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April 23, 2006

Leaps of Faith

When I was in grade school I made a lot of my clothing. I think I started around the sixth grade. I don't even remember a time when I didn't know how to sew, or even learning how to sew.

My mom is an excellent seamstress and she was thrilled to have a willing pupil. My older sister wanted no part of it, so she really loved teaching me the details that make all the difference -- how a little tuck here or a gentle curve there makes all the difference.

You know how we knitters struggle with sewing in our first set-in sleeve? Seamstresses do too. I couldn't properly sew a set-in sleeve until the eighth grade. Until then, my mom had to do all my sleeves for me. I think the time I finally got it all on my own was bittersweet for her -- I had progressed, but it also meant I didn't need her quite as much. Mom, I have news for you...I still need you and I'm 34!

You might be wondering why I'm sharing all of this with you. Well, it gets to the essence of why I knit, how my knitting has evolved, and where I want to go with it.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how knitting patterns are created, the lines they have, and the technical details that make them work. All those years of sewing have helped me understand things like what a sleeve should look like, or how to use short rows to get that perfect fit.

And what this is leading up to is this. I've decided to take the plunge and design a few patterns.

Am I nervous? You bet. But if I don't try this I'll always wonder what I might have been able to do. Worst case, I'll have myself a few really well-fitting tops.

So here's my first design. She's yet unnamed.


Drape is important for this design in order to get a nice fluid line from the empire waist. And, with its wide neck and short sleeves, it's definitely for the warm weather. So, I'm using Euroflax Linen.


The swatch has gone through one round of washing and drying. The "yarn" starts out feeling like string. Twine, even. But after it gets washed it softens and blooms and makes a lightweight, drapey fabric.

The 2 strands on the right show the difference -- the top is before-washing and the bottom is after. The after shot shows you just what happens. It gets fluffier, develops a bit of a white halo, and the plies come together to make a single strand of yarn.

Knitting with this yarn takes a leap of faith. Fitting for my first design, no?

April 23, 2006 in original designs | Permalink


yay! i know with all your expertise, you'll create something beautiful! i love the sketch. is the yarn a light purplish color?

Posted by: kim | Apr 23, 2006 6:03:59 PM

You are brave but considering all you know about fitting a pattern to yourself, I'm excited to see what you come up with! I remember feeling some of that yarn in a store and thinking "why would someone want to knit with this"? But after seeing your description I understand. :) Good luck with your designs.

Posted by: Jessica | Apr 23, 2006 6:05:53 PM

Oh thank goodness! I can't wait to see what you come up with. I have a feeling we have similar needs figure-wise, so if you offer any of these designs for others to use/buy, I'll probably be one of your first and repeat customers. :) Congratulations for taking on a new project!

Posted by: Karma | Apr 23, 2006 6:17:18 PM

Well, considering your knowledge of fitting, I'd say it's about time! Admit it, you've never knitted a pattern as written, have you?

This top is going to be really cute; can't wait to see it progress.

Posted by: jodi | Apr 23, 2006 6:31:15 PM

Thanks for the detailed information about your Euroflax swatch. Everyone always says how soft and nice and drapey that yarn is, but it's very hard to believe that when one's only experience is petting it in the yarn store. Leap of faith, indeed. I can't wait to see how your top progresses; the design is just gorgeous. I love the combo of the neckline and the puffy sleeves and the empire waist.

Posted by: Cara | Apr 23, 2006 6:38:46 PM

The before and after strand pic is incredible. I'm looking forward to seeing your design come to life.

Posted by: Lauren | Apr 23, 2006 7:14:57 PM

I look forward to seeing how this turns out. Our body builds are similar, and I love the sketch of the top. I hope it's a smashing success!

Posted by: Laura | Apr 23, 2006 7:21:18 PM

Ohhhhhh! Can't wait to see how this comes out. I'm so excited knowing that this will be an incredibly well designed, kick ass pattern.

Posted by: Jody | Apr 23, 2006 7:29:55 PM

Go for it! Beautiful silhouette in an appropriate yarn! (which is easy to get and comes in lots of colors - we like that :))

Posted by: grumperina | Apr 23, 2006 7:42:50 PM

You know I'm a big fan of the fiber! I'm just as big of a fan of your ability. I can't wait to see what you come up with~

Posted by: Wendy | Apr 23, 2006 10:28:58 PM

Looks cute! One thing to keep in mind is that knitted fabric doesn't sit still very well -- square necklines tend to droop in knitting and rarely site close to the skin. You may want to try doing a ribbing at the horizontal part of the square neckline to keep it pulled in nicely . . . although I'm not sure how much memory the yarn you've chosen has, maybe a rib won't make any difference. . . I'm eager to see it progress!

Posted by: ivete | Apr 23, 2006 11:45:28 PM

Linen does soften up a lot. It's going to look great with your design.

Posted by: Pioggia | Apr 24, 2006 12:40:51 AM

I, too, am a knitter with a sewing background. I know exactly what you're saying about understanding construction and fit of a garment, and how it impinges on knitting.

And as for a name for your design - I think you've hit it yourself. Faith. :)

Posted by: Alison | Apr 24, 2006 5:03:47 AM

It's going to look fantastic!!

Posted by: Kate | Apr 24, 2006 9:09:18 AM

Cute potential sweater. Why not pre-wash the yarn so that it takes a slightly shorter leap of faith? I've never used linen for the same reason as you mentioned but if I was going to try it I think a pre-wash would help immensely.

Posted by: Jayme | Apr 24, 2006 10:55:33 AM

Hurrah! I can't wait to see what you do. You're sketch is gorgeous! And it sounds as though you will be able to incorporate fine detail into the fitting - which even "A-list" designers sometimes don't do!!

Posted by: jillian | Apr 24, 2006 12:48:42 PM

Heidi! Heidi! That's what I thought when I saw it, so I think you should name her Heidi!

Posted by: Lisa in Chicago | Apr 24, 2006 12:57:59 PM

Love the design to be! Like Lisa, when I saw it I thought "Heidi"! Good chice on the linen, it will make it a cool, comfy, much loved top!

Can't wait to see it progress!

Posted by: Debi | Apr 25, 2006 2:08:51 AM

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