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I have been reading and considering the viewpoints of the members of the Crochet Designers’ Group on Ravelry in this discussion thread.  They are discussing ways to help change the mindset of many crocheters who don’t like crocheting garments, but prefer to crochet housewares and other items.  I have been considering the discussion for several days, and while I completely understand how this could be frustrating for designers who would like to design other things, I think we should examine what we define as a successful design.

Specifically, I think we should examine the purpose of publishing fancy garments in fine yarns in magazines: in one of my jobs several years ago I used to manage a craft gift shop. The previous manager had focussed heavily on smaller items as those were what tended to sell, but I found that without the bigger expensive items the cheaper items didn’t sell as well — the big pieces sold the small pieces.

I haunt the local book and yarn stores searching for crafting magazines and books, and I will buy a magazine or a book for the masterpiece project that would take months to complete, and I will read it again and again. I may not make it, in fact I probably won’t, as I have more things to knit and crochet than I fear I will ever finish, but it sold the magazine – is that a failure of the design? Does every pattern written for publication need to be made over and over? There are so many other measures of success: it may improve your reputation, or make a fan, or sell the magazine that will sell yarn and help you get more business in the future, because you made that fabulous thing that people remember. All of these things are important and help your career, and I wouldn’t consider that outcome a failure, even if only two people ever make it.

Those designs are kind of like the wedding dress at the end of a fashion show — not many people are in the market for a wedding dress, but it can be over the top and designed for the most special day in a person’s life (whether the day is in fact the most special day is beside the point — the dress is designed for the most special day — I suspect that most most special days happen when you are naked, or in a hospital gown, or jeans, or pajamas, etc.).  Some designs are like that — they are designed to be masterpieces of the crafter’s art, and they will likely be made less than something more approachable that requires less expense, time, and thought — but that doesn’t mean they are not successes.

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Here is the earthworm scarf with the knitting completed, but the seams not sewn:

I plan to sew it up as I designed it in Debbie New’s labyrinth knitting technique, but I am quite smitten with it as is and kind of wish I could keep it like this.

When I was a child, one of my favourite stories involved a prince who fell in love with a commoner who would not marry him until he had a trade, so he learned to weave cloth. They ruled for several years, but he didn’t know how people really lived in his country, so he dressed as a poor man and went out into the city to see for himself.

He was taken by a group of priests to a cave and forced to work with others as slaves. He found an old friend in the cave and together they made a very precious piece of cloth that would only be suitable for the queen, and in it he wove the story of his capture and where he and the others were being held.

This was done in such a cunning way that the priests would not be able to understand the message, but the queen would. Whereupon she rescued everyone.

This story mesmerized me — I loved the idea of a message in the cloth, and I was thinking of how to do something like that myself.

This is my scarf with a secret message in progress:

So far the message is really secret as you can’t see the way I have rendered Morse code into the stitch pattern, but I will be more explicit and post symbol charts for this particular rendering in a few days.

I will now leave you with a final picture and a note: it is an Armenian story called Anaeet.

I just looked back and realized it has been quite a while since I wrote about my cabley gloves, and now they are so close to being done. I had forgotten how fast they work up when you do them this way.

Just look:

They always look like a dog’s breakfast at this stage, but I am very happy with the way they have turned out. It almost (almost) makes me look forward to winter, or at least October, so I can wear them.

Download pattern here: Wisp PDF pattern

Difficulty

Beginner

Finished measurements

Approximately 5 inches [13cm] wide / 84 inches [213cm] long

Materials

[MC] 1 skein of bulky novelty yarn (shown: Milkyrobot Girls Throw Snow, super-bulky handspun, 40 yards[36m])

[CC] 1 skein coordinating fingering yarn (shown: Sandes Garn Sisu, 173 yards[158m] per 50g, colour 1042)

1 US #17/12.75mm circular needle

Tapestry needle

Gauge

Not really important and difficult to measure.

I confess I like to knit gloves the way many knitters seem to like to knit socks — they are so satisfying.

