Sometimes I think that my obsession with knitting fulfills my pack-rat-like tendencies more than my desire to work with beautiful fibers and create wearable clothes. If I were honest, I’d include all the clippings of sweaters or sweater parts, decades of magazine back issues, and patterns I’ve bought but not knit (yet), and color cards of yarns that were discontinued years ago as part of my stash. But since my stash fills more plastic boxes than I care to count, I cheerfully overlook the ancillaries—but sweater images are stored in the recesses of my memory, to be dragged out when appropriate.
When I thought about designing some of my own sweaters, I dug out two clippings of two men’s sweaters:
The one on the left is a recent acquisition from a catalog or magazine ad for Nautica; the one on the right is from an ancient L.L. Bean catalog. I tried the Aurora 8 in a stitch pattern like the L.L. Bean sweater, and it didn’t appeal to me. There is a cable like the one in the Nautica ad in the cables volume of Stitchionary, and I plan to swatch it for the burgundy Berroco Pure Merino (Sweater #3). Since it is such a big cable, and the placement of the repeats will be important for the design, I’ll use the body of the Aurora 8 sweater (NaKniSweMoDo Sweater #2) as a guide. Sweaters #2 and #3 will have a similar shape, but what shape should that be?
I recalled a Kathy Zimmerman sweater from IK (spring 2008). I like Kathy Zimmerman’s designs—although not usually cutting edge, they are more to my liking than most because they’re practical and wearable. I wanted to figure out if my sweater should have waist shaping. This sweater (on the right) showed me how nicely shaping would look on a cabled sweater, and the pattern gave me an excellent schematic to work from.
But my swatch, which is really just fancy ribbing, opened up when I blocked it, and it seems as if it will be formfitting in its own right, with only modest shaping, like the sweater on the left. That sweater is from a new book of Classic Elite sweaters, the sweaters that have graced the back covers of magazines like VK forever. Those sweaters also are attractive and wearable.
I borrowed Classic Elite: 100 Gorgeous Designs for Every Occasion from the library, as I try to do before buying any new knitting books. I’ve shied away from buying books of just sweater patterns because I have so many back issues of magazines with designs I like and patterns I've purchased that I haven’t yet knitted. I also thought that this book would have old sweater patterns, since the book is a culmination of past designs. Now that I’ve spent some time with it, it is on my wish list for book purchases. Some of the designs are indeed boxy, but most are not, including this one that has always been a favorite (although I would want more practical cuffs).
The book has a good selection of very wearable patterns for men and children as well as for women. The details on many of the sweaters are the real value to me now. I’d like Sweater #2 to have a mock-T with the ribbing and cable aligning with the neck edge, as this one does:
And having compared the green sweater Classic Elite with Kathy Zimmerman’s design, I’ve decided to compromise on the shaping of Sweater #2 and make it less than on the purple sweater but more than on the green—so the ribbing does highlight my contours.
Work on Sweater #1 is moving along well. The body (front and back) should be done in a day or two, and I’ll probably get one sleeve done this week. I won't be too far from my 12-sweater goal.