28 April 2012

Little Challenges

If you've visited Truly Myrtle before, you'll know that I sew as well as knit. I do use sewing patterns, but more often than not these days... I just make things up myself.... usually as I go along. On the other hand, when I knit I don't have quite the same confidence and usually follow a pattern, changing it only a little, and only sometimes... 

I have dipped my toe (albeit my littlest one!) into the world of knitwear design recently and published my very first (free) pattern Flower Power Headband, which was super fun, but aside from that, have experimented with pattern writing only a little. But, today, day six of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, I declare that everything is about to change! I am going to fetch my calculator, my yarn and my needles, gather my numerous books around me, ask lots of questions on Ravelry, and most importantly of all, ignore my fear and have a go at designing something lovely. Oh yes, I am.


Tess Cardy

Do you remember this lovely ball of yarn? It's Artesano 4ply Alpaca in Anemone from Peru. The ball is a little smaller now because I have knitted a swatch. This little swatch is the beginning of my challenge. To design something lovely. But what?

Maggie Righetti introduced me to the idea of listening to what my yarn is telling me, in her book Sweater Design in Plain English. I love this idea. It feels like such an organic approach and for me, removes some of the pressure to "get it right". So I knitted, and tried to listen. Sure enough, this yarn let me know what it needed.

Tess Cardy

It doesn't want to be knitted into a baby hat, like I had thought. It wants to be a wee summery cardigan for a little girl. Hmmm. Okay. What else? It wants slightly puffed sleeves, in garter stitch. It's happy for the rest of its body to be stocking stitch, provided it has a pretty, curved border. It's thinking moss stitch, or something like that. Maybe some eyelets. It might like a button closure, but only one, and it hasn't definitely decided that yet.

Pretty cool huh?! But now it's up to me to get this pattern rolling. To get started, my books tell me, I need to grab a ruler.

Tess Cardy

This is where I start to waiver. (And, looking at that photo, so does my knitting!) Am I counting correctly? It all depends on the swatch right? Accurate numbers and all that. I am more of a big picture, ideas person. Detail is not my strongest point. I am hoping to glean some knowledge from your experience. Will you help me learn? Will you tell me your design tips and let me know if I am going wrong!

Sorry to the folks who love inches, but I work in metric in my head and, as I'm feeling slight panic right now, to avoid any extra stress, I'm going with centimetres. I can convert it all to inches later... My blocked swatch tells me that in size 3mm needles, my yarn knits into a nice looking stocking stitch and its gauge measures 28.5 stitches over 10cm. So far so good.

Tess Cardy

It's slightly different in the garter stitch, where it measures 26 stitches over 10cm. It's fuller where there is garter, perfect for the sleeves. 


Tess Cardy

Lengthwise I have made a bit of a boo boo because I didn't knit quite enough, only 9.5cm. Whoops! Oh well, it's measuring 35 rows over that 9.5cms. Let's hope that doesn't totally muck things up... will it?

So, hopefully that's my first bit done. Swatch and gauge. My next task is to pin down the littlest person in our house and measure her. This sounds like the easy part. You might be surprised. I thought I'd make something for her for Project Run & Play this week. I know, am I crazy doing that as well as Knitting Blog Week, or what? Anyhow, it turns out I am. She flatly refused to try on the partly finished dress I'd made her out of beautiful red wool (more recycled Sweater... Earth Week, upcycling, my perfect challenge!) and I had to abandon the idea. If she wouldn't even put on the dress, there was no chance this two year old could be persuaded to pose for photos.

But back to my lovely design challenge. Given that I tend to invent stuff as I go along, I thought I'd make this challenge a little one ....that way there will be less to frog... And anyway, my yarn told me it wanted to be snuggled around a very little person.

If you want to see more challenging day six posts search KCBWDAY6. I'll see you tomorrow for the last of my Knitting and Crochet Blog Week posts for 2012. It's a knitting vs. crochet thing.... ever seen me crochet? In the meantime, don't forget to enter my giveaway or to vote in my Select-A-Sweater if you haven't already! X




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21 comments:

  1. Oh yummy swatch!! You can totally do it :) I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

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  2. Yes! This is my plan to, to actually challenge myself and design something lovely :) I've written today's post on some books I'm planning to read to help my design skills, you could have a look in some of them if you're looking for advice.

    I'm looking forward to see what becomes of this lovely yarn! :)

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  3. I found a lovely lady to follow this week by reading lots of posts and she plays with knitting...what a great idea! The perfect way to find out how to shape and measure for doing your own patterns. She knits lots of little toys. She also loves short rows and Kitchener stitch as much as me! Who would have thought. Jump in and start swimming I say, can't wait to see what you come up with. Sounds awfully cute :-)

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  4. Just a quick tip, make sure you block your swatch before measuring, and I would suggest blocking it in the way you intend to block your final piece. I made this mistake with my first few designs, I didn't block and ended up with projects that needed frogging in their entirety, and they weren't on the small side either! Blocking can change things significantly, but it also evens out your stitches so you get a more accurate picture.

    Have fun with your designing!

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  5. I'm glad the yarn told you what it wanted to be! It looks like it will be a great summery cardigan.

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  6. from seeing your beautiful sewing work I am sure you can do this. I will look forward to seeing what you come up with

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  7. I love the color you chose. I enjoyed reading about your design process. I long for time to work on some of my own designs.

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  8. That is some VERY communicative yarn you've got there! Mine just says stuff like "nope" or "wheee!"

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  9. I think that your sewing background will translate very well into knitting pattern design. I love, love, love that yarn. It is so pretty!

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  10. Gorgeous yarn! It looks so soft, and the colour is just perfect. I wish my yarn spoke to me so clearly :)

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  11. Lots of luck on your sweater. Doesn't look like there's enough yarn to knit a sweater, got my toes and fingers crossed for you. I really don't count well, the whole swatch thing truly goes over my head. Also, I've used some yarn that really doesn't frog well and so use that for an excuse not to swatch.

    Awesome color

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  12. I'm so impressed you're making you own patterns ! Brilliant post, gorgeous yarn, love it all !

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  13. Can't wait to see the finished product! Love the color.

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  14. You have listened well to the yarn. Love the color, and can't wait to see how the yarn ends up. :)

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  15. Gorgeous colour in your yarn! Good for you for dipping that toe into the design waters! I am sure you will be a big success

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  16. Hi - good luck with designing. I love alpaca wool; its so soft but also I like knowing it came from such cute animals (I'm a bit soft too!!) I have been knitting since I was 7 but I never realised you were supposed to block knitted items - oops! Never had any complaints though. Lily. xxx

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  17. Your yarn is so beautiful. It'll be a beautiful garment, I 'm certain!

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  18. I'm anxious to start properly designing, too. I think it's a great goal so maybe we'll push each other along.

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  19. Love your design ideas for that yarn. Such a pretty color.

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  20. Alpaca is gorgeous stuff, and that colour is sooo pretty! I'm not sure how much you have knitted with alpaca, so forgive me if you already know - just be sure to use a smaller needle so avoid the yarn stretching once knitted. Something like 3.5mm instead of 4mm for DK weight should do it.

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    1. Thanks for that - i did find that I had to go down a needle size or two to get good tension in the fabric - my swatch was knitted on 3mm in the end (it's 4 ply) and after washing and blocking seems to be okay. Good tip.

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