Mini-Series: My first sweater pattern design, part 3

Mini-Series: My first sweater pattern design, part 3

Published by Michelle on 30th Jan 2020

I’m not entirely sure where to start so I’ll tell you where I am and then how I got there! I’m now half way through the knitting of Section 4 and have just rewritten Section 4 so I’ll be doing some frogging as soon as I finish this post.

Casting on

I was about to cast on on Tuesday morning when I thought I’d better retake my measurements. It is, after all, January which has meant more water and less sweet stuff. I’m glad I did because instead of casting on for 48 hips & 45 bust, I needed to cast on for 46 hips & 44 bust.

I made the following changes to the pattern – which was quite straightforward using the gauge calculation:

1. Removed 12 stitches from the cast on (2 inches width as 11 stitches and I wanted to keep to a 2*2 rib)
2. Adjusted Section 4 to add the extra increasing required for the sleeves

I then printed out my pattern with lots of space to type up and happily cast on!

I knit sections 1 & 2 and then checked my tension was still right and it seemed to be measuring correctly and I was pleased.

The Sweater after Section 2

It was all going so well

I also made the decision to include edge stitches on each size for seaming later, the direction of my M1 increases and that I wouldn’t use a thumb cast on if I was doing it again.

Notes to self

I really hope I can work out what I meant ... anywhee at all in this

Grading & Sizing

While adjusting section 4 I thought about how that would need to be changed for different sizes so I knew it was time to look at grading and sizing.

A note on the term grading – from what I can gather it’s just a formal term for ‘sizing your garment in multiple sizes’ and hints at doing it taking into consideration how shape actually changes with size rather than applying any clumsy formulas. Very reasonable.

I started, as with almost everything, with Google.

I had a vague memory of seeing a sizing chart by Ysolda and it was one of the first links to appear. I downloaded her size sheet and moved on to Marnie MacClean’s blog which was linked from Ysolda’s.

Looking at Ysolda’s measurements, I discovered I’m about proportionate at a 44inch bust … a bit of a relief considering the size I’m making is going to be the starting point for grading (I should really have checked that first but you don’t know what you don’t know).

A note on Excel – I love Excel but for those who don’t like it, hate it or have never used it, don’t let it put you off designing. I’m sure there are loads of designers out there who use other tools, including pens and paper, to do their calculations.

I then went back and googled ‘Spreadsheets for grading’ to get another perspective. It was here I found Clare of Sister Mountain. She has two excellent articles in her blog: Grading Patterns Spreadsheet & Grading Patterns Stitch & Row Counts.
Looking at other titles on Clare's blog, it felt like I have some posts that overlap so I just read the articles, registered for Clare's mailing list and headed off. I try to be really careful about content overlap!

Now that I've read all of these, I believe I need the following:

  • 1. My own sizing sheet where I really understand the numbers
  • 2. A template for grading sweaters from this sizing sheet

Revelations (well, realisations really)

It was while reading all of these & continuing the sample, I began to have some concerns yesterday … and lo! The note ‘Seems a bit long’ that I wrote beside my measurements really early in the design came back to haunt me!

This morning at about 7:30am, using Ysolda's measurements & leaning against a wall, I discovered that my elbow to elbow measurement of 40 inches was way off.  Oops.  Elbow to elbow should have been 34 inches … and, the exact science that it is, holding the sweater against me told me that if I kept making the sweater wider, it would just add more length before the sleeve and that would push the whole garment down my body.

I debated ripping out to the start of section 3 and redoing the decreasing from there but I was happy with how that looked so I thought I’d put all the changes into Section 4 - I needed to increase from 28 inches to 34 inches in 3.5 inches rather than 28 inches to 40 inches in 6.5 inches.  Section 4 is now 24 rows and not 44.  I am at row 26 of the original 44 so time for a little frogging.  

Sweater ready for frogging

I was not even one bit tempted by that scissors ... honest

Onwards and upwards (after some downwards ripping).

I’m happy with where I am but in hindsight I should have mapped my measurements against standard measurements as part of the design process. I’m definitely going to spend time drawing schematics and putting body measurements on to them before I write up this pattern. I’ll share the outcomes with you as soon as I get to it.

In the next post, which will either be next week or the following (if the design needs a full rethink), I will hopefully have:
1. A finished sweater in my size
2. The finalised version of the pattern for the 44 inch bust
3. My own size chart
4. A graded version of my sweater based on those sizes

Right! That sweater isn’t going to frog itself!


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