How to Choose Three Color Combos to Make Your Project SHINE!

Thank you so much for the massive and awesome reception to the release of the Makariri Shawl last week. If you missed last week’s email or somehow you didn’t get the pattern, click here to download it!

With the special Holiday KAL for the Makariri Shawl starting next week, in the Fiber Muse Sanctuary Facebook group, I want to share some tips this week on how to choose color combinations for projects that use three colors. In the pattern itself, I provide some of my favorite color combos, but if you want to step outside your comfort zone and get really creative, let me share some of my favorite resources with you on the blog today!

Design Seed

 Be prepared to spend HOURS on this site.

Be prepared to spend HOURS on this site.

 

I LOVE this site. The creator behind the site, Jessica, takes photos and pulls the most common colors from it to create harmonious color combinations, which are fresh, soothing, or just plain gorgeous. She has sorted them by themes, such as the seasons, so if you want to make a Raumati Shawl (Makariri is Maori for Winter, Raumati is summer), you will pull up the summer themes to see what color combos best represent the feeling of summer! Be careful, you can get lost on this site for HOURS!

The Adobe Color Wheel

 The Great Adobe Color Wheel!

The Great Adobe Color Wheel!

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, try out the color wheel. Color theory follows some general rules, and depending on the color scheme you want to follow (such as triad, analogous, monochromatic, etc.) this wheel sets it up so that you just have to play around with the hands, and the colors that pop up will result in a color scheme that will work!

Makariri copy.png

Here’s a question for you: based on my original sample of the Makariri Shawl, which color scheme did I follow? Triad, analogous, or monochromatic?

The Anatomy of a Pattern – the Essential Pieces of Information You Need!

Every week in my Facebook Group, Transform Your Yarn, I give my members a chance to ask a question about knitting, designing or running an indie-biz, which I answer personally, during a live-stream.

This week’s question is by Amanda, who asked:

What elements should be included when writing a pattern for publication and what format should they take?

Let’s break it down piece by piece by examining a pattern itself. You can download the pattern that I will be using, the Kakano Hat, for free and keep it as a reference, and knit up a sample for yourself too ;-)

Take the Initiate Knit Design Challenge (starting September 14th) to put this lesson into practice, as well as learn the knitwear design process!


The Title and Photo

The name of the pattern and the cover image of the design goes first. You want to show clear images of the design so the knitter has an overall idea of what the pattern will comprise of. Don't forget your name too ;-)

 

 

 

The About Section

You need to list all the materials needed for the knitter to successfully knit up the pattern:

·             Needle(s) used—in US size and in mm.

·             Yarn Used—yarn company, yarn base, yarn weight (ie, fingering, sport, etc.), fiber content, actual yarn weight in grams, yardage per skein in both yards and meters. Skeins used and colorways.

·             Yardage—Include both in yards and meters. If multiple colorways, list yardage for each.

·             Gauge—After blocking! If you have multiple stitch patterns, list them all here. Also specify if it’s worked flat or in the round.

·             Notions

·             Final Measurements—After blocking! Include in both inches and cm.

In the about section, you’ll also want to provide a summary of the design: the source of inspiration, the meaning of the name or how the knitter would connect to it, then the features of the pattern and how they benefit the knitter (I didn't do this, naughty me! But you can check out the pattern descriptions for my patterns such as the Taimana Cowl or the Mizu shawlette).

The Abbreviations Section

You may not want to write out “knit”, “purl”, or “knit two together” without using some abbreviations. Put ALL abbreviations and their definitions in this section. You can put the stitch instructions here as well, for example, for cable stitches or special lace increase or decrease stitches.

Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 9.50.48 AM.png

The Pattern Stitches Section

If your pattern includes any stitch patterns that are not stockinette or garter, write them out here. In the pattern instructions itself, you’ll be referring to the stitches in this section and guiding the knitter where they go and how many times to repeat the rows. When listing stitch patterns include the stitch count, in the format “x sts + y” e.g., 12 sts + 4.

 

Stitch Pattern (X sts + Y)

Row 1 (RS): Capitalize the first letter of the row instructions, with a period at the end.

Row 2 (WS): On the first two rows, specify which is the RS row and the WS row. For patterns knit in the round, this isn't necessary.

Row 3: Bold everything preceding the column. 

Row 4: K1, p1.

Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 9.44.45 AM.png

The Pattern Notes Section

Include all notes on construction: shaping details, unusual seaming, the direction of knitting, flat vs circular, etc. I include links to special pattern tutorials in this section.

