Who’s in for some spring feeling? Combine it with joyful colours and a sprinkle of quick results, et voilà : The Cotton Candy Top is born!
The top is designed with lots of ease, all the way from the lower waist up to the chest, making for enough space for all these COVID-pounds … (I don’t know about you, but NONE of my usual summer outfits fit me right now!). But initially, the ease was not designed for these nasty love handles that came along last year, but to make it light and breezy when the sun is at its highest point.
A few years ago, some sort of baby boom hit my “office family”, with an average of 2 babies brought into the world every year from my female colleagues. When the first one was about to be due, I found myself in Denmark on holidays, walking on the beach with the kids, when I suddenly thought to myself: Well, this time, I’m going to do something special! I won’t simply buy something from the wishlist for the new baby, but make something specially for the baby itself. That day on the beach of Ebeltoft, what would become a neverending series of baby blankets was born. Little did I know that once I’d started this “tradition”, I’d have to make an average of two blankets a year. And let me tell you, blankets take a loooong time to make!
I had made one many years ago for one of my friends, a chevron blanket that afterwards was passed on among my friends until it was worn threadbare. Which is, in my opinion, the best thing that can happen. Knowing that you’ve made a present that is useful and brings joy, is the best feeling you can get. And since usually, when people have their first child, family and friends are only too keen to buy everything that’s on the list of the soon-to-be-parents, I guess that if you have certain crafting talents, you should definitely put them to good use and make something special!
Which is my new basic rule: If you can think of a handmade present that will give more joy than anything you can think of buying, just so you have a present for a certain occasion, then make it yourself!
So for little Jacob, I went with the Chevron Baby blanket from Purl soho, one of my go-to patterns which I absolutely adore. I used a double strand of a simple, machine washable cotton blend, and since I was on holidays, knitting it up was a breeze. Soon after, the next baby was due, little Julie… so I quickly whipped up another one. But by now, the chevron pattern was getting a bit boring, and also, I almost had a bad conscience at not doing something personal for little Julie. (By the way, Julie is quite happy with her blanket and finds it very comforting to stick her fingers between the knits and purls …)
Luckily, there were a few months until the next baby was due, so I could actually start sitting down and thinking a bit about making a dedicated pattern this time around. I fiddled around with rainbow patterns (but let me tell you, trying to transpose a rainbow onto a blanket is NOT an easy task – to make it short, I failed!). The end result of a lot of trial and errors was the Victoria blanket, an intarsia pattern with diamonds in rainbow colours.
Who is afraid of intarsia?
Since I had put so much work into drafting the Victoria Baby blanket, I guessed I could just as well put it online for others to use. And altough I thought that the intarsia part of it would put most knitters off the task, it has been downloaded more than 5.000 times in less than a year! Which means, there are a lot of really crazy knitters out there ready to take up the challenge!
Soon after that one was done, you’ll guess it, another baby was about to pop out, little Zoe. And since I’d started this crazy tradition, off I went for another blanket.
And since I am the kind of gal that quickly looses interest in doing the same thing more than once, I knew I had to come up with something a little different to make it work in time and still be satisfied with the result.
On the other hand, the rainbow theme is one that I really really like as you can see … there’s just something about these gorgeous colours that makes my heart skip a beat and think of sunshine, spring, and all good things wrapped up in one simple blanket. Also, I feel that as new parents, you need something to brighten up your daily life when sleep and me-time are a distant memory and will be for a long time to come (experience talking here, since I myself did not have the pleasure of producing any babies that slept throught their nights…).
The Zoe blanket : hearts and rainbow all in one
Keeping with the Baby cashmerino yarn, which is just the right kind of soft you want for a newborn AND is still machine washable (!), I started testing and trying out a few design ideas, and stuck with the heart theme. It took a while to get the curves just right, and the perfect spacing between them in both directions, but the result was definitely worth the sweat!
The finished blanket measures 90 x 100 (35.5 x 40″) and is composed of 7 rows of hearts, and a seed stitch edging.
Ready to take up the crazy intarsia challenge once again? I’d love to see your progress! Share your work using the hashtag #zoeblanket !
