Mar 11, 2007

A belated introduction

My name is Sachi and I'm here to learn.

I'm a knitter and a spinner. I've played with dyeing and I've created simple knits. I have yet to design a garment of any significant size, mainly because I personally am of fairly significant size. As a larger woman, who has yet to learn much in the way of patience, creating a sweater that fits me and having it end in less-than-perfection is far too much to bear at the moment. Not only that, but the thought of having to rip something of that huge size is just so daunting that it makes me want to take a nap.

But I'm learning patience and the concept of math/gauge/ease/fit are starting to take a proper hold in my mind. My first sweater of my own design is getting closer every day. I look forward to absorbing information and inspiration from all you lovely folks here at the Create Along. While I may not have much to contribute to this group in the way of new and exciting design for quite some time, I thank you in advance for sharing your creativity with the world.

I've received my shipment of Denim and sat down with my stitch pattern books for hours... and hours... I've been sketching madly for several days and, after narrowing my project down to three sketches, I've decided on a tank with some dragon-scaley-type design. Oh boy. I'm in for a ride, I think.

My mind has only recently been able to absorb fully the concept of gauge swatch shrinking or blooming making my work-in-progress larger than my finished object will be. In fact, my mind has not fully wrapped around that concept, now that I think of it. I swatched, I washed, I dried. I did not, however, measure the unwashed swatch which will be yet another thing to add to my list of "lessons learned" as I work my way through this project. You see, had I measured my unwashed swatch, I would have an awful lot more confidence in my project, now only one pattern-repeat deep in progress.

While my finished project must fit a 44" in bust, my waist certainly does not require such a size. However, as I was scribbling down notes and calculating stitch counts, I understood that, unless I'm inserting a button band, I'll need to be able to pull the tank OVER a 44" bust. As I plan to knit this tank in two pieces, I figured I'd need at least a 20" - 22" piece; half the finished size. I calculated. I cast on. I knitted. I freaked out.

This WIP is at least 35" wide, relaxed. I need a new mantra to chant as I knit to help me fight the urge to rip; something to remind me to trust my swatch.

"Om... Understand the swatch... Om... become the swatch... Om... be the swatch... "

It's not working.


Emily said...

Are you familiar with the book Big Girl Knits? It might be helpful in figuring out proportions, etc. (The authors are coming out with a sequel soon, too.)

Marnie said...

I love that stitch pattern. I used it for a pair of socks I designed a while ago. I've often thought of using it as a starting point to create a very textured piece, by varying the scale of the...well...scales :)
Anyway, you definitely have chosen a yarn that will test your faith in gauge, since this yarn is made to change gauge after washing. I think that if you pick up the Rowan book on Denim, you can get an idea of what the difference should be between washed and unwashed. I'm sure Julia will have some great suggestions too, since she's used this yarn before.

As for fitting a large bust and a small waist, (shouldn't we all be so lucky) short rows are your friend. The top of your short row section should generally be aligned horizontally with the widest point of your breast. You will work 1 inch worth of rows for each letter to your cup size (1=A, 2=B, 3-C, etc)

I hope that makes sense. Big Girl Knits is a great suggestion for a resource. You might also enjoy Sweater Design in Plain English.

Sachi said...

Ah, yes. Short rows will be my friend. Also, I haven't yet picked up a copy of Big Girl Knits because I wasn't thrilled with any of the patterns. However, as a resource? Brilliant!

Marnie, I love you for the inch to cup size guide. That absolutely makes my day!

Liz K. said...

The general rule of thumb for denim is that is shrinks 10-15% in length. However, since the Dragon Scale pattern stitches move diagonally, it is likely to shrink a bit in width too. I found that to be the case when I made my lacey denim swatch.

You might want to consider knitting one more swatch and taking both before/after measurements for gauge.

Your idea sounds gorgeous, and I am excited to see how it comes out.

Dawn said...

A 44" isn't impossible to fit. I'm in the same league. I've come up with a solution that works for me. I get a top that has the fit I'm looking for and use that as a template. It might be cheating but it's a lot easier than calculating an armscye and neckline. I've also cut the template from old sewing pattern paper (even newspaper in a pinch - be careful of the ink!) and then fit my pieces against the paper. This way not only can I see the entire garment piece but I can also make sure that the fitting are where they should be. If you go this route, let me know how it works for you.

Angela said...

I love "dragon skin" too--I just swatched it recently and it was also a lot of fun to knit. I bet it will make a really striking top.

Julia (MindofWinter) said...

Welcome Sachi! How are you liking Oregon?

I have quite a bit to say. First, I do not think of you as "large," but you are curvy, so that does make things a little more complicated. Once you figure out what will work for your body you are going to be really happy, because you can use that knowledge everywhere.

Second, we are all here to learn, and I'm sure that you'll be surprised when you discover how much we learn from you. This is a great group and there isn't a person yet who hasn't schooled me.

Third, denim is a freakin' challenge. I'm kind of banging my head that we chose it without introducing it a little more. Denim, more than any other yarn, is going to change substantially with washing. I've found that it shrinks 20% in length and about 8% in width. Those numbers don't matter however. What matters is that you swatch properly. In the interest of extreme caution, I would make two dragon-skin swatches and two stockinette swatches of large proportions - at least 5 inches by 5 inches. Keep one of each set "as is" so that you can make sure your knitting is on track as you go along, and launder the hell out of the other two, so that you know what is going to happen to them. By that I mean put them in a hot wash (separately or with jeans, in case they bleed) and then stick them in the dryer until they are just barely damp, flatten and air dry. All of your calculations should be made from your laundered swatches. Your untreated ones are just a double-check during the knitting phase.

It is a great idea to use the dimensions of another pattern or a top in your wardrobe to figure out proportions, and it is not cheating. This is what everyone does until they learn their own proportions and no longer need a reference.

Your idea is great - I love the look. The hardest things will be achieving fit through the bodice and incorporating shaping into that dragon-skin pattern. For the fit, I would definitely use Marnie's short-row rules of thumb. There is also a great short-row article on knitty that is a good reference. You may want to consider a button band that runs vertically up the back (or side even?) and stops when you hit the bust-line to help with fit - could be cute.

Talk it out as you go along and do posts here that pose questions. We will all chime in and learn a lot.

This is the longest comment ever, so I'm going to stop now, but I hope you find this helpful!

xox, J

Anonymous said...

I have one thing to say "gauge is a very allusive thing".
The garment always grows, there is a big difference between 4"X4" swatch and a complete garment. For me I know how I knit and I make a slight adjustment. Keep measuring the piece as you knit (gauge check) as well. I always add 1 stitch on each end for the seam--Keep up the good work...It look really good so far.