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The Inside Loop

The Inside Loop was the British magazine featuring articles and patterns which were free to the readers. In order for them to have decent patterns, they paid fees to designers for their work. This however, had to be recouped by advertising and sadly in this economic climate, it just was not working out for them so the editors decided to close the mag.

I had one design in it which was reasonably popular; Ondine: Sleeves for a Mermaid modelled by Jennifer Gwiazdowski.

The pattern is now available via my Ravelry store and can be downloaded from there free until 31 January 2010. After January I will be selling this pattern for £2.00. I had to do this, because I needed to do more work on the pattern to reformat it and have it checked before putting it up again as it is now on my template rather than The Inside Loop. Nothing has been taken away from the original design but I have made it easier to download with the pattern on just one page and the rest of the details on the cover and back pages.

At the moment, I am beginning to feel that rather than free patterns being appreciated and attracting more business, the whole free thing is devaluing patterns. I spend quite a bit of money on my patterns not just in my labour but the modelling and photography and the testing and technical editing of patterns. I realise, that some patterns are more like personal notes but this is usually a quick process and does not guarantee accuracy. I can see how popular free patterns are by the number of downloads from my store, which is in the many thousands for the free patterns e.g. about 4,000 for a beret pattern that has been there less than a year....if only the ones for sale sold that well too!

However, I honestly don't think that the patterns which go through a professional process are heard above the noise. I will still leave the patterns that are on my store as freebies, free for the moment but if I have to take time out to update or reformat any patterns, then I will be charging for it.

Little Ravens Pattern For Sale

The pattern can now be downloaded via PayPal from here for GBP£3.00


Small (Medium, Large)

Shown here in Small (4 colour versions) and Medium (2 colour version)

To fit head size 53.5 (58, 62) cm, approx 21 (22, 24) inches


Yarns: Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyed 50% Alpaca/50% Merino 91m/100g

Only part of each 100g skein will be used i.e. approx 45 (50, 55) g of each shade

Substitute Yarns: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky, Sirdar Click any Heavy Aran or Light Chunky that knits to the same gauge.

Needles/Hooks: 1 pair of circular needles 5.5mm (or dpns)

1 crochet hook 3.5mm

Little Ravens....again

This is the naturals version. This time I went for a pompon and plaited ties and it cut down on the finishing time needed dramatically. I think that is the reason why so many Peruvian hats do have very thin plaits, far thinner than this, and also small bald pompons. it obviously cuts down on not only yarn costs but labour costs too. However, there is a demand for those cheaper types of hats...just because they are the ones being offered and so it is the choice of the knitter too (or the knitter's own kids, wanting one that does not look obviously home made or better quality...as they don't want to look different!)

The yarn is Sirdar Click chunky and when I first started working with this it felt ok....then it felt awful and looked crinkled but actually, it all seemed to work out in the end in blocking. I thought that although much cheaper, this would be my least favourite version of Little Ravens but now I have test knitted all three, this one is top of the list to wear. It is not a silky yarn and so it is not slipping and sliding but unlike a pure wool, I am not suffering from any allergy reactions.

This is the first time I have relied on some of my own test knits for versions and sizing although I am still having this tested for other accuracies. I normally get other knitters to do the test knitting and that usually greatly delays being able to get a pattern out there. I surprised myself, that once I had worked out the main pattern I could actually produce one of these quite quickly and do the colourwork by memory without the need to consult charts. Sometimes more time can be spent on giving support to test knitters than it can be doing the test yourself. So although I will still go ahead with the test knitting, I can see that after a week of organising the testing nobody has even started it yet so at least this way once tech editing is done, then pattern should be up next week some time.

Little Ravens

This is another version of the Little Ravens hat from the last post.
This time I have used only two shades in extreme contrast with each other. I really like this version but mainly because I love the charcoal smokiness of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky in grey and the cream Ravens. As I did only a little frogging, this version was made in a couple of days and seeing as I am a slow knitter, I reckon someone else could probably do it in less time. Its a perfect snow hat!

It is also the next size up Medium which is why it looks a little baggier on the head form as those heads are quite small and of course, have no hair. Medium is probably the size people will like if they want their crown loose and Small if they want it tight but obviously I will have to point out that getting correct gauge is an absolute must here.

I decided to make this with white ravens but the colours could equally be reversed.Both this version and the four shade version will be included in one pattern.

The pattern is being test knitted and then tech edited this week, so the pattern should be ready by week after next at the latest.

To show…or not to show?

Little Ravens by Erssie Major

Here is my latest project, the four shade version of an earflap hat with simple motifs in colour work. I spent a long time on this, to get the shape I wanted but also the correct style of eaflap. I didn't want just triangles stuck on the side of the head, with a gap just where the back of the ears get cold, so experimented with how deep and how wide I could go and what I could fit onto the earflap itself which is not a lot in a chunky yarn. I am really pleased with the result. It might not look anything special to you but as we are experiencing some very rough weather I can vouch for its usefulness and the size and shape is spot on.

Yes, its a plain and easy crown. I did work colourwork bands right up to the last 8 stitches, and I did include a square design that worked across the top in all segments, but actually...it kept making the hat look really fussy and did not fit at all well with the bottom part of the hat, so after a lot of knitting and reknitting....I just thought, darn it, I just want an earflap hat I can wear now when its snowing so will quickly finish it off. I showed it to non designers, and they didn't get the idea that no pattern right up the crown was a cop out at all....they thought great, its easier to knit but still looks good....so that is the way its staying.

