Category Archives: Design work

Tribeca Tunic

Copyright Harper Point Photography

This is Tribeca Tunic my latest published pattern for knit.wear Spring/Summer 2017. Sometimes designs go through a few changes before they reach their final end form. I often find that I fall in love with a stitch pattern but it takes a few sketches and swatches before it finally settles on what it’s going to become.
When I began swatching this stitch pattern originally I tried it out on a much heavier yarn. One benefit of testing on thicker yarn is that you can get a nice big swatch very quickly!

 
Swatch

When the idea went ahead it had changed to a much finer, light sport weight yarn, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport.

You can see how dramatically different the stitch pattern looks in the lighter yarn. It was however ideal for the final sweater, the lighter yarn gave great drape to the tunic which meant that even though it is oversize it flows very naturally on the body.

This top is knit in the round from the bottom up. It’s oversized so you rely on the drape of the fabric to create flow and shape. At the armhole the front and back of the sweater are separated and worked separately. At the shoulder short rows are used to create a slope and then they are joined with a 3-needle bind-off.  You can see the shoulders are drop shoulders and create a relaxed garment shape.

When the body is finished stitches are picked up around the neck and a deep cowl neck is worked. If you want an open neck instead just finish off here with a narrow edging.

The sleeves are picked up from around the armholes and worked down in the round. I’ve opted to leave them as 3/4 length but it would again be an easy change to make them longer, just try it on as you go and add any decreases necessary!

At the moment I find myself drawn to looser, more flowing tops with lots of drape. Do you have a favourite garment shape that you like to wear?

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Welcome to Nua!

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Well it’s almost here….Wednesday 1st of March I’m releasing my Nua yarn on the website and Nua Collection Volume 1.

This new yarn has been a while coming, the design process for a yarn is fairly long with lots of shipping back and forth of samples until the colours are exactly right! I’ll tell you a little more about the colour choices in the next few days but right now I want to introduce the new collection to you. It was very important to me to have patterns ready at the same time as the yarn. I don’t think a yarn can be fully appreciated until you see it knitted up. You can see what the colours look like properly and how the yarn behaves with different stitch types. In the collection I wanted to show a variety of project types so you can see how versatile the yarn is. I’m also working on a cabled cardigan and Nua is behaving very nicely with cables as well :-)

Ravi Nua

Ravi Nua in Rolling Bales

The first project I tried in the new yarn was Ravi. This is one of my favourite patterns and fortunately it uses the same weight yarn :-) When I reknit patterns I find it hard not to tweak them and this time was no different so the updated pattern has become Ravi Nua. I changed the short row type to German as this is fantastic for Garter Stitch. In addition I added a few inches of length. This had the knock on effect of making the cardigan hips need some increases which also meant the short row hem had to be adjusted a little. I love the finished end product and I love what a lovely soft halo Nua develops when it’s used with garter stitch!
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After Ravi I wanted to try out the yarn on a smaller project so Finglas was the next pattern. I’ve developed quite a love of biased knitting, just by adding increases and decreases you completely change the direction of the knitting. This means that with these mitts working a biased panel on the front and back creates a sloped edge on the top and the bottom. My youngest son wants to keep these so badly, he even insisted on modelling them :-)
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Next up is a cosy wrap, Dangle. This is an extra long wrap that can easily double up as an oversized scarf. The chevron garter stitch pattern really shows off the interplay of the different colours together. Drop stitch rows of Angry Money (red!) are peppered throughout the wrap to add pops of colour.

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Finally we have Boherboy, a textured cowl that comes in 2 versions; a single colour version that has just knit/purl stitches and a 3 colour version that alternates colours with the knit and purl.

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Boherboy

Boherboy

The soft, bouncy nature of the yarn makes it really perfect for stranded colourwork. I think my next collection is going to have a bit of colourwork going on!

What pattern and colour do you think you’ll try out first?

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Let me tell you a Secret

I’ve been hinting about this for a few months but the time has come to share, I’m doing a brand new yarn, Nua! I’ve spent the last year planning the yarn and colours with Fyberspates and last weekend I went to Birmingham to launch the yarn to shops. So if you want to see it in your local yarn shop tell them to get in contact with Fyberspates.
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If you want to get your hands on the yarn I’ll have a small amount of it up for sale on Wednesday 1st of March here on my website. But the following week (10th and 11th March, 2017) I’ll be at Edinburgh Yarn Festival with as much yarn as I can bring :-)….plus I’ll have kits and the Nua Collection Volume 1.

