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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Boyfriend Sweater and its Unlikely Source for Inspiration

A retirement gift, a plaque from the District where I worked, beckons me.  It is as if it can talk and recall; that plaque with the Varsity letter.  I hear students’ voices, excited anticipation in the air, their endless desire for learning.  It speaks my tongue and reminds me about lesson planning into wee hours.  It sounds with the hustle bustle of school life:  hallways all abuzz, meetings with teachers and/or parents, the frustrations voiced and the sharing of successes of each day.  One glance at this wall plaque of mounted school letter and personalized engraved plate, now hanging on a wall in my yarn room, does all of that every time I look at it.

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A study of color and elements of design

So, my stash is well bundled now.  The ‘new’ yarns for projects continue in waiting and the scraps, which I prefer to call remnants, are bundled according to weight.  I can easily pull out the same-weight remnants and mix and match to my heart’s content.  This also helps me to get my creative juices flowing as somehow when I pair colors together, ideas come forth.  The project that this post is about has come into existence in exactly this manner.

When I purchase yarn for a project I always purchase at least one extra skein.  Many times I cut into that skein as my gauge rarely matches the gauge of the knitter who actually knitted the garment photographed in print.  If there is little yardage on a particular skein, I have been known to purchase more than one extra skein.  If the yarn is on sale, I have been known to buy out a particular color.  In doing this, that means there is typically extra yarn after a project has been knitted.  I LIKE that as then, without further yarn purchase, I can go and “play” with these remnants.

I chose to dabble with the remnants of the bulky weights that are in my stash.  By holding colors together, these three surfaced as cohesive in my eye.  They remind me very much of colors of a sunrise or sunset that we, hubby and I often see and appreciate.  The yarn came from these three projects:

Cabled Poncho

Fair-isle collared jacket  (The collar was knitted from fingering weight remnants.)

Elephant Cardigan  Each of the project links will take you to the patterns.

The red is Zealana Artisan Tui, the yellow is a Debbie Bliss chunky luxury, and the deeper blue gray color of the elephant cardigan is Rowan’s Colourspun.  Now, to add to the mix of deciding fibers, weight and content, there is always the possibility of going into another weight of yarn and holding it double.  When the Colorspun is held double, it worked perfectly as a bulky weight and was just the right shade for that sunrise/sunset appeal.  Many trials, a bunch of swatches, and research of a pattern that would be exciting to me, (fashion forward, unique, and wearable with my current lifestyle AND mix and match with existing wardrobe), I finally came to this.  Perfect, I thought.  With an understanding of construction,  planning ahead,

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I knew I had enough of each remnant to pull this off.  The pattern above is actually knitted in Zealana’s Tui.

Mari Lynn Patrick is the designer of this fabulous Topper, pattern can be found in Vogue Knitting Fall 2011.  I am such a fan of Mari Lynn and have knitted many of her designs.  (At the bottom of this post is a gallery of my work with her patterns.)  This pattern has quite the unique construction and sports an inside-out appeal.  The wrong side of the knit is face up, side seams are sewn with mattress stitch on the inside leaving the seam exposed on the outside.  Rolled hems on all edges, hem, sleeve, and neckline add interesting details, as well.

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I especially like that the grey is around my neck and at the pockets as it is amazingly soft and scrumptious.  Plus, I am reminded of the effort (and love) that went into the elephant cardigan for my husband.

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We waited for a sunny day to show off the beauty of the yellow.  And, the temperature was perfect for this outfit.  Can’t you just imagine the sun setting in the background in these beautiful colors?

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Here are other Mari Lynn Patrick designs that I have worked up in recent years.  Putting together a collection from one designer, a knitter can see details that perhaps were inspirational in choosing that particular pattern.  Perhaps a designer can capture his/her imagination and collect elements that are thought-provoking and possible to create in another original way.  As the owner of this existing hand knit collection, the color palate rings of similarity.  I had not realized that.  Am I drawn to these particular shades?  It leaves me pondering and isn’t that what creativity is all about?