I have seen many SAORI projects, and while many of them are not to my particular taste, there are quite a few that really catch my eye as something special. I mean, there is something truly wonderful in a 100% unique fabric. No two SAORI-styled weaves can ever look the same. I tend to be a rule follower. I like things organized. I like directions. I like to kind of know how something will turn out before I start. It seemed like maybe it was time I turned my habits on their head and tried something WAY outside my comfort zone. You know, let my spirit free. I decided I would use three ArtYarn skeins I had from a Yarnbox Luxe in addition to a special yarn (that clearly was not as "nice" as the ArtYarns but equally special to me) that I had picked up with my mom while on vacation. The "add-on" yarn had these fun sequins throughout that I really enjoyed but had no intention of trying to knit into anything. It's strange I even bought the yarn, I'm not usually one for bling, but that made it even more appropriate for this project.
The four yarns I was using were all very different: a merino, a mohair, a silk blend and...um...sequins. Ready, set, go! I warped my loom as free-spirited as I could, making stripes of each of my yarns as I felt, none of them the same size and in no particular order. Be free, my spirit, be free! Part of me felt a little guilty I was using such expensive yarn for this experiment, but I hushed that voice and assured myself this was a good project worth the yarn I was using. My spirit deserves nice yarn, right? With the loom warped, I made myself two makeshift cardboard stick shuttles to accompany my Schacht shuttles to accommodate all four of my yarns and I was ready to go.
I want to tell you it was a wonderful, zen-filled experience weaving this scarf. That it was a peaceful journey where I listened to my soul as I painted with yarn. I want to tell you that, but I can't. Don't get me wrong, I actually love the end result and the journey was enlightening, but this was probably one of the most stressful weaving projects to date. I don't even know where to start. Mohair is sticky. Different yarns have different elasticity. Sequins do not fit through the holes of a 12-dent rigid heddle reed very well. Abrasion is a thing. Consistent tension is a bitch. The list is longer, but I think you get the idea.
Like I said, though, the journey was enlightening. Imperfection is okay and even beautiful. I leaned so much from this project I have certainly become a better weaver for it. It will probably be a good long while before I let my spirit go again, but I am glad I did it. Even if I had to cut each sequin off the yarn on the warp thread as I went, this scarf really reminds me that you live and learn and you should always dream big. Because I wove this after the kiddos were in bed, and to remind me of the journey, I have decided to call this scarf "Midnight Meandering." One of the best parts of this project was unrolling the cloth from my front roller on my loom. It was great seeing how my weaving turned out. I had an idea of what it was going to look like, but I did not really know how it would all look together. I am not gifting this scarf to anyone, I am going to keep it. It is mine...my self expression despite frustration and a reminder that sometimes we just need to let go, even if it doesn't always work out the way we want or expect-it can still be beautiful. (And every journey really is one of a kind.)
I had never heard of this event until this year, but apparently it is because I sometimes live with my head in a hole. The Tour de Fleece has been an annual event for at least a decade, as far as I can tell, with many participants all over the world. As you might guess by the name, it is meant to take place concurrently with the Tour de France...get it? Spinning/spinning? Well, it made me laugh and think it was such a clever and cute idea, I wanted to learn to spin something just so I could participate. The idea is that you take time out of every day to spin some fiber. You may only have ten minutes to spare, but that is completely okay. There is a group on Ravelry for the event as well as competitions, so if that's your dish, you're in luck. Also, just like in the bicycling Tour de France, you can join spinning teams. It is really quite amazing. I, however, just wanted to participate quietly on my own, especially since I am just learning and I am not even using a wheel. I went the spindling route. (Much cheaper and seemed like a logical place to start my handspun adventures.) I get the impression, however, that the Tour de Fleece is a come-as-you-like type event, I feel like everyone is welcome however they spin.
