Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A year of sweaters!

When I went to Rhinebeck last year, I had not yet written a sweater pattern. I'd stuck my toe into garment designing with a few vests, but just hadn't quite worked up the nerve to tackle sweaters. There are hundreds of beautiful hand-knits to be seen at Rhinebeck, shawls and scarves, hats and cowls, mitts and gloves. But let's face it - it's really all about the sweaters!  I came home determined to pull out the sweater design I had been working on nearly a year before and give it a go.

In the winter of 2011-2012 I was playing around with Barbara Walker's top-down simultaneous set-in sleeve method on what later became my first sweater pattern - Serra. I had some notes I had found online in 2006 that I'd saved for future reference - mostly to do with changing Ms. Walker's proportions a bit. At the time, I didn't know of anyone else using her method. Turns out that several of us were exploring it at around the same time and now there are quite a few designs out there now based on that method. This was my prototype:

I had played around with other seamless construction methods before and sort of designed my own sweaters, but none of them fit like this! I love the look of set-in sleeves but hate everything about sewing them in - getting the pieces to fit (which often meant re-knitting a sleeve cap), doing the actual seaming (getting the tension just right, getting everything to line up perfectly, sewing in the ends from the seaming yarn), and the bulkiness that the seams caused. Not to mention that there was no way to know until you were done if the sweater was going to end up fitting properly. Here's a close up of the sleeve 'seam' on the final version of Serra -

Needless to say I LOVE this method of sweater construction and have thoroughly enjoyed this past year of adding sweaters to my pattern shop! In a year's time I've published 10 sweater patterns, have one in testing right now, and ideas for half a dozen more! And because it sometimes takes me a time or two to get thing just right, in the past year I have knit 18 sweaters! In the year's time before, I knit one! There are lots of sweaters that I have knit over the years, but I have only held on to about half a dozen from the past. The others I consider practice pieces. Sometimes you learn the most from the ones that are the biggest failures.

Here's a sneak peek at the design I hope to release in a couple of weeks -

I even like the grading process! I guess it pleases my inner math geek - but my family has learned not to bother me when I am up to my elbows in schematics and measurements and spreadsheets :)