Monday 31 January 2011

I'm setting up my day of work on the book. At this stage the book doesn't look like anything but a pile of papers but Bernice and I made some decisions on Friday which I am going to put in. We've added one stitch to the buttonbands so we can work a slip stitch at the edge of the garter stitch bands to neaten up the edge. Task 1) 1 st to be added to any place where the buttonbands show up starting with the Cast On.

While we are working on getting the plain garter stitched bordered sweater done we have to remember that we are going to put stitch patterns in this sweater. Since this is a multi-gauge pattern which starts with sock yarn and goes up to chunky weight yarn, the extremes are the places to check. Does the largest size with the finest yarn work? Does the smallest size with the heaviest yarn work? In this case the chunky yarn in the small sizes needed some tweeking. We had to decide what the smallest number of stitches we could work with on the Fronts. That took a bit of discussion and working out some stitch patterns we would like to use. Task 2) tweek the numbers on the 2 small sizes with the heavier yarns.

We also made a large decision to fit into the constraints of the book. We have a certain number of pages available to us. That was a decision made some time ago. It's actually one of the first decisions. I wrote out the plain sweater for each size individually because I thought it might be easier for the knitter to work but it takes up too many pages and we won't be able to get to the designing part. Task 3) Right up charts with all 4 sizes on them.

There, a days work at least and here we go . . .

Thursday 27 January 2011

It's Thursday already. Where did the week go? The shrugs have gone to the photographer, that pattern is written up so it's back to thinking about baby sweaters for me.
The new book Bernice Vollick and I are working on this winter is a multi-gauge Top Down baby cardigan book. I've knit 3 of the sizes in chunky weight yarn to check the necks. Now we're talking button placement, buttonband width and anything else that comes up. I've done the charts for all the sizes and gauges and Bernice has set up spread sheets so we can manipulate the numbers if we need to. I've written up the first 10 pages of the book with a basic pattern using the charts. If you've seen our Need A Hat? or Need A Sock? books you know what I'm talking about.
The format for the book and figuring out how to make it user friendly is the first and biggest part of our book writing. How much information is too much? How can we make it understandable? What are we assuming the knitter knows that they might not know (that's a tough one). Does it all follow smoothly or do we have to move this information onto the next page? Have we put too much information on any page? Does this sound like fun yet? Actually, it is. I love this stage of the game. Once we have all this figured out the rest just falls into place believe it or not. 

If you knit every size in every weight of yarn there are 36 sweaters so far. There aren't any actually knit up yet but the potential is there. I've knit 3 partial sweaters and Bernice has also be working on a couple. There will be many, many more by the time we're finished. The designing of the sweaters comes much, much later. Right now we have to get the bare bones worked out. Tomorrow we take a look at what we have so far. I'm excited.

Monday 17 January 2011

Sizing is always on my mind but I'm ready to move on. Thanks to all for your comments. There are some very interesting thoughts there if you haven't read the comments from the last couple of posts.

Today I finished writing out the Shrug pattern and sent it away to the pattern checker. Now I need to finish up the test knit I'm doing with the finished pattern  which will give me another check on it. This is a different size and a different yarn than the blue one I had posted earlier.
This is a boucle by Diamond. It's so soft, you can't imagine. I had to rip back an inch when I decided to make a change and it rips and knits up again wonderfully. I'm very close to finishing the cap sleeves and then 5" of body to do and I'm done. It's a quickie.

Thursday 13 January 2011

I've been writing patterns which means I don't have any photographs to show you. I have started a testknit but it's not very far along either. So...let's talk.

Sizing, of course, comes up on the other side of the pattern too. How does the pattern fit the body you are making the garment for. I find I have to adjust everything I make. I'm 5'0" tall (that's about 4-6" shorter than average) so nothing I pick up is right for me. Some petite clothes work well but even some of them are too long. Usually I estimate 4" less length on a sweater and I leave the sleeve length alone since I am quite used to very long sleeves on everything I wear. Sleeves down to my knuckles seem normal. I also like my sweaters on the loose side even if a tighter fit would look better. It's personal!! Waist shaping really helps to make a better shaped garment even if it's a little big. I work it out for myself as I go. I find all of this adjusting easier to do on a Top Down garment which may explain my facination with them.

