Book Countdown: Month 0

The countdown has reached zero, and everything is on schedule. As this month was crunch time for me, I thought you might like to hear about exactly what happened.

A month ago, the development editor who’d been recommended to me stopped communicating so I hired two copy-editors and set them loose on a draft of the manuscript. The agreement was that they had until around the end of the month to finish, but that I’d need them to give me their edits chapter-by-chapter so I’d be able to do edits on the fly.

While they began their work, I began to work on my brand-new website, as alluded to back in Month 2. After much tweaking and no small amount of panic, the new WordPress-based site is online — and more importantly, the store is open. As a result, I have also closed my Etsy store, since I can now do my own sales and Etsy wasn’t bringing much in anyway.

Two weeks ago, I had finished my website and let my focus group beta-test it (and also get the first few preorders of the book in, ostensibly to test the e-commerce side of things). When I was convinced that all was well, I let the preorder mailing list know that preorders were live and they were welcome to come and do what they’d signed up to do. After a bit of troubleshooting and three emails to various parts of the list, I had 150 orders for the book — 1/4 of the preorder mailing list.

One week ago, I began letting everyone else know. So far, preorders have reached 215 copies.


Today, thanks to my good friends Kate and Lars, (and thanks also to the other folks whose blurbs I didn’t use here but will use later), I have finished the manuscript and the covers, and am sending them to the printer so they’ll have the first thing Monday morning. Next, I need to make the hardest decision: how many copies do I print? I have to balance this decision carefully. First, the more I print, the more I stand to make per copy. But if some significant errata are found, that means it’s that much longer before a second edition can come out. Second, I’ve put so much of my own time and money into this project already, I thought it was only fair to try to get the first printing paid for by my customers directly. But if I want to print the number I have in mind, I need 600 copies presold by the end of November (when the final bill comes due) and I’m only a little over 1/3 there.

Again, the book is on target to ship for Christmas this year, so if you’re thinking of gifts for the adventurous knitter on your list, this would be a great one. With my publicist’s help, I’ll be doing some big promotional pushes in November which will hopefully raise the sales on their own — but the best advertisement is word of mouth. If you want a book for yourself, by all means go ahead and buy one — but if you could share this around, that would also be much appreciated.

Now, if the question on your mind is, “When does the digital version come out?”, the current plan is to release each book with its own unique code to allow a free download of the PDF from Ravelry. This will make things easier for gifting, and reduce my workload since all I have to do is print a bunch of stickers and put them inside the covers, instead of individually “gifting” each buyer with a copy of the book on Ravelry. What this means is that I’m not releasing the eBook until the book itself is out. It would be unfair to the people who bought the book (and will be getting a copy of the PDF later) if people who didn’t were able to get their eBooks first. However, I may change plans later and will certainly let you know.

Thanks for all your support so far and stay tuned for more news as I have it.

Double or Nothing preorders are live!

don-cover-draft3-3Double or Nothing is now available for preorder! We are on track for shipping in early December, so if you’re wanting to order one as a Christmas gift, there should be no problem.

If you’re waiting for the PDF, it’ll be up on Ravelry around the same time books begin shipping.

Each book ordered from the Fallingblox Designs online store will come with a unique code that will give access to a PDF copy of the pattern.

Book Countdown: Month 1

TwiceAsSexy-SM-72Remember when I said I’d post photos of the new necktie once I had them? Well, here you go. OK, this version is made for a double-Windsor knot so it’s longer, and neither of us could remember how to tie one, so it hangs long, but it’s far and away better than me modeling it.

The book is now almost fully laid out, and more than half of the patterns have been tech-edited. In the next month, I have to keep tweaking things and finalize all the little details like ISBN and front- and back-matter. In addition, as I mentioned before, I have to get my e-commerce site up and running one way or the other — which brings me to my preorder mailing list again.

