Friday, April 20, 2018

How to Knit a Garment with a Different Gauge - The Fudge Factor Part 2

When I was first knitting I was rarely able to match gauge in patterns. Even if I did get it I wasn't always happy with the resulting fabric. It the fabric was right my row gauge would be off. It was very frustrating to a novice knitter! However I will say this challenge lead to me being a much more proficient knitter. When I got to the point of designing for myself these conversions had taught me a lot about the mechanics of pattern design.
Continuing on with my topic from last week. I'm going to work with specific examples. To keep things simple, I'm going to use whole numbers wherever I can. You may be dealing with fractions so you will need a calculator to be as accurate as possible.
Example 1: Converting to DK (Yarn Weight Number 3) from Worsted weight yarn (Yarn Weight Number 4). Both yarns are 100% wool with good stitch definition. The swatch shows the stitch pattern is attractive when worked in a smaller scale. DK is a lighter weight yarn so less ease is required. To achieve the same look of the original garment, when less ease is required, it means it is safe to round down, when adjusting fractional numbers.
Your Gauge DK: 22 stitches, 28 rows = 4 inches.
Original Gauge (the pattern) Worsted: 18 stitches, 24 rows = 4 inches.
Stitches 22 ÷ 18 = 1.22
Rows 28 ÷ 24 = 1.17
Example 2: Converting to Worsted weight yarn (Yarn Weight Number 4) from DK (Yarn Weight Number 3). Both yarns are 100% wool with good stitch definition. The swatch shows the stitch pattern is attractive when worked in a larger scale. Worsted is a heavier weight yarn so more ease is required. To achieve the same look of the original garment, when more ease required, it means it is safe to round up, when adjusting fractional numbers.
Your Gauge in Worsted: 18 stitches, 24 rows = 4 inches.
Original Gauge (the pattern) DK: 22 stitches, 28 rows = 4 inches.
Stitches 18 ÷ 22 = .82
Rows 24 ÷ 28 = .86
To compare to the more common way of calculating ...
To get the cast on for a 20 inch garment back, the calculation is:
DK            20 inches x 5.5 = 110 stitches
Worsted    20 inches x 4.5 = 90 stitches
Fudge Factor Method
90 stitches (worsted) x 1.22 (the fudge factor) = 109.8 stitches
110 stitches (DK) x .82 (the fudge factor) = 90.2 stitches
Continuing with Example 2, to convert the pattern, work through it section by section. Everywhere the instructions give a stitch number, multiply the number by the Fudge Factor. If the pattern instructions are to cast on 110 stitches, multiply 110 x .82 the result is 90 stitches for the cast on. The conversion can be to a higher or lower stitch number, it is simply a comparison ratio of achieved gauge to the original gauge.
Next, do the same thing with the row gauge. Divide your row gauge by the pattern row gauge to get the conversion ratio. In this example Rows 24 ÷ 28 = .86. Everywhere the pattern tells you to knit rows you multiply by the fudge factor. In many cases, the pattern will give you a measurement instead of a number so no calculations are required. The more complex the original design, the more complicated the conversion process will be.
Proportional Relationships
If you are converting a pattern with multiple elements, do consider how the changes will impact the overall design. Changes of more than one or two stitches or rows per inch will affect panel widths and the size of motifs in a significant way. If you are reproducing an intarsia or fair isle design, you must consider the changes in motif size. Each will be larger or smaller according to your conversion ratio and, the garment will look very different from the original.
Designs with a single all over stitch pattern will not be impacted. However you should review band widths and lengths for potential adjustment.
Stitch repeats
Once you have your new stitch numbers calculated they may require adjustment to match up with stitch multiples in the pattern.
Your gauge in Worsted requires a 90 stitch cast on.
Original pattern gauge in DK required a 110 stitch cast on.
Pattern repeat is a multiple of 6, with 2 selvedge stitches. In DK 110 stitches - 2 = 108 ÷ 6 = 18
In Worsted 90 stitches - 2 = 88 ÷ 6 = 14.66.  Adjust the number to a whole repeat of:
6 x 14 = 84 add 2 selvedge stitches equals a cast on of 86 stitches
6 x 15 = 90 add 2 selvedge stitches equals a cast on of 92 stitches.
Using a heavier yarn means more ease is required therefore I would recommend taking the stitch numbers up to correct for stitch multiples in this situation.
Part 1 is here.
Part 3 will be posted soon. I'll discuss sleeve adjustments and how to recalculate yarn amounts.