I had a pile of fluff and a simple spindle I got in a goodie bag from a folk-fest, but I went ahead a bought myself a Louet bottom whorl spindle and some Blue Faced Leicester from The Woolery because it came recommended in the class I purchased on Craftsy. (It is a great class called "Spindling: From Fluff to Stuff;" I feel like it really gave me a solid foundation to explore spindling. I have linked it here in case you'd like to check it out.) My supplies cost less than $40 and I got my spindling class for $20, though if you are a beginner like me and not ready to spend a combined $60, there are a whole host of YouTube videos and DIY spindles that could make this an even cheaper place to start spinning.
Let me just say, the Tour de Fleece has been so much fun so far! I am really digging this whole spindling thing. I'm still not very good, but that will come with practice, I'm sure. But there is just something so peaceful and zen about the whole process. It helps clear my mind and relax me, even when I only try spindling for five minutes. And it is so easy to tote about, I can follow my kids around and still enjoy spinning. They think it's fun to watch, too. Bonus! They don't mind at all that their crazy fiber loving mother has found another thing to play with.
If there is a spinning bug, I think I've caught it. I want to spin up enough of this mixed top to ply the yarn and maybe make a fisherman's cap. That would be awesome. So, this is going to be my first post on spinning- we will see where this Tour de Fleece takes me and what awaits beyond the July finish line.
I have decided warping a loom gets to be considered a project all on its own. Never mind I haven't actually made anything yet. I know as I gain experience the process will move faster, but this first (technically second) go at warping my 4-shaft loom was a Project with a capital "P." But it is done and it is glorious. The satisfaction I felt as I pulled each of the four shafts up and did not encounter any tangles and saw the beautiful shed created each time is beyond words. I know, I sound like a crazy lady. That is strangely okay with me.
I am making kitchen towels, in case you're wondering what all this warp is for. While I do consider warping a project, I intend to take this project further than just a beautifully warped loom. Though right now, I think it is a lovely show piece. Granted, I'm probably the only one in my house that thinks that. I think my husband would infinitely prefer kitchen towels.
I decided I would warp enough for four towels that are each (hopefully) 20x28 inch rectangles when all is said an done. I am making sure to keep copious notes as I go...they just happen to be on the back of an envelope right now. I have every intention of getting them onto something more permanent. The idea is that with each of the four towels, I can try something just a little different, so in a sense, I am making four samplers of this particular twill warping. But I am getting ahead of myself now.
Using the equations outlined in Deborah Chandler's Learning to Weave book and the guidance of creating a project using the "rosepath" twill from Pattie Graver's Next Steps in Weaving, I measured out 5 yards of warp thread and ended up with 258 warp ends. The warp end count was a slight adjustment from my original 285 ends plan. Turns out I had to make a minor change to the rosepath pattern as it was written AND I ran out of white warp yarn. Luckily, all of these adjustments were made early in the process, so no great agonies of weaving have yet been experienced. I used a 12-dent reed with 12 ends per inch (no doubling up nonsense this go around.)
I found that I had an over abundance of KnitPick's "Dishie" cotton yarn in my stash, which is what led to this project in the first place. Because these skeins are designed for knitting and not weaving, I had to make quite a few bundles of warp threads as each ball ran out. This was a blessing in disguise, though. Having these smaller bundles allowed me to work in small batches as I sleyed the reed. This turned out to be crucial as it was inevitable that every time I decided to work on my loom, there was a toddler emergency that followed. Small bundles meant I did not have to worry about destroying my cross and tangling my warp threads. (This was my first time using my warp board my husband made for me. Until now, I had been using the direct warping method with a peg. Granted, this is not that terrible when you are just using a rigid heddle- I think overall the projects tend to be smaller. But, it turns out this warping board is crazy easy to use and much more conducive to small children and pets being about the place. I'm not sure I'll ever go back to the direct peg method.)
I am so excited to get to weaving on my loom. I really appreciate the labor of love it takes to even get to where weaving is possible. So far, so good. Let's keep our fingers crossed that once I start with the weft thread, things still work out as I intend. You know what they say about good intentions, though.