This will be the last blog post I make for the preorder mailing list. By next month, I’ll have the preorder page up and running and the preorder list will have served its purpose. As a reminder, if you get on the preorder mailing list, you’re going to get some kind of perk. I was hoping to get enough people to justify dropping the price on the book but we’re just not there yet. An exclusive pattern is more likely — and I have one waiting in the wings for just this kind of use. One way or another, you’ve got a couple of weeks to join the list before the preorder period starts — and, as a reminder, people on the list will have the first chance to order and I will be fulfilling them in the order I receive them.

If you have had trouble joining the list due to technical difficulties at Mailchimp, please let me know. You’re not alone — a handful of people have emailed me with these issues. I don’t know what’s causing it but if you can’t get on the list for whatever reason, just email me with your full name and I’ll add you manually.

Finally, here’s another possible cover, after there were complaints that the first one had too much black/dark space. I think I’m leaning toward this one and I hope you like it too.


Book Countdown: Month 2



This month marks the beginning of Double or Nothing‘s layout stage. I’ve got about 2 months to get the book into its final, ready-to-print form. I’m hoping I can get it basically finished well before then in case the printer says something needs to be tweaked (virtually guaranteed, really). I don’t have a lot to show, but I figured you might like to see one of the cover options. Of course I’m using Adenydd for the cover, because the photos show off the reversibility well, and it’s one of the more eye-catching pieces. The issue is that I’ve decided to lay out the book as an oblong (in landscape mode) to accommodate some of the charts which will have a harder time fitting into portrait mode and still be readable. The difficulty is that most of my really good photos are in portrait mode, so I’ve had to get creative. Love it? Hate it? Let me know (but be kind, I had to ban one person already for extreme rudeness and vitriol).

If you’ve been following my blog or social media in general, you may have noticed that last week was the end of 14 weeks of pattern previews from my book. As of today, we’re just shy of 500 people on the preorder mailing list — which, assuming they all order a single copy of the physical book, will just allow me to print the number of copies I’d prefer — but won’t yet allow me to drop the price as a perk for those loyal fans on the list. However, the preorder list is still open — and will be until I begin the actual preorders, so feel free to go and add your name if you think you’d like to get in on the fun earlier than everyone else.

In the coming month I have two big projects: the first is obvious — do as much of the layout as possible, and identify gaps in the manuscript where I need to take new photos or write new copy. The second is less obvious, and may be subject to a “plan B” if I can’t do it — redo my website. Currently it’s a mostly hand-coded CSS/HTML static page, but with Google downranking non-mobile-friendly sites, it’s time for me to migrate to WordPress. Unfortunately that’s going to require a total rebuild; fortunately it’s WordPress so it’ll be a little easier to do that. The other reason is that I’d like to use WooCommerce for my new payment platform (you know, so you can actually order the book), and that’s a WordPress thing.

No further news on upcoming teaching gigs beyond the ones I mentioned back in Month 3, although I am delighted to inform you that I will be the keynote speaker for FiberCamp Boston in March of 2017. This is put on by the Common Cod Fiber Guild, which I’ve been involved in since its inception. I did a presentation when my first book came out and I’m glad they’re having me back again.

Double or Nothing Patterns: Adenydd

This is week 14 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.

Adenydd is worked in Galler Yarn Prime Alpaca Heather, a sportweight 100% alpaca yarn.

Adenydd-AW2As I did with my last book, I’m ending this book with a “magnum opus” — a large, complicated and gorgeous pattern that will (hopefully) get people’s hearts racing and minds expanding.

