Knitting, crafting, cooking, and motherhood… trying to do it all!

Posts tagged ‘sweater vest’

Cables are the Best!

Since my last post, I have been crazy busy designing knitwear. I now have four patterns for sale on Ravelry, two in testing, two¬†to write/photograph… and about a hundred more ideas swimming around in my head. I love seeing other people knit my designs and I have gotten so many compliments on the clarity and quality of my patterns.

For the past several months, I have been having a love-affair with cable knitting. I learned how to do a basic cable on day 3 of learning to knit. It was a technique that I had never encountered with all my years of crocheting and I was so excited to try it! Since then, I’ve been studying and swatching TONS of cable patterns. I’ve been studying their construction and the layout of the charts. I’ve now moved on to creating my own! I found a lot of great cable ideas in this book by Melissa Leapman:

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I absolutely love argyle, so my first order of business designing my own cable was to attempt to cable argyle! I tried MANY different ways of doing it, but there was only one that I really loved. I used this as the basis for creating a cardigan vest for Michael, my godson and nephew. He told me his favorite color is, “toy-quoise,” so that is the color he got!

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You can see from the picture that this uses a thick cable for the main diamonds, and a thinner cable (created with twisted stitches) in the background. The front of the vest features cabled diamonds along the front panels. the edging is all done in rice stitch. Be sure to check out my Diamondback Cardigan Sweater Vest on Ravelry!

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Michael loved his new vest and it seems to be a hit with my customers as well!

This fall I tried two cabled cardigans that were not my own design. I created Arlo, by Brooklyn Tweed, and Caribou, by Tin Can Knits. I loved both of these patterns! Arlo begins with a tubular cast-on (my new favorite cast-on!) which make the stitches look like they wrap over the edges of the sweater. It was knit in five pieces, so I got lots of practice with seaming and my first experience with a set-in sleeve. I am SO happy with how it turned out!

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Caribou, by Tin Can Knits, was another fun knit. This one had such unusual construction that I had to try it! The cable band is knit first, then you pick up stitches above and below to create the rest of the sweater. My favorite part is how the cables appear to run straight onto the button bands! I knit this one using GORGEOUS Brooklyn Tweed Shelter Yarn and I can’t wait to use their yarn again! I’m going to have some very warm boys this fall!

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My favorite cable project was my own. Roman, my oldest son, requested that I design a sweater for him in honor of his eight birthday. I let him choose from the color palette of the Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash and he chose the color “Primavera.” I wanted to play on the X’s and O’s without being too obvious about it. I swatched and swatched for months (here and there) before settling on a Double X pattern on the back with seed stitches in the middle and a chain link “O” pattern running the length of the sleeves. This is one of the patterns that is finished, but needs to be photographed and written (hopefully soon!). Roman is LOVING his special sweater!

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Be on the lookout for new cable patterns to come from me! My boys can’t rock the lace, but they look awesome in cables! I just can’t wait to do more ūüôā

Designing a Pattern

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I had a baby in April and I finished the adult sweater for myself soon after. ¬†It’s been almost two months since my last post, but it has been a BUSY two months. ¬†I have a new baby who needs constant attention during the day, three additional boys (all finished with school for the summer), and a husband who was out of the country for part¬†of the time. ¬†To top it all off, I had surgery and spent some time recovering while family helped with the kids.

Nevertheless, hardly a day has gone by that I haven’t picked up my knitting. ¬†In fact, I’ve been working on my largest knitting project to date… designing a pattern that will be tested, edited, and ultimately sold through ravelry. ¬†If all goes well, it should be up by the beginning of August! ¬†This post is to tell a little about my process.

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Before I finished my Right as Rainbow Sweater, I started looking for my next project. ¬†As any mom of young boys knows, sweater vests are one of the most popular dress items. ¬†Hardly a Christmas or Easter goes by that I don’t spend money on¬†sweater vests for my boys. ¬†This seemed like a relatively easy thing to knit, so I started searching the patterns on ravelry. ¬†Unfortunately, the selection I found was somewhat lacking, particularly when I narrowed the fields to children’s sizes and unisex/boys. ¬†There was a selection of vests that came from a publication but were not available for purchase online. ¬†There were a few sloppy looking vests with uneven proportions and armhole ribbing that stuck out from the sweater. ¬†There were girly looking vests. ¬†There were a couple of halfway decent patterns, but there was only one I would even consider buying, and it wasn’t even sized to fit all my boys. ¬†(I’m a sucker for matching/coordinating outfits!)

