Hello! I’m Becky Herrick and I’m an independent knitwear designer. I live in Vermont on the western slopes of the Green Mountains (where we get the MOST snow). One of my favorite things about living in Vermont is that at least once in August it’ll be cold enough to put on a sweater. I have patterns published with online magazines such as Twist Collective, Knitty, and Tangled. I also have patterns available on my blog. Today I’d like to share some details about how my newest design, the Root Cellar vest, came to be.
I’ve heard this from other designers, and it holds true for me as well: I find inspiration for my designs from the world around me – and that means ideas can strike at any time. This one came to me in the kitchen. I have a dark cupboard where the onions, potatoes, yams, garlic, and other dark loving veggies all live. It’s similar to an old fashioned root cellar, although smaller and not as cold. Someday I want a real root cellar, but in the mean time this is sufficient.
I was making dinner when the idea arrived – a winter vest that warms the core just as a hearty casserole might. I knew some of the details right away: The vest needed to be textured with garter stitch and done up in warm, earthy tones. It would use two colors of yarn, and I knew they would be the varied shades of Plymouth Mushishi.
While that’s a good start, it certainly isn’t a fully formed design. I let it stew (food pun intended!) for a while. This is the part where I ask myself things like: How do the colors play together? Where are the stripes? What weight of yarn, and fiber blend, will give the texture and fabric structure I’m picturing? Is the construction pieced or seamless? Once I have some answers, I begin sketching:
I didn’t want the whole thing worked in garter because I find too many garter ridges overwhelming on adult garments. So I decided to work just the trim in garter stitch. I knew I wanted the two colors to subtly play off each other so I decided to stripe them together in the garter ridges. In order to highlight the gentle waist shaping (and to use up more of the CC yarn) I added some stripes at the waist. To mimic the subtle stripes in the garter I used slipped stitches in the waist stripes so the two colors would intermingle. The CC yarn is used in the shoulders to balance the top and bottom of the garment. Finally, I knew the horizontal stripes of color and garter could be less then flattering so I decided to work the button band/collar afterwards to add some vertical lines to the piece. The trickiest bit of construction was how to add the vertical garter band to the body of the garment so it would match the hem. Rather then trying to knit a truly mitered corner I thought it’d be clever to mimic one. This is done by working decreases on both edges while knitting the hem, and then picking up stitches at the edge of each row while knitting the button band. You can see the angle here while the body is in progress:
and how the button band is worked up along that edge so the stripes flow together:
It’s unusual that I knew which colors I wanted in advance. Unusual and unfortunate, because when I got to my LYS it turns out they had the browns and reds I wanted, but no earthy oranges. I was pondering a solution when one of the fabulous LYS employees suggested using two different brands of yarn. Malabrigo had just the orange I needed for my CC. If you’re having trouble finding these two brands of yarn my LYS Kaleidoscope Yarns has them available online!
Once I had yarn and needles in hand I still can’t just dive in. I always write up my pattern based on a gauge swatch. That way I can knit to the pattern and record any changes I need to make right on the printed page. Even then it’s not always smooth sailing. I had to rip and re-knit the first arm trim three times to get it looking just right!
The final steps are always the most fun for me. I love to see how the idea pulls together into a polished pattern. For this vest I wanted earthy, rustic photos. I enlisted the help of my friend Calley over at Fat Toad Farm. She provided the setting, and the goats! The problem with goats is they have too much personality to play along nicely – they needed some herding.
Lastly (and most importantly!) the pattern heads off to a technical editor. Stephannie Tallent reviewed all my math, checked my sizes, my grammar, everything. A tech editor makes sure all the proverbial t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted before a pattern goes live.
Once everything is finalized the pattern goes live! The best part is watching knitters take my ideas and run with them, making the idea their own with their own photos, color changes, special buttons, and whatever other inspired ideas you can dream up!
The Root Cellar vest pattern is available in 9 sizes from 29 to 62 inches. You can favorite and queue it on Ravelry. You can buy it there, or on my blog where you can find more pattern details. I’m also giving away one free copy to a reader of Knit Purl Gurl! Below are the details on how to enter.
- Giveaway will run from Feb. 2, 2011 - Feb. 15, 2011. ONE winner will be selected via random number generator and announced on Feb. 16, 2011.
- Entrants must be 18 yrs or older and provide an email address. Email addresses will not be used for solicitation purposes.
- ONE winner will win a PDF copy of Becky's The Root Cellar vest pattern.
- Tell us who you'd knit The Root Cellar Vest for!
Additional Optional Entries: (Please leave a separate comment for each additional entry. You may pick and choose which additional entries, if any, you'd like to participate in. But you MUST complete the REQUIRED entry first.)
- Visit Becky's Ravelry Designer Page and come back and tell us which pattern of hers you'd be interested in knitting for an additional entry!
- Stop by Becky's blog and leave a comment on her post about The Root Cellar Vest. Come back and let us know that you left a comment for an additional entry!
- Follow Becky on Twitter! Come back and let us know that you are following Becky for an additional entry!
- "Like" Becky's Facebook Fan Page! Come back and let us know for an additional entry!
- Tweet about it! Tweet about the giveaway w/ a link to this post in your tweet. Come back and leave the link to your tweet for an additional entry! You may tweet about it many times as you like and each tweet may be counted as an additional entry (as long as there is a link for each tweet!).
- Follow me on Twitter! Come back and let me know that you are a Twitter follower for an additional entry!
- Blog about it! Write a blog post with a link to this post included in your post. Come back and leave 5 separate comments for 5 additional entries!!! (Leave the link to your blog post in comment #1)
- Follow my blog. Leave me a comment to let me know that you follow the KnitPurlGurl Blog for an additional entry!