 6th.
  • Montpelier, VT: The Knitting Studio. Intro workshops on Feb 23rd; 3-color advanced workshop on Feb 24th.
  • York, ME: The Yarn Sellar. Intro workshops on March 2nd; 2-color advanced workshop on March 3rd.
  • Mt Holly, NJ: Woolbearers. Intro workshop on March 16th; hat design and construction workshop on March 17th.
  • Glen Burnie, MD: The Knitting Boutique (schedule in PDF). Intro and advanced workshops on April 20th and April 21st.

Want more hands-on experience and don’t live near any of these places? Get someone from your LYS in touch with me! The easiest way for them to do this is to have them sign up on my workshop scheduling list. This is a list for shop owners, so they can find out when I’m scheduling workshops each season. It only gets used 2 or 3 times per year, so it’s not too intrusive.

But enough shameless self-promotion. You probably want to know what I’m up to!

First of all, I’m spending time designing a series of 6 pieces in various types of colorwork — not just double-knitting — for Willow Yarns (a Universal Yarns/Herrschner’s imprint). I don’t know whether it’s kosher for me to post them here ahead of their release, but the first one — a stranded roll-brim toque with a vertical Celtic motif in worsted wool — will be released on Feb 11. As soon as I know it’s OK I’ll post photos!

Parallax v3.0

Parallax v3.0 with 2 repeats done

Second, I’m making good progress on Parallax v1.0 (while commuting) and Parallax v3.0 (at knitting groups). Both are in Kauni, but v3.0 shows something few others have done with Kauni — 3 colorways! I don’t know what color combos I’m going to get until they happen — and I’ve added an extra element of unpredictability by adding a border around the main body of the piece. The border uses up the two colors that comprise it more quickly than the third color, which travels inside it but doesn’t get used to make stitches. This means that even if the period (the amount of space it takes for the entire color sequence to repeat) is the same across all three yarns, it won’t look exactly the same because one of the three yarns isn’t being used at the same rate. It also adds an attractive “frame” to the final piece (check out the other side). When these two pieces are done, I will finally get around to releasing the Parallax eBook. I have a Parallax v3.5 and v4.0 in mind but I will release those later as separate patterns due to time constraints and complexity.

P.S. I just got an AWESOME review on Amazon. OK, it’s probably not from an actual knitter, but I can’t help grinning (maniacally, of course). Please post this around — maybe this’ll be the start of a new “Three Wolf Moon”? But really, I could use more reviews on Amazon, even if some are tongue-in-cheek.

Join the largest double-knitting class ever!

photo7-lores

Not the best photo of me — but so be it.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had a Craftsy class in the works for the past month or so. It went live first thing in January, so if you’re interested in double-knitting at all, you should perhaps go check it out! Given my precarious balancing act between work, knitting, family and social life, it’s not easy for me to travel all over the country (or the world) to teach classes. However, I’m happy to say that Craftsy is available worldwide (mostly) and you can now take a class from me even if I’m not actually there.

Despite my absence from your office or living room, I’m always here to answer questions through the Craftsy platform (vacation schedule dependent, of course) and of course the hundreds of other folks taking the class can help as well.

In this class, I start you off with a little flat double-knit swatch, then I switch to double-knitting in the round for my new wristband/headband/cowl pattern Duvino. Then I teach some double-knit increasing, decreasing, and traveling cables (by the way, the traveling cables are not documented in my book — this is a new technique that only a few people in my advanced workshops have learned), and we begin building a new hat called Atyria. After that, I give you a taste of some new techniques I’m working on, and show how to do a couple of them. Then I’ll show you how to deal with some common double-knitting issues in my troubleshooting lesson.

SONY DSC

Better photos once Craftsy gets my samples back to me!

You’ve already seen Duvino in progress in an earlier post, but I’ve kept Atyria under my hat, so to speak. Here’s a photo of it, done in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport, and a couple of other views here and here.

Want to sign up? Right now there’s an intro sale price but it’ll go up eventually. You can get the sale price anytime, however, by clicking this link.

P.S. – Next weekend I’ll be running a shortened version of my Intro to Double-knitting workshop as well as a workshop on Charting with Illustrator at FiberCamp Boston. Tickets are still available and the price doesn’t go up until the day the event starts (Jan 12) so if you’re in the area and free, you should consider coming down to MIT. Also, I’m planning on going to VKL in NYC for Saturday or Sunday the following weekend and will have some of my 52 Pickup books and kits there. Check my Facebook page for more details on that soon.

Spring workshops announcement

VK-workshop-small

Thanks to Ann Falcone of the Village Knitter for this great photo!

