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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Creative Knitting: White Mountain Kimono Coat

My super warm Rowan Cocoon coat design is out in the Creative Knitting Magazine September 2011 issue! Yippee!

Ooh, if you have not yet touched the Rowan Cocoon yarn, you are missing out on a treat. It is such an buttery soft yarn that you just wish your project would never end...well, you do want to finish but at the same time you don't want to let go of this yarn...

Photo by DRG

You might remember that I was playing around with all different kinds of slip stitch patterns for my final 5 piece collection (hats) for the finale of the Yarnway Project. That was actually a result from exploring pattern options for super bulky and bulky yarns. I really like cables but didn't want the bulkiness it would create with these specialty yarns. Slip stitch cables, or I like to call them "mock cables", are a great way to give the impression of cables but without the thickness and awkward cabling of super bulky stitches.

The mock cable for this coat came about through a happy accident - when I was experimenting with different slip stitch patterns my swatch escaped and fell to the floor. As it turns out, it had rotated so that when I was looking down to pick it up it was upside down and my imagination saw flower heads with leaves staring back at me...

I quickly grabbed another color to try out my "vision" and was happy to find that the pattern lent itself well for a two color variation that really turned the original slip stitch pattern into something new...

Left: Swatch is knit from the bottom up

Right: Swatch turned upside down

Doesn't that look like flowers? :)

This happy accident was quite an eye-opener for me and I now routinely turn my swatches every which way to look at it from different directions. I even look at the wrong side of a swatch because you never now what you will find there... and another thing happened: this small act of looking at a swatch from a different direction than the "traditional" way somehow freed me from my own rules (I didn't realize I had them until then) and allows me now to "think out of the box" more often. So, turn you work around and see what you might discover. You will be surprised. :)

Well, that was all fine but it also meant that I needed to knit this coat upside down or top down. I've never done that before! This was going to be a learning experience and all under a submission deadline...

Photo by DR
It definitely forced me to think the whole design through before casting on my first stitch. I couldn't just begin at the bottom and as I was working my way up I would figure out what to do for the sleeves, neckline, etc.

It was a bit unnerving because I felt the time ticking away and I still didn't have any stitches on my needles... but in hind sight, it did teach me another valuable lesson: you should always think your design all the way through before casting on because then you will become aware of iffy design decisions or problem areas, especially if you to size the pattern for multiple sizes...

Okay, more seasoned designers will most likely know this already but for me, this was a major insight. I guess, it's one of those things you learn when you move from a single-size-family-and-friend-knitter to a designer-who-publishes-patterns-in-multiple-sizes... ;)

The coat knit up very quickly thanks to the thick yarn (Rowan Cocoon held double throughout) and the very easy and addictive slip stitch pattern (just one more flower row, and one more...). I was making good time... and then came the finishing.

Photo by DRG
I should know by now that the finishing just takes time if you want to do it right. And considering that the magazine might want to show close-ups of some detail, there were no short-cuts allowed.

It was important to get the knitted on I-cord right and then the hunt for buttons is on. I don't know about you, but I seem to spend a lot of time looking for the "right" button. I still have to come up with some good sources for buttons. You know, buttons that are somewhat special but won't break your bank?

I've been pretty lucky so far with finding some at the local sewing stores and I do have a card of a button lady I met at a crafts fair. Finding the right closure is such a crucial step. You don't want a button to distract from you design, unless it is the focal point, but at the same time you don't want to use cheap looking ones either as it will devalue your lovingly, hand knitted garment. So, make sure to take your time to find the right fit but don't let it keep you from wearing it either. Use a decent button as a placeholder and change it out as soon as you score "the one." :)

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