Friday, September 27, 2013

Casting On and a False Start

This is from the second try.

I churned through the first mock-up of the pattern pretty quickly. I was really eager to get this little sweater on the needles!

I like to have a rough draft of the pattern that is as complete as possible as I knit the sample. It's easier for me to take notes and make changes from that than to write out what I'm doing as I go.

I was working along, loving the yarn, and little questions kept nagging me, at the back of my mind. Had I accounted for the front band stitches? Was I really sure that the increase rows would work out well for every size? Did I have too many stitches on the back? Why were the smallest and 6-month sizes so close together in stitch count? There really did seem to be too many stitches being cast on all at once for the second tier of the neck for it to look right. 

I've learned not to ignore those questions for too long. A poetry teacher once told me to take anything you write and put it away, where you can't see it, for at least a day. A week is better. When you look at it again, all of the mistakes will leap out at you. 

I took a second look at the spreadsheet. I had forgotten to note where I was ignoring and where I was including the front band stitches. I needed some of them (but not all, because they overlap) for figuring out things like the real, final chest measurement of the resulting sweater. I didn't need any of them for figuring out if the 4x + 1 stitch pattern repeat right before the sleeves and body were divided would fit. 

Worst of all, I hadn't thought of it as a 4x + 1 stitch pattern repeat. I'd noted it as a 4x + 3 repeat. Two stitches may not sound like a big deal, but it mattered a lot, in this case. 

I struggled with it a little bit. This stage of design seems straightforward, but there are moments where it can feel like trying to make a bed with a blanket that's too small. I get it all good on one corner only to find that another corner is bare. I even went on Twitter and complained a little bit about it - and felt much better when other designers chimed in, saying that designing raglan-style sweaters is way harder than it looks.

I finally took out a pencil and paper and scribbled around a bit, writing down every decision I made about the math and why. That clarified things. I can get locked into the spreadsheet too much and lose sight of what I'm actually trying to accomplish.

I went through the pattern notes and inserted the new numbers, which now made more sense. I reprinted the pattern and started again, still madly in love with the yarn.

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