Hey folks! After my packed Fall, I’m happy to relax for a little while — but I know you’re itching to learn some double-knitting, so I’m posting my workshop schedule for the coming Spring 2013 season. For more info and updated times, check out my calendar of events:

  • The Eliot School, Jamaica Plain, MA: 6-week double-knitting intro and hat design workshop starting Jan 3rd
  • FiberCamp Boston 2013, Cambridge, MA. Jan 12th and 13th, intro workshop and other awesomeness.
  • Mind’s Eye Yarns, Cambridge, MA: Intro workshops on Feb 17th and March 24th; 2-color advanced workshop on April 6th.
  • The Knitting Studio, Montpelier, VT: Intro workshops on Feb 23rd; 3-color advanced workshop on Feb 24th.
  • The Yarn Sellar, York, ME: Intro workshops on March 2nd; 2-color advanced workshop on March 3rd.
  • Woolbearers, Mt Holly, NJ: Intro workshop on March 16th; 2-color advanced workshop on March 17th.
  • The Knitting Boutique, Glen Burnie, MD: Intro and advanced workshops on April 20th and April 21st

If you don’t see the workshop you want to take on the shop’s website, don’t hesitate to contact them directly. All shops post their workshops on their own schedules but most have ways of reserving your space even if you get in touch early.

Don’t see a workshop in your area? Sorry about that! I don’t pursue specific shops or venues — they have to request me. If you want to get me to your area, send this link to your local yarn shop and ask them to get on my list to find out when I’m scheduling dates for the next teaching season. I am also willing to schedule into the early Summer this coming season, but I find many people don’t want to learn double-knitting in the warmer months. I’m not sure why!

In addition to my traditional, in-person workshops, there’ll be a new opportunity for everyone in the whole world to take a class with me on Craftsy, starting sometime in January! This affordable, interactive, online platform allows me to reach worldwide to spread the word about double-knitting to a much larger audience. In addition, I designed two brand-new patterns just for this class, which I’ll post photos of when I announce that the class has gone live!

52 Pickup Kits are now available!

In pattern news, the long-awaited yarn is arriving tomorrow according to tracking numbers and those who preordered 52 Pickup kits will still get them before Christmas if the Postal Service cooperates. I’ve got yarn enough to make a few more kits so if you’ve been waiting on purchasing one, now would be the time. Of course if demand is high enough I may be making more kits after the holidays, but I can’t make any promises about precise timing. I’ve also upped the shipping price (for Priority Mail) on the books alone to make sure any new orders still arrive before Christmas; the price will drop again after Christmas to the normal (Media Mail) price. Shipping to Canada is still the same price since I can’t guarantee Christmas delivery anyway at this point. Shipping on the kits is already at Priority Mail levels. But time is running out if you want to get any of this stuff before the holidays, so order now if that’s what you’re after. I’ll always ship the morning after payment reaches me.

The 52 Pickup pattern book is now available for holiday delivery!

Well here it is, folks, the surprise I meant to tell you about. I was hoping to have this out sooner but not everything fell together exactly on time. However, enough has come together at this point that I can extend the offer.

I’ve already posted this to my mailing lists, and now I’m going to reach further. In January of this year, I released the pattern for 52 Pickup, my first true “magnum opus” double-knitting piece. At the time, I didn’t think it would be practical to print it as well, but I realize that many people value having a nicely-printed and bound version of certain patterns. Binding it poses certain difficulties — for example, if the charts are stuck always in the same order, how is it practical to “shuffle” the charts so that the cards are in a random order?

A perfect gift for your obsessive knitter.

But I decided to go for it anyway, after Shannon at Cooperative Press gave me a lead on a printer that could print them cheaply and cleanly and in any number I required with a very short lead time. I printed a very small number — 50 — to start with and see how they sell. 10 of those are set aside for use as kits.

To solve the issue of the un-shufflable (is that a word? It is now) pages, I’m offering a free PDF copy of the pattern from Ravelry to anyone who buys the print copy of the pattern book. The book also includes a reprint of my article on the mathematics and design behind this scarf, originally printed in Issue Zero of Knit Edge Magazine.

The book alone is $19.95 plus shipping, and the kit (which includes the book, the free PDF download, 10 balls of Regia 4-ply in the proper colors, and a deck of cards) is $109.95, plus shipping. The kit is currently only on preorder — I am still waiting for the yarn to arrive but I’ve been assured that it’s Not Going To Be Long Now. I’m under the impression that I’ll be able to ship kits at least to US addresses before Christmas. If it turns out I need to eat my words, I’ll be happy to send the book alone to those who preordered, and the rest of the kit when it arrives.

I was planning on selling them on Etsy, but I decided instead to simply sell them directly on my website with a WePay widget, so that I only owe fees to one company rather than two. So if you’re interested, go visit my website’s patterns page!

Stay tuned for more announcements here soon (or sooner than usual, anyway)!

