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The Pembroke baby sweater pattern is now live on Ravelry.

pembroke knit baby sweater

My original inspiration for designing this was the rugby sweater. Tired of the same old stripes, I played around with color and shape to create a look that was not like everything else out there.

Pembroke knit baby sweater 2016

The result is an individualist sweater that is different from the rest of the stripes out there.

Pembroke knit baby sweater sideways cu

Best of all, the unique look doesn’t come at the expense of knitting frustration. The sweater is a quick, fun knit done in garter stitch. The striping is only on the front, leaving the back plain, so there is no anxiety of having to match up stripes when finishing the sweater. The rolled neck, hem and cuffs also make for easy finishing. The stripes are made in easy no-wrap short-rows. The short-row instructions are easy to follow and the knitter can’t get lost. Each row is written out and stitches are counted for you. All you need do is enjoy the knitting.

Pembroke knit baby sweater 4

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Continue In Pattern

The direction to “continue in pattern” is causing confusion among some knitters. I think it is one of the more clear directions in the knitting lingo, but maybe I am just weird.

Some knitters believe that unless the pattern continues completely unbroken as it is written (for example no decreases or increases) only then can a designer use the phrase “continue in pattern”. If increases or decreases are made, they argue that “continue in pattern” is no longer applicable because the knitting  no longer follows the pattern as originally set down.

For example, if the item is knit in moss stitch, when it comes time to decrease for the armholes the direction to “continue in pattern” does not apply because once you decrease (or increase) the stitch pattern cannot continue simply as written. The knitter, they say, must then “read the knitting” in order to maintain the moss stitch pattern and make changes accordingly. These knitters believe the designer must write out each row where decreases or increases occur because the addition or subtraction of a stitch “alters” the pattern. Ergo, there is no pattern to “continue.”

I know that a portion of knitters want hand-holding through out a pattern. I also know that patterns today give way more instruction to a knitter than patterns of yesteryear. I have an old pattern from the late 1800s that starts with Row 1 and never gives the amount to cast on. It then gives Row 2, and there it pretty much ends. In between is a whole lot of shaping that is never addressed.

If every row with an increase or decrease in it needs to be written out some patterns would be the size of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. To “continue in pattern” means just that. Keep the continuity while working the increases or decreases into the already existing pattern. Yes, it means you have to “read” the knitting. You need to be familiar with the pattern stitches enough to recognize what they are and when they occur. While an increase or decrease may change the first stitch following it from a knit to a purl or purl to a knit in moss stitch, it does not change the overall pattern that must be maintained across a row. In this sense “continue in pattern” is a valid phrase accurately describing what is taking place.

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Sometimes knitted garments turn out just as I envisioned them and it is such a joy when that happens. Case in point is the Charleston Baby Sweater and Hat set. It looks just like what I had in mind.

Charleston Baby Sweater.

Charleston Baby Sweater.

I love the texture of this sweater. The way the vertical lines and the horizontal wavy lines interact as a unified whole. Believe it or not the inspiration was Art Deco architecture combined with the style of 1920s bed jackets worn by women. The hat, with the ribbon positioned at the side of the head is reminiscent of the Cloche worn in that era.

Charleston Baby Sweater and Hat Set

Charleston Baby Sweater and Hat Set

Since my inspiration was the 1920s, I wanted the photographs to look like 1920 photos. After “playing” around with the camera—truth is error upon error—I unexpectedly but pleasingly stumbled upon just the way I wanted the photos to look. Something wrong gone right doesn’t often happen to me. I was pleased as a chipmunk with a cache of nuts for the winter.

Charleston Baby Hat

Charleston Baby Hat

The pattern as a set or as separate pieces is up for sale on Ravelry.

The sizes are 3 mos (6 mos, 12 mos, 18, mos and 24 mos). Made in fingering weight yarn it is perfect for cool days and nights as well as air-conditioned environments.

To purchase the pattern as a set .

To purchase the sweater only

To purchase the hat only

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I have never in my life had a perfect glass of lemonade. Either it was too sweet, too tart, or too blah. In fact I stopped trying to find the right product many years ago. So when my neighbor and friend, Mary, offered me a glass of her homemade lemonade I wasn’t prepared to be wowed. Just one sip sent my taste buds spinning with delight. It was the perfect balance of sweet and tart, lemony and refreshing. The perfect glass of lemonade: the epitome of the taste of summer in a cool, tall glass. I’m not sure Mary would want to spend her days squeezing lemons, but she could make millions of dollars selling her perfect concoction.

