too steep.


Continuing in the theme of “not getting things right the first time around”, I bring you the neckline decreases on the garter rib cardigan:


I was just kind of making things up as I went as far as my decrease placement went; I knew I wanted to start opening up the deep v-neck just under the bust, and continue sloping the fronts away from each other until the top of the shoulder, knowing that the shawl collar would fill in part of that open v shape. But I decreased way too frequently – I’m only at the underarm, and have already decreased away far too many of the stitches to maintain a gradual slope:

112: too steep.

But it’s ok. As I’ve mentioned, I’m putting together a pattern/tutorial for this sweater, and this is the perfect opportunity for me to test out the tutorial I’ve written for the v-neck shaping. I’ve done the math for my size, and I think it’ll work out much better than the “seat of my pants” sort of decreasing scheme I was using.

This gets me thinking about my design process more generally. I do a LOT of my design-related thinking on the needles. You all remember The Swatch, right? I knit a whole entire me-sized sweater just to think through the design of a larger sweater for a friend. Sometimes I think it’d be a lot easier if I were the “write the pattern first, then test knit it while knitting the sample” sort of designer, but that’s just not the way I think. But what I would like to do, especially if I write most of my patterns as pattern/tutorials, is write the tutorial part while I’m knitting, so that I really am using the tutorial to knit the garment, instead of reverse-engineering the tutorial afterward. Because really, I am using the techniques and math I describe in the tutorial when I think about garment shaping on the needles, but I don’t usually think of it that way, and I definitely don’t write it down until I’ve already knit the piece, which is kind of silly.

Those of you who dabble in design, what’s your process?


5 thoughts on “too steep.

  1. gotta love that garter rib!

    i’m not much of a knitting designer. but when it comes to quilt design, i do mock-ups and mini-quilts to test new ideas and to test the scales of motifs. i guess it’s similar to your process, but less intensive?

  2. violinjodie

    I do a little bit of both. With sweaters I try to figure out as much of the math before hand, make up a mock pattern, and test it out as I go. Adding details as I find them. Shawls I usually do more of the cuff, with very little planning before hand.

    The trick for me is always making myself write things down! I’ve gotten better, but still have to remind myself to do it.

    • Yeah, I’ve been pretty terrible about writing stuff down – luckily I’m really, really good at “reading” my knitting, but I’m trying to get better about writing stuff down in words and numbers, too.


  3. I’m largely incapable of really “winging” anything — even if I’m trying to just throw something together without thinking about it too much, I have to start with calculations and notes and all that. And even if I make full effort to do the math and plan everything out in excruciating detail in advance … I often find that something didn’t work and I have to try again. So my designs involve a lot of pieces of notepaper crammed with calculations (I’m often planning things on the bus and doing all the math by hand), and a lot of ripping and reknitting. I remember reading once that Veronik Avery spent a year just swatching after she learned to knit, before she started designing things … and I wish I had the patience for that!

  4. Eva

    I sometimes write the whole pattern in my own shorthand style first, then “test knit” it, making more notes and fixing mistakes and recalculating as I discover errors in my thinking. But more often, I do a lot of initial thinking and noting and calculating, then write the pattern piecemeal, jotting down and thinking through a section just before I knit it.

    With the sweater I’m working on now (The Holiday Cardigan), the pattern is written (by someone else), and I’m making a lot of modifications; I consult the pattern, write up the next section (waist shaping! bust increases! sleeves!) and then work through them to see how they work out.

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