I'm doing a blog. The shop's a mess. I have a to do list as long as my arm. A pattern to finish for the Christmas Boxes and some more admin to do with that. And I haven't checked my e-mails (sorry everybody, I will do). All I want to do is knit Chris's Christmas Jumper but I can't justify that but I can justify a blog! That's work right?!?!?! I did a vlog about this the other day but I was hungover/drunk and wasn't using my words in any meaningful way (btw, that hangover lasted for three days. Three days! I'm getting old...). Lots of people have been interested though and more generally people are interested in how I make up patterns (or how anybody does else I guess) so I'm gonna take you through the thought process. I've done this before for something else but I think I rushed it so I'm going to write a loooooooooot. Enjoy. :)
So, Chris is a good'un. I made him his first pair of socks when we'd been going out for a couple of months and I once caught him hand washing them despite me telling them that they were machine washable. He's had a few pairs since because he's proved knit worthy and they're always the first pairs that he goes for. That's the first part of the process - is somebody knit worthy? Lots of us go mad over Christmas thinking that we should knit and crochet for everybody but in reality, not everybody appreciates it. Lots of people prefer shop bought thinking that it's better quality or that the amount you spend is indicative of how good a gift it is (they've never tried buying hand dyed yarn obvs...). These people are often easily spotted but sometimes even good ones can surprise you. Test people out with a small, insignificant hand made gift - a pair of socks, a hat, some gloves and see if they wear them. If the socks end up with holes in or you bump into somebody in the street and they're wearing your hat, or if you catch them hand washing your gloves, boom, you've got a winner and they deserve all the knitting in the universe. If no appreciation is shown then there's plenty of other knitting and crochet, you have seen the night on 600, 000 patterns on rav haven't you? Or the over 1000 patterns in our range? There is enough there to keep you going for a lifetime. Ignore the haterz.
But Chris is knit worthy.
He also like a jumper, wears them all year round but more in winter obvs. I choose his clothes mainly (we once had an argument about him not wanting to buy clothes so he dragged himself into town with a stinking cold and bought some trousers at John Lewis that turned out to be dress trousers with a ribbon down the leg and showed up to the shop with an apology (in mismatched shoes). He took them back because I didn't approve, ha) and I like him in blue. I choose the wool in this shop and I like Panache DK. My first thought was this pattern:
But something was wrong with the neck. I've never seen him in a v-neck and for some reason, given his bulk, I just can't see him in it. So I looked for this pattern:
But that meant that I couldn't do just the read any more, I had to do more than that by definition... This was my first option:
But I liked it too much to give it to Chris. Ha. Also, and this is my next top tip, I've never seen him wear these colours. His natural colourway is black, blue, grey and maybe a little beige (if I like it...). These are mainly waaaaaaarm tones and his are mainly cool tones, so I went with this:
However, King Cole only do colourwork on the flat. This is fine. Some people like colourwork flat. But it's wrong. In my humble opinion. Which is the right opinion. Obviously. And if I'm going to do colourwork in the round I may as well do a top down raglan. Boom. But King Cole also don't do those (apart from my lovely pattern 9026) but the pattern from above - 3660 - was a raglan. So this is where the real thoughts began.
I looked at the sizing first, trying to work out with the help of a customer, roughly what size he needed. Once I'd worked that out I looked at the amount of stitches that were cast off for the neck band. And then I looked at the amount of stitches you finish the front, back and sleeves with and added them up. There were less stitches from the front, back and sleeves than there were for the neck band so I plumped for somewhere in the middle and made sure it was divisible by four (because that means that if you start with a k2 you'll always end with a p2 and in the round that's quite important).
Once I'd got my cast on I was sorted, cast it on did a couple of inches in the deep blue in the round, boooooom. When I'd finished the rib, based on what he seems to enjoy from what he wears, I did a round in just plain knit and put some stitch markers in where the sleeves and back and front should be split. I did this by remembering roughly what the pattern required but because I'd fudged it a bit I had to add some stitches in here and there, so where the pattern need 35 or whatever I ended up with 37.
When I started the fairisle it was a bit more difficult. I'm a big fan of making fairisle up as you go along, you often need to increase or decrease a bit so that the patterns work but if you keep them small, like I like them to be, you're never increasing or decreasing very much. However, by this time I was drunk. All I could think of was a checkerboard pattern so that's what I did. But, assuming I used the numbers above i.e. 37 per front and an equally odd number for the sleeve (I genuinely can't remember) the checkerboard pattern just didn't work. As in, there wasn't enough stitches on each section to complete a full repeat of the checkerboard. So I did a little increasing and decreasing - I don't remember which way I did it but I would have increased the fronts and decreased the sleeves each by one so that the checkerboard worked but I hadn't changed the number of stitches. Does that make sense?
