Sunday, April 7, 2013

Knitting without patterns

A year ago, I almost posted that I would knit the entire year in patterns of my own devising.  While a pledge to abandon following patterns written by others seemed like a good way to improve my skills, I quickly realized its limitations.  Not only would I limit my resources, I would set a bad example.  After all, I like knitters to use my patterns and wouldn't want to imply that there are any negatives to following patterns.  In truth, I rarely knit without following a pattern.  Although I might modify a pattern so much that it doesn't resemble the original, I usually find a pre-written patterns excellent starting points for both basic design and inspiration.

Today I have two newly completed projects that I would consider very nearly my own--but not completely.

I began this cardigan with color inspiration from one pattern, cast-on numbers from another, followed shaping tips from a knitting manual and finished with details of my own devising.  I engaged in a little experimentation along the way and a lot of swatching beforehand.  I chose the Bell-Sleeved Cardi pattern from Glam Knits by Stephanie Japel as a starting point simply because the gauge, and thus the cast-on numbers, matched my swatches.  I also liked the raglan shaping and wide neckline in this pattern.  Although I modified the neckline with a two-color ribbing, a tubular cast-on and back neck shaping, I then followed the pattern until I divided for the sleeves. 
There, inspired originally by a sweater sold by Anthropologie, the Hulda Striped Pullover from Northern Knits and various ombre-style patterns for color, I began the wide stripes and ended with ribbing and a two-color tubular bind-off.  Since this Misti Alpaca lace yarn is thread-thin, I double-knit the left button band to give the buttons a good backing.  For the right side, I used a i-cord, leaving openings for button holes. 
Altogether, it is a simple, practical sweater, lightweight and warm.  Here's some Ravelry links for more info:  my project page, Hulda, ombre patterns, and, risking copying complaints, the inspiring  Fading Stitch pullover itself since the image isn't available at Anthropologie anymore.
 While not quite as time-consuming as a lace-weight cardigan, my other project was a rather demanding for its type.  During our unusually cold winter, it became obvious that knee socks are a good thing.  If so, why not stranded knee socks?
  These began toe-up, following no particular pattern, followed a small portion of a fair isle sweater chart I adapted to fit the stitch count, incorporated some corrugated ribbing after the ankle and finished with a good bit of 2x2 ribbing.  Four rounds of plain stockinette in the red Posh cashmere at the top made a little cuff.  The yarn is mostly Colinette Jitterbug, with the blue the heavier weight.  Using it last produced some natural shaping, as did changing needle sizes. The stranding is done with a dk-weight merino in lavender, so light that it looks white.
I like the stranding in the foot.  It is warm and padded under the sole.  However, I was afraid to add any above the ankle--my stranding was quite tight before blocking.  I will need to increase the stitch count for charts in the leg of socks, or I won't be able to get them over my high arches.  I also need to remember that this red Posh yarn bleeds a lot.  I thought it would ruin the colors when I blocked the socks.  Thankfully, as with most things, it all washed out in the end.
There's another photo of the socks in my Ravelry project.  And, I am planning a more detailed explanation of these and other knee socks.  I will post a link here when I finish it.

Knee Socks, info and links to pattern

1 comment:

Marjorie said...

I really like to knit my own sweaters (for shawls and socks, I'll use someone else's design for the most part) because I like to by the yarn first, swatch it, and see what it "says to me." Then I look through stitch dictionaries to figure out what will highlight the yarn. If I start with someone else's design, they have done all this for me and the fun is lost. If I see a sweater pattern that is far beyond my designing abilities (as in my Alice Starmore Fair Isle), I'll defer to the designer, but for the most part, the planning is an important part of the equation. I too have thought of an entire year of knitting my own thing, but I've never quite managed it.