I thought I would share a little of what went into my newest design, the Backyard Bandits, which will be released later this month.
During the mystery knit-along I hosted in the Spring, one of the most common guesses about the animal was a fox. As well, I've many, many requests for a fox over the years. So I decided it was about time I tried to design one. Having a little look around at what was already available, and browsing through images of foxes, I quickly decided that the Scraps Chaps body style would be better suited to a fox than my other toy style.
However, since this style of pattern had previously been done as a set of three animals, I needed two more to complete the new set. Among all the animals I've been asked to design, one of the more frequent requests was for a badger. While the American badgers are not cute (to my tastes), a European badger looked like a good addition to the pattern. The third animal took me longer to decide upon. I finally found the winning idea when we borrowed the book "Red Wagon" from the library. I love the illustration style in this book, and the raccoon was so adorable, I knew I had to design one.
The body, limbs, and tails of the animals were all quick and simple to design, since I didn't want to deviate too much from the earlier patterns. I knew the heads would be the most challenging part of the pattern, both to design and knit. There was really no getting around the fact they would have to be done with intarsia, making the pattern more challenging than most of my other toys.
I started with the fox, thinking it would be the simplest. But in the end, I think this one went through the most variations before I was happy with it (plus, the ears took about 8 tries to get right). Because I knew it would be popular, I wanted to make sure the fox would be successful for anyone who knit it, so the shaping and colours had to be just right.
The badger was next, and while it was a little easier than the fox, it still took me several versions before I liked the face. Maybe it was more difficult because I've never seen one, expect in photos. This is the most complicated one to knit, because of the number of different coloured sections, and the shaping required as you work them. But the rest of the pattern is quite easy, so hopefully it will balance out.
The raccoon I left to last, thinking it might be difficult too. But it worked out on the second try! I wish the eye patches could have been a little wider, but sometimes it's more important for the stitches counts and shaping to work out neatly. If I'd changed the eye patches, the shaping would have been far more complicated.
Now the pattern is being test-knit and edited, and I'm hoping to take the photos tomorrow, or early next week. I can't guarantee a release date yet, but soon! I've been so busy with secret projects this year, I must be as excited as you to have a new pattern to share!