Thursday, November 20, 2008

It’s been awhile since I’ve discussed this project. Review the "Project" blog entries for October 23rd and 27th, and November 3rd to get back into the project. At this point, I have created the design and pattern in Garment Designer, and I have cut and sewn the body of the garment in fabric. I have also chosen my yarn and stitch pattern for the collar and cuffs.

Planning the Knit Collar

I will create the collar first, and then move onto the sleeves. In thinking through the process, there are several decisions or pieces of information that must be determined. These are:
• How far down the V-neckline will the collar go? Garment Designer can help me with this.
• How deep do I want the collar? Initially, I can use my sketch as a guide. But I can also lay down the sewn jacket and visualize the collar on it.
• What stitch pattern will I use? More on this soon.
• Are there any special design criteria I am trying to meet?

The Collar Shape
: The idea of the collar is that it is basically a rectangle, but it tends to flare a bit towards the outer edge. In my sketch I show that the collar gathers onto the neckline just a little. I am not sure I want to do this, so I may use stitch technique to achieve a similar result. The decision will depend on the hand of the knit fabric. I estimate that the collar width will be about 6-7 inches

The Stitch Pattern
: I would like to incorporate some type of stitch design into the collar and carry this on to the sleeve.

Choosing a Stitch Pattern
In my efforts to work on my Italian, I purchased a knit design book that is written in Italian. It is a guide to Knit Edgings. I chose this book, because it had some lovely ideas, the instructions were basically short, and yes, it would be an adventure.

So, on to my challenge, to translate a pattern and adapt a border for a fabric design. (of course, having pictures of the finished knit helps).

I chose a cable-type border pattern to translate. I had a pretty good idea of how to achieve it, simply by looking at the picture, but the goal was to work on my Italian, so I got out my dictionary and went at it.

There are two basic operations used to achieve the cabling. The book refers to these as t4r and t4f.
The pattern translated as follows:

Put two stitches on hold on an auxiliary needle behind the work. Knit two, knit the two stitches on hold.

Put two stitches on hold on an auxiliary needle in front of the work. Knit two, knit the two stitches on hold.

Time to swatch…
It is time to start swatching… as I need to get a sense of the “hand” of my knit fabric, and the gauge that I will end up with.

My yarn is called Elfin. It is 90% acrylic and 10% mohair. If you recall from an earlier blog, I purchased this yarn in Wattens, Austria. The color worked perfectly. Although I am a lover of natural fibers, I also have certain allergies that do not allow me to wear all wools directly against my skin. So, I have succumbed to using and appreciating synthetics. This combined with the fact that I teach Textiles at Mesa College, and I understand a fair bit about synthetics, I can appreciate their place in our textile world.

My needles are from Knit Picks. I absolutely love my set of needles, and I don’t travel without them. Since they are interchangeable, I am never held back from knitting whatever presents itself to me.

As the yarn is fine, I am going to knit double strand. My process starts, by simply knitting several rows with different needles, to get a sense of the “hand” of the knit. I do not want the swatch to be stiff, so I know I am going to be knitting with fairly large needles.

I start with size 9 and simply cast on about 24 stitches. Knit, knit knit… in stockinette to start. I soon realize I want a bigger needles, so I move up one size to 9.5. I knit a bit more… and feel my swatch…. Hmm… no, let’s try one more size up. So, I move to size 10 needles and knit some more… and I can tell that this is the right feel.

Time to add some pattern..
I begin, by knitting just a little cable… just to see how it feels. I continue… and get the actual cable pattern that is my Italian pattern. I constantly feel the hand of my swatch and I look at the knit. I often hold it up to the rest of the garment to see what I think.

I will admit, I am not anal at this step.. I like to get pretty close, and I do believe in swatching and obtaining a good gauge. But, I also realize that my swatch is rather small for a cable-type pattern. Given that I am knitting simple rectangles, I am not too worried, as I can adjust fairly quickly, once I get started.

I measure the gauge, and get, surprisingly, 3 stitches to the inch and 4 rows… almost exactly. This will allow me to begin the calculations and planning of the collar. As I start thinking about the collar… I hold my swatch up to the garment, to think about the overall effect, and the approximate size. I feel like I am on the right track.

In the next installment, I will share the planning of the collar and the building of it.

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