Thursday, 13 October 2011

This might actually work

Designing my own knitting pattern, starting with a paper pattern traced off a favourite t-shirt. Three kinds of graph paper: a grid drawn on the pattern, knitter's graph paper, and good old square graph paper. If it works, I'll show you how. If it doesn't work, I'll show you anyway and we can figure out what I did wrong. But so far, so good.

Why bother with all this nonsense in the first place? Mainly because I spent three weeks knitting something that ended up not fitting the way I wanted it to. My tension was correct, I scrutinised the schematic diagram, I measured myself and several items of clothing, I tried it on three-quarters of the way through and ripped back and knitted a whole section again - and still it didn't look like the photo*.

I'm tired of this.

It's all very well reading instructions for how to modify patterns to fit, but I find it difficult to understand what changes are needed when the garment doesn't exist yet and I can't try it on. The calculations make sense in theory, but trying to apply them to an imaginary garment makes my brain just plain stop. So I'm doing this by drawing. There are numbers, yes, but they're little blocks I can move around on the page, and I can see what I'm doing. It's more counting than maths.

Working from an existing garment means that I understand how it fits, and how I'll need to change it. I can pin and measure the t-shirt, judge the effect in the mirror, move around and decide whether it's comfortable. Looking at a flat pattern and understanding how it will fit in three dimensions is a skill acquired through experience; I don't have that experience.

I'm aware of Zimmerman techniques, knitting from the top down in the round and the percentage system. I've just never seen a jersey** made like that that I'd want to wear. Some I'd want to knit, they look like fun, but I prefer seams and corners to my clothes. It's just a matter of taste. 

Ultimately, I'm making a basic block that I can adapt - just like in sewing. Then, if I like the look of a pattern, I can buy it, draw the schematic up to actual size, lay it over my block that I know fits, and adjust it by drawing.

I really hope this works. If it doesn't I may give up knitting.

*That's not because it was on a model and I'm not a model. It was the new style of knitting photo, on an 'ordinary person'. I'll rant about average sizes and shapes and how they are actually useful in allowing people to judge whether an item of clothing will fit them, some other time. Suffice to say that we've all spent years buying clothes displayed on average shapes and are surely quite well practiced at guessing how they'll look on us. Models may be thinner than we'd like, but it's their proportions, not their actual measurements, that matter when they're displaying clothes..

**Yes, a jersey. If I lived somewhere else it might be a sweater or a pullover, but I don't and so it's not.


Kayanna said...

Good for you trying to design your own pattern! And you just can't give up knitting so I'm sure this will work! :) Can't wait to see what happens.

June (planetjune) said...

This is exactly the way I've been planning to crochet a cardigan for myself, so I'll be very interested to see how it works for you. I've planned it for many months, I have the yarn and the intent, but haven't quite managed to find the time to start yet.

It makes intuitive sense that this will work, but I know that there are odd factors to take into account when designing knitwear, like the way the weight of the yarn stretches the piece when it's hanging vertically vs laid flat, and I don't know how much of a difference this would really make in practice. Maybe it applies more to crochet than knitting, and I'm sure it's dependent on the yarn and stitch pattern used too, so hopefully won't affect your jersey-in-progress.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I hope it works too! You can't give up knitting... if that happened it would surely point to some greater disturbance in the universe ;)
Good luck, and have fun with it!

flowerpress said...

I think you're a classic visual learner like me. I was working out pillowcase measurements today and ended up drawing it in illustrator to double check the seam measurements, it all makes better sense when I can see it.

heleen said...

I think that it must work. I agree with you that knitting something that fits well is not easy. I just manage since short (well, usually). But as you know I love knitting seamless. Do you know the phoney seams of mrs Zimmermann? Those look like seams, but are not. And in one of her books, she also explains serval ways to join sleeves that look like they are seamed.

By the way, did you run out of your ribbon with scissors? It would be THE perfect ribbon to hide the steeked stitches of my icelandic cardigan.

Ruby in the Dust said...

Good luck with the pattern; I totally understand. You invest so much time and effort into a jersey :) , of course it has to fit after all that work! I feel so much more in control when I sew my clothes; knitting seems more mysterious and takes me about a million times longer...