Monday, March 16, 2015

Designing a sweater: Part 3

**I originally wrote this post for the Urban Yarns Blog on March 3, 2015. It is reproduced here with permission.

Where did we leave off last time? I think I had shared a bit about my first swatch and then left you with a nice teaser that today we would be talking about motif and design.

You may recall from any conversation with me ever that swatching is kind of important. It is a playground for experimentation through trial and error. I keep most of my swatches, whether successful or disastrous, because they are always learning experiences.

Before I get ahead of myself, here is a coloured sketch of the general sweater idea (this is the back of the sweater). You can more or less make out the waves, trees, and mountains rising from the lower edge of the sweater, and transitioning into... something. I didn't quite get around to planning every detail yet.

 Sweater 14

With that, and after some extensive colour-mapping, I got to work.

Sweater 15

And wound up with a pretty decent swatch!


I did make some changes to the design as I went, but this kind of planning allowed me to re-check my gauge, and helped give me a willingness to modify motifs on the fly, since I had a pretty solid grasp of how the fabric would alter. I'm going to leave you with a few more photos of my sketches for the time being, because I really do have to get back to work... Next time I promise I will have an actual progress update on the knitting of the sweater itself! (Hint: It's not done yet... there are rocky seas ahead).

Sweater 16




Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Designing a sweater: Part 2

**I originally wrote this post for the Urban Yarns Blog on February 16, 2015. It is reproduced here with permission.

A few weeks back, I introduced a new project of mine with a little backstory. I left off that post with a picture of my initial sketch and key design elements.

Now, before I get too heavily invested in choosing specific motifs and stitch patterns, I like to work out a few swatches with the yarn. Sometimes I'll start swatching motifs immediately, if I know I'm going to be working with a yarn with which I am familiar. This begs the question: What yarn am I going to use for this sweater?

I wanted something in the 20-22st/4" range (DK to worsted), because I didn't want it to be too bulky (but also not so fine that it takes forevvvvvver). I prefer to work in wool, or wool blends, however the future wearer of this sweater does have moderately sensitive skin, so nothing too "traditional" - that means a superwash or merino wool yarn. I wanted to have a good range of colours to choose from (since I knew I would be working with neutral colours, it was very important to have enough colours to choose from). And finally, I wanted it to be relatively inexpensive, so none of my favourite top-shelf fancy hand-dyed, luxury blends for this project.

My final choice? Rowan Pure Wool Worsted. I'd consider it a light worsted, it is reasonably priced, comes in a huuuuuge number of colours, is superwash, 100% wool, and I kind of just wanted to give it a try.


Choosing colours... Well, you may remember my earlier post on colour theory (note to self: work on part 2 of that series) where I focused on the importance of considering colour value when knitting colourwork. Well, knowing that I was going to be working three yarns that did not differ greatly in hue - paying close attention to value was especially critical for this project!

 I basically just pulled out all the neutral options we had, and started by getting rid of the ones that didn't appeal. I immediately tossed the pure white and dark black, as I was worried they would be too dramatic. None of the greys were really calling to me, and my partner had expressed a desire for warmer tones in the sweater, so I opted to stick to creams and browns. I slowly whittled it down to three - no real rhyme or reason beyond ensuring I had a high, low, and mid valued yarn, and three colours that looked nice together.


For the record, the colours I chose are 102 (cream), 103 (light brown), and 110 (dark heather brown).

Next up was swatching. Well, the first phase of swatching. When I work on a large project, it is often an iterative process. In this case, I had a loose idea of the kinds of motifs I wanted, so I just drew from my mental stockpile of easy patterns and went nuts. I always like to swatch with the yarn in plain stockinette (sometimes in a few needle sizes), and then in each of the stitch patterns to be used in the item. Here, I had examples of low density (the lice motif at the top), high density (the crosses and naughts), and mid density (the chevrons) stranded colourwork motifs. This photo was taken post-blocking, and you can actually see quite clearly just how much firmer the fabric is over a high-density motif - this is clearly going to be a structural concern when planning a multi-patterned sweater (at least 5 or 6 different motifs).


Well, I think I have rambled on sufficiently for today... But as a teaser for next time, I'm breaking out my design arsenal...

 Sweater6 Sweater5