My knitting design philosophy is born out of sheer laziness. I love to swatch, but if the stitch pattern is too fussy, then I drop it. (Purl 3 tog through the back loop? Nah.) Many of the designs I do are for the average knitters I help at clinic. (The Yarnery has a knitting clinic 3 times per week, and sometimes I am the clinician. No lab coats, don’t worry.) These folks don’t want fussy. Those knitters who do, those who love working complicated patterns, don’t need me. There are plenty of beautiful complex designs out there. I’m sure you know where to find them.
I like to say that I am capable of working complex knitting, but I choose not to. I hope that is still true. Maybe there will be a time in my life when I do knit complex items, but that time surely isn’t now. This also seems to be the case for many other knitters out there. I spent time recently with a knitting buddy who has made some of the most intricate Alice Starmore cabled designs. She has done lots of lace and dazzling fair isle.
What was she working on? A log cabin blanket for her new and first granddaughter. She told me it is just as satisfying to her these days as making those gorgeous sweaters. She loves playing with color and the log cabin provides that satisfaction. She can put it down and pick it up without worrying where she is. It looks good. She is happy.
Also, many complex knitted items, sadly, are really of interest only to the knitter. (See Franklin’s amusing video.) Ask your family or friends what they would like you to knit for them, assuming they want anything. My husband wants plain black socks. (And the occasional Norwegian sweater, of course.) My goddaughter wanted a simple grey cardigan. Really, there is no shame in knitting easy or simple things. It is your knitting, after all. Simple doesn’t have to mean unattractive!
So when I set out to design (on request) a long cowl that could be doubled around the neck, in bulky yarn, I swatched with Misti Alpaca Chunky for hours.
I wanted it to look good both horizontally and vertically. I wanted it to be a quick knit, simple and repetitive. What is better than a knitting pattern that repeats itself for a few rows, then staggers over a few stitches and repeats again? Add a few rounds of simple stockinette and you have the sort of mindless knitting I love. I only needed to pay attention on the row where the pattern shifted over, then it was knit the knits and purl the purls. Even my husband commented on how much he liked the stitch pattern. But the color? “Looks like it can’t make up its mind what it wants to be.” Tough, I like it.
Naming patterns is often a problem to me. How many ‘cozy cowl’ patterns must there be? We have been discussing stair construction quite a bit here chez remodel madness, and this pattern reminded me of treads and risers. ‘Treads and Risers’ sounds like a board game that you play with 5 year olds until you get cranky and start cheating to make it be over sooner. (I confess to having stacked the deck with Queen Frostine on more than one occasion.) Risers seems a more pleasant name, so there you have it. Risers is knit in the round, no seaming and a very quick knit. (Thanks to Sarah as always for the photos.) If you like to purchase simple patterns this is available on Ravelry, at the Yarnery, and coming soon to a LYS via Yarncraft. If not, go check out the measurements on Ravelry and swatch for yourself. I wanted the cowl to use only two skeins of this luxury yarn, because $30 for a big cowl seems doable, but $45 is a bit over the top. If you have lots of yarn and want it wider, you could choose to do a few more repeats. Or, do a shorter version with one skein.