If you’ve been following along on the California Revival Knits blog tour, even a little bit, you’ve already gotten to see the gorgeous patterns, the inspiring tiles made by hand, and the fact that the author herself models some of her work. If you haven’t, I encourage you to check it out on Ravelry, or here or here, or in some of the other posts from the blog tour.
I wanted to take a different angle. As a fellow designer who likes to encourage design-y impulses in all knitters, I wanted to ask Stephannie about her process. I was secretly hoping to get advice on how to narrow down the dozen ideas I have for one design into one thing…and I wanted to hear how other designers offer patterns to suit a variety of knitters.
In this book the options are evident in several ways. There is the simple variation–the Quatrefoil Mitts come in both a full mitten and a fingerless version and the Undersea Garden Cowl has instructions for two different weights of yarn. There is also the “collection” approach, seen in the four items–hat, socks, mitts, and sweater–all using wrought iron inspired motif.
The last sounds the most obvious: by providing explicit instructions in a wide range of sizes.
This sounds simple, but it is actually quite difficult to execute one design, especially a complex one, in a large size range. To make the design look the same on different proportions, you often have to design 2 or 3 sub-patterns. Details such as sleeves, neck lines, motif beginnings, endings and edges, etc, often need unique instructions for each size or group of sizes. In the case of the Wrought Iron Cardigan, there are 29 charts–charts for different sizes of the back neck, the shoulders, etc, so you can be sure that each finished object will have the same graceful look, nothing fudged.
This is not your average plug in a stitch pattern from a dictionary type of design.
Why, is this not more common, you may wonder? There are several reasons, but a big one is the cost of printing. That kind of design takes space, space costs money, and traditional publishers who don’t really get knitting or craft rarely are willing to risk investing so much in just one design.
This is why I’m so glad that Stephannie was able to pair up with Cooperative Press. They are all about letting designers do what they think a certain design needs – and if it needs 29 charts to be right, 29 charts it will be. This is especially true if it will make a pattern available to knitters of all sizes. They have faith that if they let the designer fully realize a clear, distinctive, vision, it will make their books compelling enough for knitters to buy and enjoy.
The amount of freedom given to the designer means that flipping through this particular book is like hanging out in Stephannie’s house for an afternoon. The styling is all California casual–the kind of clothes she lives in–pairing a beautiful knit with jeans or a casual spring jacket. I can imagine seeing every one of these pieces on people at a farmer’s market, cheese, or wine shop. The inspiration comes from the architectural style of her very own house, the pieces are the sort of thing she likes to wear.
This collection has something for everyone. Those knitters who might shy away from intermediate – advanced patterns, can be sure the final product will be worth the effort involved. Knitters who crave patterns with thoughtful detailing in design and fit will be delighted, and even those knitters who rarely knit from patterns will find plenty of inspiration.
All in all I learned a lot from paging through the book and chatting with Stephannie. As another designer who likes complex, beautiful detailing, I hope that the number of knitters willing to tackle it is growing, and that they will find and enjoy this book.
Let me know which type of “option” you use the most of: the variation, the collection, or the extensive and detailed sizing.
The book is available as hardcopy+digital copy, or digital-only at Cooperative Press.
Next stop on the blog tour is on May 21st with Donna Druchunas at Sheep to Shawl.
Required Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book for review. This blog post represents my honest opinion; I was not paid for a positive review nor did I promise one in advance.