In the beginning

In the beginning there was an idea.  I had this thought of a sweater for spring, one that was cute and somewhat formal, but comfortable and easy to wear, like a tee shirt.  It would be knit in heavy lace weight yarn or light fingering yarn on very slightly oversized needles, so that it would create a light, drapey fabric that would breathe. It would look a bit like a blouse or a cardigan, but would actually be a pullover.  And there would be a little lace, but not much.

Then there was a sketch. And a hunt for yarn that was both the right weight and the right color.  And a swatch.  I found that it was not that hard to create a false placket with twisted stitches.  I played around with top down and bottom up construction.  I wrote up a proposal and submitted the idea to Knitscene for Spring 2010.  It came back.  I thought about it some more and decided that it was the idea of all my ideas that I was most excited about right now.  I ordered the yarn for the yellow version (I’d gotten enough for a swatch, previously, but hadn’t been committed to buying more till I knew what was happening with it) and decided that since I’d be self publishing, I wanted a second version with different sleeves knit in a yarn from a small dyer, and in a different color, to show how the pattern would be changed with a color difference.

There was also a lot of math.  I’d done the math early on, but I find that I often have to adjust a bit as I’m knitting.  I know there are designers who essentially write out the pattern, sit down and bang out the sample without having to change a thing, but I’m not one of them.  It’s a very arduous process for me, because I like to change things on the fly.

Take, for example, the twisted stitch placket.  Looked great in swatch form.  I was so pleased with my clever idea.  And then I started knitting the sample.  This is the crisis I met with:

For some reason, which, truthfully, I have not figured out even yet, one purl column became enormous and the other pretty much disappeared.   There was also some odd gapping between twisted stitches.  I tried taking the stitches off the needles and blocking it, to see if that would solve the problem, but nope.  It was like that.  Luckily, after a little cursing, a little begging for help from Ravelry buddies, and a few deep breaths, a solution presented itself.  The offending stitches were dropped back to the bottom and picked up again, only this time, I twisted the purls.  It’s made a big difference, and while a major blocking will still be needed (oversized needles make blocking extra extra doubleplus good), it no longer looks like the above mess.

This is what it looks like right now.  I don’t know how easy it is to see in this picture, but I can see a definite line between the blocked section and everything that follows.  Excuse the lumpy stitches – they should even out later!

I’m placing the shaping at the sides, not normally my preference, but I thought that darts would look awful at this gauge.  And I’m using a favorite shirt to help with the shaping.  I doubt I’m going to use the ribbon belt I’d imagined in the first place.  Those things can look nice, but they also can look over the top and can obscure detail and draping.  I’m feeling pretty optimistic thus far, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that something can always go wrong, so I’m not relaxing yet!

The above is all done with one skein of Malabrigo Sock.  I think I may well be able to get the entire sweater out of two skeins, though I have an extra for security.  (I’m not picturing the security skein as the one I carry about for comfort!)

So that’s where I’m at so far!  Most of this month will be dedicated to the two samples for what I’m planning on calling Sunniva.

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8 Responses to “In the beginning”

  1. thea Says:

    This looks beautiful!!! Amazing idea….

  2. Emily Says:

    Oh, how I envy you your sketching skills!

    Very cute idea; love the springy details – the little butterfly sleeves and the lacy neckline. Delightful!

    (And I make a TON of changes on the fly, too. I don’t even work math out all the way through before casting on. I like to see whether I’m on the right track before following that track along to its destination – though I have started using Excel to do all the sizes simultaneously, which saves me crazy amounts of time.)

    • Kristen Says:

      Emily, I feel so much better reading this. I do a lot of adjustments to my math on the fly, but so many designers I admire, when writing about their process, talk about having it all set to go from before cast on. I’m just not like that, and doubt I ever will be. The process gets more streamlined, but I leave a lot of wiggle room for changes of mind and emergencies and craziness that I never anticipated.

      Excel is from the gods. I somehow got familiar with all this other software before I ever understood how to use spreadsheets, but now that I use Excel for a lot of my math, I am a much happier lady!

  3. knittersplayground Says:

    it’s beautiful! good luck with the desiging from here on out – looks like the worst is over (don’t worry, i knocked on wood for you).
    Can’t wait to obtain a pattern 🙂

  4. orata Says:

    I love the sketch–so cute! and Holy Yardage, Batman–can’t believe you got all that out of one skein of Mal Sock. I’m excited to see the progress of the sweater!

  5. Sas Says:

    Thank you so much for opening up the design process and letting us participate in it. It’s really interesting to see such a project take shape. I enjoy your blog tremendously and love your choice of patterns and the finished objects, so I look forward to reading and seeing more in the future!

  6. Abramek Says:

    Thank you so much for opening up the design process and letting us participwte in it. It's really interesting to see such a project take shape. I enjoy your blog tremendously and love your choice of patterns and the finished objects, so I look forward to rewding and seeing more in the fu6ure!;

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