Buffalo Knitting Guild Presentation, 2016

I want to capture, in writing, some of my thoughts from this last week when I was invited to speak to the Buffalo Knitting Guild’s Membership and be the first of its programming for the 2016/2017 season.  The talk was advertised as such:

SEPTEMBER 8, 2016 HOW DOES YOUR KNITTING GROW?
Presented by Marja Coons-Torn, Holly Olmstead

Our Guild President and Vice President introduce the theme “Grow” for this year’s Knitting Guild Season with a program to help you grow your skills through photography and technology. We’ll learn tonight how to photograph our knits beautifully and stylishly, just like the top designers do! And we’ll go on an interactive journey into new technology that the Guild will be incorporating this season. 

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Level One Knitwear Designing, Make it Your Own

No, I am not officially a knitwear designer however the concept of designing knitwear, to me, has many levels.  When I think of top level knitwear designers, the people who come to mind are those who have had multiple original designs published in major knitting magazines.  Yarn companies hire these people to design using their yarns.  Then, there are the knitwear designers who design and sell from their own etsy shop, website, or the like.  You see many fledgling designers such as these on Ravelry.   And, then there are the knitters who have the ability to take a published pattern and make it their own with modifications, alterations, shape changing, yarn choice, color changing, to name a few ideas.   The later would best define where I am in the designing of my own hand knits.    With this particular project, this level one designer in me came out loud and clear.

Motivated to learn a new method called the two-tone cable technique, being taught at the local Guild, the sweater itself did not call to me so much.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a lovely pattern designed by Heather Lodinsky, I did not want a basic crew neck nor long, lacy sleeves.

So, I began to configure how I could re-design this pattern having the best of both worlds; learning this technique and having a garment in the end I would love.  Admittedly, the changes I wanted for this garment came quickly to me.

Design Plan

I don’t know if there is an order to the process of designing but in this instance,  the beautiful front and center cable was perfect inspiration for the long lean line I always try to obtain.  So, for that long lean look, all I had to do was extend the cable which led to tunic length. I thought  shaping at the side seams would make for a better fit.  I also knew side slits could be an option at the time of seaming.  I was drawn immediately to the idea of short sleeves with the cable pattern seen in the body to continue in the sleeves and that I would ditch the lacy fabric sleeves seen in the pattern.  I love details so I thought a provisional cast-on with an i-cord bind off would nicely frame the sweater and give it a bit of boldness at the edges where it is otherwise very soft looking.  I had the berroco lustra in my stash so the colors were pretty much chosen for me.

Use Resources for Help

Remember, I am not a designer and do not have all the measurements for different styles right at my finger tips.  Therefore, to help me in the tunic I wanted, I turned to my pattern stash, found a tunic length pattern with shaped sides in the weight of yarn I was using so used those directions and measurements for the shaping.  I give credit to Kate Davies and her exquisite eye for detail where I learned about provisional cast on with i-cord bind off when working on a different project.  Now I have that technique in my ‘tool kit’ so called upon it, here.

I could not understand the directions for the ribbing in the pattern so I used what I knew about corrugated ribbing.  I didn’t need to think about the slit along the side seams while I was knitting as slits are just seams that are not sewn closed.   So, really the major challenge came with the sleeves.

Well, I knew I wanted short sleeves.  I measured the diameter of my upper arm.  Knowing my gauge, I casted on x stitches per inch x no. of inches.  So, the corrugated ribbing fit just the way I wanted.  I knew I wanted the main cable pattern and at least one of the 4 stitch cross over patterns along either side of the main cable.  I knew I needed some more stitches for binding off along the selvage.  This gave me the number of stitches I needed in the first row after the ribbing.  Then,  I figured about two inches for the actual sleeve length (after ribbing and before armhole bind off) and needed to get to the number of stitches to follow the sleeve cap according to direction.  I knew I would be increasing and my gauge told me how many rows I had to do so.  I was home free, at point of armhole bind-off to follow the shape of the sleeve cap given in the pattern.  It became a mathematical computation to know how many rows to knit, when to decrease along the selvage to have the cap fit perfectly into the armhole seam of the body.  I sketched the shape of the cap out onto paper as it was a little tricky with the back of the cap sleeve shaped a bit differently than the front of it.

