Friday, June 18, 2010

Celtic Critter Cardigan: Swatch!

Celtic Critter Cardigan swatch For all my whining about not having time to knit lately I sure am starting projects like a fiend.

But, again, I have a perfectly legitimate excuse.

Shirley Paden was teaching her design class at Westport Yarns last night.

Now, we all just lived through me designing the Schleppy Sweater and the Bias Striped V-Neck so you might wonder that I would be interested in taking a design class. Well, I'm no fool.

Actually, I think it's been well established that I am a fool, but I'm a clever fool who knows her limitations.

I figured there would be tips and explanations and easier ways to do things.

You know what I've learned so far?

The scary math is still scary.

That was a bit of a relief. It wasn't just me. One of our teachers who has designed plenty of lovely patterns was sitting next to me and we were both like, "Wow, the math still sucks."

Granted, Shirely did it much quicker than I've been doing it, which gives me hope that it will get easier as I go along, but the steps are still the same.

She discussed the steps we should take as we approach our design. Really thinking about and writing down what we want the sweater to look like and the qualities it should have. She said these steps are our foundation and we shouldn't skimp on them. Also, we should make ourselves very familiar with our pattern stitch since it is the fabric of our garment.

Then we paired up and took all our measurements. She had a nice chart for us to follow and clarified some of the tricky bits.

Then she did all the scary math with a sample sweater and made up numbers.

I was very surprised I didn't dream about gauge last night.

We didn't touch the swatches.

I got an e-mail last week saying we should have a sketch and swatches done to bring to class.

Turns out she usually does this class as one marathon six hour day (with a break for lunch). However, ours was broken up into two three-hour sessions. Aaah. The swatches and that part of the process will come into play during the next session. I never got the second e-mail pointing it out.

No matter, I was going to have to swatch eventually.

Celtic Critter Cardigan: The Vision
This is a sweater I've been thinking of since before Rhinebeck. I can pin it to that time frame because I went to Rhinebeck with the mission of buying the Brooks Farm Solo to make this sweater.

It's a chicken/egg situation. After making my cropped poncho I wanted to make a sweater out of the Solo, so I started dreaming one up.

I've mentioned in the past that I'm slightly obsessed with Viking Patterns for Knitting by Elsebeth Lavold. Well, all the cables are being pulled from that book.

Toward the end of the book she has a section on the intertwined animals and directions for making the dragon heads. I knew I had to use them on something.

My idea is to have a big, braided cable go around the bottom hem, continue up the front opening, and around the hood opening.

To make the dragon heads you don't close off some of the cables, you continue them for a little neck, then make the head. I haven't decided how many little critter heads I'll have along the hem. I suppose it depends on how many pattern repeats I'll have.

Then I'll have a smaller version of the cable along the sleeve cuff. The center will continue up the arm and end in critter head near my elbow. I'd like to have a cable that starts with critter heads on the other side of the elbow, goes up the upper arm, and ends at the shoulder.

But I have to figure out if I can work the critter head upside down. You know how you loose have a stitch when you flip knitting. I don't know how much that will effect it. Which is what swatching is for.

I'd also like to have the cables on the hood extend into dragon heads, but at that point it will be the side of the cable. No points for the dragons to grow from. I'll have to think on that.

Then I was thinking a "happiness symbol" cable on the back. She also calls it the St. John's cross. It's neat and would break up the expanse of plain knitting. Of course, I could make critters come off that as well.

I should have been writing these ideas down as I came up with them. I know I've changed and tweaked things. When I finally sat down to start swatching I seemed all the ideas flew out of my head and I was like "What was I going to do on the sleeves?"

It didn't help that I have other pattern ideas floating around up there and things were getting kind of jumbled.

Everyone who saw my swatch last night thought it was very cool.

More measuring
After I got home last night, which was at like 10 pm! I was looking at the class materials and considering ease for the sweater.

All the measurements we took were actual body measurments, so I had to tack on ease.

I'd been figuring 4 inches, which lands it in the "roomy" category, because I want it to be an outdoor cardigan. One I can wear over other shirts and such when the weather gets cooler.

I ended up measuring a short leather jacket that I have. I like the fit and length of it and think it would be good dimensions for the cardigan.

It's a good thing I did because that jacket is 23 inches long and the length I had written down on my chart was only 19. Also, we didn't measure the "bottom of garment" point consistently, so my armhole to bottom of garment measurement was all out of whack. I wrote down all new measurements based on the jacket dimensions.

Now all I have to do is the scary math.

I think I swatch some more first.


  1. Gahh! I really need to take a class to get over that scary math part. Nice swatch.