Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Design Your Own Aran, Part Nine: Decision Time

While you're motoring (or slogging) up the body, it's time to start thinking about some crucial measurements. 

Body length + armhole depth = total length: This relatively simple aran is meant to be hip length and boxy with a modified drop shoulder. To determine you desired total length, the easiest method is to use a garment you already own and love as a template. If you don't have one, then simply measure from the top of your shoulder to your hip bones. I'm only 5'1", so my body will be 18" in total. I know from knitting many sweaters that that's the length of a hip bone length sweater on my body. I also know that an armhole depth of 7" (circumference of 14") works best on me. That means that my lower body will need to be 11". How do you know what will work best on you? That's where you're on your own. Everyone's bust/upper arm area is a little different. In a worst case scenario, you knit the body to the shoulders, join them, block the sweater, try it on before proceeding any further, and discover that the proportions are off. You'll only need to frog the upper body and try again. That's just part of designing your own garment. The good news is that the more you knit and fit sweaters to yourself, the more you know what works on you so that you don't have to re-invent the wheel every time you design something.

How many stitches should you place on hold for the underarms? To answer this, you need to have a good look at your stitch patterns. In my case, I decided to place 4 knit stitches + 1 purl stitch + a 4-stitch rope cable onto a length of waste yarn on either side of the side markers. That''s a total of 9 sts on either side of the side marker, or a little over 2" worth on either side. I'd be cautious about placing more than that. The armhole is going to be worked with a perpendicular join and the row and stitch gauges won't be the same; this trick works for short stretches, but can cause difficulties when pushed too far.

Why did I choose to stop exactly one stitch before the column of twisted knit stitches? Because I want that column to frame the armhole. As I work up the upper body, I'll switch the purl stitch next to it to a knit stitch so that it will become a selvedge for picking up the armhole stitches. Wherever you choose to end your armhole opening, do make sure to make the stitch next to the future armhole a selvedge stitch (knit on the RS, purl on the WS). 

Here's a closeup of the point where the back (still on the needles) meets the underarm (on a length of waste yarn). That purl stitch to the left of the stitches on hold is about to be converted to an armhole selvedge stitch in the next row. FYI, I NEVER use rigid stitch holders! They will stretch your knitting completely out of shape.

Once you've put the underarms on hold, go ahead and do the same for the fronts. You can break your yarn at this point because now it's time to join in a new length and proceed up the back until you're an inch below your final desired length. Don't forget to measure in the centre of your work, not at the armhole edges. Here's my cardigan with the back completed.

Yes, the back neck shaping has been completed, but that's for my next post -- I think-- unless I take time out to address the issue of "cable splay". Till next time... 

Part 10 is here.