Monthly Archives: May 2014

who´s designing here?

Brandie_14aToday I´d like to tell you a bit about my co-designer, or the mastermind I should say, of the Rivulets sweater from my previous post. That is, she´ll do the talking herself. I was lucky enough to meet Brandie through one of the very first designs I ever made, she was one of my test knitters (have a peak at her Siris scarf of Doom!). Since then we´ve become friends, and as a translater and reviewer, she´s been helping me out with quite a few tech edits of knitting patterns. She´s also one of the kindest and smartest people you´ll ever come around. So, let´s hear from her about how she´s experienced our collaboration on the Rivulets sweater:

 

Brandie, you are not a professional designer, was this the first hand-knitted design you have ever worked on?

Absolutely! I have been knitting for a long time now, but always from patterns. I have occasionally had ideas for pieces I would like to knit for myself from scratch. But I am an impatient person, so I had never taken the time to experiment with my yarn and needles. Truthfully, I was afraid of the frustration that would come from failure. My tendency was to prefer the “safety” or “guaranteed results” you get from a good pattern.

Do you do craftsy or creative work in other areas?

My craft obsession before knitting was card-making. I have an enormous collection of gorgeous papers, stamps and inks that is sitting idle at the back of my closet. But sice I started knitting, I haven’t invested much time in other creative pursuits. It seems I am a monogamous crafter: one hobby at a time!

How long have you been knitting? And what do you like to knit most?

I have been knitting for around 10 years. My knitting personality is similar to my travelling philosophy: I like to go somewhere I’ve never been. This means I’m usually drawn to projects that feature something new to me, whether it is the garment type, construction, stitch pattern or yarn. I especially enjoy making sweaters because I think they are the ultimate reward for a knitter, but lately I have been really drawn to hats because there is so much variety and they are always quick projects!

What was your source of inspiration for the Rivulets sweater?

I once owned a sweater whose shape was similar to the silhouette of the Rivulets sweater. It was my favorite piece of clothing and I wore it with practically everything – skirts, capri pants, sundresses – in the spring, summer and autumn. It was my dream sweater, but it eventually had to be retired and I longed for a replacement.

How did you come up with such a stunning stitch pattern?

I had a very specific goal for what I wanted the Rivulets pattern to evoke: drops of water that stream down and merge with other droplets. I wanted it to flow and undulate. The only way to figure it out was to start experimenting. Because I don’t do much lace knitting, I wasn’t even familiar with how to make eyelets! I browsed through a lot of stitch dictionaries at the library, and noted the stitch combinations that yielded the kinds of effects I was aiming for. Then I started combining them. In all, I probably knit about 10 different swatches in 3 yarns before I settled on a stitch pattern that conveyed what I wanted. The biggest challenge here was knitting swatches in the round because the yarn-overs and decreases simply didn’t work on the reverse side of the work.

How did you like the process of designing the Rivulets sweater?

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis has a sense of Jana’s openness and generosity of spirit. Working with her was the best part of this adventure. We communicated by email and Skype and shared lots of pictures. At every stage, Jana was very receptive to all my ideas and was brilliant at interpreting my vague descriptions of what I was hoping we could create. Readers can only imagine the laughable result of my first misguided attempt at chart writing! I love that we each tried out different yarns and stitch patterns and even sleeve types to determine what the final product would look like. The pattern repeat is big and the stitch count is not very accommodating, so to me the most incredible thing was when Jana found the perfect way to avoid the math challenges of grading the pattern!

I know that as a translator and reviewer, you are used to working closely with texts. How did that knowledge help you with writing a knitting pattern? How is writing a knitting pattern different from what you usually do?

My work as a translator and editor demands attention to detail. This means I already have the patience it takes to write and rewrite the text until it seems right. Everything I write or review must be perfectly clear and explicit. I hope that this is reflected in our pattern, because I would not like to leave knitters to fill in the gaps. Writing a pattern from scratch is very different from my everyday work. When I translate or edit a text, the ideas come from someone else. In this case, all the content was originated by Jana and me, so there is no one to blame for any faulty logic or missing information!

What does knitting mean to you?