You can see some calculations and extraneous math.  Logic, math, and knitting skill came together for some lovely sleeves.  Gotta say, I am pleased.

Now, you can make plans till the cows come home but what you see in your mind’s eye might not always be what you see in person.  When I slipped on my sweater I was thrilled with all of the modifications I made except for one.  I felt the sweater was too long.

Change is Sometimes Needed

Did you ever know anyone who was a whiz at technology but the minute there is a screw-up cries for help?  Same with knitting.  The talent in any form comes if and when you are able to fix your own problem(s).  So, here I was with this ‘problem’.  Well, I thought . . . what do you see in ready-wear to help with shape, fit, and comfort?  Shirring!  That’s it!  I’ll shirr the side seams!  I took a crochet hook and worked 3 sc, (single crochet) chain 3 (for a little loop) 3 sc,, chain 3, repeat, along the inside of the side seam, threaded some durable narrow twill tape through the loops and pulled for fit.  Perfect!  And, I will flatten out when in storage so as not to wrinkle.

Celebrate by Wearing

I love my sweater.  I supported our Guild, it taught me this cable technique.  It served as design practice.  It was a perfect pattern for this yarn that was in my stash, and now it serves as a wearable garment for my wardrobe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Tone Cable Pullover ~ The Pattern

 

The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo is not only a friendly organization where one meets people who are passionate about knitting but the Guild is also very serious in its purpose and programming.  The two ladies deemed program chairs leave no stone unturned in providing ideas for programs and seeing those ideas to fruition.  It was in this way I became aware of Buffalo native and knitwear designer Heather Lodinsky and her two-tone cable method as this was the program topic at one of our monthly meetings.

 

 

 

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Yarn Fest or Yarn Fast . . . or both!

The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo is hosting its annual Yarn Fest.  Vendors far and wide have been invited to share their wares and tease us with their latest color ways, fibers, and other such goodies.  Knitting lessons and/or help as well as other goodies will be there and, of course, to us knitters, crocheters, spinners, and other such yarnies, we will be thrilled with the display and it will be like Christmas all over again.  Of course, I want to support this event being an active member of the organization.

It also happens that I’ve spent many an hour these last few weeks taking down my own yarn stash.

stash scrap

When I say taking down, I mean taking off the shelf every yarn ball I’ve ever purchased and making sure it is used to its and my best advantage.  I’ve set a goal of not purchasing any new yarn this year, an actual yarn fast!  I’ve been talking about this is recent posts, specifically here.   Aside from the bundles of yarn I’ve created and re-created for current and wearable garments, I’ve also gone into the remnant stash, organized it by characteristics of weight and color to see what I may discover.  Four projects have surfaced from this effort having successfully completed a bulky topper designed by Mari Lynn Patrick as seen in Vogue Knitting Fall 2011 using remnants from three projects and await cooperative weather for a photo shoot.

This is Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Bulky, one of the three yarns used.

Here is the second project that I am currently knitting utilizing worsted weight yarn, remnants from nine recently completed projects.  This will be a fair isle coat designed by Yoko Hatta as seen in Vogue Knitting, Fall 2013 and pictured, below.

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I’ve got all the yarn organized in this fabric box for easy retrieval and color organizing.

It seems like a yarn fest and a yarn fast are unfortunately at opposing ends of one’s actions.  So, I’ve been trying to figure out how to support both and I think I’ve come up with an idea!

Truly, the bundles of yarn in my collection for specific projects are a done deal in my mind, meaning I am not going to touch them.  However, I’ve also decided that the remnant yarn, no matter how planned at this moment, be given permission for freedom of change, to allow myself creative flexibility.  This means that when I am at the yarn fest, no matter how efficient or well planned I feel my future plans are in utilizing my yarn,  in particular the remnant stash, I will be open to looking at and purchasing small amounts of new yarn that could supplement, maybe add texture, or color to the ideas I have or put me in a new direction that might be even better!  This will make the event fun for me while remaining within the grasp of my goal.

Here is an example of yarn that was slated for one thing but has perfectly fit the bill for another.  This is not an easy thing for me to do and I am beginning to enjoy this process of change.  This is Berroco Lustra that is being made into a two-tone cable sweater, design by Heather Lodinsky.  More about this when completed.

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So, with one month or so to go and acceptance within myself for some play,  excitement is building for Yarn Fest 2016!  Hope to see you, there!