Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Modifying a Pattern to use Cotton

I have to admit, I finished this last week, but while it has been worn since then, I haven't had a chance to photograph it until today.

I have knit for my daughter the Ballet Top by Debbie Bliss, with a few modifications.
  One of those modifications was the Knit Picks Simply Cotton which was lovely soft stuff, but it does shrink. Not a problem; I just re-jigged the entire pattern for the cotton, and well-worth it. My daughter picked out the yarn, and she loves the cotton, its softness, its colour, and the resulting sweater.

Other modifications were to lengthen the sleeves somewhat, and to leave out the picot bind-off on the neckline edging, and thank goodness, as I would have run completely out of yarn. As it was, I had to unravel my swatch to knit the ties, as I had nothing left for that otherwise.

So, to re-jig a pattern for cotton that will shrink (and I did want this one to be an easy-care garment, regardless of the amount of care I will willingly give to my woolens, after all, if you look closely, you may find a speck or two of macaroni and cheese on it, so it will need washing more often than the woolens):

1. Swatch a decent sized swatch.

2. Measure the size of the swatch (not just the gauge), and take note.

3. Toss that swatch into your general laundry like you will the sweater.

4. Measure again, and note the percentage of difference with what you had before and what you have now, in either direction. Now, I suppose I could have just changed the gauge with bigger needles, but I really don't think that would have given me what I wanted, as the length changed a lot more than the width (25% in the length, 5% in the width). While the size of needles may have helped the width, I felt a lot more certain with my calculations than with playing around to find a gauge that suited the cotton and the pattern as well as I wanted without the whole thing ending up disappointingly shorter than intended. I think this may amuse those who know my horror of mathematics. To them I say, I can do math, as long as I have plenty of time and no distractions.

5. Add to the pattern numbers based on the percentages. Now, we're not changing the grading here, I still went with the size intended for 5-year-olds, but added additional length and width for where it would shrink. I also changed it so that I could knit the body in one piece instead of three, and did the sleeves separately in the round, so that I'd have less sewing to do (again, just as well, as I might have run out of yarn for sewing too).

6. Knit, sew together, knit the ties several times so that they come out even and use up the piddly bit of remaining yarn as efficiently as possible, weave-in ends, wash, and give to the kid to dance in and enjoy.

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