Beautiful Knitting

Where Mt.Mom knits, crochets, designs, and seeks Beauty as food for the soul.

Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Tweedy Knitting and Glove Repair

Posted by mtmom on March 20, 2011

I’ve had the treat of marathon knitting and designing this past Friday and Saturday, as DH and DDs went on a Spring Break camping excursion to someplace warm and remote.  Turning this . . .

Rowan Felted Tweed yarn, 10 balls

into this (etc.).

Swatch for decreasing in pattern

It kept me VERY busy!

And will continue to, until I get through that whole bag of yarn!

(another design project for Cast On magazine)









In the meantime, I thought I’d tell y’all about some mending I did recently.

First request was for the thumb of a pair of Latvian mittens, bought for me by a dear friend on her trip around the Baltic, and then gifted by me to DS.

Glove, holding "hoot!", both to be mailed to DS at college.

hole in end of thumb, loose stitches stabilized by safety pin

repair made with darker brown yarn













Second request was for several tears in a pair of Norwegian gloves well-loved by our church organist.

Charly's Norwegian gloves

Observe: Norwegian's do NOT tuck in ends -- they knot and leave them!

And unused colors are twisted and carried up at end-of-rds. Also see hole in finger end.

I do not have “after” photos, because a super-cold day came and I really RUSHED to finish these and get them back to their owner!

At least you can know that your “loss” was definitely his “gain”.



Posted in Design, Knitting, Mending | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Galaxy Tams — Design Process, Part 2

Posted by mtmom on February 3, 2011

Continued from previous post.

I hope you all find this interesting — I didn’t know about much of this before I actually started publishing patterns with a magazine, so I figure it will be new to most of you.

The Yarn.

After the senior editor of Cast On magazine let me know they wanted me to make TWO hats, one in EACH of the 2 yarns I’d suggested as possibilities, and once I had agreed to the proposed fee, she then asked about an alternate choice for the mohair-blend yarn, “Yarn A”.  Another project in the issue would be using the yarn I’d used in my swatch and proposal, and they want to include a broader range.  I went online to yarndex and started hunting for other yarns of similar composition (70% mohair, 30% silk) and gauge (laceweight, but usually knit at DK gauge because of fluffiness).  I chose several yarns that I thought would work, eventhough I hadn’t actually used any of the new options.  The editor contacted the yarn companies, to see who would be interested in supplying yarn to a designer for their upcoming issue.  Berroco agreed for 2 skeins of Ultra Alpaca, and Knit One Crochet Too said they had 2 balls left from open bags, but they were from different dye lots.  We agreed that this would be OK, since I would be double-stranding the yarns and that would blend them (vs get stripes where I changed balls).  Each yarn company mailed their yarns directly to me.  When they arrived, my knitting would begin!

The Pattern-Writing.

While waiting for the yarns to arrive, I started in on the writing.  The general outline of any pattern begins the same:  skill level, title, materials, gauge, special techniques, abbreviations; all these come before the actual instructions and I could get these (all but final gauge numbers) done before even beginning the knitting.  I looked up the Craft Yarn Council’s standards for skill level:  because the hat would use double-pointed and circular needles, and contain 2 simple eyelet patterns, it fell into the “Intermediate” category.  The title came pretty quickly in the process, especially because my DS had spent last summer working at our local observatory:  “Spiral-Armed Galaxy Tam”, or “Galaxy Tam” for short.  The yardage of each brand of yarn I could have found online, but instead I waited to copy this info from the ball bands.

What took longer was writing out directions for the circular cast-on and tubular bind-off.  The magazine always includes a glossary of basic techniques at the back, so I checked a past issue to see if these were already covered.  Kitchener stitch, the final step in the BO was in there, but the directions were for a flat piece.  I had to add extra details into my pattern about beginning and ending the grafting in a round project.  I wrote up a paragraph for the CO and for the BO, and repeatedly read and checked them for accuracy and clarity.

I even began writing up the instructions, because I already knew the basics of what I planned to do.  I went back and forth about including markers, and ended up including them because it shortened the amount of detail I needed to include before I could say, simply, “rep from *” and “continue”.  I think writing the Technique Tips and Designer Notes may be my favorite part.  I can explain and suggest and instruct, beyond just enabling a knitter to reproduce a hat to match the model.

Much of this was edited later, as I went through the knitting and discovered how things actually measured on the needles and then when I came up with a modification to the ribbing that very much pleased me but took some explaining.  I ended up having to use * and ** and even *** for those instructions!

Knitting the Prototypes.