Once more unto the breach, dear friends

It’s beginning to feel like Autumn, which means fresh apples, more comfortable knitting weather, and for me, my Fall workshops begin again. Historically, I’ve noticed that most people aren’t interested in learning new techniques in the Fall when they’re working toward holiday projects, so workshops that would sell out in the Spring struggle to fill in the Fall. This year I’m taking a new tack — I’m running bigger workshops at bigger events, cramming a whole season’s worth of teaching into a few weekends. We’ll see how it goes! I’ve also got some other cool news. I’ll try to keep it brief though, since I know attention spans aren’t what they used to be (squirrel!)

Interweave Knitting Labs: I’m teaching my entire repertoire of workshops at both Labs, one in Manchester, NH next weekend, and the other in San Mateo, CA a month later. While in Manchester, fellow Guild member Stephanie from Dirty Water Dyeworks has graciously agreed to field sales of my books in her booth there! In San Mateo, Bijou Basin Ranch will sell them as usual. Thanks to both of you!

Rhinebeck: I’ll be doing a day-trip on Saturday, Oct 20 from Boston with the Eliot School in JP — so I’ll be there at the Cooperative Press booth to sign books and generally shmooze. More definite schedule TBA.

A Guild-tastic weekend: On Friday, November 9th, I’ll be presenting Gale Zucker at the Common Cod Fiber Guild here in Cambridge, then leaving town to present at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters’ Guild in Ontario. On the way, I’ll be teaching at All Strung Out in Guelph, Ontario. I thought I might be able to make a meaningful layover in Chicago but it appears I’ll just be hanging out at the airport.

Finally, on the weekend after Thanksgiving, I’ll be heading out to Denver to do a shoot at the Craftsy HQ, so I’ll finally be able to teach double-knitting to people in all corners of the world I wouldn’t normally be able to reach. I’m working on a couple of new patterns for this, and I guess it’d be OK if I showed a photo of one in progress here.

I’ve got some other kind of awesome news but I’m going to keep it under my hat until it solidifies a little bit. More to come soon! Thanks for putting up with my very sporadic updates!

Parallax 2.0 first look — and back on my feet again

Unbeknownst to most of you, I was on a cruise ship last weekend, going up the coast to St John and Halifax and back. I had a great time, won a little at craps, got some knitting done, but primarily just had a nice vacation with my wife. The cruise was ostensibly knitting-related — although there were only 58 knitters on a ship holding over 3000 people — and while I partook in some of the knitting activities, taught a short workshop, sold some of my books and visited knitting shops in our ports of call, I really meant the cruise to be a pleasant time away for myself and my wife.

So as not to make this post altogether too long, I’ll highlight only one exceptional experience which was completely unexpected.

As we approached Halifax, there was a rumor circulating that, in addition to the yarn shop we already knew about, there was a fiber festival going on at the Marriott. We resolved to check that out once we got some more info at the yarn shop. However, we found out that the “festival” was more of a private retreat — but that there was a vendor room that was open to the public.

I had already been witness to large amounts of Kauni in the yarn shops we had visited, which made for an obvious conversation starter when talking with folks in those shops. They were already familiar with the designs of Lucy Neatby, who has also been using Kauni heavily in her recent design work. So it was no surprise to find, when we entered the vendor room, a large basket of Kauni in addition to most of the line of Hand Maiden/Fleece Artist yarns. I browsed for a while and eventually struck up a conversation with the woman running the vendor room — a designer named Ilga Leja. It turned out that she had heard of me and my book, and was overjoyed that I had randomly shown up. After talking to her co-organizer Jane Thornley, it turned out that they were coming to the end of their retreat, and they asked me to do an impromptu presentation of my work to the assembled attendees. Needless to say, I opened a few more eyes there, even if my heavily-engineered work was a radical departure from the freeform openwork they had come to learn.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Yarns on York, our LYS host at Fredericton, a bus-tour away from our port of call at St John, NB. They organized a knit-in (or knit-out) in our honor and we got to meet up with a whole bunch of knitters from that area. Thanks to that experience it’s entirely possible I’ll be extending my workshops to a new country in the not-too-far future!

Now, the part you’re probably itching to see. A couple of months ago I finished knitting Parallax v2.0 — the Parallax scarf I’ve been knitting in Kauni on the bias. I was hoping to get around to blocking it before taking photos but my studio is a little too chaotic right now to deal with that. So here it is, unblocked but still glorious. You can probably tell why I couldn’t stop working on it. One really neat side-effect of working this in the bias is that the really clean selvedge runs around all four edges, not just the sides. So I have only 3 more Parallaxes to finish before the eBook has enough content to be published. However, given my other design contracts for this year, I don’t think that’s likely to happen in 2012.

Anyway, I’ve regained my landlegs just in time for a classic New England August heat/humiditywave, and while my condo is cool enough, the general unpleasantness of the environment is not particularly conducive to knitting. Still, I have my to-do list to look at and there will be some knitting in the near future. But for now, I’m reminiscing about the cool night breeze on the cruise ship. Good night, all.