In each of my two previous baby afghans, I started out thinking of the design as a textured piece all knit in one solid color. I added the colorwork option after developing the initial idea. In fact, for Among the Bamboo I hadn't even thought about making it multicolored because I'd only tried intarsia once before, on a placemat that was felted, so it didn't matter quite as much how neat the back of the piece was.
(Total side note: if you think you might like to try intarsia but are a little bit scared, I recommend the project I first tried. The pattern for Swirl Placemats is available in Felt It! by Maggie Pace. In addition to having this project, the book is a really good introduction to felting. And to show you how well they turn out even for the most novice colorwork knitter, here's a photo of mine, circa 2007. Sorry about the cut-off edges. I'm still not an expert photographer, but I'm willing to admit that's a pretty bad one!)
Ahem. And now back to our regularly scheduled program...
It was a tester who asked if she could try the panda blanket in color, and I figured I had nothing to lose so I said sure. And it was gorgeous! I fell in love almost immediately and knew I'd just have to suck it up, overcome my fear, and make a sample of my own. It was brilliant of her, really - the pattern had quickly become accessible to a wider range of knitters. In fact, it was almost like it was two patterns in one. What a deal! And who doesn't like a good deal?
When I started with the monkey design, I had a notion that it could be viable as a two-in-one pattern, but I hadn't fully committed to it. I designed the chart at the request of a tester who liked the textured option, and I didn't know that I'd take it any further than providing her with the Excel file.
The snail blanket is exactly the opposite. My mind's eye was showing me this blanket in color from the very beginning. As a result, it was color (not the telltale "•" used to designate "purl on WS/knit on RS" in knitting patterns) that I was using to create the actual chart on the computer.
As I looked at the picture forming in front of me, I realized that I needed to add some texture to this pattern. A sea of green stockinette stitch might work for the grass, but it would be terribly boring to knit. And clouds could be done in a different color than the background sky, but that just adds one more color of yarn and (more distastefully) a whole lot more ends to weave in. So I needed some texture in the grass, and the clouds could be done in relief, just like the panda and monkey of previous designs.
I started feeling kind of proud of myself - I'd now come up with a design that combined the two types of blankets I'd been making for a while. I was fairly certain that this one could stand alone as a colorwork-only pattern. And that left just the business of thinking about what colors I wanted to use!
Next up? Choosing colors...