In other news, the back of the Girl’s 1960s Sweater is complete. The sweater is sized 12 mos, 18 mos, 24 mos, and 4 years. I purposely left out the 3 to 6 mos sizes because this has a nehru collar and the child needs to clearly have a neck. The necks of babies start to be defined around 9 mos. I’m knitting the 12 mos size. Before I begin the front, however, I want to write the pattern for the back. This is where I am stuck as the designer.

I believe good patterns are clear, concise, and consistent in their directions so that the knitter can duplicate the garment with as little confusion as possible. The dot pattern stitch used is an 8 row pattern. However, only 2 of the 8 rows are patterned. The other 6 are alternate knit and purl rows. I figured the rate of decrease for the A-Line style and only 2 of the sizes rates coincide. The 18 mos and 4 year rates are different from each other and the other two sizes. The 2 patterned rows move the dot stitch so it alternates position and is not aligned in straight vertical rows.

girl's sweater 1960s a

My problem is 2 of the 3 Cs: clear and concise. I don’t want to write out 59 or so rows of instructions 3 separate times to deal with the decreases that affect the dot pattern on just two rows, yet I don’t feel comfortable with the concise alternative of telling the knitter to “keep in pattern” while decreasing x stitches every y row z times. Knitters come to a pattern with very different experience levels. While the experienced knitter can easily figure the x y z direction, the intermediate knitter will struggle with it at first, and the knitter with limited experience will be lost completely, unable to read the knitting and decipher the stitch repeats and how they work.

While the skill level for this pattern is intermediate I don’t want the knitter who is branching out, trying to learn new things to be frustrated and lost. I’ve thought of charting just the beginnings and ends of the 2 pattern rows for more clarity. But many knitters, regardless of level, aren’t chart readers. Thus, written directions are also needed. So I am stumped. Unsure how to be concise and clear at the same time to as many knitters as possible.

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Lengths are important figures. They define the size of the armhole and the vertical span of the garment. They tell at what intervals to start and stop increases or decreases for bust and waist shaping, when to start neckline shaping, and how long sleeves should be. In addition to being measured in inches and centimeters, length is most importantly measured in rows by designers and tech editors. Yet knitters only think in terms of inches and centimeters when it comes to length. This is where the problem lies for knitters: length must be thought of in rows.

The marriage between me and my tape measure begins with the words, “Cont in patt until piece measures…” and I answer “I will.” And I do. I knit and then measure. Knit some more. Measure. Knit more. Measure. At this point the feeling I will never reach the required measurement settles over me. I am stressing. This is the reason why the word tension substitutes so nicely for the word gauge. With less than a quarter of an inch to go, infinitesimally less than 1 centimeter, I knit like mad. Stop. Measure. And still I need to knit one more maybe two more rows. Not until I reach the big UNTIL can the “death do ye part” happen where I am free…sort of…until “Cont in patt…” shows up again and restarts the ceremony.

As a designer and tech editor, I go through none of that angst. Why? Because I am dealing with rows. I have transferred all the inches and centimeter measurements into rows. No guess work on whether I am pulling the piece too much just to have it finally reach the “until” mark, no constant start and stop to measure, no anxiety build up till I’m about to scream.

While the number of rows per inch is important to all garments it is especially essential to the Raglan style. All four raglans must have the exact same number of rows in them to achieve a neat looking garment.

raglan sweater schematic

Above is my working schematic for an imaginary raglan baby sweater. I like to do my rough schematics by hand because it is easier for me to quickly change things as needed. When it is clear that the pattern will work, I’ll aggravate myself drawing it by computer.

In order to divorce my tape measure and reduce anxiety (I always say I knit for pleasure and relaxation) the first thing I need to do is approach the pattern like a designer or tech editor. I take the schematic and the row gauge (tension), a piece of paper, a pencil and a calculator (a cup of tea helps) and sitting in a comfortable chair I do the math.

The row gauge on this schematic is 7.5 rows per inch (2.5) cm. Lovely. Half rows in knitting don’t occur. It’s whole rows only. Note to self: I’ll be rounding off.

The next thing I look at are the measurements for the size I am interested in knitting. The schematic tells me it covers 3 sizes: 6, 12, 18 months. I’m choosing the 6 month one which is the smallest size.