You know, I wasn't sure where to put this post because technically I haven't made this project. But I have decided to label my husband as an extension of myself in this regard, and since the project was done for me, I think it is fair to put it on my project page. Now that that has been cleared up to everyone's satisfaction, let me give you the tiny bit of back story that led up to this amazing project.
I want to get more into weaving as a craft. I have my rigid heddle, which I love and have by no means exhausted, but I also wanted to get involved in some larger projects with different pattern options. With this in mind, my husband and I started shopping around for a loom. It was not long before we discovered purchasing a loom is very expensive business. It was a fact we already had bouncing around in the backs of our heads, but the point wasn't driven home until we actually intended to buy one.
It makes sense they are expensive, in some respects, since many looms are really gorgeous pieces of handcrafted furniture that double as a crafting device. But it is hard to justify spending that much money on something I do not yet know if I will even enjoy in the long term. We don't have thousands of dollars to drop on something that might prove a passing fancy. (My mother is notorious for buying gobs of crafting gear only to find that it is not a craft she is passionate about. Needless to say, there is a lot of dusty stain glass equipment, ceramics gear, every cross stitch thread color imaginable, garment design aides...and none of it is going anywhere because she is adamant she loves it all. I think there was a valuable lesson for me in the craft hoarding.) Long story short, I sadly decided that perhaps a larger loom would just have to wait until it was realistically in our financial reach. It made me sad, but it felt like the responsible thing to do.
Well, my wonderful husband did not let the issue rest. He went on a search for something that was affordable for us. In his internet meanderings, he came across a book called Building a 4-shaft PVC Loom, by David Holly which I've linked to its webpage. (It is available as a $10.00 Nook Book.) My husband bought the book and built the loom for my birthday. How awesome is that?
Now, my birthday was Monday and I haven't yet had the chance to try out this neat table top loom, but this weekend has a nice chunk of time carved out for that purpose. (Plus we need to find a better place than the living room floor for this PVC creation.) It has all the functionality of a wooden table top loom, but only cost a little over $250 to make. I watched the whole process as my husband (aided by our two toddlers armed with toy hammers) put the loom together. I must say, it really has given me a deeper understanding of the mechanics behind this style loom and familiarized me with much of the terminology that I probably would have been lazy about learning had I just bought a manufactured loom. This is a 4-shaft jack style loom with pulls on the top. The only parts not purchased at our home improvement store were the reed, special rope and the heddles. (All of these parts were easily available from The Woolery. I think they are popular parts for loom restoration.) The weaving width is 24", which is a perfectly good place to start for me. It gives me almost ten additional inches over my rigid heddle.
My husband did say there were a few errors in the book. It is a self-published how-to, so keeping that in mind, it is still a wonderful resource and great that Mr. Holly shared is idea with the world. (However, if you plan to make one yourself, make sure you've packed some patience in your tool bag.) My husband also made some small modifications of his own. Working only on weekends and impeded frequently by the helping hands of our kids, this loom only took 2.5 weekends to make. I am so excited to get my first project warped and ready to go! What a special birthday present this was. I know it will keep my satisfied and learning tons for at least a few years. And maybe by then I'll have enough money squirreled away that I can buy whatever floor loom my heart desires. One can only hope. :-)
I do not crochet, unless I do. There are occasions that call for me to put down my needles and pick up a hook, and this little Yoshi was one such occasion. My son recently acquired the Nintendo game "Yoshi's Wooly World," which is a fiber inspired adventure of little knitted and crocheted creations. (Perhaps it makes me a bad parent, but it was the only way I could get him to sit on the potty long enough to poo. Now the opposite problem is true and I have to set a timer so he doesn't stay on the potty indefinitely.) My son, hands down, loves this game. Mostly because it is just a fun, well-made game. However, he also enjoys that it is yarn themed. Sometimes he leaps off the potty to run and show me some new yarn creature or puzzle he has found.
