Truly understanding the knitting process

I have been knitting off and on for 6 years, obsessively for the last 2 years. I love to knit sweaters. I can follow a pattern, but I really don’t understand the finer details of sweater construction. I see people on ravelry that have been knitting less time than I have and they already are designing and publishing pattern or serving as test knitters. There is no way I would able to be a test knitter because I just don’t grasp the overall process. I would not know an error if I fell over it. I teach math and physics so I have an analytical mind. I recently wrote my own sweater pattern using a book that guided how to do measurements, but most any sweater knitter could do that. I just can’t come up with any in my own head. If I get an idea, I have no idea how to put it into a pattern. I just wonder what I am missing? What is not clicking? Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? I don’t have any interest in publishing, but I really want to have an understanding of what I am doing and be able to produce patterns for myself. I would like to be able to come up with cabled sweaters, fair isle sweaters, etc. that will fit me using various methods (top down, bottom up, continguous, etc)

I think one of the reasons for test knitters is to see how well the pattern is written. If the test knitters need clarification then the pattern may have to be revised before it is final. I don’t think it requires an expert knitter…I know it doesn’t. I test knitted a pattern and I am not an expert, not very skilled at all, and my input apparently was useful. I wouldn’t offer to test knit a terribly complicated pattern, I generally know my limitations. I’m not a pattern writer so I must leave comments on that to others.

I think there are many ways to enjoy knitting. If you’d like to look at a good book on patterns that may help with pattern dissection and analysis, try some of the Ann Budd books. I think she gives you a good feel for how different designs are constructed.

i would just caution this: designers don’t (always) ‘get it’ either.

i’ve been increasingly interested in various knitting podcasts and Vlogs the last 6 months or so. i’ve heard numerous designers, even those with multiple patterns to their credit, say that they’ve had to rip things out a multitude of times. that the sketch didn’t match the reality. that they went back to the drawing board once, twice, thrice because the shoulders didn’t work, or the gauge was wrong. that their own understanding of a concept (aran sweaters, or cabling, or sockmaking) was way behind their own ability in that area, and they had a bunch of off-camera learning to do.

i think it’d be fun to see the ‘oh my god that’s so bad!’ samples, but then i’ll be the first to admit to my own schadenfreude, especially if in the end a good person got something right. don’t worry about the test knitters. if you follow some of the test knitter groups on ravelry, a lot of the public comments are just about the numbers - stitch counts being off, etc - not about fundamentals of design.

so don’t despair. try some good ‘inspirational’ resources. knit. knit it again. rip it out and knit it a 3rd time. try it in a new color. try that new idea that popped into your head about it the last time you knit it. see what happens. :wink:

[I]Test knitting[/I] is about checking for clarity and getting a few projects out there for your pattern. [I]Tech editing[/I] is about finding errors and creating consistency, hopefully with the end goal of increasing clarity. Many test knitters of all skill levels needed; only one tech editor.

Many times a beginner/less knowledgeable knitter can be more helpful in the testing process because they’ll actually read and execute what’s written in the pattern. I tend to recognize what’s supposed to be happening and then just start doing it out of my head. That might get my project finished faster, but it doesn’t make me a helpful test knitter. Sounds like you’d be just right because you’re willing to step out on faith with what’s written. Most important skills of a test knitter are being a good communicator and living up to your commitments, not an understanding of construction methods.

That said, being a test knitter isn’t necessarily going to do any more to help you understand sweater construction than just knitting whatever patterns you already own. (It just might be fun!) You don’t mention whether you’re comfortable altering the patterns you’ve worked with to date. Like recalculating gauge or adding short rows in the bust area or converting from flat to in-the-round or choosing a different stitch pattern. Those are all baby steps that involve understanding fabric properties and construction that most designers take. Taking a pattern you’ve made before and tweaking it in some fashion would be a great place to start. You could compare the previous one with the new one to see how the tweaks you made changed the finished product.

Books are great for helping with any of this - one I own and love is Knitwear Design Workshop - but also reading patterns. So helpful to see how the various pieces were brought together by the designer - from choice of stitch pattern to yarn to general construction. For example, choose three raglans that were constructed all three ways and pick them apart to see how they’re different.

I design accessories, but even something as simple as a hat can require a lot of trial and error to get just right. Just had to completely redo a sample because the gauge came out at 4.75spi when I was anticipating 3.5spi. What I work out on paper as far as construction or decrease sequences or gauge occasionally doesn’t turn out quite like I expected. There’s a lot of planning, knitting, ripping, note taking (hopefully, easy to neglect this step), re-knitting, ripping, lather, rinse, repeat, that goes into developing a design of any type. Try, try again could be the designer motto. :slight_smile:

Very well put. Thank you. It doesn’t take long for some of us to get to the point that we see what’s needed, glance at the pattern, and continue without actually reading it. I just yesterday had to stop and actually read step by step. What a drag. :teehee: It was good for me.

this is interesting!

I’ve been knitting for years, am self-taught. I design my own sweater patterns, and have a good idea of how to shape things, but there are some limitations, mainly because I’m too lazy to try a lot of new things.

I only recently learned how to read a pattern, and don’t even show me a graph of anything with cables, they make my eyes bleed.

now that I’ve learned to read patterns however, the one thing i’ve learned after that is:

check for errors!!! its amazing how many there are out there! they can make you lose your mind.

quietly tucks away newly created pattern with cables :wink:

Thanks so much for all your responses. I think a lot of it is that I don’t have the patience. I like for a pattern to be error free if I am going to knit it. I also am a product knitter so I like to complete a sweater in a limited amount of time. I certainly would not want to rip out and start all over many times, so I will probably ever design my own from scratch. I don’t even like to rewrite pattern from flat to round, or from bottom up to top down etc. I just want to knit it as written. The closest I came to rewriting a pattern was knitting one in DK that called for chunky yarn. I really, really wanted the sweater in DK so I went through the calculations to get there and was successful. I guess I just really have to want something to make it happen.

I think it’s important to do the things we like in the way we like. You may one day decide that designing something is worth the effort and learning and do it. You may not. I don’t think I’ll ever write a pattern. My brain just doesn’t work well in that mode. I do make things up as I go along. I’ll use parts of different patterns for ideas. Right now I’m stealing from a project page to add a nose on my Parlor Cat.

Knit what makes you happy.

REally??? me too!!!

I call it creative knitting. I can look at something, and have a good idea of how to go about making it. I sometimes find that one designer will describe a process one way, a different designer will get the same stitch, but describe it differently.

Its all open to interpretation.

My plain Jane top down raglan sweater "pattern"
Play with yarn and needles until I get the desired result. Hold the swatch up to the back of the neck of the intended wearer or close facsimile. Hold the stitches at either end of desired fit on neck. Count stitches between thumbs for the cast on for the back of the neck. That’s my idea of swatching and math. I do a portion of the number for the neck cast on for the top of each shoulder. I can play around with pattern stitches as I go if I want. The biggest problem I have is remembering how many rows between front increases for the slope on the neckline in front. My grandson saw a picture of a pullover hoodie kangaroo pocket sweater and wanted one. I didn’t want to work bottom up so I just reversed the process. That time I used the final stitch count at the top of the neck as my starting point for figuring out the cast on, my gauge not matching the pattern anyhow. Life’s too demanding to have to make gauge every time I do a project. There are projects I go for gauge and sometimes make it. I still end up altering the pattern.

you’re starting to scare me.

we are SO much alike in our knitting habits.

Habits are for nuns.
You’re weird. :mrgreen:

so’re you! :smiley:

now of course, we have to knit a habit. or at least a wimple.