Monday, March 5, 2012

Design-a-long - The Paper Pattern Part 7 Putting it all Together

If you are all still with me on this project, it's time to start knitting! There is an optional step for those of you who would like to verify your work. You can consider drawing everything up in full size, adding seam allowances and sewing a version out of polar fleece or even using bits of old sweatshirts as your base fabric. It's the simplest and quickest way to confirm that your measurements, ease "guesstimates" and vision will match up with your intended garment. Be aware that the only way to see how the fabric truly behaves is to knit the garment. Experience helps you to improve your vision but it is not infallible. You don't need a sewing machine to do this as there is very little sewing required. It allows you to check the details with a knit fabric. You will need seam allowances at all the edges except the hems and center front edges. Make sure you include your band width on those. You can pin all the pieces together or baste them with a simple running stitch. Remember this isn't for looks it just gives you the opportunity to test the ease, confirm that you like the armhole depth, verify that the body and sleeve lengths are correct and look at any fitting issues you have had in the past. 

When I'm knitting for myself I don't write a formal pattern. I use the schematic and I write in all of the pertinent stitch numbers. I also take this opportunity to check that the counts make sense. I check things section by section. As an example I add the stitches of both shoulders to the neckline stitches and after that add in both sets of armhole cast offs. That way I confirm that the total matches the original cast on number. Sometimes in the rounding off of stitch numbers you will gain or lose a few so you need to correct them. Do this for both the front and back as well as the sleeve.

I also give some thought to seaming and if I need to adjust stitch numbers to balance any stitch patterns. I use extra plain selvage stitches for my seams if I have a stitch pattern as it makes the finishing a little easier. Once you work your way through the numbers you will find that due to gauge and ease requirements you have to make decisions about size increments that are controlled by the gauge. Have you noticed that some pattern schematics reflect rounded off numbers at different levels in even increments and others round off at different levels and seem to jump sizes oddly? Try comparing a pattern from the Interweave Knits magazine to one from Knitters. Some publications round off to whole and half inch increments and others go to quarter inch increments. This is done due to the multiple sizes that are reflected on one schematic. It also gets much more complicated when you start to deal with stitch repeats. 

You can use all of your knitting graph paper charts and a single schematic of each piece to summarize the knitting details for you to use to knit your garment from. I've included a scan of my sleeve at the top of this post as an example. 

I started with a cast on of 52 stitches, I will knit straight for 4.5 inches, then I will increase 1 stitch every 6 rows, 6 times and then 1 stitch every 4 rows, 4 times on each side, that gets me to 72 stitches. I will then knit straight until I have a total of 16 inches. I'm doing a contoured sleeve with a straight beginning and end so I know I also have a little room for fudging when I check my sleeve up against my body and the finished body of my cardigan. I usually pin the bottom of the sleeve together and leave the stitches on a needle at the top while I do this.

My sleeve cap has been graphed as 67 rows. I've noted in all the decrease steps that I need to execute. You will notice that my instructions are a little more complex than those that appear on most patterns. This is due to my customized fit, patterns often simply the instructions both for space and because they are giving instructions that are more generalized.

Links to the other posts:


  1. Ok Robin, I've been following along and have designed my sweater (ok I copped out and designed hubby's sweater as he wanted one and I thought it would be easier for a first as his is straight and mine is VERY curved). Anyway my question is what about the collar. And can you put a link on these to tie them together to make them easier to find? I keep revisiting them, if they were all linked with the same tag or at the end had links to the previous ones it would help so much. I know I'll have to re-read them when I design my own sweater after hubby's is done.

  2. Just realized that sounded kind of bossy and I never did thank you for all your insight. I'd have tried to design my own sweater for hubby as I couldn't find exactly what he wanted but this is SO VERY HELPFUL. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!