Bare Necessities

Bare Necessities


So now that you know how to get the yarn I want to tell you a little bit about it. It’s a non-superwash yarn (I prefer this for garments) in a sport weight with 50g skeins. I love this weight of yarn as it’s useful for so many things; garments aren’t too heavy but it still doesn’t take forever to knit and it’s light enough that colourwork looks really good in it. By keeping the skeins smaller it’s much easier to combine colours without ending up with too much leftovers.
The fibre blend of the yarn is 60% merino, 20% yak and 20% linen and it’s spun in south America. The addition of linen and yak create a very unique yarn. Yak is very, very soft and linen as a plant fibre adds some durability. These two additions to the fibre blend also have some very nice side effects. Yak is a darker fibre (the colour, Bare Necessities shown above is the undyed colour) which means that the whole colour palette of the yarn becomes more muted and subtle. Linen fibre absorbs dye differently which means that the lighter specks of linen show through the yarn which creates a natural tweed effect. My friend Evin described the yarn as ‘sophisticated yet rustic’ which I think sums it up nicely.
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Some of you may recognise Ravi above. This is one of 4 patterns in the Nua Collection Volume 1 that will be released next Wednesday at the same time as the yarn. It is a redesigned version of Ravi (Ravi Nua) as I’ve changed the short rows to German, added extra length and due to the extra length added some increases at the bottom of the hip. If you’ve previously purchased Ravi (on my website or Ravelry) you’ll get €3.00 off either Ravi Nua or Nua Collection Volume 1 (digital version only).
Over the coming days I’ll reveal details of the new patterns coming Wednesday. For anyone curious about names the yarn name NUA means ‘new’ in Irish so it seemed like a very appropriate name!
So does this sound like a yarn you’d like to knit with?
Rolling Bales

Rolling Bales

The Art of Simple

Today we’ve got a lovely treat on the blog, a guest post from my friend Woolly Wormhead (and I’ve got a matching blog post up on her blog today as well!)

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A few weeks ago Carol and I were chatting about the idea of doing a blog post swap, which seems such a good idea, considering our shared interests in engineering and construction. After chatting through a few ideas, we settled on refinement and simplicity, something we’ve often talked about before.

Muratura

In my former life as an art teacher, I taught design to exam students, and one of the important discussions that used to come up time and time again was the need to refine. To reduce. To know what to take out. One of the key things I remember from my foundation course was exactly this – it’s a mantra within design school that gets passed down.

Putting that into practice though isn’t necessarily a conscious thing – it’s something that progresses; refinement develops with experience. Even knowing what I do and teaching what I did, I’m still evolving and developing, and that’s always a good thing.

Dancette

It’s too easy to over-design. To get excited and put everything into something. There’s also another aspect that crops up from time to time – the idea that a complicated design is cleverer. That by making something challenging, it’s a better design. From my experience I think it’s something a lot those new to design are faced with, yet all it serves is to, well, complicate things.

Armley Beanie

‘Simple’ gets a bad press sometimes. But it’s not the same as basic. Simple is refined. It’s considered. It’s thoughtful. It says that it can stand alone by itself and stand tall. Simple isn’t necessarily easy; it too can be pretty challenging, both in it’s design process, and in it’s execution. A simple knit design can look easy yet have taken an awful lot of work to make it so. A simple knit design can look complicated, but the designer has cleverly worked out how to make it easy to make.

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Knowing what to take it really is the key, and having a theme helps greatly. Having been designing for variegated yarns for a while and thoroughly enjoying the process, many of my recent designs have become yet more refined. Something as simple as a line can take on a new meaning when that’s all the design is about; taking the rest of the stuff out allows that element to take the stage.

Rosalind

Designing is a never ending journey; ideas follow through and develop and we follow tangents – that’s the joy of being able to design for ourselves. Pattern writing continually develops and changes as styles change, but also as we grow. We learn, we develop, we explore and we refine. It’s a continual journey, and by embracing the art of the simple, we allow ourselves that much more creative freedom.

Thank you so much Woolly for sharing your thoughts, definitely something to strive for!

