So I mentioned before that I have a baby sweater to knit and a Feb 15th deadline. This sweater has been in the works for some time but today is the day I finally committed to a plan. Planning a sweater is certainly the most challenging part of knitting but in truth, it's my favorite. Yes, the planning part is where all the dreaded math and knitting trickery lies. It's a necessary evil. But within all those 7th-grade-algebra-flashback-inducing nightmares also lies the most creative moments of knitting: calling all the shots. Let me talk a little bit about what makes that worth all the technical headaches that will inevitably come at some point, or rather at many points, in anyone's knitting career.
You, dear knitter, are God. It's THE BEST part of knitting. You create something out of nothing and you are in the driver's seat the entire way. My dad often called knitting "witchcraft." The fact that my mom and I can pick up sticks and yarn and maneuver them so effortlessly (we are pretty good liars I guess) into actual clothing that can be worn by a human is, "downright unnnatural!" he jokes. I'd like to pretend I'm modest about it but I'm basically like the Kanye West of knitting. I'm a complete Knitting Ego Maniac. I often won't even wait for an "in" in the form of a casual complement like, "Hey that's a really nice sweater." Or an, "Oh I love your sweater where did you get it?" If I just finished something and some unlucky individual happens upon me on my sweater's debut wearing I'll just blurt out, "Okay can we just talk about how amazing my sweater is for a minute??? Yeah, I made it. With my BARE hands. NBD." I wish I were joking.
All kidding aside I don't feel that bad about my megalomaniac tendencies when it comes to being proud of my work. When you've dedicated a small (or fairly sizable in my case) portion of your life to being really good at something and you have beautiful work to show for it, you should be proud. Who ever said you shouldn't? Pardon my french but eff that guy, he's just jealous (is the broken record my parent's have instilled upon me that I hope to god is true.) And thus I can feel no remorse for having spent a total of 20 hours simply planning this little baby sweater and I also shall feel equally zero remorse when I finish it and relentlessly gloat at it's perfection to unsuspecting victims of my Knitter's Ego.
Any who, back to the sweater. I knew I wanted to incorporate blue and brown as those are the designated baby Jackson Colors. I found this awesome color scheme in Hikoo Kenzie and having previously used this yarn in this sweater for my niece Cecelia, it was sufficiently vetted.
Kenzie is a great dk weight tweed with a really unique blend of wool, nylon, alpaca, and angora that makes it bloom like a freakin' angel's halo when you block it. And soft. So so soft, especially for a tweed. Machine washable? Negative. Call me crazy for using non-machine-washable wool in a baby sweater but I don't sacrifice fashion for convenience. Plus, if the mom accidentally ruins a priceless handmade heirloom, she kind of owes you forever. Just kidding! My siblings are well versed in the hand-washing ways, having been raised by my mother who stressed respect for knitting and all things handmade. For everyone else, I usually opt for superwash wool (naughty, naughty superwash wool) unless they are of the crafty persuasion and can be trusted with caring for a real wool sweater.
My original plan was to not design anything at all and knit this sweater which I loved but when I swatched my colors in pattern, I was getting this Charlie Brown vibe that I didn't love.
So then I thought, well, it's just the body band and the cuffs that I don't like, maybe I'll just knit the yoke in pattern (which I still think is lovely) and then leave the rest one solid color. Then I looked at the whole thing and thought, "What am I doing, this is a special baby, I should just design something from scratch!" And so I went down the rabbit hole, sketching and swatching and sketching and swatching, until I came upon a design I liked that couldn't be further from where I started.
So here it is, the master plan. I went with a beigey-off-white main color instead brown which I find to be sweeter for a baby sweater and more modern. Then, using my favorite charting app Chart Minder I fiddled around with the yoke. There are a lot of "rules" for how to go about designing a yoke but basically the main goal is to decrease up the yoke slowly at first and then pretty rapidly (or visa versa for top down construction) to create a sort of slopey-triangle shape. Elizabeth Zimmerman's percentage system says to knit halfway up the yoke and then decrease three times evenly by a third each time but I find it hard to work intergrated color designs that quickly. If I were working totally seperate design elements (like unicorns and then circles and then arrows or whatever) I think it would be fine to follow EZ's yoke decreases. But for designs such as this one with alternating circles that flow from one another, I think it's better to decrease less furiously. Here's my chart for a better look at what I'm bambling about:
Ten bucks to whoever can spot where I altered my chart after I swatched. Even though I edited my colors a bit which pained me to do, I love the finished swatch and I'm excited to see the final product. More on that later.