I started knitting because I wanted to be able to have an idea of a sweater and be able to make it in any color or fiber I wanted. While I have come to learn that it isn’t that simple, the actual process isn’t that far from that. If you’re patient, persistent, and pretty good with simple, repetitive calculations, you can design and make a sweater pretty easily. Of course, the more complex you want the sweater, the more difficult it will be to design and make it. I’ll go through the basics of designing and making a sweater in the next few weeks, and take you along as I actually do it. A good friend of mine picked up some yarn last year and since I owed her a favor, we decided i would design and knit a sweater for her husband.
Now when starting from scratch, you need to start with an idea. It’s kinda like baking – you walk into the kitchen knowing you want to bake something, but not knowing what. You have a couple options:
- Check your cupboards and see what you have, and come up with something from that.
- Make a quick trip to the store and pick up a few things to make something specific that you’re thinking about or inspired by.
- Find a recipe book and browse until something catches your eye.
Well, for this sweater we’re going to combine the first and third ideas. Since I already have the yarn, we’ll look at that first. I have 1 ball of white, 4 balls of black, and 17 balls of a light grey. The actual yarn is Viking Sportsragg – 60%wool, 20% acrylic, and 20% nylon. The combination of fibers is excellent because not only does it have strength from the nylon, and warmth from the wool, the acrylic makes it soft and the three combined makes it machine washable. The actual yarn is quite soft, but you can tell it would have good structure when knitted up. Here is a picture of the actual yarn …
Now because we already have the yarn, our choices get reduced right away. This is a good thing though, as it means we are closer to knowing what we’re going to make. Luckily, I was also given a picture of a sweater that was in the area of what was wanted. Here it is …
Now at this point the thing to do would be to take the design elements from the picture that we’d like to use and add or modify the ones we’re not entirely happy with. Again, we’re a little farther along because we have a picture to work with.
After you have the basic idea of what you want to make (don’t worry, it often changes or evolves as you go along), you need to do that swatch thing. Yeah, I know. But if you don’t do it, it is literally impossible to know what size it will come out. Yes, people make sweaters without swatches or patterns all the time, but it’s usually ones they’ve made before, or they’re for non-specific people. Besides, I can’t show you the calculations with having some numbers to throw at you. So I’m off to do some swatches – with the grey and black as I only have one ball of the white – and I’ll show you those and take the next step with you next time!