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Introducing The Elegant Wickford Wrap

Interweave Knits, Spring 2017 issue has burst onto the scene with a beautiful collection of Spring themed knits. Nestled within these pages is the elegant Wickford Wrap.

The Wickford Wrap hand knitting pattern by Carol Feller

The Wickford Wrap

The Wickford Wrap is the perfect accessory for having in your handbag, ready to pop on when those cooler Spring breezes appear. Its unique shape allows you to wrap it around your neck or to drape over your shoulders and tie at the front.

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Construction

The unique shape of the wrap is what makes this so intriguing to knit. You start at the bottom tip of the triangle and the cables cross and flow along each side as you are increasing at the edges. When the triangle is completed the wrap is divided into 3 sections, the right and left wings and the centre stitches.  The centre stitches are bound off and the beautiful interlocking cable motifs are worked in turn along the right and left wings. To complete the wrap a moss stitch border is added to frame the wrap and allow the cables to shine.

The Interweave Knits sample is worked in the fabulous Jo Sharp Silken Road Aran Tweed which is 85% Wool, 10% Silk, 5% Goat – Cashmere goat with a beautiful tweedy look. Which means that this wrap is beautifully soft to wear and won’t take you too long to knit on 5mm needles.

If you’re a little apprehensive about taking on these cables, Carol has some fabulous tutorial videos here along with other tutorials you might need to complete the wrap like cast on methods, bind offs, increasing and joining in those extra balls of yarn.

If you want to get started right now, you can pick up a digital copy of Interweave Knits here and you can peruse all of the Spring knits in this collection here. You can, of course, find more information on the Wickford Wrap here on Ravelry.

What are your favourite Spring Knits? Wraps, shawls, sweaters or long cardigans? Let us know in the comments. 

Bloomsbury DK

I’ve been hinting over the last few months about some secret projects I was working on. Well now at last the time has come to reveal one of those secrets to you – Bloomsbury DK!

A few months ago Love Knitting asked if I’d like to be involved with a new project with some other designers; the creation of a new yarn line, The Yarn Collective. This venture was completely new to me, I’ve been on the other end of the process, working on finished yarns only before now. This time I was able to be involved from the start, trying out the yarn and picking the colours. The Yarn Collective involves several designers, each getting their own yarn to design the colours for. The first to launch was Melanie Berg last week with the Portland Lace and her lovely SecretKeeper shawl.
It’s my turn this week and I want to introduce you to Bloomsbury DK and the 3 patterns I designed for the yarn. When I started designing the yarns I had a few different things in mind; first I wanted each colour to be one I loved that could stand alone but I also wanted the colours to work together in harmony. To do this I began with a visual inspiration for each set of colours that I worked around.

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Violet, Dango in Fuchsia and Soot

The first set was inspired by the Fuchsia flower. Fuchsias grow wild in west Cork and in fact are often uses as the west Cork symbol. I love the mix of pinks, purples and greys. In the photos you can see a version of the Dango hat in Fuschia that hasn’t been photographed yet. You can see the different colour tones much more easily in the knitted fabric than in the skein.

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Moss, Oz, Indigo and Surf

The next set was based on the deep blues and greens of the sea, especially the deep colours you get when it’s at full swell with huge surfing waves. These are the colours I’m always drawn to; greens and blues.

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Russet, Sand and Copper

The final set is probably knitters (and my!) favourite season, Autumn. Browns, golds and coppers with some subtle dusty beiges. I love how the tones in these three colours just lead into each other.

So that gives you an outline on how I started the colour design process. From there I also wanted to make sure that each individual set related to the others so the neutral tones from each form almost a bridge between them.

Do you have a colour favourite?

Indigo

Indigo

I didn’t expect to love this deep Indigo blue from Dango so much. Knitted up it feels like a gently faded denim jacket, just lovely subtle variations in the navy blue. It’s got so much depth.

Now we can take a look at the patterns I designed for the yarn. There’s no better way to see how  yarn colour behaves then by knitting so I’d suggest giving them a try!


Russler
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First we have Russler, an oversized, side-to-side shawl that is super warm and generously sized. The chevron stitch pattern is great for showing off the interaction between the three different colours – so it’s a bit like wearing Autumn wrapped around your shoulders!


