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European Knitting Patterns

Yesterday, I taught my class on how to make a commercial pattern fit your body. Had a blast, thanks to Debbie, Julie, and Lynda. Part of this class is looking at current magazines for schematics.

I took in a copy of Burda’s Verena knitting mag. This has been out for a while, but the earlier issues didn’t really interest me. This one has a bunch of plus size patterns which I hoped would help me in writing some larger sizes of a new pattern.


Charlotte Yarn has the latest Katia mag which has great graphs to go with some of the patterns. That precipitated a discussion of US vs other patterns.

I hear many people complain about British patterns. Part of the problem there is that the are written in English, just not our English. We want you to call it a “yo,” not a “yfd.” We want a translation. It’s obvious that we need a German pattern translated; less obvious about that British to American bit.

The patterns or pattern magazines that I like best come from the continent. (Doesn’t that sound so sophisticated?) Thanks to yesterday’s class, I had to define why I like them better.

1. The patterns tend to have a more womanly fit. They are shaped. You see very few straight lines, and I dare you to show me a straight line on your natural body. Shaping doesn’t require more skill or even really more work. Just a bit of attention.

2. There are always schematics (photographs lie!!!!) and usually include more data than US patterns, excepting Vogue. Makes fitting me much easier.

3. Most patterns have set in sleeves. This was more important ten years ago when pattern mags here thought we were only skilled enough for drop sleeves (I shiver as I type those two words.). You know my bias toward set in sleeves for everyone.

4. Cultures differ and so do the details on their clothing. I get some easy to knit details that I often haven’t really seen here. I’m never above stealing a bit of trim from another pattern to embellish a plain sweater.

5.  Many have a ruler down the side of the page–each page.  I find that useful and nice.

6. Last is the reflection of the latest trends. We are still a year behind Europe in couture. Because I always hate the latest trend until I finally grow to embrace it, if I can see it earlier, I can get over my knee-jerk dislike earlier. Oh, to have a truly open mind.

That brings up another question. Do people built like a healthy fashion model look at new styles differently from me? Or do they,too, worry about if it will make their butt look big? Hm-m-m.

Seduce Swatching

Seduce is a great name for this yarn because that’s what it did.  It seduced me.  I bought two skeins of it at Baskets of Yarn a year ago.  They sat in the bag.  I couldn’t figure out what to do with just two skeins.  Then Remi caved and started carrying it in lots of beautiful colors.  I got three more skeins and I’m still dickering with what it wants to be.

Stockinette on a size 7 needle and bird’s eye lace.  Don’t like the lace.  I’ll catch and pull it on something.  Like the simplicity of the open stockinette.  But what about all that curl.

Seed stitch solves the curl, but I don’t know.

Mix it with another yarn.  This is some Classic Elite Bamboo which might make the purple pop more.  But mixing it might also take away from the luxuriousness of the Seduce.

I know I want it near my face.  At my age anything that brings light to the face is a blessing.  Time to sketch.

Two ideas so far.  This one with two yarns with or without sleeves.  Or

This one which is all Seduce except for something on the bottom front lapels.  I don’t know what yet.  The back 0f this could be in the same dark yarn.

Still thinking.  And knitting simple socks.

Learning how the hard way

I’ve designed a sideways vest and a top down jacket that I want to publish.  To do that, I need to size them to fit folks other than me.  This is a complicated thing.  Add to it that I have some strong, really strong opinions about sizing and fit, and it becomes harder.  Then add in that I want every pattern to be a lesson—well, I’ve over-complicated it.

I’m spending hours that I probably don’t need to spend, doing math, drawing schematics.  But I am learning lots.  This is a lot like being a testing director.  Many balls to keep in the air at the same time.  Carla Scott, an editor of Vogue Knitting, told me that they don’t ask you to size the patterns for them; they prefer to do it themselves.  Wow.  What a gift to a designer.

I’m very sensitive to Plus Size folk and do not want to simply scale this up for them.  I intend two patterns.  One is size XS–XL.  The other is the larger sizes.  I want the shoulders to fit  better in the larger sizes and that means I have to do the increases for the bust, etc., in different places.  More to learn.

I’ve read and studied Deborah Newton and Shirley Paden’s  books.  I’ve ordered Catherine Lowe’s book on Couture Fitting and mathematician-knitter Pat Ashforth’s book both from lulu.com.  I’ll let you know about them when they come.  I haunt my favorite, The Knitter’s Guide to Sweater Design by Carmen Michelson and Mary Ann Davis (out of print).

For me, ideas come from trying to put things together in a new way and just finding out what the yarn wants to do and letting it.  Sketching is like playing paper dolls.  I can’t draw a bit (The only B I made at the local community college was in a drawing class.)so I use models under the paper and draw on them.  Then I get to play, very inexpertly, with colored pens and pencils.  Shades of girlhood!  It’s just plain fun.  Figuring out how to make it to fit me isn’t hard even.  Put it on graph paper and alter it as I go.  Now this sizing stuff is hard!!!!  But fun.

I wonder if I could audit some courses at the Art Institute of Charlotte.  Do they require talent or just tuition?  I’ll check.

