Good things are happening again in my Sweater Design Journey! Switching off from digital activities for a few weeks helped me to focus on optimising fit, resolve grading issues (success-yay!!) and work up a third prototype and re-write the pattern. Yep, a third. I have been busy!
... and there is a bit more document editing and proofreading to go, but pattern launch is coming soon!
I had thought I would be sharing my second prototype in the lead up to pattern release but instead I am sharing both my second and third sweaters with a recap on the first one and some tester WIPS, so below are a few pics for your eyes to feast on!
Sweater 1 is a Medium, crocheted combining Scheepjes Woolly Whirl and Woolly Whirlette (70% cotton, 30% merino). Even though I realised the underarm/shoulder and neckline was too long/low while I was making it, I used it to sort out the general look/aesthetics of the sweater, find techniques to create invisible joins, check if slip stitch embroidery was achievable for a closed sleeve and see how the Woolly Whirl/Whirlette would perform.
Apart from the underarm/neck/shoulder issues, I also discovered trying to work slip stitch into the closed tube of a sleeve is possible but OMG super frustrating (so I had better provide an option to work the sleeve open, embroider them, then sew closed) and I loved the aesthetics, the fabric and the general vibe…
Sweater 2 is also a Medium, crocheted combining Scheepjes Woolly Whirl and Woolly Whirlette. The comfort and ease around the underarm, shoulder and the shallower V neckline are much improved compared to Sweater 1 with free arm movement! Whoo hoo, right?
I collected instructional photos and videos to put into the pattern when making this sample as I was feeling pretty confident about it, and then began testing some weeks ago…. and then things turned south.
So, what went wrong?
My improved design suited me well enough as an individual, and but for other sizes the fabric was too tight across the shoulders and too bunchy around the neckline with a raglan line that was too wide! Oh no! Time to face reality…
Ultimately, what went wrong is that I let what other people think affect my decisions too much. This has been a personal lesson in “just be yourself”. I think my patterns are detail focussed rather than difficult, but people constantly tell me that my designs are too intimidating, and I should publish easier patterns (though it's the more complicated ones that are more popular) – and so I kept telling myself to "simplify, simplify, simplify" my design approach and the instructions to avoid people freaking out when they see the pattern document.
Every time there was a decision to be made, instead of focusing on the mathematical realities of interpreting size charts to shape the raglan line and grade the pattern to a wide range of women’s forms, I was hung up on keeping the instructions as simple/streamlined as possible. Well, …lesson learned.
The mathematical solution to optimising the neck/raglan/shoulder/sleeve/armhole depth of this sweater and grading it was to apply differential rates of increases between sleeves and bodice sections of the garment; the ratios of which differ between each of the 9 sizes (XS-5XL) and the frequency of increases also changes as you work top-down from the neck to underarm within each size category.
...And this is just one part of the garment to write instructions for! This means the written document to describe everything for the 9 sizes is big. Like, really big. There is just no getting around it.
But a comprehensive pattern document doesn’t mean it’s a super difficult project to make, it just means it's packed with lots of information!
This is to help makers create their garment without having to fill-in the blanks, and to empower learning new skills during the project. At least, that is my goal!
The difficulty in making the garment is understanding gauge and consistent control of gauge (true of any crocheted garment) …and resisting the urge to rush (also true of any handmade anything as we are so keen to see it finished!)
The stitches in this jumper are the basic set, used at a minimum of an intermediate level as there are post, spike and fdc stitches. The skills used in the first 12 rows are repeated throughout the rest of the garment with some optional slip stitch embroidery for the sleeves.
And now that I have gone with “you do you” instead of “worry that others might freak out” I can proudly say, it’s a good sweater design and well graded for women’s sizes XS-5XL. Sizes XS-XL have been fully tested and sizes 2XL-4XL have been tested in part as tester's body measurements crossed size categories so have been a bit of a blend.
Looking at the finished sweaters in one size, you may not readily see the difference that my redesign has made, so here are a few "before and after" WIP photos from my test group to show how my fit issues around the neck/shoulders/armhole were really no good, and have now been resolved.
“Before” is on the bottom and “after" is on top.
Left to right, they are size XS (Woolly Whirlette in Bubble Gum 573), size L (Woolly Whirl in Bubblelickcious 474) and XL in Melting Mint Centre 475).
I am thrilled with the fit of the XL now as the fabric is flat against the contours of the body - how good is this armhole!?
A reality check, changing my mindset and trying again was definitely needed and worth it!
So, onto my final offering:
Sweater 3 is a Medium crocheted in Scheepjes Whirl (60% cotton, 40% acrylic). Since I was down for a third jumper and people go mad for Scheepjes Whirl, I wanted to check that this design could be made with either the Woolly Whirl/Whirlette or Whirl/Whirlette.
They perform in a similar enough way that YES, both yarns are suitable – that means a HUGE range of colour possibilities! (This one is Forbidden Fuchsia 555).
...And the pattern name?
I did laughingly consider "the sweater of sheer determination", but Ever-Change reflects my design journey for this sweater and the design potential for future makers.
It's an ever-changing canvas for playing with colours and slip stitches!
The pattern is a comprehensive document, and it will be published in UK & US terms in my Peppergoose Design pattern stores on both Ravelry and Etsy. It includes lots of resources to guide your project.
The written instructions are supplemented by heaps of photos tutorials using images from both the 2nd and 3rd prototypes, schematics, a stitch chart, separate appendices about planning colour placement and making custom-fit changes to plan your sweater! There are even links in the pattern PDF to demonstration videos!!
The actual stitching is fine, they are just the basic stitch set some worked as post or spike stitches, and methods of shaping and joining are explained with both words and visuals along the way. And with support in my Facebook Group Pepper-Gaggle you wont be making it alone!
I am very grateful for the patience, flexibility, and support of my wonderful test group for this design, and I will be sharing some of their sweaters very soon with pattern launch!!
So when is that?
The Ever-Change Sweater pattern release is within 2 weeks!
...which is also when I will be sharing details on yardage for the size range.
Why not now? When planning a garment in gradient yarn there's a bit to consider before you go shopping, so I am making sure that my resources to explain these considerations are as clear as possible before I release yardage info.
For now, happy colour dreaming!