Up here for thinking

On Saturday, I attended a knitting workshop by Liz Gemmell, put on my my branch of the Knitters Guild of NSW. It was, I suppose, an introduction to designing your own knitwear – or adapting existing patterns, either in size or construction method or technique. Liz also told us a bit about her career as a knitwear designer and showed off some of her garments and other designs, including the most amazing knitted floor rug – knit in the round from the centre out, in traditional fair isle, into a square, using 12ply (bulky) wool and 4mm needles. Just amazing!

For homework, we were asked to knit a 25cm swatch – that’s a big darn swatch, especially when you don’t have as much time to knit as you used to, but it was worth it in this case. I decided to swatch for Olive, because I am so keen to knit and wear this! I used the Isager Strik Alpaca 2 yarn the pattern specifies (thanks Pru for destashing!!), which is a fingering weight 50/50 Alpaca/wool.

The newspaper is the pre-blocked size, the post-blocked swatch is underneath. I was surprised that the swatch didn’t grow more in length on blocking, as alpaca usually will do that. I think I will reblock it, and hang it while damp – that will be a better measure of true gauge I think. I will not, however, shake and thwack it while dripping wet, as Liz advised. I just can’t!

Liz suggests measuring gauge in 3 different spots on the swatch, and averaging. An interesting exercise, as my gauge did differ a little bit over the swatch (by 1 stitch or 1 row).
I’ve decided I’m going to alter the pattern a bit – I love the gathered neckline and striped garter edging, but I think the blouson style body will just make me look pregnant. I could just not decrease before the garter edge on the bottom, but as there is no shaping in the body, I think that will also look like a maternity top. So I’m planning on putting in waist shaping. I’m glad the pattern is knit all in one piece from the top down, as that will make it a lot easier for me to try on as I go, but I will also, as Liz taught, draw out the pattern in its entirety before knitting it, and ensure my gauge and measurements will all match up (that’s the “up here for thinking” reference).

Yeah, maths. Not my favourite way to spend an afternoon, but it will be worth it I hope, to ensure the fit of this garment is what I want it to be. Because really, my hatred of frogging is far greater than my dislike of a few sums!


Filed under Olive

13 responses to “Up here for thinking

  1. I'm going to follow your adaptation with interest! I like the gathered top, too, but just too full in the body. Good luck!

  2. DrK

    I am going to follow her advice too and do the drawing etc. And get out the tape and measure me too! I will have faith that taking the time to do the maths will be worth it. I think your plans for olive sound excellent and I look forward to seeing how you go with it. That yarn is beyond smooshy too!

  3. Oh I hate the maths too. I had my resident mathematician work out my increased for a cardi the other night, but I still don't understand the sums, or the logic. Guess I'll have to keep him on staff a while longer!

  4. very very interesting. The mind boggles over the floor rug. What i'd give to see that up close.I love the idea of cutting out a sqare of paper to really get a visual of how a swatch grows. Brilliant! And I remmeber the yarn harlot talking about gauge being different in the same piece. Did Liz have advice on which bit of the swatch to read then?

  5. That sounds such an interesting class, and your tension square is so beautifully knitted: perhaps it could be a pocket??!! Oh, Maths, I love Maths!! Good luck with the numbers.

  6. What a great class! I can't wait to see how your sweater develops!

  7. Oh gosh yes, do the math twice, just in case. Frogging fingering weight alpacca would be a nightmare.

  8. Go sums – hope they lead to a great garment for you

  9. The calculating and measuring as you go is well worth the effort. A garment that fits the first time and fits in the right spots is such a boon especially with the yarn you are using. I really appreciated the time I put in to do the calculations on my cardigan. I knew that as soon as it was sewn together it would fit and that was such a wonderful feeling. Your knitting time is so precious, frogging would be such a waste of it.

  10. I certainly agree that math is less evil than frogging!I love the sweater you're working on. The yoke is adorable. I admire your courage in making significant modifications. I'll be following your progress.

  11. Ann

    Sounds like an interesting class & that is a big swatch. I hate swatching & always just knit a little one. Maths is a big part of knitting & it's worth the effort.

  12. oh and I just saw Retrofit – what a fab job you did – and the boys at the end look super cute šŸ™‚

  13. I love the look of that sweater. You are doing well finding time to knit. Take care.x

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