It had been more than a year since Spring Willow came out as a pattern, and I hadn’t done any other double-knit lace. Not one to rest on my laurels, and of course with a book coming up, I felt I had to do one more thing in double-knit lace to really show off the possibilities. And what better than a shawl? There are so many shawls out there — it’s a popular garment to really show off a pattern or a yarn. I had designed one before, but it was a simple triangle worked from the point up. I wanted to branch out, so I took advantage of my local guild’s speaker series and took a workshop with Anna Dalvi. I learned about various shawl shapes and how to break them down into manageable chunks. I had chosen a lace pattern I wanted to use (again, from one of the Walker treasuries), but then I decided I wanted to use Faroese construction — from the center of the longest side of the triangle outward, ending with the two other sides of the triangle. In this direction, the lace pattern I had chosen would have ended up upside down — and since it was supposed to evoke feathers (or perhaps scales) on wings, the orientation was important. I began playing with the chart — first just flipping it upside down, then tweaking what didn’t work. Eventually, I asked for help from more experienced lace designer MMario while at the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat, and he made some suggestions that pointed me in a different direction. I ended up scrapping the original pattern altogether and building a new one from scratch, which finally gave me a more significant understanding of lace design than I had previously.

Adenydd-GZFor years I have been going to local sheep and wool festivals; here in New England there are plenty. Years ago I came across a few vendors that sold giant hanks of sportweight alpaca for very reasonable prices. They had different names but all seemed to be more or less interchangeable; I assume that this was because the fiber was all processed at the same mill. These hanks were all in natural alpaca colors — any color you like, as long as it’s white, cream, brown, charcoal or black. Much later, I was in a yarn shop in Brooklyn and found a dyed version of the same yarn: same giant hanks, good price, but a variety of amazing colors which I hadn’t seen before in this context. I was excited to try it, and bought a couple of colors that, in retrospect, were perhaps not the best. But I loved working with the yarn and contacted the company, Galler Yarns, for more in better colors. They were happy to help, in exchange for assistance in plugging their yarn on social media. Well, that’s no problem — I would have done that anyway.

Adenydd-AW1As I mentioned earlier, this is a shawl meant to evoke the image of wings. Whether bird wings or dragon wings I’m not sure — the feathers could just as easily be scales. Perhaps it depends on the colors you pick. Anyway, given the Celtic knotwork motif around the wings, I figured a Gaelic word would be ideal. However, the word for wing (sgiath) in Gaelic isn’t terribly friendly to the English palate, so I looked into surrounding cultures. In Welsh, the word for wing is adain and the word for wings is adenydd. I know a little Welsh pronunciation so I amended that to “Adenyth” to make it easier to say. My Welsh step-stepmother (long story) told me that’s not right — evidently, I don’t know enough Welsh pronunciation after all. The -dd is pronounced as a hard -th, as in “the” or “there”, and replacing it with a soft -th could make it a different word. In fact, it’s not — Adenyth is just a proper name and has no other meaning that I could find — but I decided it’d be better to have a unique name for this pattern and a teaching moment, and save Adenyth for a derivative pattern I have in mind for later.

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Double or Nothing Patterns: Spring Willow

This is week 13 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.

Spring Willow is worked in Anzula Squishy, a superwash merino, cashmere and nylon fingering weight yarn.

SpringWillow-LBDouble-knit lace is something that I dabbled with briefly while I was working on my first book, but never developed into a full pattern. It was relegated to the appendix along with a bunch of other techniques with similar histories. Several of these were pulled out of retirement later but lace spent a little longer on the bench while I was focusing on other things. Similar to Heartbound, which came out later, I needed a pattern to illustrate techniques I was beginning to offer in workshops, so that people would have a chance to try some double-knit lace in an actual pattern. To be honest, it had not gone unnoticed that there were some other innovators who had, whether with my book’s help or not, begun to play with double-knit lace and publish patterns using it. I was excited to see this, but also galvanized to release my own pattern to capitalize on the apparent interest of the knitting community. Besides, my design sense and style are uniquely my own and often recognizable to others — and the same goes for my double-knit lace when compared to others’ designs. Not only do I have a method to do it, I have 5 variations that all have unique properties. Of course, I do have a preferred method which is the one I’m using here. This lace pattern is subtly modified from something in a Barbara Walker treasury, then further modified to work in the round.