2 tam tops

I began with Yarn B, the alpaca, because I had it in hand first.  I finished the top and then paused to catch up with Yarn A, the mohair-silk, to make very sure that they turned out THE SAME size.  I would have to include different numbers for the 2 yarns in several places in the pattern.  Lots of arithmetic:  2 yarns, in 2 gauges, in 4 sizes each.  I was glad I would have several weeks to do this (about 4 – 5), so I wouldn’t need to rush beyond my ability to keep my wits (and my notes) about me.  As I came to each new section of a hat — switching from increasing to even and then to decreasing, or beginning the ribbing — I would take care to write down or add to my draft EXACTLY what stitches I needed to make:  Should they (p1, k1) or  (k1, p1) at this point?  How did the YO fit into the ribbing rhythm?  How did the even vs odd numbers in the panels of the different hat-sizes affect this?  I have learned that I mustn’t presume I’ll remember later!

I liked knitting both, but think I enjoyed the mohair-silk more.

about halfway done with the pink

When each tam was complete, including tucking in ends, I blocked it over a pair of dinner plates, separated with several washcloths to add depth.

white tam blocking, top view

pink tam blocking, side view

I did lots of measuring, both during the knitting and after blocking, because these numbers were ESSENTIAL to the arithmetical magic that is Pattern Grading, i.e., the figuring of stitch and row counts for the sizes I didn’t actually knit, but that others might want to make.  Oh, the agony over the calculator!  (and I have a math degree)  Predicting other knitters’ results. . . !  What can I tell them that will help them succeed?!

The Parting.

When all the knitting and all the writing (and re-writing, and re-re-writing, etc.) was done, it was time to pack up my “babies” and send them out into the world.  I used lots of tissue paper and a sturdy box, rechecked EVERYTHING, and took several deep breaths.  It was DONE!

I hope you’ve enjoyed journeying along with me!

Posted in Cap/Hat, Design, Knitting | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Galaxy Tams — Design Process, Part 1

Posted by mtmom on January 25, 2011

I thought I might share a bit about how my design process went for the tams I just submitted to Cast On magazine.

The Idea.

Years ago, I borrowed a copy of Barbara G. Walker’s book, Knitting Counterpanes — about preserved examples of an old tradition of bedspreads handknit of tiny cotton yarn.  (Interlibrary loans are a WONDERFUL thing!)  In it, I saw several spreads/counterpanes constructed of small, repeated medallions.  I recall swatching a few of them, and sketching several others.  I made a child-size beret out of one of them by working a center-out medallion for the top, then a sort of turning ridge of several rounds of reverse stockinette, then I decreased back down while trying to maintain as much of the patterning as I could.  A plain ribbed band finished it off.

Pink Swirl Tam, side view

Pink Swirl Tam, top view

The Opportunity.

Cast On sent out a call for designs for the summer 2011 issue, with a special emphasis (among other topics) on tams and berets.  I remembered the pink tam and the gears started turning.

The Swatches.

I no longer had the Walker book, and I didn’t keep the pink tam in front of me to check.  I went from (fallible) memory while also keeping in mind some changes I wanted to make.  I started knitting at the center, and when the swatch was large enough I began to think of an edging that would lie flat.  I decided on garter stitch, but didn’t want the spirals to just STOP at the edge of the border —  hmmm, could the spirals continue THROUGH the garter st background, as they had over the stockinette?  YES!  I liked this very much.

I had 2 different yarns I was considering working with:  the white yarn was new to me, but came highly recommended; the purple was left over from a shawlette KAL 2 autumns ago, and I had thoroughly enjoyed working with it back then.  I made a swatch from EACH of them and decided to send both.  I would let the committee consider both and choose.

Swatch in white alpaca/wool worsted weight

Swatch in purple mohair/silk laceweight doubled



The Sketches.

I figured the different yarns would make different fabrics that would drape differently, so I sketched out the 2 options:  one floaty, one droopy.  I traced the bare essentials of 2 faces from a clothing catalog and added in the hats freehand.  The results were not bad, and they communicated the ideas.  I described how I would construct the hats and how I expected each version would look.  I filled out the rest of the paperwork (yarn brands and alternatives, gauges, sizes, etc.) and mailed it all off to Ohio.

The Decision.

The editorial committee wrote back and asked if I would knit BOTH hats, to show the different looks!  OK, I’m in!

Next chapter (Lord willing):  the yarn, the pattern-writing and the prototype knitting.

Posted in Cap/Hat, Design, Knitting | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

FOs and Repairs

Posted by mtmom on January 22, 2011

My weekend schedule changed a while back, so Sundays are not always blog days.   I haven’t really settled into a new rhythm yet. . . .

I have finished several things, some fresh and some long latent.

white tam


Firstly, I finished and mailed in to Cast On magazine, the 2 versions of my Galaxy Tam.  The pattern I e-mailed in a few days later.

