Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August Reboot Series - Stripes, Breaking Fashion Rules

Stripes
This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.


I'm always suspicious of simplistic fashion rules. You know the kind I mean, the ones that are supposed to apply to everyone equally. I think they are like using stereotypes to describe people, there might be a tiny kernel of truth that applies in some cases but the real problem is that they limit our thinking and stop us from considering variations. 

Almost everyone says not to wear horizontal stripes or you will look wide, yet stripes are a fashion classic and they are one that knitters seem to be afraid of.

I would like to suggest that you challenge this fashion rule. Stripes are an easy to knit pattern that can add colour and freshness to your wardrobe. So how do you make them work? Take a look at the images above. I've kept it simple and only used black and white / red and white samples. Look at each example, first compare the width of the stripes. Do you see what happens as we go from wide to narrow stripes? That is what is known as the ladder effect. Narrow stripes encourage the eye of the viewer to climb up the body. Visually that works like a vertical line which makes the eye move in the same way. At the far right the patterns become so busy they come very close to reading more like a solid, especially when viewed from a distance.

Next, look at the garments in the center. Where does your eye go? Mine immediately drops to the wide band at the bottom. Does that give you any ideas about how single wide stripes should be placed on the body. Maybe at the shoulder it would be more flattering? Or, what about doing a folded knitted hem so that the pattern repeats evenly right to the edges on the garment?

I choose highly contrasting colours to demonstrate stripe effects. What if you did stripes of low contrast colours? How does that change the look? What if you varied the width of the stripes from narrow at the hip to wider at the shoulder? What if you used more than 2 colours? What if the contrast colour was low contrast at the hem and high contrast at the shoulder? Are you getting a sense of why I don't like a single simplistic rule?

A reader of the original post also pointed out "that stripes are cheerful. Cheerfulness compensates for (alleged) widening, in my book." I fully agree!

Do you have any other observations?

You get extra credit if you made note of how matching stripes across the body and sleeves ups the flattery quotient and that dropped shoulders lowers it by pulling the eye out and down to the armhole where the lines converge. More credit for anyone who saw the flattering diagonal lines created by the cowl neckline on the red and white garment on the far right.

Monday, August 14, 2017

August Reboot Series - Understanding Ease

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates. 

What is ease?  In simple terms ease is the difference between the finished measurement of a garment and the measurement of the body. A garment which is smaller than the body has negative ease. A garment which is larger than the body has positive ease. If a woven fabric garment is too tight it will restrict the wearers movement. Our knitted fabric has stretch, which allows garments to have a closer fit without restricting movement. In knitting we often base ease assessments on the bust or chest measurement only. Patterns then make assumptions about the other body measurements in relation to that single point of reference. Ease looks like this. But it is confusing to garment makers because this is also fit and styling mashed up with ease.

Image from http://quickneed.com/tutorials/all-about-fitting-wearing-and-design-ease/

Understanding ease is one of the most difficult concepts for garment knitters to truly understand. Knitters often show me gorgeous work and then tell me how very unhappy with the result. When I ask questions, their disappointment most often comes down to the gap between the garment that they imagined and the one they knit.

Often the gap has to do with the knitter's personal ease preference. This preference is a moving target, as we age, gain or loose weight and adapt to changing silhouettes in mainstream fashion, our preferences are constantly shifting. 




I sewed many of my own clothes for years. I also used the same patterns over and over. Once I had something that fit me well I would return to that pattern often. I would make it in a different colour. I would make a jacket with a matching skirt, then I would make the same jacket with pants. Then I would make it in a print fabric, or a tapestry or a knit. 

When I was machine knitting I used a knit radar for shaping. It's a charting device which allows you to draw your garment shape. You select settings by your stitches per inch and rows per inch, and let the Radar guide you through the shaping of your garment piece. By simply changing the gauge settings, you can knit this same garment over and over with a variety of yarns and stitch styles. I used to knit the same basic garment shape, change the neckline, shorten or lengthen sleeves and the hem, and no one ever noticed that I was knitting essentially the same sweater over and over.

