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Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Great Design Project, Part 2

No photos yet, but I've got some stuff to share.  I decided to dive, and just start knitting.  I know I've got the necessary skill set to knit a sweater out of thin air (I've done it before and Lord knows I've got enough reference books!), and I'm feeling much more confident thanks to the success of my last project and finding a technical editor who will help me with the pattern grading.  So, I'm going to go ahead as originally planned and share my project with you.  I'm designing a top-down, raglan pullover with a v-neck and cable accents.  You'll see my successes and failures along the way, and I've got a few to share with you today, lol.

Lesson 1: Swatching is your friend.  If you value your sanity and your own time, swatch!  The bigger, the better.  Last night I swatched for a few hours while watching a movie.  It gave me the customary stitch and row gauge, but it also let me play with a cable idea that I'd been thinking about, and I used different hem ideas at the top and the bottom of the swatch so I could see which one I liked best.  I learned that the ribbed him would look better with the cables, and that the cables will definitely serve the function I had hoped for; they will provide waist shaping to this garment without the need for decreasing.  I like that idea and I think other knitters will too :)

Lesson 2: When you think you're ready to start knitting, you're really just going to do some garment shaped swatches, lol.  I cast on with the idea that I would incorporate a cable into the raglan shaping for this pullover.  I just thought it would flow better than having the side cables suddenly come to a dead stop, and it would provide just enough detail to keep this basic pullover from being just another stockinette top-down pullover.  Now, here's the think.  I'm anal about details and symetry.  I'm drawn to patterns that focus on the details and incorporate them into the design.  It makes the finished piece look more...finished.  This doesn't always make it easy to design (because you have to be able to translate what you've done into directions that other people can follow).

Lesson 3: Never work the numbers for a complicated design when you're sleep deprived.  Never!  I worked on my first top-down yoke swatch and figured out the basics of where I'd need to put the markers to allow for the extra stitches in the raglan section (that will become a cable), but I had trouble with the increases.  My first attempt worked, but it wasn't what I was looking for, and it seemed like the rate of increase was just too fast.  I questioned myself about this, because any top-down pattern I've ever knit (and I've knit plenty) has instructed me to work the increase round every other row.  However, my sleep-deprived brain figured out that I would need 172 sts for the body (gauge of 4.5 sts per inch x 38 inch bust = 171, with 1 st added to allow for a hem with 2x2 ribbing).  This will be important later.  So, I did the math and realized that at this rate, I'll have reached 172 sts after about six inches of knitting, but I actually needed to work ten inches before I could divide for the arms and work the body.  So, I did more math and figured that if I started with 68 sts and I need to get 172, that is a difference of 104.  Every increase round adds 8 sts.  Dividing 104 by 8 gave me 13.  I need to work my increase row 13 times, over 10 inches, or aproximately every 0.75 inches.  My row gauge (thanks giant swatch!) is 6 rows per inch, so that means that I'm increasing every 4 rounds.

With this sound mathmatical reasoning in hand, I grabbed a different skein of Cascade 220 and started a new sweater (setting aside the other one and leaving it on the needles so I could compare them and see what I liked best).  I put the markers in the right area, took notes on the increase row as I figured it out (I won't remember later), and managed to figure out exactly where to place the increases to get the look I was after in the cable section.  It was coming along beautifully, when that nagging feeling started again.  Finally, I took out three top down v-neck patterns (one written in child sizes, one in my gauge with different directions for the neckline, and another at my gauge and in adult sizes that provided a complete stitch count at the end of the increases).  After a short nap, I was clear headed enough to realize what the the adult pattern in my gauge had a huge number of stitches after the increases were finished, and that all three patterns increased every two rounds.  That's when it hit me like a ton of bricks...  I forgot to calculate the stitches for the arms, and I only calculated the stitches for the body!  I was increasing too slowly, and I wouldn't have any stitches for the sleeves.

So, I sat down with all of my reference materials and worked out what I hope will be accurate cast on numbers and stitch marker placement.  None of today's knitting was wasted, and now I'm going to pull out my most recent effort and start again...but not until I've slept :)

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