Download your free copy of the Zoe Blanket in English, French, German or Danish and subscribe to my newsletter if you want to be the first to know when a new Baby blanket – or other pattern – is out! (spoiler alert : there is another one in the making… I told you: baby boom in the office family…)
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Note: I’m delighted to be offering this pattern for free to knitters all over the world. If you enjoyed the pattern and would like to support me anyway, you can always buy me a coffee 😉
How much can you actually ask customers to pay for your creative work?
Ever since I launched my website about a year ago, I’ve been struggling with this endless questionning of “How much should I ask people to pay for a knitting pattern?” I searched around the web for guidelines, then compared the pricing schemes of all the knitting wizards that I admire and ended up with some idea of a price.
Then, as bills started coming in for website hosting and fees, translations, techediting and of course, yarn(!), I started getting quite nervous that this was really a deep rabbithole I was getting myself into. Quite a financially bottomless rabbithole.
So I increased the price a tiny little bit. Then I thought : What if this is just too much of a price to ask for someone who is as new and fresh in the business? Maybe the price is what keeps knitters from buying my patterns? Who am I to ask the same price as someone who has been doing this for years? And what about those that really like my patterns but already have a hard time paying for quality yarn? And so, off I went and I lowered the price again.
I imagine you start getting the picture… setting a price on creative work such as pattern writing is really a tough nut to crack. Noone (apart from designers of course) can imagine how many hours go into crafting the simplest of patterns. And when you think you’re done, you send it off to the techeditor, who luckily finds all the tiny errors, and you spend another entire work week on the editing. Then the testknitting process, which can be a great experience, especially when I get to meet (virtually) knitters from all over the world, but also, a little bit complicated to manage next to a day-time job (which luckily pays for this crazy project in the first place).
I’ve had the price stable for some time now, but always with a small knot in my stomach, because I know that only a few years ago, I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my savings on a pattern, but would do anything to try and find something more or less likeable through a free pattern. Websites such as Drops Design have made my knitting journey possible in the first place and most of the garments I made for my kids when they were small, were all done thanks to their free patterns.
Pay what works
A few months ago, I came across a wonderful Designer on Ravelry, AhoraKnits. She is a Franco-Maori, American-Australian knitwear designer and coach who previously lived in Osaka (Japan) and now in Texas. I came across her pricing scheme called “Pay What Works” and instantly thought “This is it!” I asked her if she was ok with me doing something similar for my patterns – which are not quite as gorgeous as hers I might add – and she immediately agreed.
Along came Covid-19 and months passed where everything was turned upside down… and up to this day, I had quite forgotten about this little project of mine, until my social media started overflowing with Black Friday promotions this week. I’m usually not that sensitive to these commercial techniques, but this year, it simply felt quite off and in a way: wrong. In a context where I’m very much aware that we are among the lucky ones, the ones that have a safe job, that have health insurance, who don’t have to struggle to get to the end of the month as so many people have to at this moment, it all feels a little bit like a very bad joke.
So I thought : Now is the right time to do things right and make my little contribution to making knitting more accessible to everyone. Knitting can be your dowtime at the end of the day. It can be your therapy session, where you’re just sitting with your own thoughts and go through the issues of the day. It can be that moment of the week where you meet other knitters (virtually or in real) and enjoy a really nice time, and make new acquaintances. Knitting connects people all over the world, and it can help make your day just a tiny little bit better.
Which is why I think it should be accessible for everyone, no matter their financial situation and wherever they’re at in their lives right now. And if you can maybe save a little bit on a pattern you’ll be able to buy that yarn that you really like (and not the one that was on sale and isn’t exactly your style, but hey, it was marked down).
So how does it work?
It’s simple. You have three options :
You purchase the pattern at the given price. Nothing else to do. You pay the normal pattern price of 7.50 €
You use coupon Code LILLELARSEN5 at checkout and pay the price of 5 €.
You use coupon Code LILLELARSEN3 at checkout and pay the price of 3 €.
If there’s one thing this weird year has taught me, it’s that you always, and I mean ALWAYS, need some peaceful and easy knitting project close by. Be it to work on while homeschooling your kids and help you keep your zenitude, or just to wind down in the evening after another exhausting and chaotic day. And more than ever, knitting proves itself, at least in my opinion, to be one of the most therapeutic crafts on earth. Really.