Lignite
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Next we have Lignite.  This is a top-down raglan tunic, with a gentle v-neck. Designed to fit loosely the stripes of grey lace combine with a gentle a-line shape and an asymmetrical short row hem slope. This creates an easy-to-wear top that can be modified for different sizes.


Dango
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Dango is a great uni-sex hat that combines a very subtle spiral cable with a dramatic central focal cable. I can see one of the boys robbing the sample over Christmas!

Yarn for all these patterns is available exclusively through Love Knitting. Keep an eye on the Yarn Collective over the coming days for some more revelations!

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In Search of Creativity

(c) Nadia Seaver

(c) Nadia Seaver

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with creativity. When all is going well and ideas are flowing it is the most wonderful feeling in the the world. You come up with an idea, work it through to the end and if you’re lucky it’ll turn out even better than you imagine. It’s a feels great, you don’t need anyone to tell you it’s turned out well; you just ‘know’.

Inspiration

Obviously this isn’t always the way it works. It’s an illusive thing and the more you search for it the harder it is to pin down. Frequently in interviews I’m asked where I’ve found my inspiration. I find this a really hard question to answer because the truth is that it’s different every time. Sometimes I might pick up a yarn and stitch pattern book and start experimenting. This is great if you’ve got a particular yarn you need to design for as you can see what kind of stitch patterns work best for the yarn.  For me often inspiration comes from clothes. I might have seen a detail on a sweater in a shop but hated the rest of the sweater or I’ve got a mental image of something I want to wear and as I can’t find it anywhere so I’ll knit it instead.

Mental Blocks

The times creativity get difficult are when the ideas just won’t flow. You sit down to swatch and every single swatch turns out wrong. Or maybe you’ve got a lot of ‘busy work; answering emails, sending out bills, writing blog posts and updating social media. These make it impossible. In my head to create I’ve got to feel like I have all the time in the world. Creativity is slow but the rest of the world moves quickly. So then the question is, how do you slow down enough to create?

New Ravi sample in progress.

New Ravi sample in progress.

Finding Head Space

To create I need to feel that no one is waiting for me and there are no deadlines. Swatching is slow and I’ve got to allow myself to make mistakes and learn. I think that’s often why I do my initial idea blitzing on weekend mornings. If I’m up before everyone or if they all go out for a few hours my head thinks of it as free time. I don’t need to do the busy work, so my mind is relaxed and it feels like the day is open ended just for me to explore. I think that’s also why working in time blocks helps. If you’ve got a creative morning or two blocked off you don’t feel like you should be doing something else so it allows you space.

Getting Over the Block

The times I find most difficult to deal with are when you just have a creative slump. It doesn’t matter what you touch, design or finish the end result just feels ok to you rather than magical. It usually means for me that I’ve taken on too much work and I”m tired and burnt out. I use that as an indication that I need to say ‘no’ for a while until I find my balance again.

For any creatives out there, what do you find kicks starts your creativity again when you’re overworked and feeling a little burnt out?

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Luwan KAL, Clue 1 overview

So, clue 1 (the yoke) of the Luwan KAL is now complete. There has been just wonderful support for all knitters and almost everyone finished clue 1 within the 2 weeks! You really can’t underestimate the power of working together.

So what was clue 1 about?

It started off at the shoulders working short rows in garter stitch (using German Short Rows) for each side of the front. From there it moved on to increases for the neck and then increases for the armholes. Once the front was finished you picked up stitches along the top of the shoulders and did the same for the back.
The biggest problem knitters encountered was maintaining the Dot Stitch pattern, especially when increases were being worked. With this stitch pattern it’s a little trickier than it looks as the patterning is happening on the wrong side rows so it’s really easy to get tripped up! This is where the KAL was the biggest help, you can face ripping out your work and redoing it more easily when you’ve got a cheering gallery :-)

So here’s a little view of the work that different knitters have been doing on the ravelry boards with a few quotes from the clue 1 discussions:

Clue 1: kikukat

Luwan Clue 1: kikukat

Luwan Clue 1: knitterings

Luwan Clue 1: knitterings

Luwan Clue 1: janeeknits

Luwan Clue 1: janeeknits

Luwan Clue 1: Golden2knit

Luwan Clue 1: Golden2knit

SnoozinB:

Settling in this Saturday morning with my coffee and my pattern. We woke up to the first frost of the season–perfect for starting this sweater! I’m going to study it well and make my plans before casting on.