How does the sizing issue come up for you? Do your sweaters fit right from the pattern without changes? Do you check the schematic and make alterations?

Liz, gasp, no raglan?! They are a sizing challenge, I totally agree, but that's part of their charm for me (the knitter who has 2 calculators in her knitting bag).

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Sizing is a challenge to designers writing patterns. And I agree with Sharon (last post comment) that a plus sized pattern should include bust darts, etc to make the fit better. The added challenge for working from the top down is to get the number of stitches needed for the body without huge sleeves and a deep yoke. I have been experimenting with these ideas behind the scenes for a while and am almost convinced I could take on the challenge. I have been working up to it and now have a couple of plus sized women who will help with the sizing and garment knitting.

I get asked about resizing, especially for childrens' patterns, quite often. Generally I suggest a change of yarn. Working the sweater in a different gauge of yarn will make the sweater bigger (thicker yarn) or smaller (finer yarn). This works if the size needed doesn't stray too far past the size the pattern is written for because the change of size is proportional. If the change of gauge makes the sweater body 10% bigger then it is 10% bigger everywhere. The sleeves, neck opening, cuffs, etc are all 10% bigger. Up-sizing for plus sizes this way doesn't work as well. The change of gauge doesn't account for the smaller changes in the back of neck measurement and the sleeve width as you work the larger change in body size. Complicated! That is why I think dedicated patterns for sets of sizes work best and the up-sizing of smaller patterns doesn't work as well. But that brings us back to the small number of plus sized patterns available. Around and around we go. I'll use this as a push to get some of my ideas fine-tuned and down on paper.

Have you had success up-sizing patterns?

Friday 7 January 2011

Again the sizing question comes up. I only want to deal with 6 sizes so what kind of range should I use. Brenda and Liz both think younger women will want to knit this shrug and I agree. But if I go down to a 33" finished size I am chopping off quite a few larger sizes that some young women might need. So I have decided to write up two patterns. One which will go up to the large size and then I'll rework the pattern in a finer yarn which will take me down to a 29" finished size, great for some 12 year olds. The finer yarn also makes all the details of the garment smaller too which is a bonus and will make it look better for some petit women. It means there will be two patterns available for the same garment with some overlap of sizes.

In the Ample Knitters list there was a topic about magazines not catering to the larger sizes. I totally sympathize. How frustrating is it to buy a magazine where your size is not included. I think it's partly because of the limits of size range of a design but it may be the market that the magazine to geared for. Size range is complicated. What do you think?

Monday 3 January 2011

Happy New Year. Here we are at the start of another year.

Today is my first working day and it's time to organized my work for the next month or two. I have several projects on the go.
This Little Tumbler sample from the Baby V book needs finishing because it is going to the Stitches West show in February. I think there are a couple more samples which will need knitting up so this one needs to be done quickly to clear the queue.

This shrug cardigan needs to be written up from my little squiggles on the back of an envelope (my normal pattern writing method) and then photographed. I still have to decide on the size range for it. Right now I have it starting with a finished bust of 37" and going up to 52" finished with the overlap of the front bands. There are 6 sizes in total so if I want to go a size smaller I'll have to take off the biggest size. What do you think?
I've also almost got the idea for the next book figured out. I'm still working on how best to present the charts for the multi-gauge baby sweaters. They have to be easy to follow and fairly straight forward in their application. I hope this book will encourage knitters to add in their own stitch patterns to make the sweaters their own design. It's coming along.
And I am still knitting socks. If you are too I hope you'll join us at our Sock KAL and show off your knitting. I'd love to see it. You can blog along with us by emailing me, it's all there on the KAL blog site.

It looks like the winter is going to have lots of busy knitting in it. Have you made any plans?