the first issue of Knitty, I outlined
the fundamentals for revamping patterns
in general. This time around, you're getting
the behind-the-scenes tour.
the Cherry patterns
in this issue were inspired by fabulous yarns
in limited quantities. My best designs happen
within a fairly rigid set of limits. Each
step in the design process is a solution to
a challenge set by these limitations.
Cherry began after I ripped the yarn from
a sweater that the yarn screamed
to be freed from. It was so unhappy, growing
and pilling at the wrong gauge. I didn't have
enough yarn for a full-length sweater with
sleeves. I know Colinette Point 5 well enough
to know that a full sweater with sleeves would
be too warm for me anyway. So, what else could
turtleneck shells tend to emphasize childbearing
figure features in ways that I'd rather not.
Besides, there are already tons of such patterns
available, and I'd knit a few already. What
garment popped into mind: an off-the-shoulder
sweater with sleeves. Then a brainstorm: I
remembered a summer top pattern constructed
as a tube top, with ribbing up around the
would the challenges of this construction
be? The garment is held up by the fabric
running around the shoulders; there's no shoulder
seams for everything to hang from. It's got
to be way more than snug so the weight of
the garment won't pull down the fabric from
the shoulders. Nothing kills a sexy look than
having to tug it back up all the time.
else could I help it stay up? Well, different
stitch patterns worked into fabrics create
fabrics with different properties. Compare
k1,p1 ribbing to stockinette. K1p1 rib pulls
in when the fabric is relaxed, but also can
stretch out more than stockinette. K2p2 rib
is a little less elastic but still pulls in.
K3p3 rib, a step less elastic, etc. Garter
stitch [knit every row)] when knit across
the same number of stitches with the same
size needle on the same yarn is wider, less
elastic, and more dense than stockinette stitch.
Garter also uses more yarn than stockinette
to knit up a fabric of the same length and
width. Seed stitch [k1,p1; row 2, purl the
knit stitches, knit the purl stitches] works
up beautifully into a broader, flat fabric
that is less elastic than garter stitch.
eliminated stitch combinations like garter
or seed; though beautiful in this yarn, they
tend to spread laterally, and could only snug
up to the body if I greatly reduced the stitch
count in relationship to stockinette stitch
[which I had already chosen for the torso).
Also, they eat up more yarn than stockinette
or ribbings, and I had a limited amount of
yarn to work with.
ribbing is the most elastic of the stitch patterns,
uses less yarn, and is simple for an advanced beginner
to work (yes, another limitation - keeping the pattern
as simple as possible for publication!). Most
importantly, the structure of the stitch pattern
assists the structure of the garment - k1p1 rib,
by its nature, will help the sweater stay up.
So, I know it'll stay put when I wear it.
But why knit it in the round?
yarn like Point 5 always carries with it the
seaming challenge. How does one sew the seams
without them being superbulky like the yarn?
Additionally, there's something sublime about
knitting a simple tube with openings for your
arms, sewing in the ends, steaming it and
made these decisions, I used my measurements
as the foundation for the schematic [see column
1]. To ensure a super-close fit, I subtracted
15% from my measurements. Then came the swatch.
Once I knew the number of stitches it took
to make an inch and the number of rows per
inch, I sat down with the calculator and created
Cherry came out just right, but a bit dressy
for everyday wear. Then I found Classic Elite
Waterspun on sale - in a limited amount. I
matched the color up with the Berocco Mohair
Classic. Oddly enough, the Waterspun's color
name was Cherry. I knew I didn't have enough
yarn for the tunic-length Very Cherry pattern.
The length is what makes Very Cherry a dressy
sweater anyway. How could I adapt the pattern
to a sweater I could wear to my favorite java
Tighter. And the twist? The smooth texture
of Waterspun knit together with Mohair would
show a different ribbing nicely. The stitch
detail would create the kind of interest that
Very Cherry didn't need - that sweater's gorgeous
slub yarn gets it all the attention it deserves.
you can twist stitches in two different ways: by
knitting through the back loop of the yarn on your
left-hand needle, or, by wrapping the yarn backwards
(the opposite direction than you normally do when
you make a knit stitch). The twisted rib I
chose for Cherry Twist is made by knitting through
the back loop.
redrew the schematic, also choosing to make
the upper ribbing longer. Then I swatched,
dressed and measured my swatch to find my
I wanted to calculate how much yarn it would take
for me to have enough for the sweater, I measured
each stitch-area of the swatch, noting the surface
area of each stitch on the swatch. Then, I
ripped the swatch out, measuring the yarn as I unraveled,
yard by yard. After spending A LOT of time
with the calculator and my schematics, I breathed
a sigh of relief. I had more than enough yarn
for the sweater. (For more about calculating
yarn amounts, see the article, "How much yarn
do I need?" by Lori Gayle, Interweave Knits,
Spring 2003 issue, pp. 72-75).
gauge measurement was all I needed to plug
into the garment measurements on my schematic.
Voila! A few days later, I wore Cherry Twist
to my favorite java joint. To rave reviews,
digression: Swatching is essential to the
design process. I encourage you to swatch
whenever possible, to ensure proper fit. Read
the article on
swatching in this issue of Knitty for
more gritty details.
save my swatches, with their gauge measurements
and needle sizes pinned to them, in a nice
big shoebox. Those of a more organized nature
keep journals filled with swatches and notes
about the fabric, the fiber, the color, the
pattern they knit and any problems they encountered/solved.
However you do it, it's a great way to document
your work, and learn from what you've knit.