Now I often do the same thing with my hand knitting. I layer new or different details on the same basic garment shape. In the LYS that I worked at we had only one customer that I was aware of who did this with a pattern. She had an old pattern, that fit perfectly, she only worked in one gauge but substituted many different yarns. She varied the length from garment to garment and substituted short sleeves for long on summer sweaters but that was about it....and no one noticed what she was doing.  

You can do this if you really want to understand the illusive concept of ease, as it is impacted by fabric weight and drape. In the photos above look at the sleeves. The jacket on the bottom right is made from a tapestry print, it is the stiffest fabric in the four jackets. Did you notice how those sleeves stand away from the body? Once you make the same pattern with different yarn types, your understanding of the concept starts to crystallize. When we move from pattern to pattern each time working with a different silhouette we learn these lessons more slowly.

Friday, August 11, 2017

August Reboot Series - The Barbie Factor

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.  (As predicted I sent out a much higher number than usual of interview invitations but I don't yet have a new one to post.) 




Several years ago I spoke at my guild about Knitters and body image. I want to share a little of that presentation because I know many knitters who, due to body image issues, won’t knit garments for themselves. 

Body image refers to a person's perception of their own physical appearance. It describes how one perceives one's appearance to be to others, which in many cases may be dramatically different from one's objective physical condition or how one is actually perceived by others. Many people are so overcome by body loathing that the other amazing dimensions of who they are simply fade away and they negate attributes like exceptional talent, stellar careers and strong loving relationships.

Did you grow up playing with Barbie dolls? I did, so I thought that that’s what grown up women are supposed to look like. Researchers generated a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions and they said that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her torso would be too narrow to contain her organs.

Jill Barad who was the president of Mattel until 2000 estimated that 99% of girls aged 3 to 10 years old own at least one Barbie doll.

Today, whether or not to give little girls Barbie dolls is often hotly debated by many mothers who believe that they foster poor body image. Take a look at the image below. The real woman is shown as 5’4”, 145 pounds, with measurements of 36" 30" 39". Barbie is depicted with an 1 inch smaller bust but maintaining the proportions of a real woman. She then becomes 6' with the measurements of 35",19", 33". Unfortunately we incorporate these images in our view of the world and then apply negative comparisons to ourselves.





Wednesday, August 9, 2017

August Reboot Series - Standard Stitch Chart Symbols?

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up. I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.

http://knitting.about.com/od/reviews/gr/chartmagic.htm
 
At a recent Knit Night we were talking about the many advantages of working from charts as opposed to text. You can read more about the why here. Someone in our group mentioned looking for charts with standard symbols. I'm not sure what standard symbols are. There are so many software packages out there for creating charts. Publishers do use one type for consistency within their publications but around the world there are many more.

If you google, knit charting software, you will see a large number of systems here. I can think of a few more that didn't even make the first page.

There are free systems as well, here is a link about one.

I use the right leaning forward oblique (/) for k2tog and the opposite direction left leaning oblique (\) for ssk. One of my peers thinks that is confusing to knitters so she uses two totally different symbols for clarity. The two are also very different from one another as opposed simply reversing direction of the same symbol. Another uses a graphic arts software unrelated to the knitting industry and created her own symbol data base.


Here is a chart from http://www.tettidesign.net/2010/10/cool-current-wristwarmers-pattern.html. This is a Ravelry designer from Estonia.




The thing that is most important for the knitter to know is, there is no truly standard system of charting symbols. Always check the legend for the specific chart you are working from to ensure accuracy.



I wrote this one back in October 2013. I don't have any new info to add but I still hear commentary on standardization as though it is an active ongoing process. To my knowledge the knitting industry is such a small market, progress is very slow. I have seen some software listed as multi-language but I've not seen actual numbers of languages available. Knitting is international but many of the tools we use are not. I'm also not a fan of rating a pattern poorly in public forums for using unfamiliar symbols. If a legend is provided I feel the pattern writer has met the requirement for the knitter to be able to interpret the pattern. Many more foreign language patterns are being translated as designers try to increase market share. I'd rather those patterns became available to more knitters than have them rejected on the basis of standardization.