Knitting is a way to explore the world. With all the different fibers, weights and dyeing techniques, I think I could spend a lifetime playing with yarn. I travel often and yarn is a great souvenir for me. I try to go into yarn shops in every city I visit. Although I’m trying to tame my stash, I always allow myself to buy something if it’s locally made or somehow specific to the place. My business trips cause me to spend lots of time in airports, airplanes, subways, buses and so on. There is a lot of “dead time” and knitting is my refuge in these moments. As soon as I sit down, I pull out my knitting. It’s a great conversation starter: passersby ask what I’m making or how I learned to knit or if it’s hard. Sometimes they tell me about their own knitting or their family members who knit.
Finally, I get a lot of pleasure from the finished result. Some people are about the process, but I’m all about the product. I enjoy wearing my hand-knitted garments. And I am even more delighted when I give away a hand-knitted project. Knitted items are the most thoughtful of gifts: the pattern and yarn are chosen specifically for the occasion and every stitch is worked with a thought for the recipient. It is very gratifying when a friend or loved one recognizes the time and care that have gone into a hand-made gift.
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Rivulets

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An meine deutschen LeserInnen: Das Muster ist leider ausnahmsweise nur auf Englisch erhältlich. Das nächste Muster gibt es wieder zweisprachig, versprochen.

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Finally I can tell you about this awesome sweater! It´s been over a year that Brandie Brunner (check her out on Ravelry: beepb), my friend and tech editor, and I started working on this design together. It was the first project where Brandie was taking part in the design process. And what can I say, she did not start slowly! She came up with this incredibly beautiful stitch pattern. It´s hard to say if it´s ribbing or lace, it´s a mix of both. The combination of knit and purl stitches means that there´s no curling, which is super awesome. And the eyelets create a stunning night-sky effect, it looks as if the eyelets were stars or distant galaxies. It´s almost poetic.

The most wonderful part about the stitch pattern is its overall look, there seem to be streams and streams of water running together. It paints a mesmerizing pattern, just like raindrops that land on a pane of glass. I really believe that Brandie is a natural knitting genius for coming up with it.

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All I had to do was to find some numbers that would make it a sweater pattern. We decided to go for top-down knitting, it´s just ever so helpful that you can try your sweater on as you go to make sure that it fits. This time, taking into account the intricate stitch pattern, I just wrote down one size. You´ll easily be able to eek out five sizes, ranging from a 35.5 to 41.25 inch bust when choosing the weight of your yarn, i.e. you´ll choose any weight between fingering and aran.

Brandie and I discussed every detail of the sweater, e-mails were sent to and fro accross the ocean. It was a lot of fun. I am so used to working on my own that I almost forgot how inspiring and rewarding a cooperation like that can be.

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Also, this stitch pattern has a great elasticity, you would never have guessed that the sweater to the left is modeled on a 39 in bust while the same sweater is shown to the left on a 34.5 inch bust. It´s almost impossible to knit up the wrong size with this sweater.

 
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Here´s another, and even more perplexing example of this: This sample, knit by Brandie with Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima, is modeled on a curvy 36 inch bust on the left, on a flat 36 inch bust in the middle and on a 45 inch bust on the right. It´s just fascinating how this works, isn´t it?

The first sample was knit with Golf from Lang Yarns, which consists of 100% mercerized cotton. So this shows how the fibre content also changes the look of the sweater. I have a hard time desiding which sample I like more, the cotton prototype or the one with the actual yarn we used for the pattern, Knit Picks Palette, 100% Peruvian highland wool, which is lighter and fluffier than the cotton. I enjoyed working with that yarn a lot, and the colour just about perfectly matches the image I had in my head. Brandie and I are very grateful that our sweater is part of KnitPicks´ outstanding Independent Designer Partnership Program. They have great patterns on their website, if you are not familiar with it, you really should check it out! Plus, they do have a large variety of yarns, you´ll find the right one for any size of the sweater in their collection, which is awesome in and of itself. The KnitPicks photographer was so taken by our Rivulets sweater that she took some pictures, even though it wasn´t planned. You can imagine that we are proud. And the model is gorgeous.

There´s anoriv_thumbnail_blogther detail about the construction of this sweater that I´d like to mention: Coming up with a seamless way to knit this very intricate pattern was a bit of a challenge. We had to find a way to let the stitch pattern at the shoulder seams naturally flow into the stitch pattern of the sleeves. We resolved this by working saddle shoulders. The two pattern repeats of the saddles function as a baseline for the sleeve increases – it really does help the knitting develope organically as you go.

The pattern comes in written and charted format, so that you can choose which ever directions suit you best. As usual, you can find it on Ravelry as well. Enjoy!

 

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