Design Process Part 2: Sketching, Swatching, and Math
Earlier posts in this series: Design Process Part 1: Inspiration
Now that I have a pretty good idea of the general look and construction I want for the sweater, it’s time to think about the details. First up, I do a rough sketch of the design.
I also included the targeted measurements for my size. Before, I would need to look up standard guidelines for this bust size, but I’ve knit enough size M fitted sweaters now that I know most of these measurements off the top of my head. A few of them are specifically tailored to my preferences–I like a little bit of positive ease on the upper arm, for example, but I tend to like an inch or two of negative ease at the bust. I also tend to like slightly longer sweaters (probably because a large bust tends to make shorter sweaters ride up at the bottom!).
Next up, choosing yarn! Fun!
It was pretty easy in this case. I have this gorgeousness in my stash:
This is Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Sport in the “Manly, yes, but I like it too!” colorway (great name, eh?). I purchased two giant skeins (about 1300 yds) at Rhinebeck last October. After checking Ravelry, this looks like plenty to knit this type of sweater in a 36″ bust size. The great thing about top-down, too, is I know I have the option of knitting shorter sleeves or a shorter body if it looks like I’m running low on yarn.
Swatch time! As I mentioned in this post, the recommended size on the label for this yarn is incorrect. After a quick check on the yarn’s Ravelry page, I started with US #4 (3.5 mm), and I liked the fabric I got after I wet-blocked the swatch:
My measured gauge after blocking is 6 sts/8.5 rows to the inch. A little thinner than I usually prefer (I’m generally a DK and up girl), but the yarn’s soft and nice to knit with. Due to some kind of distracting life stuff going on right now, a stockinette, finer gauge sweater is just what the doctor ordered!
If I were knitting a bottom-up sweater, this is the point where I’d usually do some quick, rough calculations and then dive right into the knitting.
BUT… this is going to be a top-down sweater. So that means I have to do a whole bunch of math before I know how many stitches to cast on.
Some designers prefer to grade the pattern for all the sizes before they start knitting the sample in their size. I confess, I’m not one of those. I work out the numbers for my size, tweaking them as I go, and then grade the pattern for the rest of the sizes when I’m finished with the prototype.
Next up: casting on! Woohoo!
Bonus picture: one of the kitties “helping” me photograph the swatch.