Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Domestic Wednesdays: Designing a Knockoff Sweater

I woke up this morning full of energy! And pep! And motivation to GET THINGS DONE! This is in marked contrast to the last few days where I've been unmotivated, exhausted, and utterly convinced that I'm completely unemployable.

It's also the first exuberantly sunny day we've had in a week. Coincidence? Probably not. Weather has always affected my moods more than most people, and I spend October through April in a sort of black, despairing funk of misery. My grandmother has a diagnosis of seasonal depression and has been pushing me to get one of the special lamps she has, which I should probably look into.

Anyway, Boden released their fall preview collection, I I fell for this sweater, which I'd eyed last year and decided wasn't in my budget. It looks like a lovely, warm, casual sweater, which would fill the niche in my closet that has magically appeared for it. One problem: even with a coupon, it's $80.

On the other hand, I knit! So I decided I'd make my own copy. I dug around in my massive, really it's quite scary yarn stash and came up with this lovely tweedy purple wool-mohair-angora blend yarn.

Looking at the Boden original, I'm guessing it's knit with a slightly finer yarn at 6 stitches to the inch. This was a bit thicker, so I knit a test square and measured. It's 4.625 stitches to the inch, which is called the gauge.

While I was at it, I took my own measurements: 35"-29"-38". Marilyn Monroe I am not. So I grabbed The Knitter's Handy Book of Top Down Sweater Patterns, which is an amazing "recipe book" that allows you to knit a sweater in any size at any gauge. There are patterns for every chest circumference from 26" to 52".

Just one problem: the book's gauges are in whole stitch increments. There's a pattern for a sweater at 5 stitches to the inch and one for a sweater at 4 stitches to the inch, but nothing at 4.625 stitches per inch. So I dusted off my algebra and calculated that if I knit the 5 stitches to the inch sweater pattern in a size 32" at my current gauge of 4.625 spi, the final garment would be 34.59". I'm between a size 6 and 8 in Boden clothes, and the original sweater in those sizes measures 34" and 35.5" around respectively. Since I know I'll be adding a wide button band which will up the finished garment to about 35" at the bust, this looks good.

On the yellow pad of paper above you can see my stitch tallies; I've already started knitting, but it looks pretty shapeless right now. I'll be back next week once I've (hopefully) finished the body of the sweater.

One more thing: this is not a strictly money-saving endeavor. I dug up my receipt from two years ago when I bought the yarn for this sweater, and it was $70. This is one of the more expensive yarns I've ever bought, but the point remains: it really isn't money-saving to make your own clothing. That's without taking into account the cost of your time; this sweater will take me between 10 and 20 hours to make. This is my hobby, though, and I find it a lot of fun.

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