Tag Archives: designinprogress

Done and DONE!

My Boyden cardi pattern is finished! You can favorite an queue it on Ravelry, and see it at home on the web here.

boyden horzontal

After the photo shoot and initial layout I released this pattern for pre-order. And I want to send a huge thank you to all the knitters who took me up on that offer! With all your help I was actually able to pay my tech editor with money from the pattern she was actually working on. I always make a point to pay my tech editor before the final release, so usually I have to pay out of pocket for that final review…

boyden preview

Tech editing is an essential process for me. Tech editors do more than just check numbers, they suggest clearer ways to phrase directions and let me ask questions about layout and charts. But those number checks are important as well, no matter how careful I am there’s always a typo or two, not to mention rounding errors (which can be from the excel software, making them harder to catch on my own!)

boyden cable detail

I love everything about this sweater, the yarn, cables, buttons… I hope you love it as much as I do! Like all my indie garments it is available in nine sizes to fit as many knitters as possible! The cables are all charted, and there are setup rows for each size so that no matter which size you need the cables will grow out of the ribbing naturally.

boyden casual

All this takes a bit of demonstrating, so there’s a whole page of cable charts. But even including that page the actual pattern is only 4 pages long. The cover page includes all your notions and materials, the final page shows the schematic, photos, and credits. So if you wanted to save paper you could print just the middle four.

I really enjoyed discussing this sweater design process on my blog, I can’t do this for all designs (especially not the published one where the contract says not to) but I hope this journey has been insightful. Maybe it’ll inspire someone else to try their hand at designing! It’s not magic, just a lot of fun (but hard) work!

Coming along

My Boyden cardi is coming right along*. Last weekend Neil and I headed down to Boyden Valley Winery for a photo shoot. Since the cables on this sweater were inspired by twisting, intertwined grape vines it seemed like a winery was the perfect spot for a photo shoot.

boyden windy

And it was! Also, once we finished up with the picture taking we headed inside for a wine tasting and food pairing, which was a nice perk to a well chosen photo shoot location.

I’ve been plugging along on my pattern layout. I do a first draft where I just plug everything I have into my template. If I have notes on the printed pattern they get transferred in (because I print my patterns to knit from and take notes as I go.) Let’s say there’s some wording I need to clarify, or math I need to double check, or a graph to fix, etc… I end up with a lot of little notes to self like this one:

note to self

For the second draft I go back and tackle similar things in groups. If I need to check my math in three different places it makes sense to do those all at once. Then I go through and double check all my cables. I might try to clear up the wording, but I also make notes for when I really just need to get my tech editor’s opinion on something.

Neil’s been studying for mid terms all week, which means I’ve had lots of time in the evenings to work on my pattern. Yesterday I decided it was as good as I could hope and sent it off to my tech editor!

But in the mean time I have photos, I have a schematic, and I decided to try something new**. I’ve setup the pattern page on ravelry, and I’m taking pre-orders (for lack of a better term) for this pattern. You can buy the pattern right now and what you’ll get is a preview PDF. It includes yarn and needle requirements, gauge, and a schematic. The preview PDF is everything you need to go yarn shopping*** (or stash diving) swatch, pick your size, and get ready for the pattern release. I hope to have the pattern finished and ready for you all by the middle of April. Between now and then the pattern is 25% off, when the final PDF is uploaded the price will go up to $7.50

boyden horzontal

*If you want to see past entries on the boyden cardi design process check out everything with the designinprogress tag.
**since this whole “designing in public” thing is pretty new and different anyway.
***I highly recommend the Edna yarn I used for this pattern. The skeins can be ordered right from Dirty Water Dyeworks, and at 380 yards to the skein they’re an amazing deal!


There was a lot of fidgeting and fudging around to make the shoulder cables look just so. Then I had similar issues with the opening of the sleeve cable. Yet when I look at the finished sweater I’m reminded how much those little details fade into the background on when looking at the work as a whole*


The collar and buttonbands have been my evening knitting for the last week.


The buttons (from OruAka) arrived and are perfect for this sweater.


After the sweater dries and the buttons are attached the garment will be done!

