How not to design a sweater
or, Learn from my mistakes, child
or, Sweater Design, here be dragons
So I have a pattern! It’s a men’s sweater pattern that comes with directions for sizes S-XXL and I think it came out pretty well.
S-36, M-40, L-44, XL-48, XXL-52 inch chest
S-91, M-102, L-112, XL-122, XXL-132 cm chest
With classic lines and simple ornamentation, Ganesh is a comfortable, versatile sweater you will want to wear every day with every outfit
I wanted to create a sweater that I could grab for any occasion: a favorite that would always be on the top of the pile.
I didn’t want to make a sweater that was a knitting accomplishment, but a functional garment I would always want to slip on with a smile. I believe Ganesh is that sweater. The design is named after the multi-armed Hindu God of overcoming obstacles, as it wasn’t until I knit the 6th version of the sleeve that I was satisfied with the patterning and shaping.
Ganesh is knit with an alpaca blend or merino wool, worsted weight yarn for warmth, softness, and drape. I wanted a sweater that would feel cozy, even against my bare arms when worn over a t-shirt. I designed it to be knit from the bottom up; using an uncomplicated modified raglan construction which resembles a saddle shoulder, and is flattering on multiple body types.
And now… the story of the sweater.
So I bought some yarn back in the day. Like way back. Spring of 2008, when I hadn’t yet started Gnomespun. But I never got around to knitting a sweater with it because I learned to spin and then Gnomespun happened. So very early in the spring of… 2011 I think it was, I actually decided I was going to knit myself a sweater.
First, I decided to cast on for the cuff as a “swatch” since I hadn’t done this before. Oh, did I forget to mention that part?
Yeah. This is my first sweater.
Because designing your first sweater from scratch is brilliant.
Especially when you do it without looking any other patterns or anything. But that’s what I did. Because I’m (puts on Marvin the Martian voice), “a suuuuper geeenious.”
So I started the cuff. Once… twice… four or… ok seven times. Eventually I had a cuff I was happy with. I do not recommend this method, but I have to admit that I haven’t really done anything much different as I begin designing my second sweater. I’m already on cuff 5 for that one.
Woohoo! (Yes, I knit my sleeves on DPNs, I’m weird like that)
It was time to go! Woohoo!
I’d decided to use a nine-stitch, ribbed, reversible cable, with a basic purl background and a rib around that. I was at least smart enough not to make the pattern TOO complicated for myself. This is one place where I actually did it right, I looked up every cable I could find, looked through countless images, and actually planned the cable out in advance! Clever, I know. Why I didn’t expand that theory to other bits, I don’t know. See aforementioned super genius.
I stalled here because I realized my increases were leaving holes. Tried a couple things. Flailed. Thanks to the fabulous Tsocktsarina, I learned the twisted bar increase, allowing much more hidden increases. I was off and running (knitting?) again.
Things were going swimmingly! The cable pattern was actually coming out how I envisioned it and retaining the easy spring that I had wanted (the ribbed cable is more flexible and pulls in less than your standard cable). Finally something going my way, right? I knitted my way up the sleeve and was quite happy with it, it had a comfortable fit that was close but not tight… until I realized that I really should have looked at some other patterns before starting. At least to see how they did their increases. Because my sleeve… bulged.
Well… crap. That’s not right! This is where I discovered that other people do not do their increases like this. For, you know, logical reasons, they look stuuuupid. Crappity crap crap. Ok, well no biggie, I’ll fix it on the next one so I can put it in the pattern right?
I stalled for a while again, between job applications, bills, shows, and all sorts of other fun. But eventually I managed to cast on for the second sleeve. Ok, we’ll cast on and start the second slee…
Uh oh, my sleeves are gonna be like wings. Way too much increasing.
Ok, well no biggie, we’ll try it aga…
That’s not going on my arm without a crowbar, is it?
At this point I sat down and figured out where my math had gone wrong. Looked at what I’d tried and how far off it was from what I wanted (something that fit like my first bulgy sleeve). Surprisingly, for a super genius, it still didn’t occur to me to look at other patterns. I think I must have decided subconsciously that that would be cheating. In hindsight I boggle at my own brain, sometimes.
