Revenge of the sleeve.


This entry has also been posted at the Create Along.

While I have done a fair bit of design, there are still aspects of the processes that I can only perfect through trial and error. All the excel sheets and schematics in the world cannot reproduce the look and feel of knit fabric adhering to all the laws of physics. Julia has a really nice post in which she discusses the process of designing without knitting the piece herself. In her case, her sample knitter helped ease that processes by providing continual feedback, as she was a fine designer in her own right. However, I think this is a valuable lesson to take away. While I consider Julia to be a hugely skilled and technically adept designer, who has years of experience knitting and designing knitwear, even she cannot completely predict the way the finish piece will need to be constructed in order to execute her vision.

As a side note, this is one of the beauties of the web and why I absolutely love being a part of this CAL. I cannot imagine how critical I might be of my own work, if I didn't have the blogs of other designers to show me that all of us face the same challenges and missteps.

Back to the topic at hand, Lily has gone surprisingly easily throughout the body portion of the piece. While I debated on length, a bit, and I may still close the side vents up a little bit, the bulk of the design process went pretty smoothly, once I had my original vision.

From here, I knew I wanted to knit the sleeves up to, but not including, the sleeve cap, so that I could join all the pieces and work them together, to avoid any possible offset of the motifs.

There were no problems with the body, the sleeve, however, has dogged me. This humble elbow length sleeve is the product of, not one, not two, but 4 trips to the frog pond.

It's a testament to the quality of Calmer that I see absolutely no change in the yarn, despite all that ripping and re-knitting.

My first thought was that I'd migrate the motifs from the front of the sleeve, around to the back seam in preparation to run the motifs up the sleeve cap. I felt that just running the motif up the seam would look peculiar and unbalanced. Something really needed to pickup the theme, on the outside of the sleeve.

If you are astute, you've already caught my big mistake here, however, I knit about a quarter of the sleeve and realized I just had too much ease worked in and ripped the sleeve to start again. It was only when version two had hit about the halfway point, that I realized my fatal flaw. If the motifs were correct at the outside of the sleeve, they would be flipped at the back seam as shown in the illustration below.

As the great philosopher, Homer, said, "DOH!" That was a real head slapper moment.

I realized that my new calculations worked out perfectly to fit 2 full motifs across the entire hem of the sleeve (a centered full motif on the outside of the sleeve, with two half motifs inside by the seam). I knew I didn't want to carry the outside motif up the entire length of the sleeve, firstly, because it would be too busy and secondly, because when it came time to decrease for the sleeve cap, I'd be left with a lot of lace to wrangle into submission. I decided to just work the outside motif once. I tried maintaining the purl ribs up the length of the sleeve but found it added a sort of sporty feel that was inconsistent with the vast stockinette of the body.

So I took out the purl ribs, after the first repeat.

I was getting much closer but there were two things that bothered me. First, the outside repeats just seemed to look uncontained. There were still strong lines delineating the edges of the motifs on all sides except the top. Something just seemed off. I also didn't care for the fact that I had begun the sleeve shaping, while working the first repeat. It meant I had to increase in the purl ribs between motifs. Since I was eliminating the extra purl ribs and motif, it just didn't look cohesive.

After all that, 5 times was the charm.

I added a purl ridge to the top of the outside motif, which added the visual container I felt the motifs needed. Additionally, I held off on any sleeve shaping until I had completed the border of repeats, allowing me to increase in the stockinette area, as I had on the body.

I think the final product is consistent with the style of the body and deals with the design concerns I had, in a logical way.

For now, Lily needs to go on temporary hold while I complete a project for a friend. Lucky for me, it's in Calmer too!

I hope to complete that in the next week or two, while I'm traveling and then I'll get back to Lily and all that she entails. I'll try to get a couple tutorials up in the interim, if time permits.


Thanks for sharing your design process, once again. It's helpful as usual. I appreciate seeing how you approach stumbles along the way and how you figure it out to make it work. And I like the solution you came up with, BTW. :)

This comment has been cross-posted at the Create-Along. :)

Dude. You gave me way too much credit in this post. I may need a shovel. Or a bucket! No need to play nice. These guys know we are pals.

My expertise is in ripping. The difference between someone who has had a little experience and someone who has not isn't the number of mistakes, but the number of possible fixes. I was scared to death that the KC Hoodie would not work out, and it was only through luck and Denise's skill that it did. I re-knit the damn bikini in that book three times before I got it right. 300 cast-on stitches on size US1 needles, no less.

Okay, now that I'm finished castigating you for your kind compliments, let me just say that your sleeve looks great and was worth the five knits. I always love your pieces, and this is no exception. Can't wait to see it on.

P.S. I can't decide if repeating the motif along the bottom of the body would be perfect or overkill, but I know you'll work it out.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Marnie published on March 13, 2007 4:52 AM.

There are some things you just take for granted... was the previous entry in this blog.

Bellocq now available is the next entry in this blog.

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