Knitting Quick References for Sweater Design

I posted about my academic contrarianism, earlier and I think I'd be foolish to claim that this tendency was limited simply to my academic half (2/3s?). In knitting, this manifests as a tendency to reject patterns and come up with my own designs, though you probably wouldn't know it from the designs: they tend to be pretty normal looking traditional-ish knitting designs. The contrarian comes out in the process, first by rejecting prepared patterns, but more by the ass-backwards way that I think about sweater construction. I fear that this approach appears in the patterns I write.

Now perhaps I give myself too much credit, because it's my sense that I'm not that atypical amongst designers and other renegade types; furthermore, I think this approach to knitting is not detrimental, and actually allows me to make better patterns. So there.

As I was writing the pattern for a sweater that I made this semester as part of the project-of-infamy, I realized that while I could (and did) go through every little step, in the day to day knitting of this sweater, which took me 6 weeks, a knitter wouldn't need access to the entire pattern. At the same time, I tend to think of patterns as having a number of landmarks, turning points where some sort of change needs to happen, otherwise there's a lot of just knitting as you were.

So I decided in this pattern--which is otherwise pretty complicated--to write a "Quick Reference Guide" that summerizes all the major turning points of the sweater in a couple of paragraph. I'm going to reprint it here for your personal edification, with the hope that you'll be able to use it as a model to summarize other knitting patterns, or as a blank slate on which you can develop your own patterns. This is for a fair-isle stlye/gauge sweater with a crew neck: adjust your numbers and style appropriately.

Cast on the key number (320), knit a hem (ie. ribbing for 2 inches). Knit one row plain, (optional: switch to the larger needle and increase), establish patterns and knit for 12-13 inches in pattern. Begin the gusset, increasing 2 stitches every three rows for 3 inches. Place gusset stitches on holder and start underarm steeks. Knit 7 inches and begin the front neck shaping and neck steek. Decrease on either side of the steek every round for 1.5 inches, then establish the back neck steek and decrease on either side of the steek every other round on either side of both steeks for 1.5 inches. Bind off the shoulders together using the 3 needle method.

Cut the arm hole steeks, and pick up stitches. Establish the patterns on the next round and decrease on either side of the gusset for every third round until there are no more gusset stitches left. Continue decreasing sleeve stitches on every 3rd round until the sleeve measure half of it's total intended length (aprox. 9-10 inches). Decrease every 4th round for the remaining length of the sleeve. Knit a round plain in the background color decreasing radically for a fitted cuff. Knit the cuff for 2 inches, and then bind off the sleeve, and repeat the process for the second sleeve. Cut open the neck steek, pick up stitches around the neck opening and knit a collar in corrugated ribbing for 1.5 inches. Maintain the front neck steek for the plackets. Bind off the collar, cut open the neck front steek and pick up stitches around the placket edge independently. Knit each placket and a turned hem. Sew down placket hems and weave in all remaining ends and block the sweater.

I hope the warmer weather in the northern hemisphere is treating you all well, and not keeping you from knitting too much.

Cheers, tycho

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