Well, now, how could I not find a pattern to make him his own yarn Yoshi? A quick search on Ravelry produced this gem. My son got to pick all of the colors for his own, custom Yoshi. He went with an orange body with blue and yellow shoes. I stuck with the traditional red shell and white accents. However, as it often happens when you want to do something fairly fast, the yarn colors he wanted were not available in the prescribed yarn weights...so I went up a size to worsted weight with a bulky weight white. My Yoshi probably sits about 4.5 inches instead of 2.5 inches in height. I was sort of bumbling around to figure out what hook size would then be appropriate, and I think I might have chosen wrong. I went with a 6.00 mm size J hook. This was right in the middle of the recommended hook sizes for the yarn I purchased.
While the Yoshi is still adorable, I think the crochet holes (I'm not sure what to call them) are a little big. If you look closely, you can see the stuffing. I think had I chosen a smaller hook, it would have tightened up the stitch and made a more solid Yoshi. This is good to know, my son wants more Yoshis in different colors now...I'm preparing to create a rainbow Yoshi army.
The project itself was very fast. I finished the Yoshi in two days with only evening, casual crochet sessions. This is pretty good, considering I do not crochet. This means if you do crochet, you could probably whip up this little guy in no time at all! I know there are mistakes on my Yoshi, but I think, by and large, it turned out really well. (Really well meaning you can tell he is Yoshi.)
Summary: This was a quick, cute crochet project with a solid set of written instructions. As I have said many times, I do not crochet, so if I could create this little cutie, you have to know the designer did a good job explaining how to put this Yoshi together. If you have a Nintendo fan in your family (or you yourself enjoy Yoshi) this is a great, fun project that is sure to make you smile.
Do you ever have an obnoxious bundle of yarn in your stash? You know, the kind of yarn that was bought for a specific project that left too much behind...and it's yarn you are never going to use again? I felt this kind of a dismay at a collection of bulky weight wool yarns that were occupying a bin in my closet. Did I have to count these as part of my stash? I felt like they were unfairly counting against me, taking up space and not bringing my fiber joy. What I needed was one of those stash busting projects, so here is what I came up with. I was going to make a little cover for my favorite mugs. They are lovely mugs, but they do not have handles and get quite hot on the outside when you pour tea in them. They were in desperate need of a mug hug.
For some time, I've been wanting to try a heavier weight yarn on my rigid heddle loom. I decided this was the perfect opportunity- it was a quick way to use up some of this yarn I had long ago fell out of love while gaining some experience on my little loom. I looked up which heddle size would be most appropriate for my yarn, and it landed right in between the 5 dent and the 8 dent heddles. Because my end goal was to felt the fabric I created, I thought perhaps a 5 dent would allow more space for a successful felting. So, long story a little less long, I went with the 5 dent.
Then, because it was a small project and why not, I wanted to do a houndstooth design. That can be created by alternating colors in a 2x2 fashion in both the warp and the weft. (You can do other number than a 2x2, but that is the most basic combination that should yield a houndstooth.) I warped 8 inches across the center of my heddle with alternating blue and brown yarn. Then, I used the same blue and brown for the weft. Well, I did not get a houndstooth at all. Instead, I got a nice wavy line in alternating colors. I think perhaps my warp threads were too far apart to make the pattern work, and as such, I got a weft facing project. That means my weft yarn essentially hid my warp yarn, making it impossible to get a houndstooth appearance. No worries, though, this was all an experiment anyway. I am thinking if I try this again (since I still have too much of this yarn left over to be happy) I will try the 8-dent reed and see if my theory is correct.