Also, I finished a second little “hoot!”, by Ysolda Teague.

hoot! #1

hoot! #2










One is for my DS, away at university.

The other is for his girlfriend.  She said of hers that it is “adorbs”.  (I translated that to mean “adorable”.)  🙂


And then, I FINALLY seamed up a knit/felted bag I started about 1 1/2 years ago.  I don’t think the shape and size will be adequate for a daily bag, so I’m not sure what I’ll do with it.  (It measures about 10″ – 12″ across, and 5″ – 6″ tall in the middle, where the stuff would sit.)  Yarn is Poems; design is my own.

"back" side

"front" side

I’ve had some more requests for repairs; this time for unusual gloves.

Glove from Latvia, here with hoot-owl

The first pair were a gift to me, purchased by an old friend when she traveled to Latvia one summer.  I’ve let my son wear them for a couple of winters, and one thumb developed a hole.  This past week I mended that.

Thumb "Before"

Thumb "After"











The second pair are Norwegian.  I haven’t started to work on the repairs yet, but I’ve enjoyed studying them.

Norwegian gloves. Thumbs replaced by another knitter.

Finger with a hole. Notice the spare color carried between stripes up by twisting strands.

See how the ends are NOT woven in -- just knotted and left! Amazing.

Posted in Cap/Hat, Design, Knitting, Mending | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Tam Proposal in the Pipeline

Posted by mtmom on November 30, 2010

I don’t know whether the editorial committee will choose to include my pattern, but I’ve sent 2 swatches to Cast On magazine for possible inclusion in their summer 2011 issue.

in Ultra Alpaca

in Kidsilk Haze


Same design in each, but different textures due to different yarn choices.

I would make a tam similar to this one, below, made by me for DD several years ago.  But the straight portion would be longer, instead of the short section of purl rounds in the middle of the pink version.

Pink Swirl Cap -- top view

Pink Swirl Cap -- side view

I won’t know until the 2nd week of December, at the earliest.

Then, if accepted, the committee would send me the yarn they select for the project and tell me my deadline — probably around the end of January or beginning of February.

The work and pattern writing can get pretty intense, but I’ll be sure to let y’all know what’s up!

Posted in Cap/Hat, Design, Knitting | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

“Thick N Quick” Cap is . . . Quick!

Posted by mtmom on October 31, 2010

I made this for a neighbor-boy.  Took only a few days.After taking this photo, we found it looked better with the BACK part of the brim folded up, versus the FRONT part.  I failed to get another photo, however; he’s 4 years old and moves around a lot.

I had given up on this yarn (Jiffy Thick & Quick, by Lion Brand; color “Ozarks”), and put it in the “go-out” bag, but decided to give it another go from a different angle.  The main problem was that this very bulky yarn needed to be worked on US size 15 needles, and my dpns in that size are home-made from dowling and not especially smooth.  The yarn kept catching horribly!  I have a 24″ circular with nice metal tips, but I consider that length too short for magic loop, and too long for a child’s hat.  What to do?  I NEVER make hats flat, shunning the idea of a seam inside a snug cap, and especially with yarn so thick as this.  But, this time, I did.  I got out my nice 24″ Addi Turbo, and cast on 6 stitches.  I kept first and last stitches in stockinette, and increased until “big enough” — my target was 17″ or so.  The stitches actually stretched out near enough to the tips that I was able to join into the round at this point and continue the cap body in the round.  Phew!  I worked 3 ridges in garter stitch on 13’s at the bottom, and made a sewn bind-off after a purl round.  Now to deal with the gap at the top! I had left a long tail, wound into a butterfly, at the top.  I used this to work the seam — but I “unvented” a new way to do that seam, because I didn’t want it to “take in” even a half-stitch on either side.  My solution?  Rather like duplicate stitching a single column of stitches, catching one leg of each stitch on each side as I went along.  (I felt SO CLEVER!)

See the seam?  It’s the column of red stitches going up the center there.

Looked at with the ends-of-round facing the camera, I think that the change from stockinette to garter stitch, and the bind-off edge, and the seam all look pretty good.My sweet-smiling recipient likes it, to boot — a winner!  (Hurray!!)

Posted in Cap/Hat, Design, Knitting | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Autumn Approaches and Kilt Hose are Done!

Posted by mtmom on October 7, 2010

First, the knitting:

the cuff on his favorite pair

cuff on new pair

I am pleased.

I very much hope that Robert will be pleased as well.










Fall is definitely coming to the Colorado Plateau.

We expect our first overnight freeze of the season tonight.

The sumac has gone through it’s colors, and is getting rather bare.

14 September

21 September

1 October

3 October

7 October



















But the locust is just beginning to change.

