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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pattern Angst

You know, clothes used to fit much better. Before factories were built to churn out sewn-together rectangles that more or less fit most people, pretty much, there were seamstresses and tailors who made clothing to fit the body that would actually be wearing it, not some clearly defined yet potentially non-existent "average."

Now, part of the reason we knit is to make things to fit our own selves, or our best beloveds (or someone we owe a favor, I guess). This is what I did with AliƩnor. I took very good notes, so I could tell you, stitch for stitch, exactly how I made it, and then there you'd be, gauge permitting, with a sweater that fits me perfectly - then you can email me for my postal address and send it to me, thanks! But if you want to make it for someone other than me, or someone shaped exactly like me, well, that's trickier. Marnie MacLean has a spreadsheet tutorial for figuring out different sizes, but it still operates on assumptions like "if your bust is x, then your waist is y, and your armhole depth must be z." Speaking as someone who has to buy tops and bottoms in different sizes (and usually buys jeans from the men's department), I'm gonna have to call doubtsies. This is why I'm a big fan of Karen Alfke's Unpatterns.

Then, too, a lot of knitters are people who sew, or used to, and their patterns reflect that way of thinking: knit up a bunch of pieces of fabric and sew them together. That's not how I think. And of course we're all used to patterns from magazines and books, where they have to keep things as brief as possible due to printing costs. Also not how I think: I usually have to re-write those patterns before I can use them.

So I'm writing up this you-do-the-math pattern, and it reads like an essay, all blurry stuff like "where you think the armpit should be," and "until it's long enough," not like "knit 32 [36, 40, 44, 48]..." And what I really don't want is for people to say "ZOMG this pattern SUCKS!" because it's not what they're used to.

So I think I'll need some test-knitters.


amy said...

Yes, I do have an alarm for when you post. Okay, not really, I JUST turned on the computer and happened to be sitting here, waiting for a really slow site to load. Anyway, your patterns, clearly, are in the vein of Elizabeth Zimmermann, which is not a bad thing. Label it as such--"pithy" or "interactive" even. And I so wish I could be a test knitter, but it's taking me about a week to knit one wee baby sock, so I'd presumably still be knitting your sweater in 2010, which is probably not helpful at all.

Elemmaciltur said...

I would have test knitted...but I doubt I can wear this. :-p

Kelly said...

I'm game.

Tini said...

mmhh... depends on how fast you need the sweater to be done (plus I guess your size is uhm pretty close to mine....) otherwise: count me in!