They don’t take too long, they fit in your bag, and of done right they so closely mirror the dimensions and contours of the body — three dimensionality at its finest.

Here is the beginning of my newest creation:

I love knitting gloves on two needles: it is very satisfying and there are no double pointed needles to mess with. I don’t hate dpn, but I find that straight needles are just so much easier to work with. I do think I will write the pattern for both circularly knit and flat knit versions though, so you can all decide for yourselves.

I am making them cabled as that makes them warmer (I am not sure that gloves could ever be too warm here) and hopefully look spiffy. They will also have substantial cuffs that will be able to either under or over the sleeves of your coat.

The yarn is the Instant Gratification from Brooklyn Handspun that I wrote about before.

I plan to write up the pattern in both versions and post it in the next couple months.

I have finally finished Lyra’s red sweater coat from the Golden Compass!

Here are some preliminary pictures:

lyras-coat-completed1.jpg

lyras-coat-completed2.jpg

The sleeves grew quite a bit in the wash, so keep that in mind. They started as a bit short, but now they are to my knuckles, but what can you do?

It’s very fun, and I am looking forward to wearing it.

I will post some better and more posed pictures in a few days, maybe I’ll even get it together to put on makeup.

Here is the first PDF of the patterns I published in Magknits of the last few years:

Kaleidoscope

If you are interested in the yarn I used, please see Princess Farms’ website.

Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope

If you like the pattern and want to see more, consider making a donation:

Or check out my patterns for sale.

As we previously discussed there is a small problem with the placement of the pockets on my coat, so here are instructions to show the way I have dealt with this little problem.

This is what they are like now:

Lyra’s Coat with botched Pockets

lyras-coat-botched-pockets2.jpg

I cut half the threads that make the coat at one side, slightly staggered, so the join won’t show too badly and unwind the cast on edge:

lyras-coat-botched-pockets3.jpg

Then I cut the other half at the other side and unwound those too:

lyras-coat-botched-pockets4.jpg

Finally, I will put the yarn on a tapestry needle and graft the two sides together:lyras-coat-botched-pockets5.jpg

lyras-coat-botched-pockets6.jpg

The unevenness will go out after I “block” it — actually this will be more of a “wash.”

Please don’t stop reading — I really do. Algebra is the only thing that allows me to design knitting the way I want to.

I suppose you can cast on for a scarf or other simple garment and just start knitting, especially if you listen to Debbie New and follow some of her swatchless knitting techniques, but that is not the way I want to work most of the time. I want to knit things that mold to and follow the ins and outs of the human body (maybe also the dog body, I may make a doggy sweater in the not too distant future). I also want my knitting to be convincingly three dimensional.

Don’t tell me only crochet can do that; it will get my hackles up. Just imagine your reaction if I said that all knitters can crochet, but not all crocheters can knit, and you will get some idea of the force of my feelings on this subject. You just can’t get there without math, unless you are a freeform whiz, which I am afraid I cannot claim to be.

I generally start with a gauge swatch and work out my gauge in stitches and rows to 4 inches[10cm]. I then get out the measuring tape and start measuring everything. At this point I don’t think you can measure too many parts of your body to get an idea of how everything will fit together. Then I multiply the number of inches by the gauge per inch. This gives me an idea of how many stitches should be in each part. Then you need to start working out how many stitches difference there are between each section and how much distance there is for the pattern to increase or decrease enough.

Now there needs to be some understanding of how many stitches are needed to make complete repeats of any patterns you are including and to make the increases and decreases work out.

I follow the instructions I remember from grade 11 physics – assign variables to all the values you need to know and write down all the values you do know and just start deriving variables until you get all the variables you need.

To give you an idea of what I mean, here is my spreadsheet with my calculations for Josephine:

josephinesizingchart2.jpg

I confess I knit from a spreadsheet and write everything out in a way others can understand it only later. I use formulated cells in Excel in all my calculations too, because I love algebra, not arithmetic.

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