This really is an enjoyable knit, isn’t it?

Thank you for this and for the link! Always learning from you.

I learn soooo much knitting Carol’s patterns! In particular, the short rows used to slope the shoulders are really interesting.

Knitsnpurls:

I woke up to a dark and gloomy rainy day, perfect for knitting! The first thing I did was put the kettle on for tea, the second was to check for Clue 1. Now it’s all printed off and ready to go. I think it’s going to be a good day. :o)

DebbyKnits2:

I’m really enjoying knitting this pattern. It’s been awhile since I’ve knitted a sweater, and this is my first ‘top down’ sweater! My thanks to everyone who has posted pictures and asked questions. It makes this entire process a lot easier :)


HazelS:

I love the encouragement.

txtaurus:

So even though I was quiet this week, I was reading this thread when I could….thank you all for the tips and questions. I just love seeing everyone’s color choices! Carol, littlefellers all kals might need to be from blue moon fibers so we can work through all their colors ;)

Konaknits

Thank you; I was able to go to bed feeling better after reading your post!

filidhruadh:

Thanks to all of you! I’ve got to the joining point, and will pick up again at the weekend when I go home. I’m LOVING this pattern, and learning loads already, as always! Thanks Carol Littlefellers for a great KAL!

So now that clue 1 is finished it’s on to clue 2! Discussions are already well underway and there are some new techniques to learn, like working German Short Rows in the round.
Are you enjoying your Luwan KAL? (Remember you can jump in at any time as well!)
For anyone who’s working away on Luwan you can share your images on social media using the tag #LuwanKAL. This makes it easy to find them!

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New pattern: Bespin

Last year I got some yarn. But it wasn’t just any yarn, it was a really, really huge single skein of Empire yarn from Jill Makes Stuff.

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My winder wasn’t big enough to hold it all so it was broken down into several smaller cakes.

Every autumn Jill releases several batches of this yarn. Each year I look at it longingly and resist. But last year I eventually went ahead and got myself one of the mighty skeins! The yarn has got a nice high twist and feels very firm when you knit it. As the yarn has such a dense feel to it I wanted to use a more open stitch pattern to lighten it up a little. After some experimenting this is what I settled on, a broken rib pattern with yarnover rows that was dense enough to be warm but still open enough to make the sweater a little lighter.

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If you’re thinking about yarn substitution, Kerry Woollen Mills Aran yarn has a similar weight although Empire is a softer yarn.

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Bespin is knit from the bottom up; it starts with both the front and back hem knit separately (you can see that the back hem is a little longer). These increases in the pattern are shown in both charted and written format so it makes the start easier. Once the hem is finished it’s joined in the round and worked straight to the armhole opening. In the sample shown I’ve got just over 1″ / 2.5 cm of positive ease however I think this is a sweater that would work really well with a generous amount of positive ease, going for 3-4″ / 7.5-10 cm bigger than you bust size should make a great oversized winter sweater.

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Once the body is finished the sleeves are knit in the round also. As they are in stockinette stitch they just fly off the needles!

Finally the body and sleeves are joined in the round. This is a tricky maneuver for the first few rounds as you’re squeezing small sleeves into a bigger yoke circumference. I usually use a much bigger circular needle than necessary and pull a ‘loop’ similar to magic loop out at the middle of the sleeve. I find that this gives enough extra movement to really ease the difficulty of joining the sleeves to the body.

The yoke of this sweater uses raglan shoulder shaping; you can see that the pattern stitch is ‘eaten away’ as you begin working the decreases. By now you will know the pattern stitch very well so it’s easy to see how to maintain the pattern, and for any extra stitches you’ve got you can just work them as knit or purl. The raglan shaping goes through a few different sections (with different decrease rates) so that the yoke is deep enough and each part of the neck fits just right. Each of these sections is detailed with a full stitch count chart for the entire yoke given so you can easily track your work and stitch counts.

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Finally the neck is bound off at the front with decreases worked to shape it. For a deeper neck it’s possible to start the decreases sooner. I opted to use bound-off stitches and decreases at the front rather than short rows as I found it easier to maintain the pattern stitch. If you want to experiment though you could try doing it with short rows also!

I hope you have fun knitting Bespin; do you have any Empire (or another heavy aran) yarn waiting for the perfect project?

