Posts tagged ‘hat’

Perspectives on Swatching

I’ve been swatching for days. As much as designing a new sweater can sound all exciting. There is a reality after that first completed sketch that sets in when you reallize how much thought needs to go into getting that sweater from the back of a napkin to cozily wrapped around you. The biggest hurdle is the one all knitters dread. Swatching.

The controversy over swatching is up there with continental vs. english and magic loop vs. DPNs, There is a lot of articles, books, chapters of books, and blog posts written on this topic. Many knitters argue that it’s one of the most important techniques of knitting. Others avoid it like a plauge.

Now, personally I don’t hate swatching categorically. Sometimes I love it. But sometimes it seems downright unnecessary. So as I’ve spent hours and hours working on little bits of knitting that will never turn into anything besides good math, I’ve been thinking a lot about my position on swatching.

When I Love it:

  1. When I’m feeling noncommittal. It’s an excellent way to feel if I like certain yarn or stitch pattern without feeling like I’m getting married to it for the next chunk of time. Sometimes if I’m really nervous about starting, I’ll do two or three swatches before actually casting on. I heard someone call it the dating phase of the knitting relationship
  2. It’s the one your knitting teacher/tudor will whack you over the head with every time you have a sweater that doesn’t fit, but it’s absolutely true. If you have a good swatch, your sweater will fit. I love sweaters that fit, therefore I love swatching. A good gauge swatch really is the magic that makes all the math that goes into a design work. If you’re thinking about investing a few weeks or months of your life into something, a few extra hours really is worth it.
  3. This kinda goes with number 1, but when I’m bored, and don’t have any big knitting to sink my teeth into. A swatch makes me feel like I might start a sweater, or I might come up with something I like better, in either case, my hands were busy, and all I lost was a few yards of yarn.
  4. As a designer, I LOVE getting to touch the fabric that will make up my next creation, it’s very inspiring. 🙂
Why I don’t always do it:
  1. If size doesn’t matter, like a blanket or shawl, no reason to swatch.
  2. If I’m knitting something small like socks or mittens, it’s just as easy to rip out my work as it is to do a swatch. So why bother knitting a little swatch when the sock or mitten itself could be your swatch. AND you just might get lucky and not need to rip out, in that case a swatch would have actually been a waste of time.
  3. If I’ve knit with the exact same yarn and needles. Yes, I know stress levels is a big factor in getting gauge, but I like to think I’m relatively predictable. (Full disclosure, I have been burned by this before, but it was a pair of socks, see #2).
  4. Hats are ambiguous, due to how little time they take, I tend to use the yarn and needles suggested and hope for the best. I do check my gauge along the way.
So there you have it, just one more knitter’s view on the topic. What are your opinions on swatching? A waste of time? Swatch Nazi? I’m curious.

October 27, 2011 at 9:35 am 1 comment

Evolutions of my design philosophy

The running theme of the summer has been an attempt to keep up my knitting inspiration. There is nothing like the bite of fall air to make you deeply desire to start a new wool cardi, freshen up your personal sock stash, and cast on a cowl or two. But the problem wasn’t just the 90 degree weather. I think I did something else wrong this summer. I tried to knit summer things. I don’t like summer things… not nearly as much as the sweaters, socks, mittens, hats and cowls that are so wonderfully appreciated in the winter. I had the right idea last summer. When May came around, I cast on an alpaca pullover, not necessarily the most fun to have on your lap all summer. But when september rolled around. I had a brand new sweater, that I wore all year, and just pulled out yesterday, when the high was 64 degrees. I think I even made a pair or two of socks. This year, being the first year I officially launched Elegant Economy as an independent design business, I spent far too much time trying to design items *other* people would like to knit during the summer.

The phrase “be true to yourself” makes me look for the nearest garbage pail to puke in. No one comes “out of the box” perfect. We all have a lot of unpleasant characteristics that we spend most of our lives trying to overcome. If I stayed true to myself, for example, I would never let my dear friends get a word in edgewise, while I chattered their ear off. I would show complete disregard and disrespect for any of their thoughts and opinions, while arrogantly airing my own. So in this sense, I never want to be true to myself. I want to always be looking outside myself, striving for a standard higher than what is most natural to me.

However, I do believe each person is created with unique temperaments, desires, likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and skill sets. And I think trying to conform yourself to a mold you were never designed to fit into really is a recipe for disaster.

In my first design release in April I quickly started getting data back on what people did an didn’t like about my work, based mostly on sales. What I found fascinating, is that there were two patterns that in my mind, were very forced, and two that practically designed themselves, garments that I wanted for my personal wardrobe, and didn’t just throw together hoping to make a few dollars. Apparently everyone else knew which ones they were too. The two  that came the easiest and were the most fun to work on were by far the best sellers of the whole collection. People are still favorite-ing them on Ravelry on a daily basis. I wish I had picked up on this right away. It would have saved me lots of grief over the summer working and reworking designs that I thought people would buy. Instead of designing the next project I wanted for my own personal gratification. So in that sense, I do need to stay true to myself. Excuse me while I go find a trash can. 🙂

So the wonderful bite in the cool fall air has arrested my attention. It’s time to design all the projects I wish I could be wearing right this minute. Back to the drawing board.