I was shocked. ¬†How could a clothing item that is so popular in the stores and so (seemingly) easy to knit be so lacking in patterns? ¬†Searches for “socks” or “hats” or “cardigans” give hundreds, if not thousands of results when the field is narrowed to children.¬†My mission became clear– to knit a sweater vest that would look good and allow me to create coordinated looks for all my boys.

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I thought a lot about how to knit exactly what I wanted.  I knew I wanted to incorporate stripes and I knew I wanted it knit in the round with worsted weight yarn.  Some of the patterns I found knit the vest in several pieces and then seamed them together.  Seaming is my LEAST favorite part of knitting, so I wanted to figure out a way to seam the sweater only at the shoulders.  I scoured the internet for similar patterns and checked out books from the local library.  I made notes about elements I liked in various patterns and thought carefully about how to turn those elements into a vest.  Then I began to knit.

Having purchased a variety of colors of the Cascade Sierra yarn, I knew I wanted to incorporate lots of colors.  While the sweater for myself included various shades of blue and gray, I wanted to use different colors for the boys.  I settled on five colors: Tangerine, Deep Turquoise, Aqua, Moth, and Forest Green.  I used Excel to help visualize the pattern I wanted to create.

I began with Jonathan’s sweater, knitting a size 3T guided by a size chart I found online. ¬†The sweater worked up quickly, but I soon realized that my original pattern was not going to look good as a final product. ¬†I tore the rows apart and went to a more basic ABCDE pattern.

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I finished the vest (minus the ribbing) in about a week and tried it on Jonathan.  It fit, but just barely.  I became nervous that it would not fit once I completed the neck ribbing.  I wish this instinct was wrong, but unfortunately it was right.  The vest would not go over his head once the neck ribbing was complete.  Luckily I had not yet started the arm hole ribbing.  I decided to keep the top half intact so I could refer back to it and I cut the vest nearly in half along the thin green line of stitches underneath the neck opening. *sigh*

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This is what goes into designing: lots of trial and error!  I tried again, adding length, more decreases, and using a stretchy bind off.  I was holding my breath as I tried the finished product on my toddler.  It fit!  Not only that, it looked GOOD.  And I had created it.  Completely from scratch and without a pattern.  This was a HUGE moment for me!

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When it comes to crafting, I am a *bit* of a perfectionist. ¬†Okay, I’m just a perfectionist. ¬†And when it comes to putting out a pattern that I’ve created, I want it to be perfect. ¬†Even though I was going to have my pattern tested, I wanted to test it myself and work out all the kinks. ¬†So I made two more versions. ¬†I made a size 6 for my son Adrian and a size 8 for my son Roman. ¬†With each vest, I made little changes to help improve the quality of the pattern. ¬†I used the same colors for all the sweaters, but used them in different band widths and different sequences. ¬†I was surprised and pleased at how different (yet similar) they all turned out.

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After writing up the pattern, my friend Stephanie helped me photograph the boys in their vests. ¬†We got some great shots and I spent a lot of time editing them and putting together a visually appealing pattern to send out for testing. ¬†I sent the pattern to three different people for proofreading and feedback. ¬†Last night I posted the pattern on ravelry to get testers. ¬†I have two testers that have already started and I’m hoping to get 5 more. ¬†I’m so proud of this pattern and proud that I was able to knit such stylish looks for my boys. ¬†It is frustrating to me that so many of the adorable knitting patterns available are only for girls, so I am excited to contribute one for the boys. ¬†Of course, this pattern would also look adorable on a¬†girl. ¬†I will list it as a unisex pattern, but I’m keeping my title: Band of Brothers Sweater Vest.

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