Design Process, Life

Initiate Knit Design Workshop!

Over the past 11 days, I’ve been working on a project for the Initiate Knit Design workshop run by Aroha Knits. Even though I have already published a few of my own patterns, I decided to sign up for this workshop (it’s free!) to see what more I could learn and to push me outside of my comfort zone a little bit. I’d been tossing an idea around in my head for a while, to design a cable pattern that looked like a climbing knot. I learned to rock climb as a child, and one of my favorite parts was practicing tying the retrace eight and stopper knots so much that I could soon tie them blindfolded (I don’t recommend rock climbing blindfolded though).

A retrace eight and stopper knot I tied with some paracord.

The first part of the workshop is about sparking your creativity. This step was no problem for me, as I have a wealth of ideas and I already knew which one I wanted to work on for this workshop. The real fun started in step three, where we had to swatch. It was during this step that I realized making a cable pattern out of a retrace eight and stopper was too complicated, and I wanted this to be a fairly simple and accessible cable. So I decided to just do a simple figure eight, which looks like this:

A much simpler knot, the figure eight is the basis for the retrace eight.

When I first learned to tie these knots I used a length of bright orange nylon cord, and so I wanted to use a yarn that reminded me of that rope. I had a ball of orange Berroco Remix in my stash, but Remix is a cotton/silk/linen/nylon/acrylic blend and very drapey, so not well-suited for cables (I love this yarn for drapey summer cardigans though!). Luckily I was in the process of moving and was going through all my yarn, and I found a ball of Heaven’s Hand Wool Classic in a similar orangey-coral color. This yarn is sadly discontinued, but it’s a sturdy 100% wool worsted weight, so it would be perfect for a small, cabled cowl.

Berroco Remix in color “Clementine”. A lovely, drapey cotton/linen/silk/acrylic/nylon blend that is not ideal for cables.
Heaven’s Hand Wool Classic in color “Red”. I forgot to take a picture of the skein before I wound it, so here it is at an airport bar with a beer.










After swatching with the Wool Classic and ripping it out twice, I finally managed to make a cable I was happy with. The start of the figure eight is still a little funky, but I was very pleased with the top of the knot where I grafted two cables together on top of the center cable.

The third try at swatching finally yielded this figure eight cable.

After swatching, I just had to write the full pattern and knit up a sample! Now my sample is blocking and I am formatting the pattern to get it ready for publishing.

The sample cowl is blocking and waiting to be seamed & worn!

I really enjoyed this workshop, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to start designing or even for beginning designers who still have a lot to learn (like me!). It really helped push me to take on a challenge like this cable. The community involved in the project is so supportive and kind, and Frenchie is so knowledgeable and engaging. I learned a lot about making my patterns understandable and accessible to knitters of all skill levels, and I think my designs will benefit from an Aroha Knits inspired revamp of my formatting (more on that in the coming weeks!) If you are thinking about starting to design knitwear, I highly recommend taking Frenchie’s workshop next time it is offered!


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