But is it fun to knit?

P5261659.JPG This question seems to be becoming my new pattern writing + designing mantra, which is probably a very good thing for you. It's the main reason I'm currently re-working both my Cloud Bolero and Posie designs and although the situations aren't totally the same, the Cloud Bolero does exist as a pattern after all, my motivation for re-visiting these designs is the same.

When I designed the cloud bolero I was certainly less experienced in pattern writing, and I was also expecting the pattern to be edited more than it was in terms of layout and the combination of these things has accounted for most of the problems that people have encountered with the pattern. There is nothing actually wrong with the pattern, but the fact that the same issues keep coming up has been niggling at me for a while and I've been wondering what to do about it. I've turned some of my free patterns into pdfs already and I did consider just re-doing the layout so it was clearer (if you're wondering I do own the copyright although the pattern is hosted on Yarn Forward's site) but I wasn't sure that would really be enough and I had a hard time justifying spending a lot of time working on something I wasn't going to be paid for.

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The big thing that makes the cloud bolero less fun to knit than it could be is that there are so many different markers and stitch counts to keep track of and the yos keep jumping over the markers which means you really have to pay attention to avoid things getting off track. Although it sounds more complex I realised that it would totally simplify things if I incorporated the yoke increases into the feather and fan pattern. Which means that there are no markers on the yoke and every row is a simple repeat that's repeated straight across the row with no counting. That's the big difference between the Cloud Bolero pattern and this new one, which I'm calling Liesl, after Liesl in The Book Thief which I was listening to while knitting the first one. This simple change from a raglan to a round yoke is the thing that I think will make the new pattern much more fun to knit than the old one, it will also have a clearer layout and charts.

I've also added a bunch of different options so you can vary the pattern to suit your style and worked it in a variety of yarns to show the effect that choice can have. I'm totally not taking credit for the options though - take a look through the finished objects for the Cloud Bolero on Ravelry and you'll see why, thank you to everyone who made that pattern your own! The options included in the Liesl pattern will be -

two neckline depth options that can be further varied depending on how tightly you cast on - the version above has the higher neckline, the other two have the wider one

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buttonholes or not, with directions on how to work as many as you like, Amy's doing buttonholes all the way down because she feels that will flatter her shape more than the ones at the yoke I seem to be somewhat obsessed with.

picot or regular bind off

cap sleeves bound off when you join the body stitches or sleeves as long as you like

the body length which is really just a case of continuing until you have the length you like / you run out of yarn

The pattern will be for sale and I totally understand that some people will prefer to use the cloud bolero pattern which will remain free, but I think that the new pattern will be worth the money and I hope those of you who choose to buy it do too.

In the case of Posie I never got as far as releasing a pattern in the first place because I wasn't happy with it. I like the finished object but it wasn't that fun for me to knit and the pattern was turning into a nightmare to write, mainly because I was trying to write a clear fun to knit pattern for something that just didn't want to end up that way. The original was knit in pieces from the bottom up with some very finickey details and I knew that there had to be a way to keep the essence of the design but make it more fun to actually make.

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I also had some concerns about the yarn I used, Rowan 4ply cotton. I've become increasingly aware that the yarns I choose to use in my designs aren't simply what I happened to use, but are read by so many as recommendations and sometimes I'm not comfortable promoting something. This is one of the reasons there were also two versions of Coraline (sense a pattern developing?) and in this case I was also not happy recommending the yarn based on my concerns about its environmental impact, cotton is a very high impact crop. You may have noticed that I used a lot of Rowan yarn in my earlier designs + projects, mainly because it was the brand that included natural fibre yarns that was easily available to me, but it's this very reason - their market dominance in the UK - that's led me to decide to avoid using them in my patterns.

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So now I'm re-working Posie in a yarn I feel happier recommending to create a pattern that I think will be a lot of fun to knit. I'm certainly enjoying it so far. I love the gathers at the top of the puffy sleeves.

Wow, I didn't intend for that to become so long but I wanted to explain why I'm doing what I'm doing and give you some insight into the things I think about in relation to designing. Did anyone read it all? I'd love to know your thoughts, I feel like this has touched a lot of issues that have been floating around on blogs and ravelry recently.

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