SpringWillow-GZSuperwash merino, cashmere and silk — it’s become such a common luxury blend that it even has its own acronym: MCS. I met the folks behind Anzula, a luxury yarn company from California, at a trade show where direct sales aren’t allowed — but where yarn companies and designers network on the side. Anzula came to the show with suitcases full of yarn to entice designers, and I got to sit and fondle the skeins for quite some time before I settled on the MCS base they called “Dreamy” in a particularly unlikely pairing of colors. This was well before I had a plan on what to do with them. When I began casting about for yarn for this pattern, I started in my stash and decided to try this yarn. Because the pattern takes advantage of larger color areas and single columns of stitches, I was able to get away with a slightly lower-contrast color combo. When I showed Anzula this pattern, they decided they wanted one for their trunk show but were out of Dreamy; instead, they asked me to substitute “Squishy” which mostly just replaces the silk with nylon. I’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. I’m not even sure which one I have and which one travels with Anzula now.

SpringWillow-AWNormally, I shy away from naming my pieces after the colors I choose — I don’t want to lock others’ minds into that particular groove. I want people to feel free to experiment with colorways, and sometimes referring to a pattern as “Red Sweater #45” is going to unfairly bias people against knitting the pattern in blue yarn. But in this case the temptation was too great; I thought of the pattern as “Spring Willow” due to the new-growth tan and green colors it’s done in, and the name stuck. It fits because of the hanging ripply columns and the openwork between, and the colorways just sort of help the image, if you want them to.

This pattern is already available but will also be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Double or Nothing Patterns: Heartbound Again

This is week 12 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.

Heartbound Again is worked in Jagger Spun Maine Line/Green Line, a sportweight wool yarn.

Heartbound-GZ2Shortly after I put out my previous book, in which I postulated that there was no elegant solution to true double-knit cables, I discovered an elegant solution for true double-knit cables. Go figure. As a matter of fact, I found two — with and without a cable needle. This method opens up a whole new vista in reversible cabled colorwork. Not long after that, I began teaching a new class on double-knit cables. And yet, for quite some time, I didn’t have a standalone pattern that incorporated the technique. After some experimentation, I released a pattern called Heartbound which was a cabled headband using a reversed-color and reversed-texture background. It was a work in progress, and I informed people of that. Now that the book is on the horizon, it’s time to pull back the curtain for the full version: Heartbound Again. There is a headband version as well as a full hat. The cables are seamless due to some slip-stitch trickery, and the cast-on (and bind-off for the headband) is adapted from an i-cord cast-on so that it mimics the cables. There’s also some interesting cable/color/stitch manipulation borrowed from textured double-knitting (see the Eureka hat from earlier).

Heartbound-AWThe yarn I used for this is actually something I acquired in a different way than normal. Jagger Spun has been around for quite a while but has recently changed their marketing and packaging efforts in order to appeal more to handknitters (they’ve been selling yarn on the cone primarily for weavers and machine knitters). One of their reps got in touch with me, asking if I’d like to try out some of their yarn. Never being one to pass up a new fiber-related experience, I agreed. The yarn they sent me was a perfect fit — lots of colors, my favorite weights, and great stitch definition. And, in the sportweight, they even have a 100% organic wool line.

The name “Heartbound” just came to me as I was looking at the cable pattern, thinking it looked a little like hearts all linked together. The word has two meanings, one more archaic than the other, but I’ll choose the positive and more poetic meaning of “having the heart entirely devoted to someone or something”.

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Double or Nothing Patterns: Twice As Sexy

This is week 11 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.

Twice As Sexy is worked in Buffalo Wool Co Sexy, a laceweight bison and mulberry silk yarn.