And what better way to feel you actually got something done in the day than knitting with big needles? It’s the most satisfactory feeling because you really see the shawl grow day by day in your hands and before you know you’re already done!
This pattern is super easy, and can be made with just one colour, or you can play around with different shades the way I did, by adding stripes or other motives. You can use the pattern as a basic guideline for any shawl.
Tips and tricks
The shawl is basically just knit in stockinette stitch back and forth, with increases on every right side, two stitches from the borders. To make a nice pointy edge, you start with casting on one stitch, then knit into front, back and front (k1fbf) again of that same stitch. Et voilà, you’ve got 3 stitches and a nice and neat point to your shawl. If the k1fbf worries you, have a look at this tutorial to see how it works.
Ready for another shawl and some knittingtherapy? Grab the free pattern and have a go!
I finally made it! My very first knitting pattern is online and what a loooong road it has been…
Ok, so I guess I started into this project, as usual, slightly overoptimistic without a clue as to how many mountains I’d have to surmount to get it done. First, there was the actual pattern writing, then the search for test knitters, the editing phase and now that it’s all done… I find it hard to believe that it took me about 6 months to go through the steps!
But here we are, and with the help of superkind and superefficient knitting design editor Maggie from Midnight Purl, as well as a few kind spirits that helped me in the translations, the pattern is now available on my Ravelry site in English, Danish, German and French.
It is knit top down in worsted yarn, which makes it actually quite a quick knit. Once you’ve made it through the raglan increases, it’s a breeze and a perfect TVknit, which is always a winner for me. My first knit in the picture above is made with baby alpacca wool from Juniper Moon, and my second try was made with Malou light from Lang Yarns, which was also super nice and soft to knit, so I’d definitely recommend both.
You might know this phrase, which I heard for the first time a year or so ago, while listening to one of the many audiobooks in my list, destined to make me a more organized, a happier me.
The answer to the question? One bite at a time.
This thought has been with me now for a few months, since I first started really diving into the project of writing my own knitting patterns. I’ve been a knitter for all my life, learned to knit when I was probably about 8, knit my first sweater shortly after, and my first really challenging norwegian patterned sweater a few years later. There have been on and off periods in life, where, just as with reading or anything else that isn’t absolutely necessary for you to get through the day.
As your children grow older, as your get more settled in your job, and as your life seems to gain some sort of semblance of control, you also get a little wiser. Or maybe, just get actually the time to sit down, have a coffee, and let your thoughts wander. (We’re talking about a 10-minute time frame here, don’t think I’ve got more than that before anyone comes jumping into the scene with some crucial question or need, or before having to drive someone somewhere, check up on homework, get on with laundry, … )
You start thinking more about the “what’s next?” And that is a really good thing, at least, if you allow your mind to wander.
What my wandering mind told me, or made me realise, was that the things that make me really happy are crazy huge projects, making up patterns, putting some fixed idea that popped up during the night down on paper, scribbling, writing, and getting all pumped up about the idea of what the imagined sweater or accessory might look like. And the thing is, just as with writing, reading, listening to music, or any other creative activity, once you start, you just can’t stop. You set off an avalanche of more ideas, more projects.
For all these years, I’ve been shoving these ideas back in place, because there really just wasn’t any time or energy for it, and what the hell would I do next? I wasn’t a wonder-knitter, I didn’t know all the world’s patterns and techniques, I was just me. And this is where the elephant comes into play.
So I decided to go with the gut feeling, and to start doing one of the things I love, knitting, creating, imaging, being a bit crazy and illusory, and in the end, enjoying myself tremendously in the process. Setting up this place here is one of the tiny bites to get that elephant down. Having one dedicated notebook with my first pattern and test knitting it with real, good quality wool is another bite. Then doing the whole thing again, the third bite.
Will I manage to eat the entire elephant? No clue. Does it matter? Probably not. Am I having fun? Oh yes!
So, please join me on my very slow and steady snail-paced journey, who knows, maybe you’ll discover a little something for yourself.