Behind the Designs – Gay Beer Can Cozies

Meet my first published knitting pattern design. Gurrrl, is it Gay or what? Read below to learn where the inspiration came from, how I designed it, and lessons I learned from it.

Free pattern download available on Ravelry and LoveCrafts. Link below.

Inspiration

In April, 2019, an architecture historian friend of mine Amanda gave a walking tour called “Stonewall 50,” which included a visit to historical landmarks like Stonewall Inn, Oscar Wilde Bookstore and Julius’ Bar in Greenwich Village of New York City. As a gay man, it was significant for me to learn the history of struggles, protests and liberation of earlier pioneers like Marsha P. Johnson, Dick Leitsch, and Craig Rodwell.

During the tour, I came across a poster of the very first NYC Pride March (then-called “Christopher Street Liberation Day”) in 1970. I immediately wanted to incorporate the design in my own knitting.

Poster of the first Pride March in New York in 1970

Design Process

I had learned a technique called Two-pattern Double Knitting from a Craftsy class by Alasdair Post-Quinn and been wanting to use it. Double Knitting creates a double-sided fabric by knitting the first stitch of a pair and purling the second – making a mirror images on the right and wrong sides. But if you knit a word in double knitting, the wrong side will show a reverse image of the word.

That’s where the two-pattern double knitting comes in. With two-pattern double knitting, the purl-side chart is a flip image of the knit-side, so you purl backwards, in a way. I drafted a chart of the “GAY” design using EnvisioKnit Design Studio, then made a swatch.

It was nice and cute, and I could use it as a coaster. But I wanted something more functional and “in your face” than being covered and hidden under a beverage. I decided to make it a beer can cozy using more high-contrast colors so the design would pop.

As a bonus, I came up with an idea of incorporating the Human Rights Campaign logo, which is simple and symmetrical so would be easy to double-knit.

After creating written instructions I had my knitter friends (including Amanda) to test knit for me. At the same time, I found and contacted a Japanese technical editor, who agreed to review my pattern.

The feedback I received were eye-opening. This is kind of a no-brainer, but I learned that not everyone is like me. Some people prefer Double Pointed needles over circular needles; seaming over magic loop for tiny projects; animal fibers over cotton; etc. Above all, I learned that double knitting is not for everyone. What I thought was a simple easy project turned out to be a challenge to others.

I also got a comment asking why the cozy had to be reversible when you can not see the other side. I guess for a big beer drinker like me, I can always flip to the other side on my next drink, whereas if you only drink 1 can, you would have to wait for another occasion to enjoy the other side of the design.

Anyways, thanks to those amazing feedback from the test knitters and tech editor, I was able to release my pattern in May, 2019.

Lessons Learned

  • Each knitter has preferences
    • Straight / DPN vs Circular needles / magic loop
    • Flat vs work in the round
    • Cotton vs wool
    • Colorwork / double knitting can be extra difficult

Download the Pattern
Ravelry
LoveCrafts


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