Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pattern Instructions

I find it very annoying to follow a pattern that is written out in paragraphs. I like to look down at the instructions and see in a glance what I am supposed to be doing. That is why I always chart out the instructions for both hand and machine knitting. It also makes it easier to determine design info, for example, the depth of the V Neck from the shoulders, the depth of the armhole, width of shoulders, etc. Long ago, I drew up some standard sweater shapes, or more accurately, traced some out of the Patons Back To Basics pamphlet, and I just trace them when I want to draw up a new pattern. I also add any sketches of design ideas. That heart is the result of one of my kids trying out a paper punch on my pattern sheet, but at least they chose a blank space to do it in.

I keep all the patterns I have drawn up in a big three-ring binder. I have divisions for children's sweaters, adult sweaters, and other things. I always put a small box in the upper righthand corner where I put in the gauge and which machine I knit it on or needle size.

One of the most useful items I have made for myself is my little book of gauges. I know I should make a gauge swatch for every color of every yarn, since the dye can affect the gauge, but hey, I am way too lazy to do that. So I just make a general gauge swatch for the variety of yarn. I make a long swatch with sections for needle size or machine tension, then I wash it and dry it, then take the gauge. I write it all down in the little book. That way, when I want to change an existing pattern to a different yarn, I just look the yarn up in my book and start the calculations. I will also take a gauge from an existing sweater that has been through many washes to give me an idea of how the yarn will behave in the future.

Today, now that I have finished the black V-neck and done assorted calculations, I am going to start the ribbing for the purple raglan sweater. I think I will make this one a pullover too, since there is no sense going to all the work of a cardigan until I know if the pattern works.

1 comment:

steel breeze said...

What a good idea! I did have a little database on my PDA for tension and gauge, but I have to admit I've been really sloppy in keeping it up to date lately!

I must admit I much prefer diagrams too, a la "Modern Machine Knitting" or the Japanese patterns. It's so easy to get lost in a paragraph, or go careering past a point when the pattern should have changed!