A Perfect Summer Knit: The Minnow Top

The Minnow Top from Graphic Knits
The Minnow Top from Graphic Knits

I know that there’s still snow in many parts of the country, in fact, it snowed here in Spokane a couple of days ago! But knitters don’t let snow get in the way of casting on a new project, right?

And we know that our projects take time to complete, so we’re no strangers to knitting designs for future seasons.

One of my favorite books is Graphic Knits by Alexis Winslow, and I think I’ve found the perfect summer top within its pages: the Minnow Top. Here’s Alexis to talk in-depth about writing a book and the creation of the Minnow Top design.

Meet the Minnow Top from Graphic Knits

The simple act of beginning the book was an incredibly daunting thing. It was September 2012, and I had just finished my Winsome Knits eBook. I had about 11 months to produce 20 more new patterns and the corresponding samples. I was basically freaking out.

The proposal process was stressful, but Interweave’s wonderful acquisitions editor, Allison Korleski, guided me through every step. After my proposal was accepted and I signed my contract, it took a few more weeks for Interweave to assign an editor to my book, and then it was time to get to work.

My book proposal contained about 30 designs, which I needed to whittle down to 20. Looking it over, I divided my designs into a list of “definitely’s and maybe’s.” The next step was ordering yarn. I had zero contacts in the yarn biz, but I did have a favorite yarn company, Blue Sky Alpacas. I decided to start there.

About a year prior, one of my design proposals made it into Ann Budd’s book, Scarf Style 2. When Ann ordered my yarn, she CC’d me on the email she sent to the yarn company. I remember thinking how casually she asked for free yarn, kind of like “Hey Mr. Yarn-Guy, we haven’t met but please send a bunch of free yarn to this unknown designer. Kthxbye.” I thought, wow! What confidence! I could be like that.

So with this in mind, I visited Blue Sky Alpacas’ website and filled out the “contact” form to introduce myself and to ask for yarn support. They responded quickly and I felt empowered. Soon, boxes and boxes of yarn were arriving on my doorstep, and I began working away on my very first pattern, Minnow.

Metalico Yarn from Blue Sky Alpacas
Metalico Yarn from Blue Sky Alpacas

I chose to begin with Minnow partially because I thought it wouldn’t give me much trouble design-wise, and partially because I just could not wait to dig into that delicious Blue Sky Alpacas Metalico yarn. The name Minnow was inspired by the beautiful texture of the yarn. It’s called Metalico, but it really has more of a pearly glow than a hard metallic shine. It’s silvery luster reminded me of the little minnow fish. It made me think of the giant minnow tanks inside the gas stations near my childhood home in Oklahoma. In that area, the gas stations all carried fishing bait because they were near a lake. I would peer into the dark swirling minnow tanks to kill time while my parents chatted up the shopkeepers.

The design for Minnow was actually inspired by another one of my patterns, the Westfalia Scarf, which I had just completed for Winsome Knits. If you look at that design, you’ll notice that the eyelet motif is very similar.

Minnow Top lace knitting pattern
Left, Minnow Top; right, Westfalia Scarf

For some reason, certain stitch patterns are just more entertaining and relaxing to knit than others, and this is one of those stitch patterns. The stitch seemed kind of like an old friend that I was very glad to see again.

Minnow Top lace knitting pattern

Every time I look at Minnow, I think about the all fun I had knitting it, but also all the emotion tied up in that period of time. It’s funny how knits can do that. We spend so much time with our projects in our hands that they each become woven into life’s experiences.

—Alexis Winslow, Author, Graphic Knits

Get your copy of Graphic Knits today, and cast on the Minnow for summer! You’ll find lots of other great designs you’ll want to knit, too.


P.S. Do you have any warm-weather wear on your needles? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

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Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!