TwiceAsSexy-APEver since I designed my first two ties (for my first book, Extreme Double-Knitting) I’ve had people thanking me for breaking the stereotype of the ugly knit tie. Let’s face it, most knitted ties are pretty awful-looking. In order to keep them from curling, you have to work them in garter, or seed stitch, or sew on some backing, or something. Most of them stop looking like neckties after they’ve passed into the suit-button range, which means that wearing one without a suit looks terrible. I mean no serious offense to anyone else who’s designed one, but I thought I could do better. For one thing, double-knitting doesn’t curl. The two sides cancel that effect out in both directions. For another, shaping is totally worth the trouble. You can make a nice point at the beginning and end, and slowly taper the middle. You just have to do some basic math at the beginning to match your gauge to the size and shape, and you can fill in the inside with almost anything. Where I went a little off the rails with the first two ties was when I decided what to fill them with. These are power ties — complex, bold, exciting. But what if you want something more subdued, genteel, dignified? A classic double diagonal stripe is a good bet. But no simple colorwork stripes for me — these are true double-knit cabled traveling stitches. There are no rest rows. By the time you’re done with this tie, you’ll be an expert at these 1×1 cables.

TwiceAsSexy-Stock-72This is another case of working with a yarn partially because the company has done me a favor. In this case, as with the others, the Buffalo Wool Company has regularly hosted my books and patterns at their booths at various shows I’ve been teaching at. I wanted to thank them for their help by designing a pattern in their yarn. Fortunately, I don’t work with vendors whose yarn I don’t already love, so it’s a win-win situation. A couple years before I ever cast on for this pattern, I got the yarn; every time I saw them after that I had to apologize that I hadn’t gotten to the pattern yet. Finally, with the book on the horizon, I decided it was time to redouble (pun intended) my efforts and make sure the pattern came out. As you can probably tell from the company’s name, they sell buffalo/bison yarn (it’s the same animal, just a different name). It’s not quite qiviut, but it’s up there in luxury and, of course, price. This yarn, called Sexy, is 50/50 bison and mulberry silk, so I thought it’d be a great pick for a tie. It is, however, a laceweight, which means it’s going to take some time to do the pattern (not to mention tinier needles than I normally work with). Fortunately, it’s a tie which means it’s not all that many stitches to begin with — 30 pairs at its widest.

The name is no big mystery here. The yarn’s name is “Sexy”; it’s double-knitted, so “Twice as Sexy”. Voila!

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Double or Nothing Patterns: Atyria II

This is week 10 of the pattern highlights from my upcoming book. If you like what you’re reading about, please join my preorder mailing list. To read more about why I’m doing this (and why you should join the list), you can visit the Month 5 blog post.

Atyria II is worked in Seven Sisters Arts Helix, a fingering weight BFL.

AtyriaII-AWMy original idea for a Craftsy class involved teaching the basics in one pattern, then cramming as many techniques into a second pattern as physically possible. I wanted to try to get a whole book’s worth of techniques into that class. In retrospect, I’m lucky that Craftsy talked me down from that ridiculous goal. Whatever I made would have been hideous, and probably wouldn’t have sold the class as well as the two patterns I ended up using instead. Atyria was a pattern that used my off-the-grid style of decorative increases and decreases, combined with some basic 1×1 double-knit cables. This was the first place my new double-knit cable techniques were taught on a grand scale. However, the pattern was a bit of a rush job and I knew it. It was a great way to teach the techniques but a poor execution of a pattern. It relied on an obscure technique I called “ghost pairs” which confused some people greatly, and in the end the hat was too short and there was no good way to lengthen it. When I realized that the class was past its second birthday, I checked my contract and realized that the patterns were my property again, so I redesigned Atyria, lengthened the pattern and removed the ghost pairs. If you’re already in my Craftsy class, this pattern will be separated from the book and offered as a free download for my Craftsy students, around the same time as the book comes out.

