Revisiting River Deep

Posted by Angela Cronin on

I like designing. It's not my main meal, for sure, but I'll have a side dish of it every once in awhile. I don't dream in cables or colorwork (most of the time). Every so often I have an idea for a pattern, but nine times out of ten it gets jotted down on a piece of scrap paper or an old yarn label or a sticky note and is never seen again. But back when MollyGirl was more a hobby than anything else, I went through a phase where I was really into designing. Simple things, mostly patterns I would use to teach people to knit with, things I'd made over and over myself because they were easy and fun and could work with almost any yarn.
 
The very first of these was a little free pattern called River Deep, Mountain High. It was a simple little pattern, a single page of instructions to make a very basic cowl using a chevron lace pattern. It was an embarrassingly long time before it even occurred to me that I should make a sample in one of my yarns. My "original sample" (if you don't include the number I made before I published the pattern) was in a yarn I called Roadie in my first ever skein of Being Alive. In actuality, the sample pre-dated the existence of MollyGirl itself by several months, the yarn dyed under my original label with a completely different name. It was scratchy (by current standards) and I think it still lives in the bottom of my bucket of FOs. I didn't think much about it for a long time, and while I did make samples of both the cowl and the matching hat multiple times in new bases over the years and sold kits at shows, the pattern itself didn't change a hair.
 
Then, this past fall as I was getting ready to release Twisted at the Indie Untangled Trunk Show @ Rhinebeck I decided it might be time to consider a layout update for my patterns overall. That was the first time in quite awhile that I looked, I mean actually sat and looked, at these old patterns, many of which were closer to their fifth birthdays than their fourth. Long story short, I realized not only did they need a layout update, they needed new EVERYTHING. Very long story short, after some aggressive work by samplers and some photo-shooting-on-the-fly on my recent trip to Scotland & Norway, I managed to get what I needed to really get to work on giving these beloved classics a fresh face.
 
Outtakes. Because I'm a good friend.
I never thought I'd get to utter the phrase "during my photo shoot in Scotland" or "when we were shooting in Oslo", but I did. It was pretty wild. Certainly not a formal photo shoot like you think of magazines (or real designers, for that matter) having, but I got it done. Some here, some there... Walk past a cool wall? A scenic backdrop? Have a spare minute waiting for a ferry in a fjord? Grab a sample kids, we're taking photos.
 
I think when I started packing up samples to take with us, the amount of hats and cowls I stuffed in the suitcases gave husbunni Mark some pause. I wasn't entirely sure we'd get through all of them myself, but we had the room and the weight allowance, and I figured why not?
 
Not only did we get through all the photos I wanted, but they got a lot of actual USE too. This was my 4th trip to Scotland - I'd even been there Easter week before (in March, not April that year). Accordingly, we packed for spring in Fife, Scotland - not winter. Never have I been there and had so much weather. Cold, wet, snow, sleet, rain almost every day. Even the Scots thought it was weird, especially for April. We drove through snowstorms not once, but twice, and those sample hats, cowls, and scarves got use every single day - and I had plenty of photo ops!
 
I was able to make some time (thanks to a really obnoxious clog in my main sink drain that makes dyeing basically impossible and a plumber who thinks it's cool to cancel your appointments without telling you) to get started on these updates in the past 2 weeks, and I'm super pleased to say that the very first one is finally done!
 
The official Ravelry update for River Deep, Mountain High went out last week, and today I also added it to our patterns page for those who prefer to download it there. I think it's very pretty, if I do say so myself =) It includes expanded sizing as well as better descriptions and explanations, plus lots and lots of pretty scenic photos. I'm super curious to know what you think of the new layout and info I put in there. Feedback is always good, especially since pattern authoring is not necessarily my forte.
 
More than anything, I'm really excited to revisit these oldie-but-goodie patterns. It's a really good way for me to gauge how far this crazy thing has come in 5 years. From starting out teaching myself dyeing using food coloring, vinegar, plastic wrap, and a microwave to photo shoots in Scotland with samples of patterns I wrote in amazing yarn custom-milled for me and dyed by a professional (still me... except that I'm saying it with less of a sarcastic eye-roll than I was 5 years ago)... That's a pretty good distance, I think. I mean, I feel like I climbed a mountain and swam a river to get here or something.

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