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One of the things I set out to do with this blog is to write about the designing process. At t-minus five days to release of the Horsefeathers Cowl pattern, I thought it might be a good time to do some of that. It also gets some of the nervous energy out as I work on the final drafts of the tutorial that goes with the pattern.

The pattern itself fell into place with no real issue – it was designed specifically for use in the Lace 1 class at the LYS. The owner and I had talked about what we wanted to start focusing on in planning our classes, and we agreed that, ideally, we wanted to have an original pattern for any class where it was possible to have one. I started with Lace 1 since I tend to teach it when it comes up in the rotation and had heard some good suggestions from students. I knew I had to incorporate the feather-and-fan and horseshoe patterns into the design, since those are our go-to lace patterns for Lace 1. I also knew that we wanted to focus on offering project-based classes, and if we could make it a true one-skein project, a cowl would be the best shot.

With all that in mind, I thought it would be good to get students working with something a little finer than worsted-weight. I chose Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Wool a) because we had a lot of it in stock and b) because it looked like it would be just about a cowl’s worth at 192 yards to the hank. Additionally, it’s an economic option, it blocks well, and it’s fine without being terrifyingly so to new lace knitters.

From there, I figured common multiples of the stitch patterns to not have to fudge the stitch count – the feather-and-fan and horseshoe patterns have different stitch counts, and I didn’t want to put in any “spacer stitches” if I didn’t have to. 180 stitches seemed like a bit much, so I decided to bump it down to a more manageable 144 – that came out perfectly evenly for the feather-and-fan pattern, and left me with three stitches at the end of each round of horseshoe lace. After some consideration, I thought that it might actually be good to have a column of spacer stitches at the end of each round in the horseshoe lace. It would be like a double-check that everything came out correctly in each round if you had that little three-stitch column come up.

After that, it was pretty smooth sailing. I just took a guess at how many repeats of each pattern would look good and was very lucky that my first shot ended up looking great and being an easily-replicated, easy-to-write (and -chart) pattern. My sock pattern that I’m working on? Not so lucky. I churned out the first test sock over the course of about a week, and it was a mess. It looks okay post-blocking, but there’s a lot to clean up. It’s going to take me a couple of months to straighten everything out on that.

So that’s how Horsefeathers came to be. And the name “Horsefeathers” stems simply from the fact that it’s a combination of horseshoe and feather-and-fan lace, nothing more 🙂

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