T Topper Sweater – Review / Christmas is Coming

This year really flew by. Christmas didn’t just sneak up on me. It crouched in a dark alley, leaped out as I was walking by, and hit me over the head. It’s next week.

Oh my.

But the tree is up. I love having the tree up. Even though it’s not real, it’s nice and homey and pretty.

Christmas Tree
As I head into the new year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish in 2011. I want 2011 to have tangible, positive results on my life. And that means I need to reach an entirely new level of pro-activity.

One of my goals is to really be designing my own knitwear by this time next year. I’ve started already. I bought myself a copy of Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti.

T Sweater
The first half of the book really delves into knitting and designing knitted garments. I skimmed around and read portions that I was less familiar with. There’s an excellent chapter on the math required to really begin designing your own knits.

I think that was what was making me the most nervous about starting to design my own garments: I had this idea in my head that the math was going to horrendous and complicated and I would never get gauge and proportions right.

T Sweater
But I knit up a gauge swatch. I was using Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool. You’ll remember it from my first sweater and then my first sweater disaster.

I took all the appropriate measurements. I recommend having someone else do your back length. I wish I had made this a little longer, but it still works.

Righetti had made a comment at the end of the pattern that if you had square shoulders (which I do), this pattern wouldn’t be that flattering. I knew that I would need a longer sleeve than the one she was describing so that it would fall correctly and not just hang out in space oddly. So I took an additional measurement from my shoulder bone (that knobby one that moves around when you rotate your arm) to where I wanted the sleeve to fall, about halfway down my bicep.

And it fits! It fits well.

T Sweater
So, the plan is that I am going to work my way through the teaching patterns in this book and patterns from other books and I will be on my way to becoming the knitted designer that I want to be.

A word of caution: This book is really about learning. If you’re looking for a book of straightforward patterns, you’re not going to find it here. This book is magnificent if you’re really interested in learning how to design your own sweaters for yourself or others. There is a lot of discussion about how to incorporate body type, style of yarns, colors, and textures into a design. The patterns are very detailed discussions of the measurement, conception, and construction of the garment. You will NOT find your typical pattern delineated in rows with definitions of abbreviations.

The patterns are also very basic sweaters. She is not getting into frills or “modern” knitwear. These are the classics.

The final few chapters discuss different kinds of sleeves, collars, and extra details that can be added. AND there are helpful tables in the back that contain conversion charts, size charts, and charts you can copy and fill in so you have all of your measurements in one handy place.

All in all, I love this book and am excited to make it part of my 2011 Year of Pro-activity!

What are you guys excited about accomplishing in 2011?

T Sweater


13 responses to “T Topper Sweater – Review / Christmas is Coming

  1. I love this! It looks fantastic on you and I’m really impressed that you made it yourself. I think I’m going to add that book to my January to-buy list.

    My goal for 2011 is similar to your sweater goal. I want to be at a point by this time next year where I am designing, sewing, and wearing all (or almost all) my own clothes. Mr. Scrimp is helping me out with this by getting me a dress form for Christmas (yay!!) and the In-Law Scrimps got me a French Curve and a book on pattern drafting which is on its way to me now.

    I am tired of spending a ton of money on clothes that don’t ever fit quite right, or look exactly how I want.

    • That is fantastic! Making your own clothing is so satisfying and it’s true, you get to wear things that actually fit properly instead of almost right. I’d like to get back into sewing in 2011 also… it kind of got shoved aside when I got into knitting. But I have a couple of glorious sewing machines and a room made for sewing, and I enjoy it, so I should bring it back. I think I was kind of burned out after college and doing so much design work that I was exhausted all the time.

      Dress forms are awesome, I highly suggest learning how to drape after you get the hang of pattern drafting. Draping is one of the most fun things you can do with fabric – I think if I had a dress form I would do more sewing because of how much I love draping.

  2. Your sweater is so adorable! As are the pictures of you in it 🙂 Good luck with that!

    Let’s see…my goal is to finally acquire a mannequin (I’ve been putting all my tip money from coat check in a special box on the bureau) and thus be able to do some really fun stuff dress-wise, and not just guesswork and altering store patterns. (Or attempting to trace patterns off pre-existing garments for alteration when I have no real way of pinning the garment being traced down well enough for safety.) And maybe I’ll open an Etsy shop specializing in voodoo style creatures.

    • You’d be my go-to stop for voodoo style creatures.

      I hope you get your mannequin soon, I don’t want either of us to lose track of our design-ey selves. It seems way too easy to lose it when you work all the time and get lost in social things.

      • Actually, I bought this crazy cheap fake mini-tree yesterday and got some tinsel and bargain bulbs to put on it. When I was wrapping the tinsel around it, it was just like draping. It was magical. I got so into it that I’m going back and buying another one to go wild with.

        PS Apparently tinsel really fleshes out a fake tree. The thing went from Peanuts to conical in a matter of minutes.

  3. I’ve been going the ribbon route lately, instead of tinsel. Actually, the amount of tinsel Zepp would consume if allowed to be around tinsel or tinsel bits would be kind of absurd. He likes stringy things way too much. Ah well.

    We finally got the ribbon wrapping thing down this year. Usually we would have to redo it 2-3 times. This time we put it on and then we adjusted it a little, but we didn’t have to completely unwrap. It was nice.

  4. In 2011, I will be in mommy mode. Who knows what it will bring?

    I have to say I’m so impressed with your sweater. I’ve always wanted to be a designer of sorts. This is GORGEOUS and, clearly, you’re on your way to becoming a fabulous knit designer! I can’t wait to see more projects.

    Oh, and by the way, you look fabulous!

  5. Thank you! There is a lot left to learn in shapes that are much more difficult than a right-angled T – but it’s all exciting!

    And I keep waiting to hear that you are ready to have your bun. I think all of your readers are as excited for her arrival as you. OK, probably not as excited as you. But it’s pretty exciting.

    Can you tell I’m tired? I just said “exciting” way too many times. But I meant each one of them.

  6. Pingback: New Year / Rack of Lamb | Needles&Bread

  7. Liz,

    I love the sweater. It looks great on you. You’ve certainly come a long way. Waiting to see more.

    • Thank you! I have a couple of projects in the works right now, and I’m working in sorting out what to make with the beautiful yarn you bought me. I think it might become a sweater vest!

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