a pattern. Although a few referred to me as a prolific knitter, I only knit 7 or 8 major projects a year…by major project, I mean adult size sweaters. Last year was an exceptional year–I challenged myself to do 12 but finished 14. It definitely does not including any quick knit I may make for friends, family, or charities (like scarves, hats, mittens,or socks.)
This year, I am focusing on original design, publishing, and marketing…so far, it takes up A LOT OF TIME and cuts into my knitting production time. It’s a totally different way of knitting…I’m thinking what if, let’s try this. At times, I sure feel like I am lost in a maze. Finally, I have the aha moment when I just know. I feel it deep inside that what I have come up with is worthy…by this, I mean good enough that I feel it’s worth while putting it all down on paper for others to follow. This hasn’t happened often to me…maybe ‘cuz I don’t do as much of swatches as most accomplished designers do. I am trying…to make a change…not without resistant, mind you..
While I love the challenge of original design, I also love the soothing quality of a good hand knit project…nothing like the feel of beautiful yarn, running through your fingers, over and around your needles, and the resulting luxurious hand-knit fabric that results. This green wee one, however, is in Caron Simply Soft, requested by most charitable organizations.
Before I begin making a swatch for gauge/tension, there are just a few things/ ideas I consider–backbone of my sweater design. Will it be functional? Wearable? Will I be happy with the finished project? Instead of working up a full-size sweater, the real thing, it’s common for me to knit up a child size first.
Who’s it for? This cardigan was intended for the Relief Nursery, hosted by generous Laura of Textile a Mano. Naturally, it determines the pattern, material, and design I’d create. I was going to pattern an unisex sweater. It will be something interesting to knit but also a boy or girl, who receives the sweater, would love and wear it as often as possible.
What are the specifications of the recipient? I need to decide on a clear image of its structure. Will it be fashionable, simple, fussy, sensitive skin, practical…? V-neck, crew neck, cardigan, hooded, long, or short. Personally, I don’t do well with high-neck sweater–which is viewed highly fashionable–as I’ve quite sensitive skin. So, it leaves me with cardigan, much easier for babies and elderly folks (like me) to wear. If I were just to knit for charity, the design would most likely be something for everyday wear, with a simple roll-up collar design, but, not just a plain stockinette stitch In my case. It is a good idea to do some research about the person’s specifications to design something suitable.
Material? Choosing the right yarn. Would it need frequent washing? Colorfast? Shrinkage? Feltable? Durable? Does it itch? Knit with yarn you love. Acrylic yarn such as Red Heart and Caron Simply Soft has improved significantly over the years. It’s not as painful as I remember my first encounter with it in early 80s.
The Pattern. Fun part of designing but it takes some time. I may ignore it if I were making a simple stockinette-stitch garment. This process overlaps with the gauge measurement (which I will cover next in the Design-Along series.) Most designer would start making a gauge square with stockinette stitch while browsing the treasury of stitch patterns. Me? I follow my brainstormed ideas and go right down to a motif/pattern (deep textures as shown below) that speaks to me.
Once the design is finalized after correction (yikes–mistake spotted!) I would re-engineer the pattern to seamless construction and knitting in round. It’s always good to jot down my thought process, step-by-step. Next part of the Design-Along series is about gauge. Stay tuned.
Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!
(still doesn’t do texting, MySpace, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…but caved into Facebook!)