And that's about as far as I got that night. I did try and start a new set of colours but the ones I chose were too close to eachother for my drunk eyes.
In between each set of two colours I did a round of plain knitting. No reason other than it sets me up nicely for the next set of colours and felt like the right thing to do. So if I used Navy and Grey first, and then I knew I was going to get rid of N and work with G and Beige next then after the N and G are finished I'll break of the N and do a round in G before introducing the B.
These are rules that I make up to make it look more 'put together'. You can do anything in knitting as long as it looks like you thought about it. So for increases you can do yarn overs if you want, which make little holes as well as extra stitches, provided they're all in a position that looks like you put them there rather than you dropped a stitch. Or you can fuck all of that and put anything where you want to put anything, that's a thing too, it's just that I'm talking about making things that look like they come from a pattern but don't - it's all to do with the rules.
Talking about rules, I had a problem with the increases. Let me show you:
So, you tend, in top down raglans to leave a stitch at either side of the marker and then increase at either side of that. Something like, knit to one stitch before the marker, make one, k1, slip marker, k1, m1, knit on. And my natural inclination in fairisle is to have one main colour running all the way through, in which case the two stitches at either side of the marker could be in one colour and I could increase in any colour I want. But this wasn't the case in this pattern, in this pattern the yarn changes all the time. Hmmm. So I made myself a rule. It just so happened, when I set up for the checkerboard I'd made sure tat the checks finished exactly at the end of each section, which meant that where one section ended - say the front - on a navy, the next section started on a grey. So that there were different colours before and after each point of increase. I decided, as usual, to allow these colours to stay and do the increases just before and after in whichever colour made the checks before or after work. That looked really neat until I broke off the navy and it didn't work anymore. Blurgh.
So I made a rule, my rule was, once a colour has been set up as the stitch before or after a point of increase, it stays until that colour is no longer part of the pattern when it gets broken off and replaced with the new colour that I'm introducing. God I hope this makes sense. Haha. After saying I was going to explain it very well. Let me try a different way too.
So I did N and G first. I finished the front section with two N sts, and therefore started the first sleeve with G stitches. When I did my first increases, I knitted to the last st before the marker and made an increase in N, knitted one in N, slipped marler, knitted one in G, increased in G and carried on with my life. On the next round I needed to swap the colours over for a checkerboard but I didn't need to increase. So, I knitted to the last three sts before the marker, there were three N stitches, I now knitted two sts in G, one st in N (because the st before the marker doesn't change until I break the yarn off), slipped marker, k1G, k2N and off with my life. On the next round, an increase, I knitted to the last st before marker which means I've just knitted two in G, increased in N, k1N, slip marker, k1G, increased in G and carried on with my life. Then I carried on like this until 6 rows (three checks) had been worked and then I broke off the N and did a round in G. I then introduced the Beige, and all of the stitches (either before or after the markers depending on when they appeared) that were N were not B and all of the stitches that were G were still G. Everything else stayed the same, increases where they should be and a checkerboard pattern.
It's not as complicated as it seems, you can use your eyeballs to see whether and increase needs to be in one colour and not another and it's to do with the main body of the work not the stitch before or after the marker. Less simple when the colours look the same and you're drunk.... but whatevs.
Now one of the main reasons that people love a top down raglan is that you can try it on as you go. Not when you're doing it in secret (kind of, when I was drunk I let slip that it was a jumper but not what kind of jumper and I assume he's not reading this... Haha). So I can't try it on him. I can compare it to his jumpers but they're not with me all of the time so I'm going to have to sneak tonight when I'm at his house and check the length of the raglan. I'm pretty comvinced, having compare it to many other jumpers on the internet that the width of the sleeves and arms are about right but he may need a little extra on the length, although he is a short arse. You'd be surprised at how many customers have suggested blindfolding him and trying it on! What kind of monsters are you?!
Now I'm at the point where I should be setting aside the sleeves and I have to decide what to do with the bottom bit but I haven't got there yet and because I haven't skimped on words we're now at ten to six and I've done nothing else all day so I need to skidaddle!