So I've been talking about this project for a few days, and thinking about something like it for much longer. And I think, enough fooling around, I might as well post the "getting started" entry. You need not get started this instance (but you should! peer pressure!), but just in case you were ready for it, here it is. A proper introduction and the first little chunk of the pattern...
I want to knit a sweater with you. It's a big project, probably best suited to winter knitting, but I've never let something as predictable as the weather get in my way for such things. I might need a fan for knitting the sleeves and the end of the body as summer approaches, but I happen to have one or two around for that possibility.
This sweater is like many of my others, two color, stranded all the way across, simple vertical lines, and I'm thinking a simple drop shouldered look. Maybe shoulder straps. I'll decide later.
I know that I've already started, don't feel behind! feel glad that I'm going to be ahead of you, I'm here to make your mistakes for you. I'll be posting regularly about my progress and my design decisions, and when I'm done maybe we'll make a "real" pattern of it.
The charts I've chosen and modified (a bit) are from Joyce Williams' Latvian Dreams: Knitting from Weaving Charts. (2000; Schoolhouse Press); which is an amazing book that I highly recommend. Amazing stuff. I've chosen a few of these charts that are small enough to memorize and arranged them so that there's a vertical line. They all even repeat every 16 rounds. Better yet, because they're weaving charts, the top half (rows ~10-16) are the same as the bottom half (rows ~2-8), which makes it even easier to memorize.
Coming up below the fold: a description of what's going on at the beginning of the sweater (sizing, yarn choice, casting on) for those of you who want to get started right away... Tallk of options like hemmed edges and cardigans come later, particularly if there's interest.
I'm designing this sweater to knit at about 9.5 stitches per inch. I'm small, so this probably works to your benefit. You can use a heavier yarn and a larger gauge and we'll both be able to use the same numbers/proportions because of this. The key number of stitches is 340 344, that's the number of stitches around the body. Divide this number by your gauge to get the size of your garment, and adjust your gauge as need be. If this puts you at a gauge that you're uncomfortable with, I'm including the excel file that I used to design this with the chart, and that should help you out if you need to add or subtract some stitches. If you ask, and I have time, I'll probably be willing to help you resize the charts a bit.
That brings us to yarn choice. You probably have yarn in your stash that's suitable for this kind of project. Those ball of Kauni yarn that you thought was a good idea? That little stash of black and grey shetland yarn? Something like that. We're going for fingering weight, likely, unless you need something thicker either for temperature or for size reasons. I'm partial to shetland yarn, as it's sturdy, steeks well (they're coming, don't worry) and never really pill. Good qualities in a yarn. I'm however, using a weaving yarn, "Domy Heather" from Old Mill Yarns, which accounts at least partially for the gauge. I've chosen "Lava" (black) and Slate (Dark Gray Blue). I'm using a 3mm needle. You'll need two yarns that contrast. I prefer to do stranded work in only two colors, as it accents the vertical lines and makes the design more apparent. You might not like these features and feel more comfortable introducing more colors. Which is totally fine with me, just don't ask me for advice on this one.
When in doubt go with natural and heathered colors. I included some more information about the yarn choices.
So the instructions, proper:
Cast on 320 stitches using the darker color. Preferably using the Elastic Long tail or german twisted method of casting on. You could use a smaller needle for the ribbing, my smaller needle was busy in another project, so I didn't.
Knit at least 2 inches, but not more than 3 inches of two color "corrugated ribbing." Knit 2 stitches with the (lighter) contrasting color, Purl 2 stitches with the (darker; the one you cast on with) main color. Repeat. Endlessly.
If you want to get into the pattern immediately, cast on provisionally in the darker color, and begin knitting from the chart. You could even cast on 344 stitches "for real" and use Meg Swansen's "Purl When you can/want to" method covered in her books.
I'll be back in a few days with what happens next. When I get there.
I look forward to knitting this with you.