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One of the things I really love doing is designing around a theme.

California Revival Knits (CRK), my first book, was built around the theme of Californian Spanish Revival architecture. The Wild West e-book collection was inspired by, as the tagline says, the flora, fauna, and geology of Arizona. Hitch, of course, focuses on designs inspired by the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

 

I only choose themes that really grab me.  I’m not an expert in any of those topics, but I do have a decided interest — and, honestly, a love for — each.  But it’s not enough for me just to have a love for a topic — the theme has to evoke certain colorways, shapes, or something that I feel I can interpret (however loosely) in a knitted design.

Choosing the colorways that fit the theme, or are evoked by the theme, is one of my favorite parts of working with a theme.

For CRK, I chose colors that you can find in the brightly colored deco tiles so ubiquitous in everything from fountains to kitchen and bathroom tiles. Earthy to bright reds, deep blues, vibrant turquoise, and creams formed the backbone. Here’s a link to part of the book proposal PDF (check out the old logo!), and one page excerpted below:

Hitch required drama: black (including deep grays) and cream, with splashes of (blood) red. Only one sweater (the Cypress Point cardi) is an outlier, and that’s because unfortunately the dye lot of the yarn we received was more yellow than the described and anticipated cream. Stuff happens.

Here’s the initial proposal for Hitch, showing the planned colorways:

I got to play with lots of dusky, earthy colors with the Wild West series, with splashes of turquoise (yes, turquoise is a favorite of mine!). Unfortunately I deleted the promo stuff for the Wild West series, so I don’t have a document like those above to share.

As you can see from the proposals and links above, I do also use the themes as inspiration for shapes and motifs. The Wrought patterns from CRK exemplify this. It’s not just me who does this ; Elizabeth Green’s San Juan Bautista Shawl is another fabulous example. Compare it to the Saul Bass Vertigo poster in the Hitch proposal.

Although I often choose yarn companies based on the fact I’m trying to promote other small to medium businesses, yarn selection is also impacted by the theme.

For the upcoming Winery Knits collection I wanted yarns that were subtle and earthy. I chose yarns from Elemental Affects, Sunday Knits, Shalimar, Sincere Sheep, and Harrisville, focusing on solid but heathery yarns in creams, browns, and sky blues.

Let me know in the comments if you enjoy themed collections; and if so, what do you like best about them?

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It’s time for a sample sale!

Cinnamon Bay is $25 plus shipping. Emily is $40 plus shipping. US/APO shipping only, thanks! Please email me if you’re interested in any of these!

If the pattern is available in my Ravelry store here (sorry, not all patterns are available), I’ll gift you a copy of the PDF pattern as well via Ravelry if you’d like 🙂

ETA: I’ve removed the sold items. If it’s here, it’s available!

Cinnamon Bay, Size XL. Front view.

Emily, size XS

 

 

 

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For me, choosing pattern names is up there with writing romance copy! It’s not easy, especially when you think you have an awesome name, you do a Rav search, and then it turns out 20 other patterns are named the same thing. I was very happy to find Beneath the Moon (above) was not already chosen!

A good pattern name is (not necessarily in order of importance):

  1. Easy to spell (I often sacrifice this….Euphilotes, anyone?)
  2. Catchy / memorable
  3. Not already used (or at least not used a lot, or for that particular pattern category)
  4. Tied in to your brand in some way
  5. Ties into the design in some way (inspiration, stitch pattern, theme, etc)

I think it can be really hard to hit all five of those. I think #4 is most critical — and I wish I’d considered it sooner. Someone who is great at having names that directly relate to their brand is Thea Colman of Baby Cocktails.

 

I’ll admit, when I started designing, I was choosing pattern names somewhat randomly. My first pattern was Dave Finally Gets His, with our cat Obi, above, a worsted weight house sock pattern with a fun cabled gusset — named thus because my husband Dave finally got gifted his own house socks (after watching me give away pairs to other family members).

I did, early on, start using some Cole Porter song titles: Don’t Fence Me In (still one of my favorite fingerless mitt patterns!), Sw’Elegant, and De-Lovely; and a couple Beatles references (All You Need Is… Mitts, Wanna Hold Your Hands).

I also started using California place names (Abalone Cove, Malaga Cove, Pt Reyes).

When I wrote California Revival Knits, all the pattern names chosen referred to architectural feature. Patterns from the Wild West books were all, as the subtitle suggested, named after “the Flora, Fauna, Geology & History” of Arizona. (I’ll be talking about themes, and collections, in another blog post!)

In the last year or so I’ve started naming single release patterns more systematically.

Patterns with Lorna’s Laces / Mrs Crosby yarns, starting with Isn’t It Romantic?, are name after Cole Porter songs. Amanda of Lorna’s Laces had requested a music themed name to go with the String Quintet mini skeins bundles used for Isn’t It Romantic?.  I love the cleverness and prettiness of so many Cole Porter songs, and I hope that those qualities are also evoked by those particular patterns.

Knit Picks patterns, sort of starting with Flidais (well, with a couple exceptions) have Celtic or Irish names. (Caridwen, initially done as a Craftsy kit, also has a Celtic name.)

General self published patterns have either California place names, flora or fauna names (often Latin), or oceanic or beach feature names (Estuarine, Cayucos, Alongshore). I really want to keep my self published pattern names tied to California, and the things I love here.

What sort of names do you like? Do you pay much attention to pattern names?

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Romance copy is that section of the pattern — usually on the first page of the pattern, or at the top of the pattern notes on the pattern description in Ravelry — that’s meant to engage you, the knitter.

It’s supposed to intrigue or inspire you. It tells you about the inspiration behind the pattern, or tries to tell a story about the design. It often ties in with the name of the pattern.

It’s a challenge for, it seems, many designers (per many posts in the Ravelry designer group: scroll down to Hunter’s post 5524 and go forward from there). I usually save it for last.

Things I include in the romance section (usually not all of these in every pattern):

  1. Inspiration
  2. Background of the pattern name
  3. Design features (can include stitch pattern sources)
  4. Benefits to you as the knitter, or what you’ll learn

It’s much easier when I’m designing something for one of my themed collections. It’s next to impossible when the pattern is based on stitch patterns that I just really liked!

Here’s the romance for my Artemisia Cowl:

The genus Artemisia includes California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica) and a whole host of cultivars. It smells fantastic in the garden, though can get a bit unkempt. Its foliage has a soft, lacy appearance.

The Artemisia Cowl includes one of the my favorite Aran Lace cables (#28 from Annie Maloney’s book, Aran Lace), flanking the larger panel that I’ve used either directly in Sedona or as a variation in Jackalope.

I chose these panels not only for aesthetics but because they allow the knitter to gain practice in two of the main Aran Lace techniques: paired yarnovers and decreases to outline the path of the cable, and yarnovers and decreases within the cable itself.

 

Sand Ripples is a bit more terse, just focusing on the design details.

This shawl features a lovely bi-colored cable pattern, complementary lace edging, and short-rowed garter stitch body. The edging, worked as a combination of stranding (for the cables) and intarsia (for the lace), is worked first. Stitches are picked up along the edge for the short-rowed body.

Do you, as a knitter, pay attention to the romance copy? Let me know in the comments!

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