The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Elliptic Cowl

My test for It's Stripes, Jim is drawing to a close. The test was actually for completing a single right-to-left striped sock, but five out of six testers like the pattern enough to make a pair (and the sixth implied that a pair will be made once she has completed another test but not before my deadline). This makes me happy :) The general opinion so far is that it is a fun knit - enough going on to not be boring and not difficult.

I have a second test running for a quick knit cowl in bulky yarn. I came up with the design after scanning the database for something to use up some araucania copihue yarn I had bought in 2011 and couldn't find what I had in mind. I wanted a cowl that was fitted to my neck and also covered my shoulders.

I wanted some texture so played around with spiralling ribs for the neck. Some research into determining the circumference of ellipses to work out the increases required to get the collar shape I wanted for my stitch and row gauge. Short rows with increases to build the ellipse shape either side after the neck, and then back to spiralling ribs with increases to keep the ellipse shape and get to  the required finished size.

I liked it - in fact I kept it on for the whole day as it was quite chilly here - but could see a couple of improvements that I could make. No problem, it used just under two skeins and I still had another four... so I made another one with the changes :)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Back to the Garden

Spurred on by some good 'gardening' weather - warm, dry and not blowing a gale - I have made good progress in getting parts of the garden under control.

I started with the veggie patch - and have hopefully got out all the remaining potatoes, some of which were still edible!

Two of my three rhubarb plants are thriving, and the eagle-eyed will spot a few leeks that I have excavated around.

I then moved on to the long bank extension. I am really pleased with how the new bit is doing. The bulbs I put in have given a splash of colour. The day lilies have put on strong growth, and a week on I can see the irises are coming through. The rather sad looking heucheras that I split are now also putting on strong growth and hopefully I will have a nice zig-zag of interesting foliage later in the year. Even the tiny bits of veronica that I popped in more from hope than expectation are doing well - one is even flowering.

I then moved on to the fruit tree bed - two days and I have cleared the carpet of weeds. I rescued a very pretty pansy that was flowering gamely in amongst them and given it a new home. I really wanted to get this done as the ground is very dry and we were promised rain, so I wanted the trees to get the water rather than the weeds. I also got another bag's worth of potatoes out...

A few days ago I also weeded the herb patch, and have got the first raised planter back under control. Unlike the rest of the garden the planters are quite damp and muddy, being north facing alongside the high wall.

My packet of parsley seed said that parsley can be difficult to germinate - I don't think this is true. As well as all the baby plants in the herb patch I have it growing in the path, three very large healthy plants in the corner of the fruit tree bed and one has made it across the lawn to the planter above...

We eventually got the much needed steady rain yesterday.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What's In a Name?

I am finding naming my patterns is quite a difficult thing.

You want something fairly unique or descriptive.

For my Helagon scarf/wrap this came out of a FB plea for whether or not there was a proper (and preferably single word) name for a 6-sided 2-D shape with 3 pairs of parallel but unequal length sides. The answer appeared to be no. So I came up with Helagon as Helen's hexagon. The design changed but the name stuck...

For my ribbed/cabled socks the name Boing Boing seemed to obvious to me - they were knit in a yarn colour called Fruehling that means Spring and the socks are springy...

For my latest socks I called my own project (Tyger Tyger) Burning Bright but that would not be a good name for the pattern unless everyone wanted to make them in bright orange!

They feature stripes using an idea I first used in some socks back in 2012, but at that time I hadn't come up with a good method of making the stripes move right to left so I never published the design. However, I decided to revisit them and analysed why they were problematical. And in these socks - It's Stripes, Jim (but not as we know them) - I hope I have overcome the problem. They are currently being tested so I should find out if the solution I came up with is worth pursuing...

Sunday, April 06, 2014


There is one week left until my Helagon scarf/wrap design test finishes.

I have been very lucky in getting a tester for each length for both weight yarns being tested.

 I am really enjoying seeing all the progress photographs.

Some beautiful scarves are being made in wonderful colour combinations. Red seems popular - red and black, red and white, and red and grey, and they all look stunning. Two different shades of blue and a blue and green. White is also popular, being combined with blue, purple and black as well as the aforementioned red. Finally a blue with a contrasting red/orange variegated yarn with small sections of blue to 'join' the two together.

I have had several comments on how fun this pattern is :)

I think my one tester who was having problems with the changing of yarn colour has now "got it". A bit of a language barrier, but I have several German testers and I think between us we managed to explain what to do.

So far only one error has been found but I have re-written a couple of sections for clarity after comments from my testers and done a few other tweaks.

Once the content is finalised (hopefully no more changes) I still need to convert it into my template.

And I want to get some more photographs of the longer version when it isn't blowing a gale.

I asked for advice on the Designers forum on whether to put a collage photograph as my pattern 'hero' shot to show the different ways it can be worn but the overwhelming response was to use the above photograph.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

More Love for My Old Sock Patterns

After releasing my "for sale" pattern I noticed that my other two socks patterns have had some renewed interest.

They are really cute sock patterns and deserve some more love. Both from me and knitters...

So I have put in quite a lot of time and effort in getting them into my new layout and adding more sizing options/information.

I got my Xmas Tree Socks pattern updated yesterday:

Not only have I updated the style but I have included instructions for other stitch counts (widths) and row counts (foot/leg length), and updated the gusset/heel instructions for the different stitch counts.

And have just finished updating my Interlock Socks pattern:

This one I have found harder to do. I don't want to be too prescriptive - the design will work with any sensible stitch count that is a multiple of four. I have provided the finished foot lengths for 3 different row gauges if worked exactly as it is written and leave it up to the knitter to add extra rows if needed for their row gauge in either the main colour rows or the pattern chart rows. When the pattern was originally tested back in 2012 this did not seem to be a problem for my testers - socks were made in UK shoe sizes 4-8 and 60/64/68/72 stitch counts, toe up and cuff down without any issues in a wonderful mix of colours and yarns.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Taking the Designing Plunge

I like designing many of my own patterns. And if I like the end result other people may too.

I have published a couple of free sock patterns on Ravelry already. It is hard to tell how many people have actually made them as not everybody makes a project page but of those that do I have hit double figures. The patterns have been downloaded an order of magnitude times more.

And one group actually picked my Xmas Trees pattern for their KAL at the end of last year.

But if I want to do this more seriously I need to do things properly. I joined the Designers, Budding Designers and the Ravelry Shopkeepers groups and started reading a lot of invaluable advice.

So for my first "pay for" sock pattern, Boing Boing socks, I went through the following steps:

1. Write up the pattern
2. Take photographs
3. Put in a testing request to the Free Pattern Testers group
4. Monitor and respond to the testing thread
5. Make any required corrections/clarifications to the pattern
6. Take better photographs!
Photographing your own feet is not easy. I now drafted in Paul to get some much better photographs outside in natural light. Out of about two dozen I got four I liked!
7. Got it tech edited.
Paul performed this task admirably. He knows nothing about knitting, but give him a document and he is in his element ensuring consistency in layout and style!

And now all the prep has been done it is time to actually take the step over the precipice...

8. Add the pattern to the Ravelry database
9. Link the pattern to your store
10. Activate!

And very importantly, send your pattern as a gift to your testers so they can add it to their library and link their projects.

Advertising and promotion are another matter that I may need to get into at a later date. Maybe when I have a decent portfolio of patterns.

Things I will do differently going forward:
Get good photographs at the outset! The better it looks the more likely you will attract testers.
Create a template from this pattern for follow on patterns so that they all have the same look and feel.

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