AtyriaII-PGI also took the opportunity to change the yarn I was working in. While I enjoyed working in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport for Craftsy, it was a superwash yarn and I wanted to steer away from that when possible. I stumbled across a sportweight BFL in a New York City shop and figured I’d use that instead. The dyer (who shall remain nameless) was excited that I was going to be working in her yarn for one of my book’s projects, but when I reached out to her for yarn support (the colors I had bought weren’t quite what I needed), she never answered. I poked her again a little while later but my time was getting short so I had to choose another yarn. I heard from some other designers that the same thing had happened to them — I hope she’s OK. Her blog seems to indicate she is, but there’s a month-long gap in the posts right around when this happened. Anyway, I ended up finding Seven Sisters Arts, a company from Maine, at Stitches West of all places — and they not only had a heavy fingering BFL, they had it in almost exactly the same colors I originally used for Atyria. It turns out the owner is a big fan and was flattered that I’d be working with her yarn. I finished the hat in record time and was able to show her the final version at Stitches South later that year.

AtyriaII-GZAtyria, if you google it, is a genus of moth. While that’s a dirty word to knitters, the vast majority of moths are not likely to eat your yarn stash and many of them are quite pretty. The spiral motifs in this hat, while clearly meant to represent some kind of fern-like plant, reminded me of moth antennae or probosces, so I looked for a moth-related name. Atyria is a pretty name and more easily pronounceable than something that ends in -ae, even if moths in that genus don’t actually seem to have any particular relationship to the spiral shape.

This pattern will be available in my upcoming book “Double Or Nothing”. To be informed when the preorder period begins, please join my preorder mailing list. Thanks!

Book Countdown: Month 3

04.5-Reordering3Pairs-01This past month has largely been spent in taking Double or Nothing‘s technique photos. I’ve set up part of the guest room as a photo studio, and I’ve taken hundreds of photos which I’m now flipping through and selecting for processing. I’m planning on compiling each pattern with its techniques, photos and charts to send to my tech editor before the end of the month. While she’s poring over them, I’ll begin the layout and determine what I’m still missing.

Since I don’t have much to show, I thought you might find it interesting to see my studio setup. Aside from the budget photofloods on either side, the camera rig is kind of unique. Anyone who’s taken a live class with me in the last couple of years will probably recognize the tripod — but instead of a webcam, I’ve got an iPad Mini in an iOgrapher case (which primarily gives me a tripod mount). So I’ve got lights and a camera — but the really fun part is how I trigger the iPad’s camera. I’ve got my hands under the iPad; I can see the framing and focus, but I can’t free a hand to take a picture, nor would I want to tap the screen since it’ll jostle and blur the photo. In the absence of a psychic link, I figured voice control would be ideal. Some years ago, someone wrote an app called “Snap!It”, specifically for knitters with this problem, but it’s kind of buggy and I got tired of yelling “snap!” at my iPad over and over until a photo was taken. Instead, I recently found the WhistleCam app, which allows you to whistle for a photo. If you can whistle (which I can), it’s a super-responsive option that is far less buggy than the alternative. Getting the photos out of the iPad was more of a challenge since they don’t automatically go to the camera roll, but that’s a less interesting story.


As of right now, I’ve got 336 people on my preorder mailing list, or an average of 30 per post since I started my promo push! Thanks, everyone! If all of these people buys one physical book when the preorder site goes live, I’ll be funded for the bare minimum needed to do a print run. Of course, I’m hoping that over the next 5 weeks that number will grow. However, I’m not yet at the point where I can begin considering sweetening the deal for the members of that list, so please do join the list if you’re interested and share this around if you know anyone else who might be.

In non-book news, I have my first couple of confirmed gigs for 2017! I will be at Stitches West again in Santa Clara Feb 23-26, and I’ll be appearing at Yarnover in Minneapolis on April 22! This year I’ve got one more workshop weekend at Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC, September 25th. There’s still room if you’re in the area and want to learn basic or two-pattern double-knitting!

Also, I had an interview with Marly Bird on her Yarn Thing podcast and I think it went really well. If you missed the live broadcast, check out the recording!

If you’re just tuning in, go back to Month 5 where I explained what I’m doing with my promo push, and then check out the pattern previews I’ve been posting once a week since then. Also, stay tuned because I’ve got 5 more previews to go and they just get better from here. Thanks for visiting!