Crisp finished


This is it and I really like it. Wendy Bernard’s pattern “Crisp,” with my changes. You knew I would make changes. The first one was to raise the neckline.

Wendy designed this as a vest with a deep V neck. Because it is knit top down, I could easily knit it until it was as low as I wanted, and then I just cast on a few sts and joined it.

Then when it was finished covering the “girls,” I added two rows of purl and copied the woven st she put on the shoulder. Repeated the two purl rows and I had a nice Empire detail.


I like the fit at the back. I like my shoulder seams just on the inside of that boney knob at the top of the shoulder. Then if I put a sleeve in the armhole, the weight of the sleeve pulls it perfectly into place. If you knit with cotton or other heavy yarns, it’s very helpful to anticipate the effect of the weight of the garment.


As you can see from this side view, I eliminated some of the bust sts to make it more form fitting. Vertical darts are my friends.

The neatest thing I did was to copy the saddle shoulder pattern down the sleeves. This was very easy to do because the use of the saddle meant I was knitting the sleeve down from stitches instead of rows. I always knit set in sleeves by picking up around the armscye and knitting down. Why?

That brings me to the thing I don’t really like—the sleeve length. Too short for my aged arms. However, if I knit them long enough to cover the wobbly bits, the sweater will probably be too hot to wear past April. Dilemma. Do not send message about working out to improve arms. Ain’t gonna happen. But–if I decide to lengthen the sleeves, all I have to do is undo the bind off and keep knitting. That’s an excellent reason to knit them top down.

The yarn is Queensland Haze, a scrumptious corn/cotton blend I purchased at Charlotte Yarn which I knit on a size 5. It feels great and, after two wearings, shows no signs of the dreaded stretches.

Saturday in Athens; Michael

Old is sometimes good.  Empty nests are okay, too.  I realize this because I am sitting in the Athens Clark County Classic Center, with 500 parents, waiting to sign my grandson up for summer camp.

DD1 got in line about 8 this morning, outside in the crisp, pollen-filled air.  She had hoped to finish and pick me up later to attend her Chamber Singers rehearsal at 10.  Clearly, by 9:30 that wasn’t going to happen.  Z and Steve brought me to her, and they headed off to drive bumper cars and play mini golf.  By 10:15 DD1 was beginning to crumble.  Too many responsibilities.

Mom to the rescue.  We got permission for me to stand in for her and she headed off to rehearsal–filled with pollen and more than annoyed.

So here I sit, glad for the seat.  Eavesdropping on the quiet complaints as people discuss what they are missing:  soccer games, lessons, birthday parties.  Me, I’m kind of happy.  I brought my knitting–of course–and a book and my iPad.  I have no idea when or how I will get back home, but it’s Athens!  I can hang out in this town for hours.

The real parents, a generation younger, are not so lucky.  Many have small children with them and there is little to entertain them.  This is when I began to remember that Old is not so bad.  The responsibility thing.  You have less and if you screw up, people just shake their heads and comment about age, without ever getting mad at you.  Not to shabby, ey?

12:15–Z registered.  People in charge pleasant and helpful.  It is Athens after all.

12:45–1:00– Jackson Street Books, my favorite used book store.  College towns are wonderful for used books. No knitting books,  but bought three vintage mystery paperbacks. I don’t collect;   I just like to read the old ones.  See?  Old is a theme.

1:10–Sitting at the bar at Trappeze Pub drinking a Corsendonk Abbey Brown Ale.  Still no responsibilities.   Writing this on my iPad and attracting envious people to talk about it.

Life is good.

Oh, about knitting—

Cast on some socks for Steve in a bamboo/merino blend.

Had an epiphany about raglan sleeves after reading some sewing sites.  Swatching furiously.

Am working on a plan to trade free knitting workshops for test knitting.

Also reflecting on Michael Godfrey who died suddenly this past week.  He picked on me unmercifully.  Which always made me know he liked me. Regretting not staying in closer touch with him.  So talented, so unique.  He had so much to teach all of us.  My favorite Michaelism, “Life is too short to knit with cheap yarn”.  Right!   Way too short.

Weavette arrived!

No, I’m not looking for another hobby.  Think of it as a remembrance of my childhood combined with a need to use up scrap yarn and a need for embellishment.  Or just think of it as I wanted it.

With the help of the instruction booklet, I whipped up a sample. Lesson learned: don’t use boucle yarn.


Lesson learned: sport weight cotton yarns with be very sheer. This has all kinds of possibilities. Edges, sew on patches, scarf pieces.

I bought mine from Lois Scarborough at http://www.bountifulspinweave.com. It’s fun and portable and mindless.

FYI–If you like Plymouth Sockotta sock yarn, and I do, Discontinued Brand Name Yarn has it on sale for $5.49 per 100 gr ball. I bought Steve and I 5 balls.

Ordering Yarn online

Sometimes I add sock yarn to an online order just to meet the magic Free Shipping quota. I mean who really has too much sock yarn?


The solid-ish Maizy may be a place to explore a stitch pattern, but the Regia is definitely a man’s simple sock. I may use a slip st pattern on it to make the color pattern blend more.

Gifts for others? Probably.

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