This pullover was a fun one to design and knit...especially since I had created the Fair Isle* fish motif some years ago. I've done several stranded designs over the years, and I've used a couple of methods to create the charts. The first stranded project I ever designed was a stocking cap for an old boyfriend (this was a long time ago...), and I just used plain old graph paper and colored pencils to draw up the colorwork charts. Long floats? Who cares?! I also didn't realize that since knit stitches are wider than they are tall, the knitted motifs would look wider and shorter than they appeared on the paper.
For the fishes, I was using Stitch and Motif Maker software at the time (I don't think it's available any more). It allowed you to click on squares on a blank grid to create designs, using different colors and/or knitting symbols, but the best part as far as creating colorwork charts for pictorial motifs (like fish!) was that you could also draw with the mouse and the program would fill in all the squares that the mouse swipe touched. Then you could go back and clean up the lines by clearing squares or adding more. The challenging part about pictorial stranded designs is making them small enough to be repeated a number of times around a garment (or else you should just go with intarsia), yet large enough to be easily identified. And of course one should care about long floats...not that they are completely taboo, but it's best to have as few as possible. For Fish Isle, I used strategically placed "bubbles" (single stitches of the contrast color) to break up any long floats between fishes.
(More recently I've gone back to graph paper: for these bunnies and then this horse and Chinese characters, I sketched the motifs on graph paper and then filled in squares along the sketched lines until I had a design I liked.)
But back to Fish Isle:
I did some swatches; Cascade Yarns had been kind enough to send me a big box of Cascade 220 of many different colors, and I found a solid darker blue for the background, and a variegated yarn with lighter blues for the fish; using a variegated yarn (or two) is a great way to add interest and depth to a stranded design without using many different colorways (as long as ALL of the colors in one variegated yarn are lighter or darker than ALL of the colors in the other yarn). I decided not to use the stranded motif around the sleeves, but just the body, to avoid having any strands of yarn that could catch small fingers when putting the pullover on. Instead of colorwork, I accented the yoke and sleeves with a textured wave motif. And then for some reason I put the design away until I got the submission call from Twist Collective.
Once the design was accepted, Wendee from Hazel Knits sent me six gorgeous subtly variegated colorways of their Lively DK yarn, and I had to choose two, which required some swatching. But the nice thing about child-sized garments is that they knit up quickly! I highly recommend Lively DK yarn, by the way; the colors have wonderful depth and richness, and the tight twist of the merino wool gives it durability and great stitch definition. I did alternate two skeins of the background yarn for the body every few rounds, in case skeins varied in color, but I actually don't think it was necessary for this yarn; colors seemed very consistent between skeins.
And here's a helpful hint for Fish Isle knitters: the only place where there is a visible "jog" in the stranded pattern is the beginning and end of the wave, which forms a continuous line. But this jog can be hidden: on chart Row 9, knit the last stitch of the round in the contrast color.
(First four photos copyright Twist Collective)
*Yes, "Fish Isle" is a play on "Fair Isle."