The Pattern Instructions

Start with the CO instructions. If using multiple needles or colorways, state which one to use.

Breakdown the pattern into sections, with clear headers. Use the term “work” not “knit” when directing the knitter to work a stitch pattern. Indicate which rows to work and how many times it's repeated.

Include new stitch count at the end of decrease/increase rows. Be specific in which decreases/increases are used in the pattern.

And finally, the finishing instructions. If your design uses a particular BO technique, state which one to use. Don’t be afraid to go into detail on the finishing touches (such as blocking, adding extra flair, etc.)

Charts

I highly recommend to put in both written and charted instructions. Where you place this section is up to you, but I put it after the pattern instructions. When putting in your chart, don't forget the chart key too!

Take the Initiate Knit Design Challenge (starting September 14th) to put this lesson into practice, as well as learn the knitwear design process!

Knitting 101: 3 Ways to Block Hats

In preparation for the Hihiko Hat release, I've prepared a quick tutorial video on how to block hats. There are three ways you can block a hat: with a mannequin head, flat, or with a balloon.

If you want to see more of the final results, check out the images below!

Do you use another method to block your hats? What is your favourite? Share your thoughts in the comments below! And if you found this video helpful, please share it with your friends!

5 Beginner Knitter Mistakes

I don't know what is more annoying about starting up a new hobby: the lack of skill to produce something satisfactory or the fact that I have no idea if what I'm doing is correct or completely wrong.

Taking up knitting was no exception. During my first months of knitting I made all kinds of errors that would result in a less than pleasing product. Thankfully the internet was there to correct me. So if you recently discovered the magic and addiction of this wonderful craft, here are some mistakes to watch out for and how to avoid them!

1. Not Doing a Gauge Swatch

 If I was going for the oversized sweater, this would have been ok.

If I was going for the oversized sweater, this would have been ok.

Ok, most likely even those just starting out in knitting have heard of doing a gauge swatch or at least have seen the word. And more advanced knitters will probably roll their eyes at this one because they have heard it time and time again. But I'm going to repeat it here: if you are going to attempt a fitted garment or accessory (such as a hat), you have to do a gauge swatch.

If this is your first time hearing this term, here's a quick rundown:

Gauge refers to the number of stitches and rows a knitter or crocheter makes per inch using a certain yarn and needles or hook. Gauge varies from person to person, so it is very important to make sure you are achieving the gauge of your pattern. Your gauge determines the size of your finished piece.
— Lionbrand.com

Take note of that last sentence. Gauge determines the size of your finished piece. 

I once took on the task of knitting a hoodie for my husband. This was my first time knitting a garment piece and I had been knitting for about five months at this point. I had seen the words gauge here and there but never really payed any attention to it. The pattern notes highlighted to make a gauge swatch but I ignored it. I started knitting.

And knitting. And knitting. I knit the large size (for my husband's small-medium frame), because I had found out over the months that I knit tighter than most (meaning I have to go up a needle size in order to achieve recommended gauge in most patterns). And not surprisingly, my sweater was much too big (even bigger than the large size). 

However I didn't learn my lesson. I frogged the entire project and started over knitting up the medium size. Without working a gauge swatch. Again. That sweater remains unfinished to this day.

2. Thinking Yarns in the Same Weight Category are the Same

 Pictured: flowers and four different types of fingering weight yarn.

Pictured: flowers and four different types of fingering weight yarn.

Not all yarns are created equally. For example, Cascade Yarns 220 and Lily Sugar'n Cream are both worsted weight yarns. However Cascade 220 is 100% wool and Sugar'n Cream is 100% cotton. You would use these yarns for different projects and for different seasons. And most notably, these yarns knit up differently. If you were working a pattern where the designer used a 100% wool, worsted weight yarn with a 100% cotton yarn, your finished object will look different from the original sample. Textured, cabled and lace stitches will vary in appearance and even the drape and the "hold" of the finished projects will differ.

Look through a popular pattern's project page on Ravelry and you will see a variety of different yarns knitters used for their projects. Take note of the yarns and compare the results. 

If the recommended yarn is out of your price range and you want to find a comparable substitute check out this website, YarnSub first. They have a large database of both major and lesser known yarns that can help you get started.

3. Not Blocking

This is probably because we've heard horror stories about throwing wool sweaters in washers and dryers and discovering that they shrunk and felted. And even more frightening, this process can not be undone. So why throw your hard work into water?

