It began with wanting to knit my daughter a Christmas present. Not being a fan of surprises, I did not want to present my daughter a knitted garment she hadn’t seen. Having to start somewhere in the investigation of what to knit for her, we began with patterns I had saved over the years. Our tastes are different as are our lifestyles, so I did not think she would actually choose any one of these yet I did think these patterns would lend some inspiration. Well, I was wrong. The bear sweater by Tiny Owl Knits stopped her dead. In my queue for a few years, she fell in love with it and visualized hers to be in the colors that are seen in the pattern. I found a great visual to help with the face.
Topic: Wardrobe Planning. YES, I plan my wardrobe! I never thought to write about it. This question of wardrobe planning came up in the blog world and I am only too happy to answer. In short, I believe wardrobe planning, like everything, takes a certain amount of self-control and focus. The process for me begins with retiring belongings, otherwise known as cleaning out or donating, for the obvious purpose of organizing but in a knitter’s case, this careful consideration informs [knitting] project choice. Ravelry acts as a record-keeping system. What does this mean?
It is typical to find me in my closet of hand knits when I am looking for something to wear. This past week was no different. I pulled out my lovely tri-color tunic I finished about six months, ago. I thought it would be the perfect layer for the weather and proceeded. With a casual, happy feeling I put on this garment, looked into a mirror, and thought, “hey, what happened?” I felt like I was swimming in it. Did you ever notice that when something doesn’t fit the way you want, it becomes highly distracting? I was uncomfortable to the point that I changed out of it knowing I needed to do some adjusting.
Last year, The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo brought in designer, Heather Lodinsky, to teach a skill on one of her designs. The pattern was her two-tone slip stitch cable pullover and the skill was using slip stitches in cable work. In my experience in knitting, I had not encountered slip stitches to be used for the design of a garment, only to be done along the edges of knitted pieces. So, I was quick to take on the pullover with the Guild and it led me to do a self-investigation of slip stitches, in general.
For a project that pretty much flew off the needles, it is interesting that I have so much to say about it. I have lots to say not due to any pattern issue or yarn dissatisfaction, but rather the changes I made in how I constructed it. From long tail cast on to sewing on the seam binding along the back neck, I feel these changes led to its success and will lead to the garment’s longevity.
I think I have more questions than answers after finishing this project. This will create lingering in my mind. The topic is crochet. This is definitely the most challenging project I have made in crochet as it involved gauge, fit, shaping, and color changing within a row, none of which I am sure I did correctly and none of which I’ve ever done, before. Also, technique in sewing the crochet pieces together. What I knew however is that this pattern would be a great way to use up some remnant stash with its offering of color possibilities. I have plenty of remnants from past projects of small bits of color however I knew I did not have enough of one color for the main body. Purchasing only three skeins and using those scraps, I thought this a great way to stretch yardage. I did go with the yarn used in the pattern for this main color (MC), a silver grey filatura-di-crosa- zarina-chine.
It was a hot summer. Record-breaking in fact, in our neck of the woods. Knitting is at a minimum for me during the summer due to heat, not to mention the warmth of the summer sun is a constant force of beckoning. Who doesn’t want to be outside during short summer months? On the other hand, the knitter in me is always looking to move forward with the stash and there is the cool of the evenings.
I thought linen; lightweight and stays in the theme of summer. I’ll pull the linen from the stash to work up. I’ve had this bundle for a number of years, had never knitted with linen before and wanted to give it a try. I had purchased it for a darling top that caught my attention with it’s open stitch weave and detached cowl. It is amazing to me how an experienced knitter can always find new things to take on. Between the new yarns, new-fangled stitches, and that never-ending flow of patterns, there is ALWAYS opportunity for taking on something new.
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.
As Grandmother, I was recently invited to the DC area to babysit grandchildren while very intent parents set up house for their temporary move. (no photos because I never knew how to take care of young ones and be a photographer at the same time)
Every so often you hear from a friend from the past. This was the case the day I received a lovely message from a colleague who had retired a few years before me suggesting a get together. She thought of me in particular as, like all of us seniors who are trying to keep our bodies and minds moving, she wanted to learn something new. She must have remembered that I crocheted as her suggestion was that we meet, chat of course, and I teach her how to crochet. Perfect, I thought.
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.
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.