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!

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