Friday, August 06, 2004

Designing Knitwear

The Rainbow Doily has another two rounds completed, would have been three but I found a mistake that I couldn't ignore and had to rip out an entire round. With three strands of sewing thread that makes for some nasty tangles if you are not careful. As I pulled, I carefully wound it around a coaster I had handy....seemed to do the trick, but was not entirely free of tangle related growls.

For those who intend to tackle this doily in the future I have a word of caution. Be sure to buy enough thread! It calls for three seperate spools of thread for each color. I have found that as I move out in the doily and the rounds get progressively longer, I AM completely using up one of the spools. Check out the of my orange spools is empty. I experienced a tangle problem and had to cut out a bit of thread and ended up entirely emptying one of the spools.....and that is only at the mid-way point of the doily. Subsequent rows will use even more thread. This doily uses a LOT of thread.

Maggie Ann asked how I learned to make my own knitting patterns. It was a gradual process Maggie. I designed my first VERY simple sweater after reading a (long since given away) book that I don't remember the title of. It was a simple, square bodied, boat necked, drop shouldered pullover for my daughter who was about 5 at the time. The only style involved was from the use of various yarns and a fringed neckline trim. It was successful enough I suppose but had all the fitting problems of the "Da Vinci Man" sweater.

Other than minor adjustments in length, or the substituting of another yarn for the one specified, I did very little designing after that.....until I purchased "The Sweater Wizard" and I haven't looked back since. It's a great program and I still use it to get the basic stitch counts, but have learned a lot about my personal fitting preferences and do a lot of "tweaking" of the default patterns the program generates. For instance I find the sleeves of the program too tight and "70's" and I always widen them. It's not a problem to do this with the program.....many measurements are completely adjustable.

My real, true grasp of knitwear design has come only recently from reading books recommended by other knitters at the KR forum. Elizabeth Zimmermann's "Knitting Without Tears" was a great start. A "chatty" book filled with good information, I borrowed a copy from the library and read it cover to cover. "Sweater Design in Plain English" by Maggie Righetti goes even further and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in trying their hand at knitwear design. While more "textbookish" and less fun to read, it does cover the subject in great depth.

Learning to design knitwear basically boils down to three important things....swatching, measuring accurately, and MATH. Simple math, but lots of it. A calculator has a permanent place of honor in my knitting bag. Maggie Righetti's book holds your hand through all the steps making designing easy.

Try it. You might suprise yourself.


Maggie Ann said...

Marlene, thanks for giving a "behind the scenes" look at sweater designing. It is interesting for sure. I've got my eye on a book by Maggie Righetti at the Barnes and Noble.....I love to go and browse the knitting section. I intend to check out some knitting books at the library also. Good idea. Designing a sweater seems way beyond me at present, but who knows ?? Thankyou for the help about my blog, it is appreciated :-) It's people like you who help others to accomplish what they did't know they could. As Martha Stewart would say "It's a good thing"

Michelle said...

Thanks for the heads up on the thread amounts for the doily.

What thread are you using?