The yarn is Blue Sky Worsted Hand Dyes and in the skein looked quite ordinary but when knitted has a wonderful handpainted effect like faded denim and although wool and alpaca it feels as soft as non mercerised cotton. I had to keep checking the ball bands to see if it really was the fleece I ordered and not the cotton! This yarns crochets like a dream and I used it to crochet a contrast edging around the whole hat and it worked out really neatly around the earflap even though there is an I-cord knitted right down, I managed to find a way of working over the I-cord. No sewing was necessary, even the tassells are tied on.

I am currently working on a two colour version in grey and white, that shows light motifs against a darker background. I also have more elaborate versions with Phoenix motifs, but that is for a totally different hat really.

I also cannot make up my mind if it is good business practice to keep a pattern strictly under wraps until it is released. I always thought so, and have never leaked my own designs really until the pattern is out and on sale. I suppose I imagine that there will be a small flutter of interest for a new design and that those people would have downloaded it had it been available but then later might forget to come back. Later, uploading it as a finished pattern, rather than a WIP in the project pages, means that the flutter of interest has gone.

Some designers don’t pay attention to this at all. Having never worked in the mainstream publishers' world where it is forbidden to leak a design before publication those designers just stick their WIPs up, show pics of it publicly on Ravelry whilst test knitting etc. It doesn’t appear to affect them at all that the design is leaked at the early stages. Neither does it seem to spoil their chances when later they submit it as a finished pattern to a publisher and then retrospectively take photos off their project pages and blogs, with a note saying ‘this design is secret now so have taken it down…..’ They don’t seem to realise that having leaked it already and even mentioning it exists without a photo is supposed to be against a mainstream publisher’s policy.

But I can’t say I have heard of a designer’s work being rejected because it was leaked earlier, it seems that if it is a good design as long as the pattern is not currently leaked and it is not currently up on any blogs the items get published. I also think a lot of the time publishers do not have time to check personal blogs and other places to see if a design they are including is already out there. They are just happy that their design is a good one and being included and it would take a really serious breach of confidence for them to pull it from a publication.

Anyway I was not going to show my latest design. I wanted to get it properly modelled first and decide...do I release pattern myself, or do I submit to a mag. Submitting to a mag might possibly get me around £50 if I am lucky and no more. If I kept it myself and sold it for around £2.50 per pattern....I would need to sell about 20 patterns to get that. But, I have sold more than that of some other simple hat patterns so it could pay off.

So....have decided, never mind here is the finished hat with pattern coming as soon as testing and tech editing are finished. There is a chance to test knit this hat for a fee of $10 payable to one of 5 testers booked. Each tester will get entry into a competition to get enough yarn for one of these hats in addition to their $10 fee. Oh yes, we're currently having IT problems with a slow connection. Cannot wait until Sat when we get the new broadband. This is so slow, I can't even upload pics to Flickr and had to write this post offline, where because of the formatting it won't get properly accepted by Blogger....so apologies for any strange formatting in this post.

First Post of 2010

First of all......who ever would have thought I would live this long eh? I don't mean that any of my conditions are terminal or anything, just that when I was a kid I was asked to write an essay about what life would be like in the year 2000 and I remember making up all sorts of sci fi stuff, and thinking, blimey that is such a long way off....perhaps we won't even be here by then! Especially with all the Cold War nuclear annihalations imagined back then. Anyway I made it to 2010!

Christmas Knitting

I spent Christmas quietly in a cottage with my other half and the dogs and the other half’s Mum.
We kept warm and watched TV and I knitted a couple of things for Kerrie’s new baby Reid.
First of all I made a newborn version of the Pearmain Hat, called Baby Pearmain of course.

Next I panicked and thought, it has taken me a while to get round to this and thought that Reid would probably be too big for a newborn hat, so I made a simple earflap hat to fit a much older baby and called it Reid. Then I ran out of the pale blue Debbie Bliss Rialto yarn so there was not enough for the edging and tassels. So, I used some contrast yarn for the crochet edging and I think it worked quite well. I will put it up as a pattern, possibly free, along with Baby Pearmain.

First Proper Design of 2010

The next piece of knitting I worked on was a hat for an adult, using some of my very simple colour work motifs. I am really struggling with hanging on to it. What I mean is, whenever I make anything that I think is at all commercially viable as a pattern, I usually submit it to a magazine or book and then if it is popular kick myself that I did not add it to my own pattern collection.

A couple of people have remarked, that the best work I do always seems to be for other people rather than myself. And they are right. I think there is a fear that being an unknown pattern writer and designer that if I release something myself, it just gets lost in all the Ravelry noise and so does not get a proper airing or chance to be knitted. It can be frustrating seeing much less worthy designs, or indeed more expensive but less developed patterns raking in the money, and yet quite good ones just getting lost in the backwaters.

Slipper Socks: Lizard and Eagle Moccasin Boots

This is my pattern which is published in Yarn Forward magazine. The motifs are based on animal motifs that traditionally have meaning.

I am currently working on more charts that have a South American, Peruvian or Native American feel using animal motifs interspersed with simple patterns.

I love repeating patterns whether they are pictorial or abstract and knitting is a great way of making up the kind of patterns seen on flloor or wall tiles or rugs and turning them into home furnishings for ourselves.