Sunday, October 24, 2010

Monophonic Hat

Design #1 from the Musical Minds Collection is here!
Visit FiddleKnits.com to download pattern
Monophonic – Pattern one from Musical Minds: 8 hats that anyone can rock!
Skill Level: Intermediate
Monophonic’s slouched shape is formed by a series of short rows that keep the crown of the hat falling neatly toward the back. Using this shaping method removes the bulk of extra fabric that would typically rest at the nape of the neck and also lowers the yardage requirement. Following the recommended number of row repeats will give you the look of a moderately slouchy hat. For a hat fit for holding dreads or big hair work more repeats (noted within instructions).

This design offers options for two different looks: reverse and traditional stockinette. The ribbing/lower brim band is the same for either variation. Once you make it past this section you will be instructed to move on to the version of your choice. If you want to work the reverse/purled version, but are having a hard time coming to terms with all that purling, remember that the majority of the hat is actually worked in rows, so you will, in fact, be knitting also.

Both variations use short rows to achieve their shape, however, the short row method is different for each. The first version, reverse stockinette, uses the more common “wrap and turn” method. The second, a traditional stockinette version, uses a series of decreases and increases.

Techniques:
  • Knitting flat and in the round
  • Make 1*
  • Purling flat and in the round
  • Purl 2 together*
  • Slip, knit, pass*
  • Wrap & turn*
* Indicates instructions provided within Stitch Guide section of pattern.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Make way for Musical Minds

It's been super busy around here these days getting ready for collections to launch and patterns to be released. In the midst of the Sweet Treats Collection making its appearance I am also preparing Musical Minds for its debut. As with Sweet Treats, the Musical Minds patterns will launch one at a time at the rate of one pattern a week for eight weeks.

The first Musical Minds pattern, Monophonic, does not officially launch until Monday, October 25, 2010, however, if you are on Ravelry you have a chance to get a sneak peek of it right now.There are also a few teaser photos of several designs on the collection page of my website. Sweet Treats has been lovely to do and I have enjoyed the simplicity and elegance of all the designs, but Musical Minds is the collection I have been most eagerly anticipating. Chris inspired me to create this collection last year. The process has seemed to take forever! Every hat in the collection is completely unisex, but it was the guys at which the collection was really aimed. All knitters will want to make something for a special guy in their lives at some point and will probably all realize how picky those guys are about what they will wear. All 8 designs in this collection got the thumbs up from Chris, my dad, and a few other guy friends. There were several occasions where it became necessary to rip back, rethink, and redo when Chris would look at my knitting and question what exactly I was thinking. In the end I feel like it was totally worth it and made the collection what I truly wanted it to be.

Preorders are now available for the entire collection as a PDF.
Preorder pricing expires November 7, 2010

Preorder price: $26.00 usdThat's 25% ($9.00) off the final price!
visit website to purchase collection
Preorder pricing saves you $14 off individual pattern price (prior to Nov. 7, 2010).
Final pricing saves you $5 off individual pattern price (after Nov. 7, 2010).




The Musical Minds Collection
  8 hat designs that anyone can rock

The Musical Minds Collection was inspired by my boyfriend Chris. The very first handknit gift I made for him was a hat. Over our first Winter together I discovered what he liked and looked for in a knit and his collection of hats began to grow. After a while I realized that there were probably many other knitters out there looking for designs that the men in their life would approve of. Hopefully this collection fills that need.

The Musical Minds Collection is divided into two sections: Texture and Color. The first section, Playing with Texture, explores textural stitches and musical techniques. Each design within this section is named for a musical texture technique (Monophonic, Counterpoint, Polyphonic, and Paradiddle) and the pattern begins with its definition within the world of sound. The second section, Playing with Color, also combines knitting and musical techniques. As with the first section, each pattern here (Timbre, Harmonic, Melodic, and Vibrato) will begin with a description of the musical term for which it is named.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

To Much Instruction?

When does a pattern go from having "just the right amount" to having "too much" instructions? This is a question I'm battling with right now in my pattern writing. As I wrap up the Pistachio Milkshake Fingerless Mitts design (Sweet Treats #7) I am finding myself wondering if the directions are too spelled out. I have recently begun to scale down on the amount of abbreviations I use and tossed CO and BO out for their English versions of "cast on" and "bind off." BO always irked me because on the inside I apparently have the mental state of a 12 year old boy and every time I saw the abbreviation I thought of body odor. If BO was getting thrown to the curb, then it only made sense for CO to say adios as well. Making that change doesn't add a lot of length to the pattern. However, once I cut them I moved on to marker instructions with PM (place marker), SM (slip marker), and RM (remove marker). These abbreviations make a huge amount of difference within the pattern. Before I began focusing on professional pattern writing I never used stitch markers. I find that I can read my knitting pretty well and the only time markers were very necessary was in the event that I was knitting on a lace project. Now as I write my designs I use markers as I knit in all the places I write them into the pattern for everyone else to follow. Sometimes this feels enormously cumbersome to me as I knit and also as I write and read the pattern. Seeing the SM, PM, or RM abbreviations was ok, I was getting used to it. Now, however, with the marker instructions written out I feel like the actual knitting stitches are getting lost. For example, look at this line from Pistachio Milkshake:
Row 31 (31, 39): P1, C4B, p1, slip marker, k18 (24, 30), slip marker, p1, C4F, p1, slip marker, k3, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.