P.S. So far I’m still on track to release my next pattern within the next couple weeks. Keep checking back!!

October 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm Leave a comment

A Well Loved Hat

One of the things I gave my husband for Christmas was a hat. A simple and plain hat, but it was a special hat. In December he hinted at asking me for a hat because his ears were freezing when he went on his daily walk at work. Chuck is so delightfully supportive of my knitting, yet never ever asks me to make anything for him that the fact that his cold ears had driven him even hint made me dig up a pattern and cast on almost immediately.

I’ve knit a lot of things in the last few years, lots of them being gifts. I don’t think any of them have been as gratifying as this one though. Every time we walk out of the house, Chuck grabs his hat out of his pocket and puts it on. I don’t think anything I’ve made has gotten so much love, at least that I’ve witnessed.

I finally remembered to take a picture this weekend. Isn’t he sweet to pose for me?

Pattern: Lorne’s Hat by the Yarn Harlot. Yarn: Liberty Wool by Classic Elite (I told you it was my new favorite). Raveled here.

February 7, 2011 at 2:00 am 1 comment

It’s that time…

…when I start sketching out mittens and hats.

So it’s not even that cold yet and I’m already dreaming about my winter ensemble. I pulled out my winter coat the other night. It had a large stain on it from last year that I wanted to make sure was cleaned by the time the cold really hit. Then out came the winter hat and cowl from last year. So now I’m on this business trip that’s not exactly exciting, and all I can think about is knitting some hats and mittens out of a 50/50 silk/merino blend I picked up on vacation.  It’s a beautiful blue that just begs for a bit of color work. So I’ll need to pick up some white or creamy gloss from knitpicks.

I wasn’t going to design them myself since so many other designers before me have already designed some beautiful folk mittens. But I couldn’t find what I wanted for a worsted weight yarn anywhere on ravelry, so I started sketching. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

October 27, 2010 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

Occupying Myself

Hat almost done. My husband had an errand to do so I plan to write up the pattern and make it available as soon as possible. This picture doesn’t capture it, but the curved raised lines are amazingly cute, and the texture and color of the yarn are giving it an adorable bohemian look. Grr… I can’t decide what to name it though. Any suggestions?

The other project I’m using to kill time till my yarn arrives is a simple doll sweater pattern written for kids. I’ll get on my soapbox for a sec. Why the heck aren’t there any good kid’s beginning to knit books? The one I used when I was growing up wasn’t even a kids book… it just had kid friendly illustrations…and even that one is out of print. So I’m trying to put together some patterns that are specifically designed for the new child knitter.

Here’s how I’m coming on the test knitting…

On another random note…. we saw this on our way home today.

January 18, 2010 at 2:13 am Leave a comment

Urchining and fluffy cuffs

While going through the photos on my phone, I was delighted to find that I did indeed have a picture of the Urchin hat and fluffy cuffs gloves I made my sister for her birthday. I must say I am particularly proud of the gloves. I hate making gloves. But she wanted gloves and staunchly declared her hate of all things mitten and fingerless. So gloves she should have :). I’ve never been able to avoid holes in the fingers. Plus long tubes of 12 stiches divided on 3 DPNs is a pain. I looked at several glove patterns and tried one…. But I always, always have those darn holes. Finally I use the technique for under arms in a top-down raglan sweater. Voila! A few cast-on stiches on one finger and picked-up stitches on another make a beautifully secure seam between fingers. Still haven’t solved the annoying fingers.

January 15, 2010 at 5:04 pm Leave a comment

Brittany’s Hat

I put in a order to Knit Picks on monday… but the order satus still says “In Process”! I have 15 balls of Wool of the Andes coming for a new project! It’s a brand new design that I’m actually very excited about. But no more for now… this one must be a surprise!

In that order I also have a ball of Andean Treausre and Suri Dream. I’ve never played with them… and in order to get the free shipping, I threw a ball of each in so I could play with them and see if I wanted to use them for a future design.

I do have a small design project I can talk about. My sister-in-law wants a hat after trying one of mine on. I mentioned I have some yarn coming in the mail, and she chose the blueberry Suri Dream. I was going to try to find a pattern, but I love design work, and I’d really like it to be something personalized just for her. It’s to be a slouchy hat…as much slouch as one ball of yarn can get me. I really like the idea of some swirly lines going to the top of the hat, and some garter rows. Some detail… but it’s Suri, so it can’t be too complicated… it’ll get lost. Ohh…. this is a gorgeous idea… Now for the patience to wait for my order to arrive.

I’ll post a picture and pattern when it’s completed.

January 14, 2010 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

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