Five attempts later I had another sleeve (yes, I knit five full sleeves, are you saying that isn’t the normal way to knit a sweater?)! And it fit right! Huzzah! Ok, I suppose I should check to make sure that they look the same when on my arms… I’ll put the new one on my right arm and first on my left…
Hrm, something looks off here. Let’s get them adjusted. I’m sure no one will notice right? Right?
Ok, this ain’t foolin’ anyone, is it? ::sigh::
Ok, pull that first sleeve alllllll back out! And re-knit with the increases from the 5th sleeve. Two sleeves! Huzzah! I win! It was at this point that I decided on the name for the sweater, Ganesh, god of overcoming obstacles (and conveniently many-armed). And here was a many armed obstacle I was going to overcome! Though I guess I should like… knit a body to go with the sleeve, shouldn’t I?
Luckily this part has no increases or anything so once I determine it’s the right size (which it should be since I have gauge from the sleeve “swatch”) there’s nothing weird to get right. Some cables up the sides so I don’t get super bored…
At this point it started to feel like I was actually getting close to having a sweater. Knitted the sleeves onto the body and woooow it’s like dude almost sweaterlike! At this point it’s too big to carry in my little bag, it’s almost sweater size and weight!
By this point I had another friend, the amazing Todd Gocken (you should totally check out his designs on his web page and Ravelry), helping me with some of the numbers on increases and decreases and things. So I wasn’t having to rip back as much. And soon it looked almost like a finished sweater! With consultation with Todd, I decided to modify the standard raglan construction for a more chest and shoulder-flattering seam to make a saddle shoulder without the normal saddle shoulder seam. I’m very happy with this little modification. It’s totally easy, but makes the sweater more complimentary and comfortable.
Decreases, basic collar, and it’s done, right? Ok, now we’ve got to put it on. Please fit, Please don’t be twelve feet long, or uneven, or not fit over my head, or have a giant thing I missed somehow in my “first sweater, yay!” blindness… Hey, it fits! It goes on! It’s not super huge or super tight! But…
Something’s not right here. Nice fitted-ish sweater… but this collar, it doesn’t look in keeping with the rest, does it? Let’s take a closer look…
Harumph. I do not like the collar, it’s not comfy and looks… unfinished. I want a professional feeling collar that sits close to my neck like a normal sweater, like the rest of this sweater! Ok… we can do that. I hope. Please please please don’t break the whole sweater, oh god what if it doesn’t fit when I’m done again, what if I ruin it all…
Pull the collar back out, and some of the chest. Ever so slowly put 90 stitches back on the needles. Knit around and pick up the stitches that dropped one more row back. Start the chest/shoulder/collar decreases earlier, decrease more… and do a doubled over and crocheted through collar. Breathe, don’t hyperventilate. Put it back on… take photo. Pray to the petty pewter gods…
Much better. FINALLY, a sweater I’m happy with! I did it! I knit myself a sweater from scratch! I even finished it in time for Rhinebeck!
And then Todd was kind enough to help me with the conversions to other sizes, since I am only one size. Usually.
Of course, because 6 sleeves just wasn’t QUITE enough, I had to test the pattern in Gnomespun’s Eshu yarn to make sure that the yarn would work for the pattern as well. Using a spare skein of “Swamp Thing” I had lying around.
Well now. If I’d known it would look this good in my own yarn (that I didn’t know existed yet when I bought the blue yarn… or even when I cast on) I would totally have made it in this yarn to start with! Love that stitch definition.
Lookin’ good. And for anyone curious, this is what the stockinette portion looks like.
Nice! Well I guess I’ll have to design my next sweater in Eshu. Because clearly I should design another sweater. CLEARLY.
So, if you want to make a Ganesh of your own, you can buy the pattern here or on Ravelry for $5. And you can knit it out of Berocco Ultra Alpaca, or out of Gnomespun Eshu. If you wanted to spin yourself a similar sweater, corriedale or a soft shetland might be good fibers to use.
Direct from here:
That’s all for now!