It's the temperature of the water that determines the success or failure of the blocking process. Tepid water will not cause the micro fibers in the yarn to felt. In fact, it will do the opposite in some cases. In animal based fibers, it can loosen up the fibers, even out the stitches and smooth out the sides.

Blocking is highly recommended for projects with any lace in it, as the water opens up the stitches and you can pin the project to really highlight the pattern. 

4. Thinking That Blocking Will Solve Everything

On the flip side, while blocking can take your project to the next level by giving it a professional look (I've had many non-knitters and knitters alike look at my work and declare how "perfect" the finished results were), blocking can not solve everything. Any major mistakes in the pattern many actually stand out and while the gauge can change slightly (especially after aggressive blocking), you can not add or subtract inches to a piece due to a miscalculation in gauge (or failing to do so).

I was once commissioned to knit a formfitting garment. Once again, I didn't measure gauge (this was around the same time I was knitting my husband's sweater). My stitches per inch were correct, but my rows per inch were not. And up until that point, I had been blocking shawls which are blocked differently from garment pieces. Once I finished the piece according to the pattern, I figured I could aggressively block the piece to the final measurements (I did not want to have to frog the piece, as I had done so many times). This aggressive blocking was to add two inches to the body of the pullover but once the yarn dried, I encountered something that I call "snapback". For every two inches you try to aggressively block a piece, once off the needles and having been worn for a while, it will recede back about an inch. 

While I was lucky that the FO fit in the end without too much trouble (my first seaming attempts had to be re-done several times), the amount of stress of trying to get the garment to fit made me reconsider my career as a knitter for a while. Thankfully I learned my lesson and now I always knit a gauge swatch and frog my work if I'm not happy with the result. Blocking might seem like magic, but even it has its limitations. It's up to you, dear knitter, to decide whether the risk is worth it.

5. Not Attempting a Project Because You Think It Is Higher Than Your Skill Level

I think this is a mistake that everyone makes, no matter their knitting level. Don't let you hold yourself back from trying to knit a pattern that may seem to be out of your comfort level. Doing so is a disservice to yourself. The internet is full of resources and tutorials that you can look up. Practice! Ravelry has plenty of forums and references to look to if you are stuck. In some cases, you can even contact the designer directly if you are stuck! So don't not try a pattern because you think it might be out of your range. As Shia LaBeouf says...

Thank you, Mr. LaBeouf.

Knitting 101: How to Write a Pattern (Or How I Write Mine)

With the growth of my brand, I've been getting emails from knitters of all levels, mostly at the beginning stages of designing their own patterns, seeking advice on various topics: social media how-to, pattern writing basics, collaborations, etc. However the most common question I get is "Where do I start for writing a pattern?" so that will be the focus on this post today. I'm going to address this topic assuming you, aspiring knitter, already have a design or sample in hand. If you want to learn how to design a pattern, well... I guess that would be a post for much, much later. 

Please note that through out this tutorial you may seen some things listed here that sometimes I forget to follow or do (especially on measurements). It happens and I'm learning myself! ;-) 

These tips and guidelines are things I have learnt from other knitters during test knits and feedback from knitting publications.

First, let's start with the basic layout of the pattern:

  • About the Pattern
  • Stitch Abbreviations
  • Pattern Stitches or Stitch Guide
  • Pattern Instructions

About the Pattern

First things first, you want the title of the piece, your name and photo(s) of the piece.

Write the pattern romance in this section; inspiration behind the project, features of the design, and other notes that will make knitters want to knit this! I usually include pattern notes - tips that the knitter would find useful, eg. order of construction, here as well. Sometimes the pattern notes can be put right before the Pattern Instructions. 

Needle: List needles in ascending order in both US and mm sizes. Include length of circular needles and “or size needed to obtain gauge”, if gauge is crucial to the project.

Yarns Used: Yarn Company name Yarn name (common yarn weight name; fiber content; yardage/weight per put-up (skein or ball, as appropriate): number of balls/skeins, color and color number (if available). Ravelry is super awesome for already providing this format for you. Just copy and paste!

For example:

Woolfolk TYND (Fingering/4 ply; 100% Merino; 223 yards/50 grams). 3 skeins used, color 3.

Yardage: If pattern has multiple sizes, provide yardage for each size.

Gauge: Measure stitches and rows/rnds over 4 inches/10cm and specify pattern (St st, stitch pattern, color pattern, etc.) and needle size used (e.g. larger/smaller). Include multiple gauges if more than 1 pattern stitch is used in project (optional; include this if the gauge is crucial).  

