Our summers are generally filled with family visits, jaunts with friends, and lots of travelling. Fun as all this is, it can also be a bit tricky. Our routines go out the window and we rarely get our own space, and all of this can make work pretty difficult; this summer has been particularly testing since selling Barp has left us stuck without wheels for longer than we'd like. Pattern writing requires a fair bit of head space and when you're all sleeping in the same small caravan or when you're all hanging out with family and friends together this aspect of work naturally tends to get pushed aside. 

Designing on the fly can be easier than pattern writing; making a few notes here and there, ripping out yarns and playing with stitches, can all be done in stolen moments. This is one thing I love about Hats; they are just so portable. If the pattern doesn't require complex shaping, all the better. The downside of this is that the pile of patterns waiting to be written and finished grows, and it does tend to niggle me.

One such design is this little Hat, destined for Playful Woolly Toppers:

 

 

(another downside of all this travelling is that my bestest camera isn't always at hand; please excuse the not so great phone camera photography)

This is a Hat without a name; it's not written yet, or modelled. But it does have a chart and lots of notes. The chart itself wasn't too challenging - it is circles after all and I *love* circles, so that came together pretty well. A few swatches sorted out the Brim to Body gauge ratio, and the shape itself was pretty straightforward too. In itself, it was perfect travel knitting.

I cast on just before I left for my trip to Dublin, to teach my Hat Design Workshop at This Is Knit (and if you ever get the chance to visit them, do; they're an amazing and friendly bunch) As I sat at Stansted Airport, something struck me. And being away from my books and resources, I felt a bit stumped.

 

 

As you can see, the circle pattern is offset - those little circles nestle into each other - and as I proceeded to the 2nd row of circles, the colour jog kicked in. And I hated it. I tried all of my usual tricks but really felt afloat with this one; nothing was working.

With my limited internet connectivity (data roaming - ouch!) I Googled how this had been dealt with by others, because surely, there would be a way to manage it. And I found very little, mostly suggestions for stripes or when it came to stranded work, the most common suggestion was to simply ignore it. I then messaged Ann Kingstone, because surely she would have an idea? Without seeing the work, she suggested columns of single colours to allow for shaping and starts of rounds to be neatly hidden, which is an excellent idea if the design permits it, but with this one that wasn't an option.

And then the lightbulb moment came. And it's kinda funny, really, how being away from your usual knitterly environment and resources can affect your flow and thinking, because the solution did feel like it took a long time coming!

The solution was to move the marker. 

I've designed a whole range of patterns that have moving stitch markers. Some move forwards, some move backwards, and mostly it's a method used with heavily textured stitch patterns to keep the pattern coninuity. The marker is normally moved every or every other round, and normally only by a stitch or two.

For this colourwork pattern, moving it every round wasn't necessary. Infact, it only needed to be move at the start of the next block of pattern, or where the jog would appear, which in this case is at the start of the next row of circles. It needed to be moved forward, not back, (i.e. remove marker, slip X no. of sts, replace marker) and it needed to be done by half the amount of stitches of the pattern repeat for it to be truly offset. Because this is stranded work, the strand created by moving the stitches forward is comfortably lost amongst all the other strands, and the pattern simply started again at the right point.

 

 

I'm not sure it's all that clear in this photo, but there isn't a hint to be seen that the marker has moved. Sometimes you get a noticeable line develop in the pattern with travelling stitch markers, and that's normally due to extra stitches being knitted (i.e the first stitch or two of the round is knitted before replacing the marker) or the marker moving backwards (which causes less stitches to be knitted at the end of the round) which in turn creates a slight unbalance in the body of the work. Slipping the stitches before moving the marker however avoids that problem altogether, and it really is a rather nifty way of creating a jogless jog in stranded colourwork.

This pattern is at the bottom of the pile for writing... I'm finishing up some commissioned work for magazines and they have deadlines... and then of course we'll be starting the Classic Woolly Toppers blog tour just before we head off for our drive to Italy! This is going to be one busy Hat season...

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead