I have a mini skein pack fettish.
My favorite local yarn shop started carrying 5-skein color packs from Frabjous Fibers a while back, and I am always eyeing them and trying to figure out what sort of project I could use them for. There's the obvious "just make something striped", but I've been holding out for something a little more interesting. I even bought a couple color packs thinking that surely a pattern would pop up that would be perfect for them, but so far it hasn't happened. And so around the middle of June this past summer, I started thinking.
"What if I wrote a whole collection that focused on smaller projects that used these lovely color packs I've been seeing at my own LYS, at yarn shops I visit while I'm traveling, and on websites I've browsed?"
"Is it nuts to think I could have a collection of patterns written, knitted, edited, tested, photographed, and ready to release by this fall?" I was excited enough about the idea that I didn't want to wait a whole year for a fall release, and let's face it, knitting patterns get more attention in autumn than they do at other times of the year, so I didn't want to release it at an off-time. But still, 4 months is not a long time for even a single pattern from the time I get the idea to the time it's ready for release. Thinking I was going to have a number of patterns ready all in 4 months seemed pretty nuts.
And because I'm the sort of person who takes "that's nuts" as a challenge to see if it can actually be done, I jumped it with both feet.
I started by collecting links to yarn that I loved off of websites and the Ravelry database. I asked around to my yarnie friends to make sure I wasn't missing any fabulous yarn dyers that sold mini-skein color pack or gradient sets, and they helped me find even more companies that I wasn't familiar with.
And then I started thinking about rough ideas - what sorts of projects would I include? What stitch patterns did I want to use? How would I integrate the different colors? What color packs might match up with which ideas?
And then I did something that I honestly wasn't sure how it would go over: I sent out proposals to yarn companies that were along the lines of "I have this idea for a pattern collection, and I would like to include your XX yarn. I might use it for a (insert type of project here) pattern, but that might change once I know which other yarns I will be working with for this collection." And I included a photo of about 8 different swatches of stitch pattern ideas I thought I might use that I had knit up out of scrap yarn.
I thought there was a fairly good chance that at least half the companies would send me notes back that said something like, "Nice try, wiseguy.....why don't you send us a sketch and a solid idea like a normal designer, and then we'll let you know."
But miraculously, I got a lot of "Sure! We'd love to be included!" -type replies. I think there was actually only one company that I approached who said they were not up for it. And there was one company who wanted to be included, but by the the time I heard back from them, all my ideas were already matched up with color packs that had already been offered. I still wish I could have come up with one last idea for that lovely yarn dyer!
But all in all, I came up with ideas for 13 projects. They are everything from hats & scarves to a throw pillow and a baby dress. There's even a shrug that will come in Child's size 6 up through Women's Med (sorry, after Women's medium, the yarn from the color pack runs out, so that's where I stopped the sizes.)
My family has been great over these past 4 months. I knew I'd be busy; a typical year has me publishing about 12 patterns, so I knew that getting 14 patterns ready in 1/3 of a year would be pretty insane. But my husband has picked up some slack, and my kids have been patient when I tell them I have to spend some time working. No one even complained when I knit the entire way to South Carolina & back - by car - when we took a road trip this summer! And so far (because some of the later releases are still being tested), test knitters have been absolutely wonderful.
So tonight I want to thank the yarn companies that took a chance on me and this project: A Hundred Ravens, Black Trillium Fibres, Frabjous Fibers, June Pryce Fiber Arts, Kim Dyes Yarn, Miss Babs, Pepperberry Knits, and Sweet Georgia Yarns. I hope you are as pleased with the patterns I created from your beautiful yarns as I was to make them!
Tomorrow the first pattern from this collection will be released. It'll be available for individual purchase, or, if you'd like to get the full collection at the cheapest price it'll ever be available at, you can purchase the full 11-pattern (13 project since 2 patterns are 2-project sets) eBook. If you go this route, a new pattern will arrive in your Ravelry library each week until the week of Christmas. And each week when a new pattern is added to the eBook, the price of the collection will go up, so if you tend to like my style, you might want to jump on the eBook when it is available this week at it's introductory price.