Sep 11, 2014

Meet the Minnow Top from Graphic Knits

Minnow was the very first pattern I wrote for my book, Graphic Knits.

The simple act of beginning the book was an incredibly daunting thing. It was September 2012, and I had just finished my Winsome Knits collection for Knit Picks. I had about 11 months to produce 20 more new patterns and the corresponding samples. I was basically freaking out.

The proposal process was stressful, but Interweave's wonderful acquisitions editor, Allison Korleski guided me through every step. After my proposal was accepted and I signed my contract, it took an excruciating 5 weeks before Interweave assigned an editor to my book.

Based on my experience with Allison, I had a lot of assumptions about my editor's roll in the book. I assumed that once I had an editor she would become very involved; this was my very first book, after all. I'm not sure why, but I thought a close author/editor relationship was essential. I thought I needed my editor's permission to start the Work. Every passing day was excruciating because I knew my deadline was already next to impossible. All I wanted to do was BEGIN. It soon became clear I was going to have to figure it out on my own.

My book proposal contained about 30 designs and I figured I could choose anything I wanted for the required 20. Looking it over, I divided my designs into a list of "definitely's and maybe's." The next step was ordering yarn. I had zero contacts in the yarn biz, but I did have a favorite yarn company, Blue Sky Alpacas. I decided to start there.

About a year prior, one of my design proposals made it into Ann Budd's book, Scarf Style 2. When Ann ordered my yarn, she CC'd me on the email she sent to the yarn company. I remember thinking how casually she asked for free yarn, kind of like "Hey Mr. Yarn-Guy, we haven't met but please send a bunch of free yarn to this unknown designer. Kthxbye." I thought, wow! What confidence! I could be like that.

So with this in mind, I visited Blue Sky Alpacas' website and filled out the "contact" form to introduce myself and to ask for yarn support. They responded quickly and I felt empowered. Soon, boxes and boxes of yarn were arriving on my doorstep, and I began working away on my very first pattern, Minnow.

I chose to begin with Minnow partially because I thought it wouldn't give me much trouble design-wise, and partially because I just could not wait to dig into that delicious Blue Sky Alpacas Metalico yarn. The name Minnow was inspired by the beautiful texture of the yarn. It's called Metalico, but it really has more of a pearly glow than a hard metallic shine. It's silvery luster reminded me of the little minnow fish. It made me think of the giant minnow tanks inside the gas stations near my childhood home in Oklahoma. In that area, the gas stations all carried fishing bait because they were near a lake. I would peer into the dark swirling minnow tanks to kill time while my parents chatted up the shopkeepers.

The design for Minnow was actually inspired by another one of my patterns, the Westfalia Scarf, which I had just completed for Winsome Knits. If you look at that design, you'll notice that the eyelet motif is very similar.

For some reason, certain stitch patterns are just more entertaining and relaxing to knit than others, and this is one of those stitch patterns. The stitch seemed kind of like an old friend that I was very glad to see again.

Every time I look at Minnow, I think about the all fun I had knitting it, but also all the emotion tied up in that period of time. It's funny how knits can do that. We spend so much time with our projects in our hands that they each become woven into life's experiences.

I hope you'll pick up a copy of the book and create your own memories! For more info, check out the pattern page here.


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