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Help me enjoy knitting again
5 years ago
I was thinking about this thread this morning while I was blocking something. It’s this pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/arlo
and it asks you to block to a schematic. I was thinking that there are only a few ways for a garment to not fit. One, it’s poorly designed. Same as with sewing patterns — it asks for too few inches for a neck opening because the designers didn’t realize that toddlers have proportionately large heads (or more frequently, the neck is far too wide on a cardigan and it slips off the tiny shoulders of little ones). Given that knitting patterns are not so easy to adjust as sewing patterns and all bodies are different, this is probably a question of insufficient pattern testing. You can see why there’d be minimal pattern testing, though — who has all those hours and all that yarn.
Two, it’s poorly drafted. The math just doesn’t add up. It asks for 5 sts/in and a finished width of 4 inches, but doesn’t ask you to cast on 20 sts. Same as with sewing patterns. Sometimes the pieces just don’t fit right.
Three, stuff changes in the blocking. Your gauge is right (not only at the beginning but throughout), you’re using the exact yarn called for, but you block differently than the author.
For all these, there are precautions you can take, very similar to the ones you take when buying sewing patterns. A professional designer (rather than a talented hobbyist with no professional experience or training who’s taken the advice of a social circle urging “you should sell your stuff on Etsy!”) is a better bet. A pattern with a lot of successful makes by other people is a better bet. A pattern with a schematic indicating the exact dimensions to which you should be blocking your piece is a better bet.
Ravelry really is an incomparable resource because it gives you not only opinions, but also photos. For example, a lot of people really love the Blank Slate blazer pattern but the proportions, especially on the collar, are not what I’m looking for. So have a peek at, for example, a few well-rated cardigan patterns and then ask yourself if the fit they offer is the one you want. Maybe you like a bateau-ish neckline, and the one in the photos hugs the neck closely.
Also, if you find one that has some design elements you really love but you’re worried you just can’t handle the technique, have a peep here:
I will say this about knitting — it’s harder than sewing to get started, but once you can adequately knit and purl and develop a feel for tensioning the yarn, you have the physical skill to do basically every other thing that can be done with knitting. It’s purely a question of understanding what to do — as opposed to something like sewing tight opposing curves or easing in a sleeve cap, which is easy to understand but requires a fair amount of physical finesse.5 years ago
I feel like I’m running an ad agency for Brooklyn Tweed at this point, but it’s just something I know well and can use for a further example; I’m sure many other designers have a lot of these fantastic features.
When looking at a knitting pattern, you might be happier if:
1. It has a lot of makes on Ravelry. You can look at modeled photos of other people’s projects and read their notes to see if the pattern has nice features or quirks. You can see if somebody else has made it in a yarn similar to what you used.
2. It has a schematic. This will look like sewing pattern pieces and will give you the exact dimensions of each piece. Since you already sew, this will probably be very useful.
3. It uses your preferred form of instruction (written (line by line) vs charts). Charts are scarier at first but SO MUCH better. They’re kind of visual, tend to have fewer errors, and it’s just much easier to keep track of where you are in the pattern. It’s easier to show than tell.
4. It calls out techniques in a lot of detail. There’s a WORLD of difference between a long-tail cast-on vs a tubular cast-on, there are many ways to do increases/decreases, etc. If it tell you what to do and why (and how!) it’s a better pattern and you’ll get a better result.
I hope all this is helpful! I know it’s a lot of blathering on but if somebody was telling you they just wanted to sew something and sewing patterns don’t work, you’d probably want to steer them away from rando etsy PDFs or vintage patterns of unknown origin and toward something more like O+S.5 years agomeleliza @meleliza
I’d like to point out that all the qualities you listed are exactly the opposite of Elizabeth Zimmerman. 😉
But I agree, I look for all those things. In fact, it takes hours of research to even begin to buy yarn and cast on, which is another of the problems with knitting. Problems with the pattern are not only harder to fix, they’re harder to see because you can’t make a muslin. Or baste fit or tissue fit.
Ravelry is great, but it’s just gotten so very cumbersome, that’s all. I feel like published in a book patterns are likely safer and I’m thinking the patterns put out by the actual yarn companies are maybe safer.5 years ago
Actually I can show you all four of those elements in EZ’s work — but as I noted, she can be a bit of an acquired taste, and really, there’s no need to push her onto anybody who’s said they’re not interested. Her legacy’s rock solid and not going anywhere.
But! It sounds like you have a good sense of what you want and perhaps just needed a bit of a vent. I was at my city’s Yarn Crawl last weekend and saw the Holi yarn you mentioned and it’s just wonderful. Really does make you think of a birthday cake!5 years agoLinda @Knitting1
Elizabeth Zimmerman is great, as Sarvi says, and fun to read! Even if you are not keen on what she knits she is an education! I’ve got two of her books and although the only thing I’ve knitted is the baby surprise jacket, I really enjoyed reading her words. And the jacket was interesting to knit too. You sound to me as if you are feeling very ‘down’ at the moment, though I might be wrong. Maybe set knitting aside for a while until you feel in the sort of mood to tackle it enthusiastically again. Concentrate on sewing some lovely Oliver +s things! X
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