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Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Great Design Project, Part 4

 As promised, I've finally found time to post about the progress on my Apogee prototype.  I'm very happy with the progress so far and things are coming along nicely.  I've been writing the pattern as I knit (or I'll never remember the details) and I can see from this very rough draft that I've got a lot of math ahead of me, and I'm definitely going to need testers (both tall and average height).  And it's going to be the little details that either make or break me.
 For example, I loved the idea of using cables to create the waist shaping because it kept the pattern more simple and allowed the knitter to customize how much it pulled in by simply adding more cables, or taking cables away.  No fussing about where the decreases should start and how far they should go before increasing again.  In my experience with sweater knitting, I always need to start the decreases about six inches from the underarm, but most patterns suggest starting before that (because they aren't as tall as I am).  On the other side of that coin, I always have to stop the decreases before they suggest and start working back out because even though I'm tall, I'm very short-waisted.  I only know all of this from many sweater experiments and finally getting one right.  So this method takes care of that and makes this a more simple knit...until you hit the ribbed hem, that is (but more on that in a minute).

 The OCD in me insisted on symmetry where ever possible, so that meant that the cables needed to appear to flow from the shoulder and down the body.  I didn't want all of the cables to appear out of no where and float in the middle of the sweater.  That took some serious doing to get it set up correctly, but once that was finished, it worked out just as I'd hoped and the alternating cables over the ribs kept things interesting enough to make the body work up very fast.  In fact, I averaged about a skein per night!  Once I reached my intended length, I started working on the ribbed hem.  Here's where things get complicated.

As you can see from this shot, the center cables extend all the way down the body and I wanted them to flow into the ribbing too.  That was harder than it sounded at first.  I couldn't seem to get the numbers to line up so that the center K2 column would continue down both sides (on the other side it became a P2) and when I finally decided that it didn't need to be that detailed, and that maybe I was the only one who really cared about that, I got to the end of the round and saw that it started and ended with a K2.  That's not good.  I needed to decrease two stitches so it would line up correctly.  So I decided to continue the cable-ribbing all the way down the hem, and to work a 2x2 ribbing over the front and back sts between them.  I needed to decrease the 2 sts from the front of the sweater to make that work and I think that has to do with where I started the neck shaping on the prototype...so I'm not sure if it will be necessary to do this in the actual pattern.  This is where the editor and the testers will be necessary.

Anyway, the reason you don't see the hem in any of these photos is that I haven't actually knit it yet.  I worked two rows and then put the body on a holder to start the sleeves.  This is unusual, but I decided that I needed to know how many yards were used in knitting the average length sweater (in order to calculate yardage for the other sizes) and the best way to do that, other than knitting two sweaters, was to stop knitting mine when I'd reached the finished length of the average 38" an work the sleeves until they are also the correct length of the average 38", and I'd get my numbers.  Then I'll go back and finish off my tall 38", and I'll know the difference between the tall and average yardages (in theory).  I have a very large swatch, and I'll have yardage for one size (in two different lengths), and I have an excellent reference book that discusses how to calculate yardage for a design...so once I finish and I've had some sleep (still working on that whole balance thing), I'll take a stab at it.

Oh, one more thing about the sleeves...they've got a fun surprise :)  A design element that I'm excited about and that I think you'll like...maybe.  Well, you'll either love it or you won't.  Let's just wait and see :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Great Design Project, Part 3


Today I should be working on my Juvenile Delinquency Unit 4 project (which is worth about 100 pts) but instead I thought it would be fun to create a button for my big design project :)  Feel free to take it for your sidebars if you wish (but remember to save it to your computer before uploading it).  I've organized it so that all posts related to this project should be accessible from the button on my sidebar. 
Last night, or early this morning depending on how you want to look at it, I finished the raglan yoke increases.  I put it on some extra needles and tried it on.  Success!!  I've been taking notes and essentially writing the pattern as I go because I know that I won't remember any of the details regarding what I've done or where I decided to start increasing on the neck edges, or how many stitches I decided to cast on under the arms.  I'm pleased with how the cable fit into the raglan section, and how the left-leaning and right-leaning increases crease a clean line on either side.  I'm continuing these cables down the side of the body and I'm planning to stagger more cables on either side of these (in pairs of two) to create the waist shaping.  That means that I should end up with a smaller waist in this sweater without having to work any decreases in that section.  I like that idea, and it makes it easier for the individual knitter to adjust for more or less shaping by adding or removing cables.
Now I know that the v-neck might look a little bit steep, but keep in mind that there will be a ribbed collar attached to it and that will bring it up a bit.  My plan for this sweater is to knit it to the standard length for a size 38 pullover, and then adjust the lengths up and down so I can figure out how long the average sweater should be, and approximately how many skeins will be needed for it.  Then I'll continue to knit it to the 6' measurements, and hopefully that will give me an accurate estimate of how many skeins will be necessary for the tall versions.

You know, I have a lot of school work waiting for me, and a Christmas stocking that needs to be finished by the end of January, but I'm having a really difficult time putting this sweater down, now that I've finally started it ;)  Next up, Part 4: cable waist decreases!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fly Tribe Blog Hop: Balance

 Last year, the East Coast was hit with a hurricane and we lost power for three days.  I was (and still am) in school full time, with kids in school, a husband who was having some medical issues, and I had just been asked to come back to teaching Sunday school at my church.  I was freaking out, overwhelmed, and worn out.

The storm taught me something.  When I was forced to unplug from the internet, I actually got more work done in a shorter amount of time (I know, it seems simple), but I also noticed that my boys were getting along better.  I started dinner earlier and we ate at the table together as a family.  It only took them about 12 hours to unplug and they were good.  They played outside, in their rooms, or with each other.  We went to bed early (because it was dark and there wasn't anything else to do).  We woke up early.  I cooked from scratch.  I was happy.  That was when I realized that burning the midnight oil trying to get it all done wasn't actually working.  Sometimes I needed to rest so my brain could run at full speed (see Saturday's post for another lesson on sleep, lol).  I needed Balance.
 This year, I've decided that balance was going to be my goal.  I'm still working on it, but yesterday I took the day off from school and I'm feeling more refreshed.  I'm still working on going to sleep earlier (I've tried every day for the last three night in a row, and failed).  But I've remembered to make dinner earlier and I've been creating a menu every week so that I can make a grocery shopping list for the week.  I'm hoping that if I can bring balance to my day-to-day life, I'll be able to carry that over to my creative life.
Now, about the photos, lol.  This is a pile of my current Works In Progress (commonly known as WIP's).  I struggled to come up with a way to express balance in my chosen creative form, so I decided instead to show my total lack of balance, and why I chose to go with it this year.  I have in this pile, 15 current works in progress (4 pairs of socks, two stockings, 1 sweater to repair, 1 blanket, 1 almost-finished shawl. 1 commissioned pair of pink children's mittens, fiber to be spun on my Turkish drop spindle, 2 sweaters, and a bag of sample yarns for design ideas).  This is typical of the way that I work, and I'm hoping to streamline a little this year.  And I'll admit, for the sake of full disclosure, that this large pile doesn't even represent a quarter of my current yarn stash.  I need some balance in my stash too :)
Now, I hope you enjoyed my post on balance, and I hope you'll hop on over to the Fly Tribe blog to read posts from other talented artists.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fly Tribe Blog Hop starts tomorrow!!

I'm really excited about this one!  I missed the sign up for last year's blog hop and I made sure to get in on this one.  Tomorrow, I'll post a blog about my word for the year.  There will be a link from that post to the official Fly Tribe Blog, with links to other blogs that are participating.  It should be fun!!  Now...to figure out how to represent my word in yarn.