But that’s not to say the pattern will be done. I still need to make all those corrections and changes for the other EIGHT sizes. And I need to layout the pattern, three charts, schematic (oh yeah, I’ll need to draw that) into an attractive PDF that doesn’t take too many pages. All that has to go to a tech editor. Oh yeah, and I need to schedule a photo shoot, pick a location, choose accessories, decide which shirt goes best with this warm sunny brown…

But soon there will be a pattern! Finishing the garment is a big step in that direction.

*Mind you, if they weren’t done properly they’d stand out like a sore thumb…


As I mentioned, I’m one sleeve, a collar, and button band away from being finished with my Boyden cardi. Usually at this point I’ve already picked out buttons* or at least I know exactly what I’m looking for in a set of buttons.

But not this time. For this sweater I have no idea what kind of buttons I want. And buttons can really make a sweater pop – like the orange ones on the blue Evendim from Twist Collective, or the row of tiny little buttons on Iolanthe.

So I’m looking for suggestions! I’m pretty sure I want medium sized buttons, something around 3/4 to 1 inch. I don’t want high contrast, but I don’t even know if I want them colored, brown, white? Or what material: pewter, clay, plastic, glass?? I think I need at least 5, but 7 would be better, and even 9 might not be bad.

Last night I rummaged through my button collection. These ones (from a button jar I picked up at a yard sale) are my favorites – of course I only have two:

vintage buttons clay buttons

The next ones are the right size and I have 7! But what you can’t see in this photo is that the gold swirl on them is a bit too shiny.

Shininess is the problem with these mother of pearl buttons from my button jar as well:

mother of pearl buttons leaf buttons

And while I really like the leaf imprint buttons they’re only half an inch which I’m afraid is too small. It might be ok if I had 9, but I only have these 5.

So all that remains in my stash are these horn buttons. They’re a good size, and I like the color. But I’m still not sure if 5 buttons is enough.

horn buttons

Do you put this kind of thought into buttons? Where do you like to find them? Got any good online sources you can recommend?

*Sometimes I pick out buttons before I pick out yarn…

Shoulder cables are tricksy

I knew this was coming. I finished the body of the sweater, but it’s not done yet. The shoulder cables need tweaking. The trick is that they cables need to flow up and over the shoulder so they line up with the front cables when graphed. I knew I could at least get them to line up, so I went ahead and finished the shoulder (kitchener’s stitch and all) to see what the cables looked like if I just let the strands of the braid float:

1st try shoulder cables

Well, they DO line up. But they don’t look great. Again, I knew this was coming. The problem is that to make the sweater fit well, there need to be some short rows across the shoulder here.* Which means that the cable strand closest to the armscye just floats for 2 rows, while the strand closest to the neckline floats for 6.

So now I’m pondering what kind of twists I can get into a mere 6 rows. Clearly I need at least one cable cross, but two will make the strands flow better. I’m going to play with some graph paper. Right now I’m thinking this will actually work best if the shoulder cable starts at the neck divide, rather than continuing the standard cable up the first part. That’ll give me 8 or 9 right side rows in which to make the cables cross in a way that fits the pattern and still lines up with the front.

*Look at your shoulder in the mirror. See how the part closest to your neck is higher? Your shoulder slopes down to the point where it meets your arm. It makes sense that you need more fabric to get over the high part of your shoulder than the low part.

just giving it a little nudge

I’m up to the front halves of the Boyden cardi. Each half is worked on it’s own after the underarm divide and then the back is worked last. I knit the plain front first since it was easiest. Everything went smoothly although I did add one extra decrease to the armscye to make the front a bit more narrow by the time it got to the shoulder. One extra k2tog is nothing in a field of stockinette.

But on the cabled front it’s a wee bit trickier because the cable is snug up against the shoulder shaping by the top of the work. An extra decrease on the shoulder edge means I need to nudge my cable chart over by one stitch – preferably WITHOUT ripping the whole thing back again!

Good news is moving the cable panel over is really pretty simple. Let me show you my neat trick.* First I will point out that my goal here is to have the correct number of stitches when I get to the top of the shoulder. I’m fudging the decrease for the sample to create the same look that the final pattern will give in a much more straightforward way.

