February 9, 2014

Designing knitwear is different

Regular readers of this blog will know that I usually design everything I sew myself and draft all the patterns. So, for me it was obvious to try and do the same thing with machine knitting…
I wrote about this before. I wouldn't have tried this without a book. It outlined the basics of muslining in jersey and then converting that pattern to one for knitting. As mentioned before, I decided on a simple fitted sweater with stripes as a first project. Not a difficult thing, but not the easiest either (the easiest thing would be a wide, un-shaped sweater in a solid colour).

Of course, knitting stripes is easy, both by machine and by hand. It's just a matter of keeping count. The problem with designing a knitting pattern with stripes, is matching them, especially at the armscyes. I spent quite a bit of time on that in the drawing-on-paper stage.

During knitting, I discovered several errors, both in counting (in my instruction, the point where you have to bind off the first stitches for the sleeve head didn't line up with the correct stripe, which I just altered while knitting) and in knitting machine logic (you can only bind off multiple stitches at the side where the sled is… I remembered that when writing the armscye instructions, but not when I got to the neckline). Then, I tried a new-to-me method of finishing the neckline (detail picture in the previous post about this project). It looked good but wasn't very stretchy. Less stretchy than the stockinette stitching it bordered, in fact. So, I had to re-think the neckline.
The piece I had started with, was originally supposed to be the front but its tight neckline meant that now became the back. Then, I knitted the other body piece with a deeper neckline. I considered making a V-neck but I learned that the neckline binding I used is only possible on round necklines. 
Even with the alteration, I still wasn't sure the neckline was going to be wide enough.

The sleeves were comparatively easy, apart from the counting error I already mentioned. 
Blocking was a bit tricky because of that neckline and I realized I might have over-stretched the stitch swatch just a little bit. When assembling the sweater, I learned something else which experienced knitter have probably known for a long time: Stitches which are tied off to create a diagonal edge form a rather un-stretchy edge. This made my sleeve heads smaller than expected. I was able to make them fit (by committing the 'sin' of easing the armscye into the sleevehead) but I know now that I should add some more rows in those bits next time.

All in all, I managed to put the whole thing together, it fit over my head and although it turned out bit more fitted than I had expected, that didn't make it unwearable.
I should learn not to take pictures on a bad-hair-day though. And E might have mentioned that…
Although I'm sewing again at the moment, I will try and design for the knitting machine again. I feel like I've learned things from this project and I consider buying another book to get some more information on the subject.


  1. These posts about your experiments with the knitting machine are very interesting! Even if I never get one myself.

  2. Oooh- I think it looks great!! -Kimbersew

  3. Very impressed! Super nice sweater. If I ever have the space for a knitting machine I will turn to you for advice :)