For example:

Gauge: 20 sts and 28 rows per 4”/10cm in St. st. in larger needle. Save time and check gauge.

Other Notions: Stitch markers, stitch holders, cable needle? Any materials outside of yarn and needles are listed here.

Final Measurements: Include measurements after blocking the piece in inches (and centimeters). For patterns with multiple sizes, include the sizes, final bust measurements (and other measurements you deem necessary) and the amount of ease. Also note which size the sample was knit in.

For example:

  • Sizes: xs[s, m, l, xl, xxl]
  • Final Measurements: Bust 32(36, 40, 44, 48, 52] inches. Model is wearing size S with 4” of positive ease.

Stitch Abbreviations

List all of the stitches you use in the pattern here. You don’t want to write out “knit 1, yarn over, knit two together” in full through out the pattern. You can view a list of standard abbreviations here or in the pattern template download at the end of this article.

Pattern Stitches/Stitch Guide

Special stitches/stiches repeated in the pattern. These should specify Rows or Rnds. Give stitch multiples if necessary. Charts of pattern stitches may also be needed, especially lace. You can add the chart here or at the end. It helps to have all the pattern stitches listed here so you can just simply refer to it in the pattern. 

For example:

Mesh Pattern

  • Row 1 (RS): Sl wyif, p1, k1, [k2tog, yo, k2] x 7, k2tog, yo, pm, p1, pm, [yo, ssk, k2] x 7, yo, ssk, k1, p1, k1. 
  • Row 2 and all WS rows: Sl wyif, k1, p until marker, sm, k1, sm, p until last two sts, k2. 
  • Row 3: Sl wyif, p1, [k2tog, yo, k2] x 7, k2tog, yo, k1, sm, p1, sm, k1, [yo, ssk, k2] x 7, yo, ssk, p1, k1. 
  • Row 5: Sl wyif, p1, k3, [k2tog, yo, k2] x 7, sm, p1, sm, [k2, yo, ssk] x 7, k3, p1, k1. 
  • Row 7: Sl wyif, p1, [k2, k2tog, yo] x 7, k3, sm, p1, sm, k3, [yo, ssk, k2] x 7, p1, k1.

Pattern/Pattern Instructions

Now for the big stuff. I can't pretend to know everything there is to writing a perfect pattern but here are things I try to keep in mind.

  • Always start with the Cast on. If there are multiple colors or needles, note which one to start with. It's a pretty easy one to miss. Don’t forget to note when to switch needle sizes.
  • Be friendly, simple, clear and concise. However, if you feel like a lengthy explanation is needed or you think a knitter will have difficulties with a stitch, make note of it in the pattern notes or include outside links to tutorials.
  • Include stitch counts for every increase and decrease (sometimes I make a table with all of the st. counts at the end of the pattern).
  • Capitalize the first letter of the row/rnd and use periods at the end of every instruction and sentence (look at pattern stitches for an example).
  • Add section headlines to help guide the knitter.
  • Use X[X, X, X] format for stitch counts and inches knit. Sometimes I also add in how many rows such be worked, according to gauge.
  • Bind-off stitches or place on stitch holder.

Finishing

Included here would be weaving in ends, blocking pieces, sewing pieces together, adding borders, fringing, etc.

Graphics

  • Include Charts/Key for any complicated stitch patterns. I use Stitch Mastery for my charts and key.
  • Include Schematics with measurements for sizes.

I believe this may be the section that most people refer to when asking "How do you write a pattern?". I hope this guide has helped but also, don't be afraid to refer to other designers' work to see how they write. Don't copy them word for word of course, but use it to learn and understand how to use knitting jargon. 

I've included a pdf file of the pattern layout that you can download to refer to when you are writing your patterns. It may not be the most comprehensive guide on the internet, but it's a start. If you are planning on selling your patterns and are unsure about clarity and errors, get it test knit! There are always test knitters who are willing to help, such as this forum on Ravelry specifically for that task!

If you have any questions about this article or would like to request another tutorial, leave a comment or shoot me an email at fdanoy@arohaknits.com!

The Fun Stuff... How to Knit the Right and Left Twist Stitch

This post is a part of my "How to Knit" series that is aimed at teaching beginner knitters the basics of knitting. Click here to view the other posts in this series.

This video tutorial is an accompaniment to the Graceful Vines Cowl pattern. I also included how to knit the left twist stitch so that you can interchange that stitch with the right twist stitch that the pattern focuses on. I personally prefer the Right Twist Stitch because it's neater. Enjoy!