Yes in an ideal world all the decreases would happen in a neat line along the edge of the armscye. But this is not an ideal situation. Instead of working the last decrease at the armscye edge where it would start eating into the cable itself, I worked the decrease in the stockinette stitches immediately the right of the cable. And then I hid this decrease under the cable crossover that happens at that point so in the photos you won’t see a random decrease breaking up that field of stitches.

Where the chart calls for a 2×2 cable cross I slip THREE purl stitches behind the cable instead:

three stitches behind.jpg
(yes, I’m cabling without a cable needle, if you’re confused pretend those 3 stitches on the left needle are actually on a cable needle)

And then, I knit two of them together:


Which leaves me with the correct number of stitches between my cables in the chart! And the correct number of stitches on the armscye edge. AND the correct number in the stockinette portion of the shoulder. Everything is correct. I just used a sneaky alternative method of getting there. If you were inspecting the garment in hopes of reverse engineering it you might notice that there are only 5 decreases along the armscye edge where there ought to be 6. But for everyone else’s eyes this fudge is completely invisible! And completely inconsequential if you’re going to be knitting from the pattern.

*please excuse the crappy cell phone photos. The lighting on the bus is not great. At least I was doing this in the morning not in the dark of the evening commute.

behind the scenes

I’m plugging quietly away on the boyden cardi. I’m working on the plain front first, which is easy and pretty mindless. I did tweak the armscye shaping by adding one more decrease. This is a big reason why I’ve never used a sample knitter for my initial project. I’m 85-95% accurate in the first write up, but I need to knit everything to be certain of it. Also a sample knitter might have gotten all the way to the neck decreases before realizing the cable chart needed to be moved… (I may never let myself live that one down)

In the mean time there is SWATCHING going on behind the scenes. There are a bunch (um, 3? 4?) publication calls right about now that I’d like to submit ideas for. On top of that I have a few indie designs in the works which I’m pretty excited about. Swatching, sketching, and brushing up on some specialized skills allows me to foster the excitement for the next design while I’m in the fairly-simple-knitting stage of the current design.

just a sock

Yes there may be some gansey inspired goodness in my future. And to be properly inspired I should learn about the originals. Right? Right. Oh, and there’s also a sock.

Actually, it’s the second sock. And given that I cast on the first sock last friday I’m feeling pretty good about this pair. It’s a dead easy K3, p1 ribbing and standard heel flap. But the yarn is oh so pretty. It’s colinette jitterbug which is a fat squooshy sock yarn so I’m using 2.5mm (US 1 1/2) needles for it and the cuff is only 60 stitches around. Between all that and the fact that I’ve finally learned I prefer my sock cuffs about 5 inches long I’m sure I know why these are knitting up so quickly!

forging ahead

After its rocky start my cardigan is coming along nicely. Neil and I were in the car a fair bit this weekend, so I’ve knit through the waist shaping and started into the bust increases.

boyden cables

The nice thing about writing the pattern up in advance is that once I’ve tested the details (such as, do I really want a ssk here, or would I rather a k2tog?) the knitting is smooth sailing. Other than the occasional bought of self-doubt (Is the body long enough? Did I double check the shoulder numbers? Is that really the right waist circumference?) I can follow my pattern without thinking too much, just as I might follow a published pattern*.

However, it is still hard to knit cables in the dark.

boyden long

*I know myself well enough that I know I’m going to have these internal questions even when I’ve double and triple checked everything. I KNOW the sizing, fit, details, are all going to be fine but have trouble convincing my internal voice of that. Well, that and occasionally the inner voice is right (like on that neckline bind off/cable chart issue I had earlier)

first and second tries

The long weekend gave me a great chance to get started on my boyden cardi. Once I was done with all that math I cast on and knit the ribbing with no issues. But the cables have been giving me trouble. If by that you understand I mean I keep screwing up and have no one but myself to blame – and I’d rather blame the cables. First, I couldn’t read my own chart:

chart issues

Granted that it’s a hand drawn chart with quite a bit of editing… But still. See how there are clearly THREE stitch boxes between the cables? And see how I’ve carefully made FOUR hatch marks underneath to indicate four stitches? Yeah, clearly that’s the cable’s fault. Luckily I noticed after just 2 rows (204 stitches each) And I’m pretty proficient at dropping down and fixing a single mis-crossed cable with a crochet hook. But this isn’t just a mis-crossed cable. This is a misplaced 1 to 5 stitch increase. That’s a lot of extra yarn to try and smudge around without making it look gross and loopy. So I TINKED BACK two rows (408 stitches total) to place the increase correctly.