7 October

Meanwhile, inside, the geranium and cactus are happily putting out buds and new “leaves”, respectively.

And this morning, we have the first snow on the Peaks!

Posted in Design, Knitting, Socks, Yard/Garden | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nearly Done with Forest Green Kilt Hose

Posted by mtmom on October 3, 2010

Soooooo close!

I’ve bound off the first cuff with Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off and am now about halfway through the second cuff.

I may try a different BO on that one (one developed by Susan Rainey), and see which I prefer — both for looks, for lying flat, and for stretch.

I also think I may decide to shorten the cuff by a half-rep (2 rounds) in the cabled area, as the first one turned out a bit longer than I’d originally planned.  Robert’s favorite pair have 3 3/4″ cuffs; but these are just over 4″ tall past the turn-over.  Close.  Still not sure.

Both will match when I’m done!  🙂

Perhaps I’ll also make a video tutorial comparing these 2 “stretchy” bind-offs. . . .

Posted in Design, Knitting, Socks | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Cuffs Continue, Plus Swatching

Posted by mtmom on September 26, 2010

I had worked 3 crossings of the cables on Robert’s forest green hose, when I decided to rip back — the garter ribbing seemed too long; I wanted to begin the cables sooner.  I also made another change going forward.  Can you see what it is (besides the left-twist vs right-twist)?  I had at first been pretty much copying his old favorite hose (left photo); second photo shows newer version of cuff.

Cuff on old favorite

Cuff on new pair, 2nd version

Besides knitting, other things have been keeping me busy this past week.

One is a kind of swatching, I guess you could say.

color selection #7

We’re painting the house!  It’s been 10 years, so it’s definitely time.  My 10-year-old DD and I have been painting samples of colors onto the walls, in big enough patches to be able to screen out the already-color that’s all around the “swatch”.  This is the current pick:  “hurricane” by Frazee; medium-value base (vs white or dark) with pigment RGB numbers 171, 158, and 147.  Sort of a storm-cloud color. . . .  Trim will be coordinating off-white.  Roof is being replaced as well — we lost lots of tiles in this winter’s heavy snows.  I need to pick between charcoal, dark grey-brown, and medium gray.

Other swatches on the needles — Sunday “off” is fun for playing and planning and considering, since I’m not focusing on production.


"College" yarn

I’m thinking I don’t have the right combination of colors in the gingham swatch.  The green is solid, but the yellow/green/orange/pink is variegated.  I plan to try a blue solid next. . . .

The blue/black/white speckled yarn I’ve had in my stash for several years.  I had been planning to make a sweater with it, but I recently saw a shrug pattern that interests me, and this yarn may work for that.  That’s why I’m trying mistake-stitch rib at the top of the swatch. . . .





Meanwhile, the seasons advance.  We have a few flowers remaining.

Tall hybrid phlox

(Nice, large photos follow!)

Echinacea with bumblebee

Posted in Design, Knitting, Yard/Garden | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Kilt Hose Design Decisions and County Fair results

Posted by mtmom on September 12, 2010

I’ve gotten to the tops of the cuffs on Robert’s 2nd pair of kilt hose, and am swatching the cuff.

DD holds out the edges, so you can see the seed-stich ribs

Sock #2 inside out while I finish the garter ribbing and begin cuff

Which cables to use in cuff? Hmmmm.

I am so glad I exercised the self-control to swatch the cuff patterns, instead of steaming ahead on the hose themselves, because I’ve been changing my mind as I work the swatch.

I also pulled up an old photo of Robert’s favorite pair, to compare cuff designs.

I could see that the old hose had 2 over 2 cables, about 16 of them around each cuff.  These can be similar.

I like the 3 over 3 cables in this very-heather-y yarn — they show up nicely — but I’m pretty sure he’ll prefer the 2 over 2.  Either is fine with me.

Next in the swatch, I need to check the transition from cables to the edge pattern I’m considering:  a continuation of the k1 tbl, p1 of the garter, so he can turn them down at any point in the depth of the garter, versus having a fixed turning-ridge.  I need to make sure about how many stitches to increase when beginning the cable band, so that I won’t get ripples where the stitch-pattern changes and so that the cables won’t strangle his leg!  We want the cuff to lie flat, not be either floppy or constrictive.

In other knitting-related news,

I seem to have skipped blogging last week — sorry!  Besides taking in some light opera (Pirates of Penzance), my family and I attended our County Fair last weekend.  Here are my entries with their ribbons (plus cat!).  The yellow item she is sitting on was an extra prize for my white kilt hose:  a needle case made by a regional guild representative.

2010 Coconino County Fair entries

Posted in Design, Knitting | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »