Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Knit You

Well, as promised in my last post, I am writing today about my latest WIP. Nearly all the projects I have made over the last year, be it knitting or sewing, have been for my DD (she wears everything I make, she always looks lovely and wears everything with pride. Thank you so much DD :) xxx). So whilst browsing the news for London Fashion week in February, I noted that there were a lot of 90's inspired fashions on the catwalk this year. This got me thinking about my old pattern stash. I remembered that I had a whole collection of knitting patterns from the 90's. They are from a set which I collected on a weekly basis from the newsagents. The name of the collection is Creative Needles. Now this pattern collection was happening around the same time as my first steps into motherhood. I recollect knitting a few of the baby patterns in the collection, but I never attempted to knit any of the adult garments. I found that with a new baby I didn't have as much time for making things for myself, only the cutest things for my baby when time permitted and I had the energy. Then, as motherhood got a little easier, knitting sort of went out of fashion and I found that I only knitted the odd thing now and again for the children. My skills seemed to be more in use for school productions and sewing things such as Roman and Tudor day costumes!

Anyway, I got the Creative Needle files down from the dusty bookshelf in the loft (the bookshelf that contains other disregarded household items) and I thought about the many times that I had saved the files from the tip by an over eager husband who hates clutter and dust. As I flicked through the patterns I was overwhelmed by the amount of patterns that would be so right for now, and many that would suit me. But then I came across an Aran style sweater, which was loose fitting, young and trendy for today's fashion, how could I resist making it for DD?

This was a perfect pattern for the yarn stash. I found some suitable yarn in the yarn stash (reducing this by any measure should delight DH!) and off I went with the usual crazed excitement of a yarnaholic but ......... When I looked at the pattern it was all written out in full. No problem with this usually, I can knit from written instructions or a chart, or both. The problem here was that the pattern consisted of three different panels of pattern. Bobble, Large Diamond and Wide Cable. Then the sleeves had a similar pattern and the front, which goes into a deep V shape has a smaller pattern band. "what's the problem with that" I hear you say. Well, none of the patterns are the same length. The patterns are written in individual lists. The Bobble Pattern is 8 rows, the Wide Cable is 20 rows and the Large Diamond pattern is 22 rows. The first row reads 1st row (RS): k2, work 12 sts as bobble patt, p1, k1 tbl, p1, work 14 sts as large diamond panel, p1, k1 tbl, p1, work 14sts wide cable panel etc etc (i'm sure you get my drift by now and understand my anxiety). At the end of the 1st row instructions it says "this row sets patt, cont until work measures 54cm. Cast off. What!!!

Now I realise that this pattern had been written in the 90's and perhaps things have moved on a little since then in pattern formatting, but this was enough to test the patience of an absolute saint. But I don't like to give up easily, especially where knitting is concerned. I had a nice cup of tea, and thought long and hard about a solution. Then I remembered reading an article about charting patterns on spreadsheets such as Excel. I set about creating some chart symbols for the stitches, and had a look through books with current charts to get some ideas. Then I looked at the content of the patterns. If I added two extra rows into the wide cable panel, that would make it easier to line up with the diamond patterns. The bobble pattern was a bit more difficult to fit in with it's 8 row repeat, but I felt that wherever I was in this pattern I would be able to work out the bobble rows. I enlisted the help of DH, as he is a whizz on spreadsheets and he printed the chart off in no time for me.

The pattern still needs some concentration, but it is much easier to follow from the chart. I will post some more pictures of the sweater when it is completed.  Unfortunately, because this is not my pattern I am unable to supply any copies of it due to copyright laws, even though the pattern itself is out of print and there is no mention of the original author.

Second hand shops, charity shops and sites that sell second hand books on the Internet are a good place to buy old patterns and books. The designs can be updated using new yarns and colour pallets or making simple changes to the basic design eg garment length, sleeve lengths etc.

Happy crafting until next time!

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