Monday, August 7, 2017

August Reboot Series - The Camera Does Lie!

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.

One of the great things about my knitting career has been the amount I've gotten to learn about so many new things. Have you ever heard the saying "the camera never lies"? I used to believe that but now I know it isn't true.

The camera sees things differently than we do. Light conditions impact colour so much more than I was ever aware of before I needed photos that are true to the colour of a specific yarn. When I worked in my LYS we had a problem  pattern. I was told to let customers know when they tried to buy the yarn that it didn't come in that colour. The photo was incorrect with respect to the true colour, changing a beige yarn to pale green.


I've also discovered that detail shots have colour issues as well. When you move in close to get the photo the proximity of the camera changes the light. Sometimes we colour correct and other times we use a magnification of a full garment shot, crop and then sharpen it up. 

Once a friend was showing me wedding photos of what I thought were coloured blocked bridesmaid dresses. She mentioned that the colour difference was only visible in the photos. The dresses were made from velvet and chiffon that reflected light back to the camera differently.

Take a look at the photos below. I heard  Melisa Joan Hart mention on a talk show that the white mark on her forehead was not visible to anyone except the camera.







I've also noticed that designs like the ones below with small textured stitches look great in the real world. The patterns sell more copies when knitters see the garments but get less notice and fewer positive comments when viewed in photos. I have other patterns which I notice the photos sell more copies than the samples do.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-anne-meredith-cardigan

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-emily-brent-cardigan


I've heard similar commentary on the fashions at awards shows. The press people frequently comment on the difference between the photos and their real world observation of the clothing. It's never consistent as to which makes the garments and the attendees look better. 

My hands are not really this big, they are just closer to the lens in the first photo.


http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-sylvia-dering-infinity-scarf-and-gloves


Humm.. how do I say this, I occasionally have a similar problem with another part of my body that protrudes forward. I discovered this effect when we were taking photos at Christmas. I was wearing a cocktail dress that fits snugly around the torso. The shots where I was at an angle to the camera looked normal but the straight on photo looked very disproportionate.

Friday, August 4, 2017

August Reboot Series - A Question for an Expert

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.  (As predicted I sent out a much higher number than usual of interview invitations but I don't yet have a new one to post.) 


The title of this post was in the subject line of an email to me. 

The note reads:

Hi Robin,
After about 70 years of knitting, I didn't realize I wouldn't know the answer to this question until I came upon it. If a pattern calls for size 4 mm needles and farther on asks you to use needles one size larger, are they asking you to use size 4.5 mm or size 5 mm?
 
My answer:

You need to look at the pattern source. Even then you may not match your needle with the designers plan. U.S. needles are all sized as whole numbers except for the 1 1/2, 2 1/2 and 10 1/2. (Of course this depends on what chart you look at and has changed since I wrote the original post.) If the pattern was written with U.S. sizes and converted to metric, one size up is 4.5. However not all the charts agree on an exact equivalent for each size. 
 
Currently, metric sized needles are being quoted more often for accuracy, so the designer could mean one size up on the metric chart. The same problems exist with the old UK/Canadian system. I still have many of those needles as they belonged to my Mother and Grandmothers. Japanese needles have another sizing system which doesn't align with any of these systems. The simple answer is that only the original designer or sample maker knows for sure what their one size up means if it is not listed specifically in the instructions or materials section of the pattern. I sell a lot of my patterns in the U.S. so I include both sizes in my patterns. Manufacturing of needles is done in many countries so they may work to more than one standard of sizing. 
 
How do you know for sure which is the best size....you already know what I'm going to say, by knitting a swatch.
 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August Reboot Series

I was poking around in my google stats recently and I discovered my topic index has more page views than any single post on my blog. That tells me my old posts have lots of value for many readers. Generally when I find a new blog, I start following along with the current posts. If I really like what I see I read from the archives but it tends to be kind of haphazard.  

So I decided for the month of August (which includes some husband staycation time), I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. I'll focus on the informational ones which see lots of traffic. If you are a newer reader you won't have seen some of these posts as I've been blogging since June of 2009. Some will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back from them to fill all the August dates.