Thursday, September 30, 2010

Making It Fit

The second problem that I had with my sweater-that-didn't-fit was the choice of size. My experience with creating garments had been in sewing. When selecting a size for sewing, the body measurements are listed on the pattern envelope.  These measurements do not represent the finished garment measurements, which is a totally different animal.

Crochet and knit patterns list the ACTUAL finished garment measurements. When I chose my actual bust measurement, the garment fit snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug on my body. The difference between the finished garment measurement in a sewing pattern and the actual body measurement is called ease.

Ease gives the garment some room; it allows you to reach up and grab something from a shelf without ripping the seams. Too much ease and people might compliment you on how much weight you've lost.

Just as yarn weights vary, so does the amount of ease per garment. There are industry standards, such as close fit (very little ease), standard fit (2 to 4" of ease), oversize (way more ease). In addition to the standards, ease is a matter of personal preference -- yours and the designer's.

Ease also varies with the type of garment.  A top will have less ease than a cardigan or jacket that is meant to wear over another piece of clothing.  Socks will have negative ease so that they will fit snugly.

Hmmm, now I have 2 things to consider when working on a garment . . . gauge and ease.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making It Fit

I learned how to knit when I was in Girl Scouts. I made a baby sweater or two, but didn't knit again until I was in my 30's. I chose a pattern and yarn, and worked away. When I finished my sweater and tried it on, I was so disappointed, and disillusioned. Why put all that work into something only to have it swallow me?

I was sure I had followed the instructions correctly.  I had picked a size that corresponded with my bust size. My work (i.e., tension) had been good. So why didn't it fit?

As you might have guessed, there was more than one problem; and I'll talk about each of those in turn. 

First, I had paid no attention to yarn choice. I had no idea that yarns vary in weight or fiber content.  I simply thought that yarn was yarn. I still have that pattern today, so I took another look at it.  The pattern called for DK weight or double knitting, sometimes called sport weight.  I had chosen a worsted weight, which was thicker than the DK weight yarn called for.  Because my yarn was thicker, my garment was bigger--everywhere.  It was wider, and it was longer.

My yarn choice affected my gauge. Gauge is simply the number of stitches and rows per inch. The thicker the yarn, the less stitches per inch. If I knit or crochet a square with the same number of stitches and rows, but use different weight yarns, each of those squares will be a different size.

Hmmm, gauge is important.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Knit and Crochet Now!

I just watched an episode of Knit and Crochet Now! on my local PBS station.  I'm always amazed at the wealth of information!  This episode was on Entrelac and demonstrated the knit techinque with a pillow, and a crochet shawl.

Kristen Nicholas taught the entrelac pillow. She explained the technique very well and I felt compelled to go the the show's website and download the pattern.

Drew Emborsky a/k/a The Crochet Dude demonstrated the entrelac-inspired shawl. Man o'man! He is such a good teacher! And he shares his knowledge freely.  His demonstration was interspersed with little nuggats of "extra" details and "whys".

Brett Bara, the editor of Crochet Today! does an excellent job of leading both discussions.  I really felt as if I was watching 2 friends share their love of an art.

The show's website contains videos, free patterns and more.  Check it out and let me know what you love about it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Honeycomb Socks - Reader's Gallery

Julie in NC made the Honeycomb Socks from the Fall 2010 issue of Interweave Crochet and shared a picture of her final creation.  I love the colors she picked!  Great job, Julie, and thanks for sharing with me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Keeping Track, Part III

Keeping track during a project can be simple, such as using a stitch marker on an increase row and no stitch marker on an even row. Or making a tally mark on a  notepad for each row or round worked.

When I began to work on garments, I found that I needed a different method.  There are more things to keep track of when working on a garment.  So I sat down with a spiral notebook and my pattern.  I have found that breaking projects into smaller sections or tasks works well for me. I have 2 girls in elementary school and my schedule seems to be in spurts rather than long blocks of time. Smaller tasks make me feel productive rather than frustrated.

Most patterns begin with the Back, so I label a page in my notebook as Back, drop down and make a bullet point, and write out the first step, usually "Cast on X number of sts with Y needles and work in ribbing for W number of rows".  If there is a tricky stitch pattern, I jot that down, and if there are increases or decreases, I jot down the number of stitches I should have when finished.

The next section of the back ususally involves working in a stitch pattern for a certain number of inches or repeats, and may include decreases for waist shaping.  I put my bullet point, and a brief description of what I should do, and then I fill in numbers for each row that I should work.  I underline the rows that require decreases/increases.  Sometimes, I put the number of stitches that I should have as a superscript over each row.  At the end of the section, I put the number of stitches that I should have before the next section starts. 

As I work, I put a slash through each row.  After I've run to the bus stop for the girls, I know which row I did last and which row I should start with next and whether it is a decrease/increase row.

I do the same planning for each section of the pattern--waist to armhole, armhole shaping, neck shaping and final bind off.  This planning phase gives me the chance to visualize the work I'm about to do, and to know whether I understand all of the instructions.  It also helps me plan my time better around my fits and spurts of time.  If I need uninterrupted time to work on a section (such as the heel of a sock) and it's time to be Homework Mother, then I know I need to put that off and work on something that keeps my hands busy, but not my mind.

Another benefit of planning is to identify pattern errors.  I know that publishers and designers work hard to keep patterns error-free, but sometimes it happens.  As I was planning the sleeves for a cardigan, the stitch counts just wouldn't work out. Finally, I realized that there must be an error.  I logged into Ravelry and did a search for the pattern and found that others had experienced the same problems.  I was able to adjust before working and then having to rip back.

I'm including a picture of a planning/working page for a cardigan I've worked on.

I'd love to hear about any tracking ideas that have been useful for you.