If you are looking at the above photos and wondering what color this thing actually was, the one on the top left is the most accurate depiction of the true colors. The other two show off the fabric quite nicely, but I took them under the light in the kitchen, which is awfully yellow and makes for strange results in pictures. With the fabric done, though, I moved on to phase 2- felting. I threw my yard 8 x 36" swatch of fabric in the wash on hot and then dried it on high heat. I repeated this process twice. I got a fairly nice felting, but honestly, it could have been better. I took some pictures from the side so the thickening would be obvious. The fabric cut without fraying, but I did not trust it to stay that way.
Because I did not trust the edges not to fray on the top and bottom, I took some more of this distasteful yarn in yet another color (what was I thinking when I bought so much of this stuff) and simply wrapped the edges in a chunky stitch. Using this as an opportunity to also create a way to fasten this mug hug around my mug, I left tails with the yellow yarn to use to tie the mug hug closed. I debated using buttons with this, and I might see what that is like on the next little hug, but for this first one, I thought I'd keep it pure. This was a pure stash bust, no other materials allowed.
However, the way it fastens allows me to use this little hug on a mug that has a handle, so that's cool. At the end of the day, I'd say this is an ugly little mug hug...but it's ugly in a cute, homey kind of way. I am debating seeing what would happen if I felted it again, what that would do to the stitching on the top is intriguing to me. But then I figure it might naturally felt itself with all of the moisture and heat of many cups of tea. This project was fast and I am proud of myself for finding a use for that yarn. Waste not, want not. I am pretty sure my mom used to say that a lot when I was growing up.
And now, it's time for a cup of tea.
I am feeling a little behind in my projects. I think that happens when I get overly ambitious and have too many projects going at once. They all are moving forward, they are just moving forward at a snail's pace. Does that happen to other people? I mean, with all of the beautiful yarn and all of those lovely patterns out there, the temptation is too great to cast-on just one more. And sadly, I have non-knitting projects piling up, too! It's really getting out of hand. Someone should really sit me down and have a talk with me.
My favorite of my in progress projects is the Belfast cardigan I am knitting for my husband. (I am ignoring the love sweater curse. Besides, this is a cardigan. I am convinced cardigans don't count toward the curse.) It is my first project with such extensive cable work, and it is very fun to see the cables really start to pop. The tubular cast on for the bottom edge has me a little freaked out- it is a tubular cast-on I've never seen before. Apparently I will be perfectly fine to just remove the provisional cast-on yarn and my stitches will be safe without have to pick anything up on another needle...I'm nervously skeptical. Many hours of work have gone into the little bit of the sweater I have completed- it's a recurring nightmare that it will unravel from the bottom up when I remove the waste thread! Give me chills right now just typing about it.
Then there is the modified "Auburn Top" sweater I am working on for myself. Truth be told, I have not knitted past the bottom ribbing there is so much other knitting going on. I am also working on my Quicksilver shawl that is a hold over from my fall knitting list. If I finish that list by the end of winter, I'll be feeling pretty good. I like to work on this shawl at night when my husband reads to me. The only trouble is we are currently in between books, so not a lot is happening with my shawl. What needs to happen is I need to just carve out some time for the shawl and knock it out. It is a lovely, simple pattern that does not require a lot of focus. A few TV watching nights with this baby would get it done in no time at all.
I've also got a few putsy little projects laying around. I'm knitting a tie for my husband, I'm still working on a mitered square blanket for my son, and there are the hats. It is not my intention to make any political statements on the site, my knitting blog is just for knitting. But these hats are knitted, squishy, bright and delightful. I made one for my aunt and myself. Even if you do not support the movement, perhaps you can appreciate the huge outpour of craftivism. It is truly amazing what we can do when out knitting needles unite. I actually really enjoyed knitting with the single ply Preciosa from KnitPicks, too. I have a more detailed review of that yarn if you are interested.
I think it might be necessary for me to put a moratorium on picking up new projects and finish these. I clearly have a problem. I'd love to hear what projects you're working on and if you have a similar problem as I do. Let's just make ourselves some tea and get to knitting.