ill fated cables.jpg

Then I really got flying. Yesterday afternoon I was admiring my beautiful cables. Aren’t they pretty? And look how they travel across the stockinette background! So graceful. Then I got to thinking about how they’d swoop up to the shoulder, past the neck bind off, and meet the cables from the back of the sweater so they look like they swoop back down… Waitaminute… The neck bind off… There are what? 17 stitches that get bound off for the neck edge (check my notes – yes, yes there are) and there are only 9 stitches between the cable panel and the front of the sweater (yes, this is also true)

CRAP! My bind off is going to cut into these cables!

It’s not even like I misplaced the cable panel by 1 or 2 stitches. If that were the case I could do a little creative m1 and k2tog work and nudge the cable over. Correct the mistake in the final pattern and no one would ever know. Nope, I’m off by EIGHT freakin’ stitches. I had to RIP THE WHOLE THING. Last night I fortified with a good homebrew, and ripped over 3000 stitches so I’m back to the ribbing*. Then I realized I’d left my chart at work, gave up, and knit something else for the evening.

I’ll get started with a Properly Placed cable chart tomorrow, thankyouverymuch.

*At least I can now report that this polworth yarn (Edna from Dirty Water Dyeworks) frogs beautifully! The yarn has held up really well to all this abuse…

hurty brain

I’m mere hours (I hope) from finishing my current WIP. This is one of my favorite parts of knitting* because I get to decide what I’m going to work on NEXT. In this case the answer is my Boyden cardigan**. Does that sound vaguely familiar? It’s the one I was going to design, and blog about as I go. Who knew (back in October) that it was going to take such a long vacation…

Anyway, it’s at exactly the same point as when we last saw it – awaiting some math. So last night I sat down to do some math.

boyden grading

Believe it or not, I enjoy this process. It’s the designy part of designing. Even when I have an overall idea for the garment there are lots of questions to answer:
What sizes do I want to offer?
How many total sizes?
What’s the increment between sizes?
Is there going to be a button band?
How wide a band?
Does the width vary for each size?***
Where does the cable go?
Will it fit in that panel for the smallest size?
How about the largest?
Will the armscye decreases eat into the panel?
How to I prevent that?

This process makes my brain feel itchy, in that I-can-practically-feel-the-synapses-growing kind of way. And this sweater was especially challenging. Because of the asymmetric cable placement I need different numbers of stitches on the left and right sides. This means taking into account how much the cables will pull in the fabric, and placing the shaping, side seams, etc… all slightly akilter. But just akilter enough that the garment will look and feel symmetrical. Asymmetrically symmetrical? Something like that.

And all along there are the regular checks as well. If I want a 36″ bust with a 1″ button band I need to subtract that inch before calculating the stitches. Then I need to check and make sure the stitches will divide evenly for the 2×2 ribbing at the hips. And where do I start the hip shaping? How high up should the waist be knit even? But I must make sure the row gauge lands that hip shaping somewhere below the waist length****. And where does the neck bind off go? And make sure THAT’s placed asymmetrically. Then realize the cable panel won’t fit across the shoulder as written. So I’ll use the narrower sleeve cable on the upper shoulder. Perfect! Except. Wait, the front and back cables need to be at the same row for the grafting, so let’s make sure I have that written into the directions…

And I’m doing these checks for all 9 sizes from the outset. Nothing is worse than getting one size all written out, only to find you need to change TWELVE things to make it work for some other size. Better to tackle all the sizes at once and make all the changes as I go.

No one ever said designing was easy. Well, no one who ever tried it anyway…

*ok, they’re all my favorite parts. Well, almost all…
**check out the designinprogress tag to see all the old entries that reference this project.
***I believe it should. A 1″ button band is 1/30th of a cardigan on a 30″ bust but it’s only 1/60th of the cardigan on a 60″ bust. That’s half as much. To maintain the overall visual look of a design the widths of the various elements need to change as the garment sizes grow.
****Nothing sucks more than being directed to knit the waist to 6.25″ only to find yourself at 7.5″ by the time the hip shaping is done…