From Ideas to Submissions

When I started designing the idea of self-publishing seemed very intimidating. Not only did I have to come up the design idea and knit it, I also then had to write the pattern, figure out how to get the pattern checked, put it into an acceptable format for people to download and then promote it. It seems very daunting, as all I knew how to do starting out was how to knit and think up ideas! Each of the other skills was slowly learned. Pattern writing, photography, working with an editor and testers are all learned skills. They don’t come instantly and there are many learning curves to climb all at the same time!

The very first pattern I had accepted was Doddy, for Knitty Winter 2007 (I’ve just realised that will be 10 years December next year!!). I was so proud of my first acceptance, just bursting with pride. That didn’t last too long however once I started working with the tech editor. She was very kind and patient but she effectively completely rewrote my pattern. I did not have a clue how to write a pattern! That was a very swift, sharp reality shock for me. This was a job I had to learn.

After that I thought I’d try my hand at self-publishing. The first pattern that I got tested was also a hard lesson. I had testers for every size and I discovered how careful you had to be with pattern directions. When you’ve got a dozen people all busy spotting your mistakes (especially when they’re basic and fairly silly mistakes) it’s hard to not take it personally. But it taught me to take my time and check the pattern several times in different ways so that the end product was as clean as possible and to swallow my pride and accept mistakes. This is always hard but really, really important if you want to keep improving.

At this point I really wanted the experience of publishing in magazines. This involves a different workflow but I think the lessons that you learn from working with a professional magazine are invaluable and really help to perfect pattern writing skills and spot mistakes.

Submission Calls

When working with magazines you start by signing up to their mailing lists or watching out for submission calls on ravelry’s designer board. These submission calls take a lot of different formats; some are just inspiration photos and sketches with minimal words, others do the reverse with descriptive paragraphs, and sometimes there are both. I love reading through submission calls even if I don’t have the time to submit, they can be very inspirational and spark off ideas.

Swatching

The next stage is to put the submission together. This is the stage that I have a hard time getting to at the moment as it takes several days. I start by thinking over the call; what kind of ideas would work? What yarns do I have that would suit? What stitch patterns could fit into it? Next I will start swatching – occasionally an idea works from the start but this is rare!! Usually there are several days of knitting and ripping until something works. It equal parts frustrating and exhilarating; and sometimes it just doesn’t come together and has to be abandoned.

Last year I pulled the idea for Nouri together for Pom-Pom magazine. I was so excited as it was one of those times that the swatch just worked from the start! You can see that when you swatch for a design you try to put all the details in the swatch, how the side pattern works and how the neckline shaping will be done. It can make for funny shaped swatches but nothing beats knitting the details.

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Sketching

For the submission, once I’ve got a swatch that works the next stage is sketching. I use a croquis outline that I draw my garment onto. I’m not a fantastic artist so this means that it looks enough like a human body to convey the idea. I’ll then put notes and details of the garment on the sketch to show how it’s going to be knit.

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I’ve recently got an Ipad Pro with an apple pencil and I find that this is very helpful for this stage. It means that I can sketch directly in an electronic format and add colour easily if I want to.

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Putting it all Together

The final step is text description. I’ll put a pdf together, which has the sketch, photo of the swatch and a description of the yarn, gauge, swatch and construction details. At this stage you should pay close attention to the details for the submission you’re making. Do they also want a schematic? Do they want suggested sizing? Do they want a single page submission? Attention to detail is important at every stage of the design process but if it’s your first impression when you’re doing a submission. It doesn’t have to be complicated just answer any questions that need answering.

Now for a full submission you go back and do this a couple of more times. Most submissions I make are 2-4 suggested items. As my time is getting tighter these days it’s more often 2 now! The beauty of putting this much work into submissions is that now you’ve got a full design idea ready to go. If the magazine rejects the idea you have the option of either submitting it to another magazine or creating a self-published pattern. Other times I find that I’m not completely in love with an idea but there’s a detail that I want to keep and I end up building a new design around that. As I design more and more I find that I like to take the same starting point for a design but then just bounce off in a new direction.

If you’re new to designing have you tried submitting to magazines? Don’t let the idea of rejection daunt you – just think of it as another great idea that you can go and use yourself – their loss!!

Are you thinking about designing? Let me know your own experiences!

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