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I want off

When I was a kid, I used to go to Canobie Lake Park every year with my parents because the company they worked for rented out the park for a day, once a year. I remember seeing all the roller coasters, even the one in the little kids' area and thinking "yah, I want to go on that." But as soon as the ride got going, I'd realize that this was definitely NOT what I wanted to be doing and in fact, if I didn't get off STAT, I was going to need to scream my fool head off. Luckily, I was a fast learner and quickly came to the conclusion that I was happier on more tame rides and getting "antique" photos taken with my friends. Odd, but I always loved the Turkish Twist which was like a tilt-a-whirl without the tilt and down in a pit where the floor dropped out from under you. So it’s kind of like being in a salad spinner.

Anyway, moving has been much like riding that roller coaster for the first time. I think, "Yah, no problem, I'm ready for this. While I'm at it, maybe I'll bring peace to the middle east too." Then suddenly I realize that everything is happening and I can’t turn back; Leo and Panda take off, the apartment is full of things I need to sell, and work is hitting a busy point. I see that apex of that long first hill ahead of me and start to think, hmmm, am I actually ready for this?

And what a ride it's been. Moving out of the old place on Tuesday was such a relief. I really do love LA, I've been very happy here, but I've been on a strict regiment of "no fun, all cleaning and selling old furniture" for the past week. I have a new disdain for flakey people who say they are coming to get your furniture and never show up. I also have scorn for people who try to haggle me on items I'm already trying to sell for much less than even Goodwill would charge. I'm not bitter, nah, not at all.

But I'm now a guest of a certain winter minded friend of mine, and life is good again.

I've made a small amount of progress on the Silky Wool cardigan. You can now see the full effect of the princess seams. She’ll look better after a little blocking.

The front and back are almost done and then I start playing around with sleeves. I do the bulk of my designing in Adobe Illustrator.

I don't want to give anyone the impression that using Illustrator is quick or easy, but I find it to be a great tool for the way I like to design for myself. In this case, the first thing I do is build a grid to scale. Then I create a pattern swatch that exactly matches a single pattern repeat for the stitch pattern. Since I generally create my document to be an exact 1 to 1 scale of the final pattern, I can use the actual inch markers on the built in document rulers, to draw the shape I want.

A little hint if you want to try this yourself, if you want a smaller scale, try working in centimeters instead of inches or picas instead of centimeters. For instance, if I draw my design pretending that each centimeter is an inch, I can basically scale the whole piece down by half, but I still have a ruler to go by when making modifications.

Just like working on regular graph paper, once my general shape is defined, I need to go in and redraw the shapes so they are made up only of whole stitches. Once the initial design is built, I fill it with my original pattern swatch and if all goes well, it will perfectly align with my gauge grid.

From there, I can reshape the piece at will and see how it will look. Then, I just print it out and work directly from the chart while I knit.

Since I have both a stitch-by-stitch, row-by-row representation of the piece and the stitch pattern, I can forego the row counter altogether. I just tick off the last row I worked and if I'm unsure if I remembered to mark off the last row, I can double check by looking at what row of the stitch pattern I just knit and comparing it to the chart.

I’d be curious to hear how other designers out there like to do their designing. Do many of you use Excel? Pencil, paper and calculator? Design programs? (I have one, but generally don’t use it for much more than calculating the armsceye and sleeve caps of multi-sized patterns.) Do you have another technique all together? Do tell.

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Comments (18)

Excel? I've never thought about that! Hmm. I'm definitely a paper, pencil and calculator type. Or a just go for it and take notes as I go type.

Sometimes I wish I had software to help me with armhole shaping and resizing... (on a Mac -- any advice?).

Oh, and I do my schematics with SuperPaint 3.5 (from 1993!). It's great for scaled drawings. I've worried about upgrading my computer for fear of losing it, but it runs fine with Classic.


I use Excel because it's so simple and convenient, but I've been trying to figure out a better program to use. Illustrator seems like a good idea -- it gives you more freedom with color and detail.

I also draw on paper a ton, and make mad notations using more and more ridiculous shorthand.


I use Excel because it's so simple and convenient, but I've been trying to figure out a better program to use. Illustrator seems like a good idea -- it gives you more freedom with color and detail.

I also draw on paper a ton, and make mad notations using more and more ridiculous shorthand.

oops - i forgot to put in my info for the last post!


Oh the Turkish Twist - that was the last amusement ride I've been on. Took me an hour on a park bench to get over that ride! Silky Wool is looking lucsious. I need to learn how to create my own patterns. I can draw respresentationally but not technically. One would think I could figure it out, considering I use to sew my own clothes in high school . . . hmmm.


LOVE the princess seams!!!!!


Excel. I cannot imagine a life without Excel (and Google). My whole life is organized in Excel worksheet. Excel is the one and only redeeming product of Microsoft (and the only one I use).
I cannot draw to save my life, I shoudl look into this Illustrator thing.


Really lovely design and execution. You will be selling this pattern? Interesting how you design. Maybe I'll try it some time:)

Oh! I love that ride. There was one by another name at 6 Flags (or, as I remember it, Riverside) in Agawam.

I just finished a cardi in Silky Wool. Isn't it luscious!? Your stitch patterning in lovely as well.


Recently got into Excel - it is great for making graphs.
Previously did it all on paper.
I can't draw to save my soul, so I do a lot of my 'sketches' in PPT, then explain them to the Boy-O and he draws them for me. It's worked well so far, though I clearly need to acquire some drawing skillz.

Excel more than anything, I suppose (since I can't draw on paper to save my life). But . . . hmm . . . I really need to get better at using Illustrator.... (grin)

Glad you're out of your old place and having some fun again!

I haven't designed nearly the amount of pieces that you have, but I'm a pencil, paper, graph paper type. I can't say I'd never use a program, but I like the feel of pencil and paper. The computer holds the advantage, though, on rendering a great image. Hmmmm.

I am so impressed with your designing in adobe!

wow. i only dream of designing such beautiful shtuffs. the color and style are gorgeous -- can't wait to see it finished. i don't knit, i crochet, but when i'm making something up i just start hookin' -- so there's lots of frogging!


i suffer with pencil, eraser, calculator and graph paper. so tedious. alas, i am not saavy with computer programs. i own three knitting programs that i NEVER use, I just don't understand them.

I can't believe that you are in my house and I haven't seen the Adobe Illustrator schematics in person. We need to remedy that - STAT! I am pretty old fashioned in my designing methods - pencil, sketchpad, knitter's graph paper and a calculator. But I am open to new ideas, especially this Illustrator thing!


I just had to come out of lurkdom to say: OMG - Canobie Lake Park! I grew up in Lawrence, MA, and I remember those summer company outings so well! The companies both of my parents worked for used to do them, as well as those of some friends, so we got to go to several each summer. The Turkish Twist!!! Remember how exciting it was when they opened up the "log ride"? I haven't been there in ages - thanks for the blast from the past!

I use excel and scratch paper, but that means I can't do fancy schematics.


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