I think the most important discussion here would be to talk about what exactly a "color gamp" is. When I first heard the term, my reaction was huh? It is really quite simple, though, and is a great tool for anyone in the fiber arts. When you weave, there is a relationship between the color of your warp and the color of your weft. Unlike when you use paint, the colors of the warp and weft do not mix. They create what can be referred to as an optical blend. Think of it as tiny little pixels all butted up next to one another. You can pick out the individual hues, but step back, and they start to blend together.
This blend is really important as you plan your projects. Are you making kitchen towels? Would that blue color you chose for the weft look better on green warp or an orange warp? What would the difference be? Does it make any difference at all? That is where a color gamp comes in. A color gamp is a sampler, or a study in color, that you weave. It can be referenced again and again and is a very handy thing to have in your workspace. There are some really beautiful color gamps out there, and you can play around with patterns and colors. It's worth a google image search to see the lovely gamps people have created. However, for my little rigid heddle loom, I chose to follow the instructions of Inventive Weaving book by Syne Mitchell for a traditional color gamp in pure hues.
Another skill I was interested in learning when making this color gamp was weaving a fine cloth on my rigid heddle. For practical reasons, the heddles on rigid heddle looms can only go down to 16 ends per inch and many stop at 12 ends per inch. Does this mean an artist on a rigid heddle loom cannot achieve the look/feel of garment fabric? No, of course not. Brilliant weavers out there came up with a clever and quick fix- use two heddles. Then, with two 12 ends per inch heddles, you can achieve a 24 ends per inch fabric.
There are resources out there that will show you what thread needs to go where in a two-heddle plain weave configuration. When threading the two heddles, you will end up with one thread in each hole of both heddles and three threads in each slot.
This project is small and works up very quickly. Threading the heddles probably took the longest, as you end up with 360 ends that all need to go in their particular places. Then, you do have to keep in mind that you have 20 colors that will need to be wound on to your shuttle stick. There are only eleven passes of each color, but you still have to stop and start a lot. I haven't yet washed my little beauty. I'm a little nervous. But really, I think it will look even better once it gets a good wash and I iron it out. This is a tool I am very glad I took the time to make.
And all of the colors make me smile to look at, so regardless of how much a use it as a tool in color theory, it makes me happy.
Happy New Year, everyone! It is officially 2017 and I have very high hopes of this being a fabulous knitting year. I always like to take some time to reflect, however, on knitting I've accomplished over the last year. Perhaps the greatest learning moments come from my most blundered of blunders. The biggest blunder I had in 2016 actually happened to be a weaving opposed to knitting project. To say it was a misadventure may be putting it lightly. Is sure was something, I'll tell you about it here.
For Christmas this year, I decided I wanted to up my handmade gift item count. Then I went a little crazy making hats and matching mittens for my sister. Because I was making her handmade gifts, I thought it would be nice to make something for her husband as well. I saw this neat idea of making a Morse code scarf on my rigid heddle loom. The basic idea is that you use the stripes you weave in the scarf to represent dots and dashes. In that way, you can write out a hidden message of sorts on the scarf. I was excited about this idea for a number of reasons: First, it would work up faster than a knitted scarf. Second, I could really personalize it for Mark, my sister's husband. Third, I could choose very masculine colors and the scarf would look great.
I had my plan all sorted out. The next step was to think of what to write out in Morse code. To that end, I contacted my sister to see what she thought would be good for the scarf. At this crucial juncture, my project became doomed. My sister calls her husband "Mark Bear," so she thought it would be great if it said that. Accepting the nickname, I plunged forward, planning and warping appropriate dots and dashes. A little ways in to the project, my husband checked in on me. I had casually told him about the plan previously, but with the scarf well underway, he was more interested in the details. When he asked what it said, I told him. He gave me a funny look and then laughed.
"That's the weirdest thing for you to give your brother-in-law," he commented.
