Place Alpha Zero

After writing up a heavily technical post filled with knitting jargon and shop talk, it occurred to me that those of you that would understand it would just be hearing what you already know: calculations can only take you part of the way, but you have to dive in and just do it if you want to see how well a project will turn out.

When I bought Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears a while back from Amazon, there was this customer review on there that still bugs the crap out of me to this day. The customer bashed the book for not giving step by step instructions or tables for the percentage system, and how Zimmermann's conversational approach to patterns was basically inappropriate.

But that's not what knitting is about, is it? That's not what knitting is to me, anyway. I've come to realize that within the community of knitters, I'm in that minority who believe in technique more than pattern. I don't need a pattern to tell me how to increase or decrease, pick up a selvedge, or even to graft an under arm. As knitters, we should already know how to do these things, and if we don't, well this is the Internet Age, isn't it? There are so many resources out there that (at least in my opinion) explicitly concise pattern writing comes off as a demonstration of over-thinking, much like the way this blog post initially started before I came to my senses, and started typing these rambling sentences. I write like I knit.

So this pullover started out, really, as a curiosity. I had always wanted to knit a sweater, but the last time I tried it, I killed the project. This time, I just happened to be knitting along on some giant thing that really didn't have a pre-determined outcome. Mainly, I was interested in seeing how the angular transitions I tend to do would translate to higher stitch counts. Once I completed it, however, I realized that this circular thing I'd just made was a perfect fit for my chest. At that point I casted on some sleeves. I wanted to use up this yarn anyway.

As things progressed, I started over-thinking things (like a shawl collar that didn't work out), trying other things, and ultimately ended up back where Zimmermann had initially led me to: a Seamless Raglan Sweater. Were there hiccups along the way? Yes. They were technical, so I looked up the answer. Was it a lot of work? Yes, especially after joining the body and sleeves into a humongous row of stitches. Did I learn something? Well, Duh.

Regardless of the size of a project, there is a constant truth: what you are knitting is a confluence of various techniques. Each technique has variations. What you decide to perform is entirely up to you. That's the beauty of handmade clothing. Research the technique, practice the craft, unify the elements. And be creative enough to make up your own mind when you have to.


Playing Darts

Yet when I say 'darts,' the term is used rather liberally. Frankly, I don't know what to call this. I've sewn horizontal darts into my jeans for years, and they are what you'd expect if you're familiar with darts on men's shirts. The goal is to reduce and shape the garment to fit better, but I use them on jeans because I don't like losing the ankle hems by folding them under. I also don't like the excess material that ends up there.

Contrary to having plotted the entire dart as seen in the pictures, I've decided to employ them differently this time around. Instead of sewing the entire section shut into a 'closed eye,' I've sewn just the center points together. By doing so, the fabric can drape more freely around the knee. At the same time, the reduction in the leg length is maintained where it's supposed to be (the back).

Due to the height of the 'pinch dart,' (good a name as any), there is a jodhpur silhouette that forms at the thigh where the excess denim drops forward. The folds gather at the knee, and push down in opposition to the darts. The resulting drape gathers rather nicely at the shins and ankles.

I typically wear a 28x30 in jeans, but for this particular alteration, I bought a 28x32 in order to guarantee enough length to work with. The cut is a boot fit made by Guess Jeans called "Jayce Slim Bootcut." I'm curious to see how these jeans age with this particular modification. Since the denim is so raw, there will definitely be some interesting whiskering.