Hacking for dummies
As I'm learning to write my own patterns, one of the best ways to do that is to make sure I totally understand other people's patterns and how garment construction works.
One pattern I've had my eye on for a long time is Joji Locatelli's Boxy. I didn't know quite how much time I would have to dedicate to this, so I decided that the Worsted Boxy would be a better idea. All the commentary on Ravelry indicated it was quicker than anticipated. Fingers crossed for that! But seems like a super simple pattern, and I want to make other boxyish sweaters in the future that are just rectangles with sleeves.
(Thought process in the first section of this post, scroll down for the how-to on the hacks!)
Okay, step 1: yarn selection!
Now, this of course is the fun part. I hemmed and hawed at Downtown Yarns about what would be best, but ended up falling in love with the yarn recommended in the pattern: Malabrigo Rios in the Zarzamora colorway. I also hadn't realized it was superwash--a big bonus for me! I don't know that it will really end up mattering, but it just feels like a little security blanket that I'm less likely to F it up!
Step 2: Gauge Swatch
Ahh, the dreaded gauge swatch. First gauge swatch was on the suggested size 9. Wow, huuuge ...I'm a bit of a loose continental knitter, so this wasn't gonna work. Glad I wasn't too lazy to block the swatch, because this yarn grows!! Retried with size 8...and grows about 20% when blocked (6 stitches per inch blocked, unblocked is 5).
Step 3: My desired hacks
1 & 2. I want an oversized comfy sweater. This is partly for style, and partly because I've been wanting to make a pullover, but some of the standard-sized knitted pullovers I've made hardly see the light of day because they end up being too hot. I thought something with some airflow would actually get used more. That said, this is a very oversized sweater....so much so that I was worried I wouldn't be able to get my coat on over it. So, hack 1: reduced body size. (Related: hack 2: longer sleeves since the body is narrower to keep the sleeves hitting towards the wrists).
3. Hack 3: some pizzazz. My recurrent dilemma with knitting is that I love knitting crazy-ass shiz with colors and cables and lace, oh my! But, in real life, I like to wear things that are a little milder....and after working on something for a gazillion hours, I want to make sure I will actually wear it. I saw @nappyknitter's fabulous hack with cables on and I was sold. (Her amazeballs website is here: https://depuisquelletricote.com/about/) It adds some interest without overwhelming the simplicity of the sweater.
I thought about lace as well, but decided I didn't want to worry about what I was going to wear under this thing.
So, where does one go for cabling ideas? Why Barbara G. Walker's Treasury of Knitting Stitches (the first and the second). I swatched several. None of them show up super well with this yarn. I also wanted something that was over a short number of rows--I normally work top-down on a sweater so you can have control over where patterns begin, but working from the bottom up, I didn't want to end up on a weird part of the cable repeat.
So I found a simple four-strand braid (Loose Five-Rib Braid in A Second Treasury of Knitting Stitches, p. 169), and flanked with simple back cross 4-cable and a front cross version (Four-stitch cable crossed every 4th row, Treasury of Knitting Stitches-p. 241), flanked once more by a simple twisted knit stitch to frame it all. Confession: I didn't start with these flanking knit stitches, but had to rip back (just those stitches), and use a crochet hook to create these. Annoying but worth it. (One of the best things I ever learned was how to use a crochet hook to fix mistakes. It really is magical.)
4. Neckline--the pattern has a pretty wide neckline, and you can see her shirt underneath. I want to have a tighter neckline. Hack 4: ribbed neckline.
5. Shorter--I didn't want this too be too long on me (I'm a shorty!). So simple hack 5: reduce body length.
(Abandoned hack: The yarn requires alternating skeins. Historically, you can kind of see where I alternate skeins. With this in mind, I did a little "seam" on both sides of a single purl stitch. I correctly assumed this would help hide where I alternated. In comes a new problem though...the cable panel insert down the front is totally a different gauge. D'oh. So this will make the front narrower than the back? I decide to rip back these little seams down the side and turn them into knit stitches, so that If I have to shift where the arms come out, it won't look too weird!)
(Side note: Idea...store that has versions of popular sweaters in different sized to try on? They don't even have to be knitted, just something like a muslin--sewn to the measurements so you can get a sense. I also was wondering about doing that for my own patten design...)
WORSTED BOXY HACKS
What do these lofty hacks mean in real-life knitting?
Hack 1: Reduced body size
For size small, CO 200 with size US 8 needles (edges in size US 6)
(This creates some changes at the shoulders as well: A. shoulder shaping: 1 less short row, B. 5 W&T's on each side, C. 35 stitches on each shoulder)
Hack 2: Longer sleeves
Pick up and knit 40 stitches, work 7" straight
Decrease round (k2tog, k to last two stitches, ssk)
K10 rounds straight
k 10 rounds straight
K 5 rounds straight
size 6 needles: 5 rounds K1, P1
BO in size 8 needles
Hack 3: Pizzazz (aka cables)
K37, work in pattern, work to end
Set up round: p2, k4, p2, k10, p2, k4, p2
Row 1: p2, BC (hold two to back, k2, k2 from back)
p2, k2, FC, FC, p2, FC, p2
Row 2: k the knits, p the purls
Row 3: p2, BC, p2, BC, BC, k2, p2, FC, p2
Row 4: k the knits, p the purls
Hack 4: Ribbed Neckline
Pick up 100 stitches (w/ US 6 needles)
k1, p1 for 9 rows, BO in pattern (w/ US size 8 needles)
Hack 5: Shorter length
35cm from cast on to neckline (before ribbed neckline)