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How hard is it to design a sweater?

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

Answer: A bit difficult.

A lot difficult when you decide that sweater is going to be a top-down, in the round, V-neck and raglan style crochet pullover sized from XS to 5XL. For this style of construction, everything is linked so changing one thing has a flow on effect through the entire garment, and raglan design is also inherently a bit of trial and error – there is no perfect formula to make it all work out “just so”.

I am very pumped about how my prototype of my new crochet sweater design has worked out in terms of aesthetics and the invisible join though - I even did a happy dance wearing it!!! But the fit around the neckline and underarm areas needs some improving, as well as the sleeve width at the upper bodice. The raglan shaping is the key to everything. I am making a second prototype with my revised draft pattern. More on this soon!

The Yarn used for my prototype is Scheepjes Woolly Whirl in Sugar Sizzle 472 and Woolly Whirlette in Plum Pie 572. I bunched together some yarn generously sent to me by Scheepjes and some from one of my local retailers here in Perth. The slip stitch embroidery really blends layers nicely to blur the colour junction on the sleeves.

Prototype number 1 before the slip stitch embroidery...

I have been sharing a bit of behind the scenes for steps taken so far in the development of this sweater by publishing some IGTV videos of me chatting and showing some of the trials and tribulations up to this point… the ups and the downs… and I have embedded the videos of episodes 1-5 later in this blog post so they can all be found in the one spot (if you are interested and are not on IG).

Before you get into the videos though, I would like to share why this design idea in particular has got me so hooked (pun intended… haha).

This is both a new method of construction for me, and as far as I can find searching on the internet – the first… (maybe? Or at least not far off) …top-down-in-the-round-V-neck-and-raglan-crochet-pullover (and that has kind of a knit-look to the fabric).

I have found crochet V-necks, top-down raglan but not a V-neck, some top-down with a V-neck but as a yoked top not a raglan. I found a short sleeved open mesh crochet tee that did seem to qualify as top down, in the round, raglan and V-neck, but it was not a sweater/pullover with any neckline edging or ribbing anywhere and did not compete with a knitted equivalent for warmth or dense fabric look of a sweater.

Maybe it’s not the absolute first, but anyway, I feel like I am breaking new ground! The idea got into my brain after knitting a top-down raglan V-neck last year when I couldn’t crochet after finger surgery (cat bite injury). I was like – “There must be a way I can do this with crochet!!! “ It’s been rattling around in there since last November, and now I feel I am getting pretty close!

There are plenty of knitted top-down in the round raglan pullovers because knitting stitches have vastly different stitch characteristics to those of crochet. The challenge I set for myself (“challenge accepted!”) was to come up with a crochet stitch set that could be used to adapt this knitting method of sweater construction to crochet, resolve all the angles required to have a feature raglan line from the V-neck to the underarm area, and produce a pattern that worked for sizes XS through to 5XL.

Amazingly, the stitch combination I have used for the main fabric of this design is similarly something I cannot find evidence of someone else using. I had wanted the fabric to suit further embellishment, and this worked out great as you can see in the sleeves.

Something I loved about my Sashiko Happy Coat was that it’s a wearable piece of art because the base fabric was a grid of stitch-able spaces and it’s also a key part of this sweater design. The embroidery was VERY challenging to work into the closed sleeve, so I will need to change the pattern to work them in open rows, then do the embroidery and then sew them closed. This will make things a lot easier for makers when the pattern is eventually published!

I will be blogging again soon to let you know how prototype number 2 shapes up. With what I learnt about the feature raglan line, V-neck shaping and armhole fit from my first prototype, I am feeling confident for number 2 though still have my fingers crossed....

Some keen folk have asked me if they should start sourcing their Woolly Whirl, and hey stash is stash, right!? ...But seriously, it will still take some time before I can be confident of the yardage required for all sizes so stay tuned on that one....

The IGTV episodes are below, converted into You Tube videos so I could embed the (this is why the videos are vertical).

Happy viewing!

Susan (Peppergoose)


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