The sweater is constructed bottom up so I’ll be starting at the ribbing. The length of the ribbing is one inch (2.5) cm. I know that the gauge (tension) is 7.5 rows per inch. I am already screwed.

Uhhhhh, not really.

I need to round.

Check written instructions. First side row is RS row. Body pattern begins on a RS row. Okay, using fingers count out RS, WS rows, 6th row is my thumb and a WS, 7th is RS—if I end it here the next row is WS. No good, body patt has to start RS so I can end it with either the 6th or 8th row.

Now it depends on a number of things, including the body patt whether I will end it one row short or long of 7 rows. But for this demo, I am going to work in ribbing for 8 rows. I make a note of this on my own little schematic.

The body patt is worked for 6″ (15) cm for the 6 month size before raglan shaping starts. 7.5 times 6″ gives me 45 rows. Glance at written pattern. Does raglan shaping begin with RS or WS row? It begins on RS row. So my 6″ will have to end with a WS row which means an even number. 45 is not an even number. Do I round up or down? Again this depends, but I rounded up once and I am going to do it again.

Remember babies grow faster lengthwise. A little long, and baby has more time to grow into it. I am going to work the body pattern for 46 rows. I make a note of this on my schematic.

The dreaded raglan shaping (Whoopeee!) My size is 4″ (10) cm. 7.5 times 4″ = 30. (YESSSSSSS!) Even number no rounding needed, do the Snoopy Happy Dance.

Now I need to check to see how different my number is from their number. For that I look at the measurement for the entire piece. For the size I am making it is 11″ (28) cm. 7.5 times 11 = 82.5 rows. Now I add up the number of rows I actually plan to work. 8 + 46 + 30 = 84 rows. Divide 84 rows by 7.5 = 11.2″. I am not far off at all. I am going with my row numbers. I have successfully divorced my tape measure!

This is really quite easy. If for some reason I can’t get the pattern’s called for row gauge, I substitute my row gauge and doing the same figuring I find how much I need to knit for the size I select. It doesn’t get much better than this.

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Pattern: Hearts Abound Baby Socks

Page 4

Foot should read: Work even until piece measures 3 inches from the back of the heel or about 1.5 inches less than desired total foot length.

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Onion soup sustains. The process of making it is somewhat like the process of learning to love. It requires commitment, extraordinary effort, time and will make you cry.

Ronni Lundy

“The Seasoned Cook”  Esquire Mar 1984

Who knew that knitting was like making onion soup? Commitment, extraordinary effort, time, crying. Yep those are all elements of my adventure in knitting.

I thought it might be interesting to chronicle my struggle efforts to create a baby sweater from scratch. You know, take it from the commitment part right up to and through the crying jags. (Yes, I have read EZ’s book Knitting Without Tears and I still get frustrated to the point of tears.)

I must be honest here, I have serious reservations about documenting my day to day progress or non-progress. You see, if I completely knew what I was doing, I’d have no problem sharing the success and wisdom with you. However, this is the first time at trying my hand at designing a baby sweater. If failure, obstacles, or serious crying make you squeamish, you might want to turn your head and not read further. If,  however, you find pleasure in another’s suffering, by all means continue reading. This knitting adventure is for you.

First, I fell in love with what I hope will be the perfect yarn for the project. Cherry Tree Hill Supersock DK weight 100% merino yarn in Wisteria. The color is gorgeous and the yarn is wonderfully soft.

Because of the gentle gradations of color through out the yarn I have decided to let the beauty of the yarn take center stage as opposed to stitch work like cables.

I am thinking the sweater will be for a girl size 6-12 months. A pullover, though I’d really like to make it a cardigan. If it is a pullover, I would like to have some sort of decorative hem around the bottom of the sweater and bottom 2 inches or so of sleeves.  I am thinking of small, open work (almost lace-like) decoration for the hems. At the moment I am casting around; looking through my knitting stitches books, surfing the net, thumbing through magazines to see if any particular open work or part of any open work hits me as right.  At the same time, I am also thinking of necklines and debating whether I want to include a bit of complementary color in apricot of the same yarn.

What I am most worried about right now are the measurements: sleeve width & length, armhole depth, chest circumference, neck opening, waist, etc. There are many resources on the web where I can find the answers and I need to do that and nail down the exact numbers. Once I have the exact numbers, then I can swatch for a gauge. Once I have the measurements and gauge I can get a better idea of what stitches will fit …. I hope.

It’s onion soup: commitment, effort, time, and crying.

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