And with a sinking feeling, I knew he was kind of right. The scarf wasn't from my sister, it was from me. Putting a pet name on a handmade scarf was a strange choice when the giver was Mark's sister-in-law. The only way the petname would really work was if I intended to make it for my sister to give to her husband. I was too far along, though. There was no chance of unweaving what I had done and no time to start again, so I decided to just put the weirdness out of my mind and continue forward.
Then, the next catastrophe- I had somehow gotten two of the warp threads crossed when I was threading my loom and the last letter in "MARK BEAR" was an N instead of an R when read in Morse code. I was officially making a scarf that read "MARK BEAN." What?! Okay, this was still salvageable. I would just never mention it was a scarf with a hidden Morse code message. Mark would never know and it was a pretty striped pattern.
Feeling like this scarf was a little bit of a disaster, I continued the back and forth of the weaving...until the scarf was about two and a half feet long and I ran out of yarn. I am not one to use obscenities, but I'm pretty sure one slipped out as my yarn dwindled to an end. Deep breathing, right? I have no idea how I got my calculations so wrong, but I could always buy more yarn. It was the beginning of Decemeber, but the retailer where I got the yarn earlier in the year was prompt and there was still time for me to finish.
Except the color had been discontinued.
I sat there in disbelief for a good thirty minutes just staring at the 2.5 foot swath of frabric in front of me. Then I decided to call it. This project was dead. We would buy Mark a nice bottle of whiskey instead.
And that is how this scarf came to be my froggiest of frogged projects in 2016.
So, here is Post #2 in my sweater design adventure, and let me tell you, people who design quality patterns are AMAZING. Hopefully one day I will be among them. For now, I am a humble novice continuing her journey of self-improvement.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning; the sun was shining brightly in my crafting space and I had a good chunk of time where I could just work. I had all my idea sketches in front of me, my yarn ready to go, needles choosen...and no idea what to do next. Like I mentioned before, I have made small project patterns, but I have never tackled anything so large as an adult sweater from conception to completed garment. And if I'm going to take the time to knit something, I do not want an ugly, boxy sweater that looks like a blind llama might have knit it. I want shaping, I want flattering necklines, I want interest...I want what is currently beyond my skill to design from scratch.
Okay, that realization was important. So I had to take a giant step back in my ambitions. I had a vision of what I wanted, what I needed was the framework to get me there. After copious hours of flipping through my books, magazines and browsing Ravelry (talk about pattern overload) I found it- the perfect base for what I am hoping to achieve. It was actually in one of my first knitting books I ever purchased- New England Knits: Timeless Knitwear with a Modern Twist. It is the Auburn Top by Cecily Gowik MacDonald, which I am including a picture of here that is from the Ravelry page for the pattern. (You can purchase the pattern for $5.50 on Ravelry or buy the book for about $25.00.)
This top has the key elements I envisioned for my steampunk inspired sweater. It has the cute, puffed sleeves, the fitted pricess shaping and a high neck. I even love the square neckline. This is it! This is my base!
This is a learning process for me, that's the whole point after all, so I am hoping to gain some more experience with shaping, including short rows for arm holes and the pricess darts, with this sweater. I am going to make some serious modifications to this pattern, including a lace panel down the center of the sweater, so I can incorporate some of the steampunk elements that originally inspired me. Some other minor adjustments might include some tinkering with the length. My modifications, however, will not warrant calling the work a new pattern.
With that said, I will make sure to detail all of my modifications here, but I will tactfully refrain from including too much information about the pattern by Ms. MacDonald- you will need to purchase her pattern if you want those details. It really is a beautiful sweater as is. I've cast on and am ready to go. I am making sure to take notes as I work, too, so I can apply knowledge to a future designs of my own making. The bottom line is, though, that I need to walk before I can run. Making significant modifications to a pattern seems like a good first step to understanding and designing my own sweater in the future. It's hard, but practice, practice, practice which translates to patience, patience, patience.