Excerpt From Book
When Stitch ’n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook was published last year, I was both proud and relieved. I and so many others had put so much work into it, and now, finally, it was out there in the world. Seeing it displayed in bookstores across the country was exhilarating, but it was even more exciting the first time I saw a project made from the book posted on the Internet. Soon I began spotting all sorts of projects from Stitch ’n Bitch: knit wrist cuffs, baby hats, baby blankets, kitty hats, and Skully sweaters. People were even showing up at my book signings wearing items they’d made from the book. It was amazing!
Of course, many of these knitters chose their own colors for their projects, and others used entirely different yarn than the pattern called for. Still other brave souls made more extensive alterations to the patterns—from replacing the star motif on the wrist cuffs with little Pacman figures to lengthening the Under the Hoodie sweater so that it was less cropped, making a mini version of Meema’s Felted Marsupial Tote for a toddler, shortening the extra-long sleeves on To Dye For, and adding shaping to the loose, oversized Skully sweater.
It was clear that at least a few knitters were ready to look at patterns, not as a be-all and end-all to their knitting projects, but rather as a starting point from which to make their knitting dreams come true. And from the questions and enthusiastic comments about these revised SnB projects that were being posted on knitters’ blogs, it seemed that many other Stitch ’n Bitchers were hungry to do the same, if only they knew how.
I also found, unfortunately, that some folks who had completed projects from that first book were less than pleased with their results. One knitter discovered that the Skully sweater was much too loose and oversized for her to wear; yet another, posing in her newly completed Skully, proved that the sweater fit her just fine. So why did one knitter get such unhappy results, while another knitter didn’t? I realized that if knitters could figure out from a pattern how a sweater might fit them before they made it, they’d encounter less frustration. Better yet, they’d know how to pick the right size to knit from the list of available sizes.
In fact, it seemed that all across the country, a nation of knitters—both brand new and more seasoned—were beginning to get restless. They were crying out for knowledge. They wanted to have the power to really understand what it was they were making, so that they could take their knitting to the next level, and make changes if they wanted to. They yearned to be free to use a yarn of their own choosing, whether or not it matched the gauge stipulated in the pattern. They longed to be able to make simple alterations to patterns—lengthening a body here, shortening a sleeve there. And they were itching to make projects that would fit and flatter their bodies. They didn’t want to spend countless hours working on sweaters only to have them be more appropriate for an elephant or an Olson twin than themselves.
In this chapter I’ll try to arm you with some of that knowledge. I’ll help you understand the secret language of knitting patterns and tell you a few things you need to think about when you’re choosing a different yarn for a project. I’ll show you how—with the miracle of math—you can rewrite a pattern to use thicker or thinner yarn than the pattern calls for or make simple alterations so that it will fit you better. I’ll even explain the mystery of pattern fit and sizing, so that you can choose the correct size to knit from the get-go. Finally, I’ll teach you how to change particular details of a sweater—like switch a turtleneck to a V-neck or replace a ribbed edge with a rolled one. Eventually, you’ll be changing so many things about a pattern—using thicker yarn, shortening the sleeves, popping on a crew neck, lengthening the body, adding a different edging, replacing a picture of a rock star with a picture of your doggie—that it may become an entirely different project altogether. In fact, you may have changed it so much that you will have practically designed your own sweater. With a bit more practice, and a bit more willingness to take the leap and depart from following patterns to the letter, you’ll be ready to do just that.
Very few of the patterns in this book were made by folks who are knitwear designers by trade. Most of them were contributed by knitters who were just brave (or stubborn) enough to get an idea into their head for a project and not let go until they had figured out how to make it. Soon you’ll be one of them too, or maybe you already are. And perhaps it will be one of your patterns that will appear in a future Stitch ’n Bitch book, for others to knit, and, of course, change completely to suit their whim and fantasy.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your knit on.