Posted by: mamakass | April 4, 2009

Designing and Pattern Modification

As you all know, I’m in the process of designing a new dress, and if you look at my previous designs, you’ll see that I don’t create strict patterns, more like guidelines for how to make the project using a gauge swatch.

Before designing, I never used to knit gauge swatches, which didn’t matter because most of what I knit wasn’t clothes. However what I did knit fit awkwardly, even if my gauge was approximately correct. This was usually partially because my gauge was off and partially because I was blindly following the pattern, with no consideration for modifications for my body type. This led me to having something like my red sweater I knit, which I had to knit twice. The first time I knit this sweater, I tried it on after finishing the body only to realize that I couldn’t get it around myself, so I ripped it out and made the next size up. I usually just do the smallest size because there are very, very few people who are smaller than I am. Usually the problem I have to deal with is things being too big. You’d think that would have taught me to check gauge, but it didn’t, and the buttons still pull on it.

See? Pully. But I still love this sweater

See? Pully. But I still love this sweater

I had a similar experience with Hush Hush from Knitty. I began knitting, assuming that since I was using the same yarn and needles that the pattern called for that my gauge would be right on. This is possible, since I’ve seen other people have similar problems as I did with the pattern, that being that there isn’t enough decreasing over the body and the chest is always way too big. So whether or not my gauge was right, the pattern was off for its gauge. Anyway, after knitting about four inches of it (which was beaded because I decided to bead the bottom part instead of having the ribbon) I realized I had 80 too many stitches. So I frogged it and started over with 80 less stitches and it looked more lovely. I just want to point out that I do mean 80 here. As in four times twenty. That’s a lot of stitches.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that the only patterns I have had any success with are ones I have modified. This seems to be true for everyone. So I don’t really see the purpose in figuring out all the math for various sizes when everyone who knits the pattern is going to have to re-do all the math to get it to fit them properly. I’d prefer to write the pattern and force people to do their own math with their own measurements and gauge swatch so that their finished product will fit them (or their teapot) correctly.

For those of you who “don’t do math,” let me tell you something. I “don’t do math,” but I can still use a calcuator to figure out that if I want twenty inches of knitting and I have 10 stitches every four inches that I can either multiply ten by four to get twenty inches or divide ten by four to get stitches per inch and multiply that by twenty to get the number of stitches. We live in an age of calculators, so anyone can do math. Additionally, simple math is an important skill and is necessary for anyone who wants to knit or design knitting. However, if you really, really suck at math and CAN’T for the life of you figure out the math yourself, then you could send me your gauge and measurements and I could help you. Oddly enough, I like to do tedious things, and simple math problems are calming for me. Who knew? I guess I am my father’s daughter.

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