Would that read better as:
Row 31 (31, 39): P1, C4B, p1, SM, k18 (24, 30), SM, p1, C4F, p1, SM, k3, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.

Or even better with nothing:
Row 31 (31, 39): P1, C4B, p1, k18 (24, 30), p1, C4F, p1, k3, yo, k2tog, yo, k2.

The last example is what I would want as a pattern reader, but that's just me. I feel like it allows you to focus on the stitches and makes the row look less daunting. Perhaps before writing the cast on instructions a note along these lines could be made:
If you wish to use stitch markers to note pattern sections placement would be thus: 6 sts, place marker, 18 (24, 30) sts, place marker, 6 sts, place marker, 7 sts.

Now also remember, before you go and decide which variation of instruction that you like, that the pattern is not just this one line long. There are two hands and each mitt consists of 25 lines of pattern. Add this together and you have 50 lines of written instruction with each line saying "slip marker" 3 times. That's "slip marker" 150 times!

I do not wish to eliminate the use or instruction of stitch markers completely. There is certainly a place for them to be used within a pattern. When I write a shawl pattern I believe markers should be placed to note the edging or increase section. On a garment stitch markers are essential in noting the front and back portions along with shaping or pattern repeats. But on a short, fairly straightforward pattern such as these mitts? Isn't it a bit of information overload? If you have an opinion please do let me know. After all, I am writing these patterns for you and I want to give you a product you are happy with.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Expanding to crochet!

Don't ask where this idea came from because it's a mystery to me. However, some time between Monday and today (Wednesday) it occurred to me that it would be a fun, exciting, and very good idea all around to expand Fiddle Knits Designs to include crochet. It bugs me a little that the name of my business has "knits" in it and that, to me anyway, implies all knitting, which may put a crochet only fiber person off of checking my website. I think that might be an irritant I'll just have to overcome, though. I cannot fathom managing multiple design names. That's just way to much of a brain overload. Plus I'm sure there are plenty of bicraftual folks that would appreciate both techniques in the same place. Am I talking in circles? :-) It's been one brainstorm after another here for me and I'm afraid my wiring might be suffering from information overload!

So, since this brilliant idea struck I've begun working on an easy crochet project. I'm not saying what it is or when you might see it, but it's there and progressing well at this point. It's interesting to be designing with crochet now. My first encounter with fiber craft was actually through crochet when I was 9 years old. I never worked with patterns back then. I was far too impatient to bother reading them and I figured I was pretty smart and could just do it myself. (Hah!) There were many misshapen doll clothes in my past and numerous bags, afghans, and small accessories like bun covers and scrunchies for me and all my dance friends. For some reason I put crocheting aside and when I wanted to come back to fiber crafts I chose knitting. I'm pretty sure this decision was based upon a desire to make garments and I hadn't been impressed with crochet at that point. Now that I'm older and wiser I realize that there are actually many beautiful crochet garment patterns out there.

I could babble on forever about knitting, crocheting, and all my design ideas, but they will remain only ideas if I don't get stitching, so off I go to enjoy the Fall sunshine, a cup of tea, a podcast, and my "work."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lady Grey Legwarmers

The Lady Grey Legwarmers are the third pattern from the Sweet Treats Collection.

Lady Grey Legwarmers

This listing is for the pattern PDF download only.

These legwarmers were inspired by my early dancing days. Since I didn’t yet knit, I would alter commercial legwarmers, or even knee socks, by cutting heels and toes out as I required. Of course, the result was rather ragged and mostly fell apart. Lady Grey will stay prettily on your feet while you dance the night away.

The Lady Grey Legwarmers are constructed from the bottom up to the cuff. An I-cord tie and optional pom poms are worked later and added as desired.

The Lady Grey pattern comes with two variations, with or without “sugar.” If you like your warmers with a touch of extra sweetness then follow the first variation with instructions for adding the “Sugar Star” motif. For a milder twist you can “hold the sugar” and follow the second set of instructions. Either way you choose, the fit and general stitch count remains the same, so you can cast on and get going before you make your final decision.

Techniques:
  • Cast on
  • I-cord
  • Knit
  • Pom poms (Instructions provided)
  • Purl
  • Sewn bind off (instructions provided)
  • Working in the round

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Semi-Sweet (semi-slouch) Hat

Semi-Sweet, Pattern Two from the Sweet Treats Collection, went live on October 1, 2010.

Listing is for pattern PDF download only.

This simple little chapeau was originally designed in answer to a request from my boyfriend. His favorite accessory is hats (which I have to say is quite handy) and he accumulated a substantial stash of those I had knitted over the winter. Once the weather began hinting of Spring he turned to lamenting the fact he would not be able to wear his knit hats until the Fall. I, not being one to let my man go with a bare head, dug up some lightweight warm weather yarn and put my mind to designing something appropriate.

In my haste to make the hat I forgot to take note of my boyfriend’s head size and undershot it. He loved the design and deemed it completely guy friendly, but too small for his noggin. My sister graciously stepped in to model the hat. A word to the wise: remember who you’re knitting for!

Semi-Sweet is worked in one piece from the bottom up. The materials list calls for 16 inch circular and double-pointed needles; however, if you prefer, the hat can easily be worked on two circulars or one using the magic loop method.
Techniques
  • Knitting in the round
  • Purling in the round
  • Slip stitches
  • Whip stitch (sewing)