Friday, April 13, 2018

How to Knit a Garment with a Different Gauge - The Fudge Factor Part 1

This topic comes up a lot so I'm running an updated version of a three part series from the past. Parts 2 and 3 get much more specific with the math conversions required. This post helps you to understand the thought process behind the number crunching.
When I worked in my local yarn shop, we often had customers coming to us for help in a specific situation. The knitter wanted to use a pattern and work in a gauge different to the one the pattern was written for. There were various reasons for this. Sometimes the knitter wanted to use yarn in their stash of a different weight. Sometimes the yarn in the pattern was no longer available. Sometimes they loved a pattern and hated the yarn it showcased. Sometimes they just couldn't match the gauge in the suggested yarn but still wanted to use it.
Most experienced knitters can easily rework the numbers on basic patterns that include good schematics. Some just knit a different size if their gauge is slightly off the pattern gauge. They do this by calculating their stitch gauge per inch multiplied by the width measurement desired and then they choose the size closest to the measurement they need. They use the length measurements of the size they really want. However in a yarn shop we see customers bringing in vintage patterns and patterns that do not include a schematic. Occasionally we see a pattern with schematics with only bare bones measurements that don't give enough detail for conversion. Periodically we will be presented with a pattern that has a unique form of construction and no schematic at all. Other knitters run into challenges when they get to areas of shaping such as armholes, sleeve caps and necklines. Bands and other sections where the knitting has intersections of stitches and rows can also prove to be problematic.
Knitters are looking for simple advice; in a short and sweet format. My peers and I all enjoyed assisting knitters with this but we all took a cautious approach as the process to make the conversions I'll review is not difficult, but it does require careful consideration when applied to specific patterns. Details need to be considered which can't be covered in a short surface level examination of the pattern. I'd like to mention here that complex and difficult are two very different things. Complex processes can be broken down into a set of very simple actions. Very experienced knitters often perform these steps so quickly, it appears magic is in play to the novice knitter.
It is important to determine just what feature in the target pattern is calling to you. This is necessary to ensure you reproduce that feature in a manner consistent with the original. If it is the stitch pattern, a swatch in your chosen yarn will tell you if it is still as appealing in a smaller or larger format. More importantly, will the stitch pattern show in a yarn of a different colour or texture? Remember, your substitution can yield better results than the original yarn a pattern has been executed in. Yarns for patterns are chosen for a variety of reasons which include editorial considerations, availability and marketing. It is entirely possible you will choose a yarn more appropriate to the project or for your preferences.
Ease considerations are critical to successful garments so they need to be evaluated carefully. The concept of ease refers to the additional fabric included above the body measurements to allow for comfort and movement. It is the space between the garment and your body. It is also a design feature which varies according to the fashion of the current time and can change greatly according to personal preference. Ease is a ratio so the amount required increases with sizing. A large man’s garment will therefore require perhaps six inches of ease as compared to three inches in a child’s garment in the same yarn and silhouette. The weight of the fabric is crucial when determining the amount of ease required. The thicker and or stiffer the fabric, the more ease required. A soft fabric with drape will flatter with a small amount of ease while a thick knit will require a greater amount of ease to flatter the body. Garments meant to be worn on top of another require more ease for comfort.
When we knit, we create fabric.  We create this fabric stitch by stitch and row by row. We call the mathematics behind the fabric the gauge, and, as we all know, if we ignore gauge we won’t be able to produce the garment in our pattern.
There is however, a way of substituting yarns of a different gauge into a given design. It is referred to as the “conversion ratio” or “fudge factor". As always, you must start with an accurate gauge swatch.
Many knitters get stitch gauge and then are unable to match row gauge. If the fabric created is acceptable, understanding the variation can help the knitter make the necessary adjustments. It is possible to use the fudge factor for only row gauge adjustments and correct the shaping differences changes in row gauge create.
I remember how to calculate the ratio with a knitter’s mnemonic of “Y - O”. It’s a short form familiar to knitters and reinterpreted in this application as “your” gauge divided by the “original” gauge.
The basic steps to converting a pattern are:
·   Consider the impact fibre changes will have on the end result.
·   Think about ease requirements, are they impacted by the yarn substitution?
·   Find your gauge and the gauge used in the published pattern. 
·   Calculate the two conversion ratios, stitch and row. The mnemonic is Y - O, your gauge divided by the original gauge.
·   Convert the rows and stitches in the published pattern to the rows and stitches you need to knit. Round off fractional numbers.
·   Analyze stitch repeats and re balance numbers accordingly.
·   Verify the accuracy of curves and angles using knitter's graph paper.
To find the stitch conversion ratio: take your stitch gauge ÷ original stitch gauge
To find the row conversion ratio: take your row gauge ÷ original row gauge

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 can be found here.

Friday, April 6, 2018

An Interview with...Tatsiana Matsiuk


Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world.

You can find
Tatsiana here and here on Ravelry. 

You can find her other social media links here:

Where do you find inspiration?
My biggest inspirations are my two lovely daughters. Most of my designs are created especially for them. I really love seeing them wearing beautiful and bright knitted hats, dresses and cardigans made with love for them. They enjoy modelling my knitting too.

I also find my inspiration in my knit books and stash of yarn. I just look through the stitch patterns another time and come up with a new idea. Another time I’ve got a yarn I want to knit with and an idea of a new garment (style, shape, some details) in my head and looking for the stitch in my books. Sometimes I can find the inspiration in simple phrase or word. For example, the inspiration for two of my designs:

My Crown Beanie and Cowl Set,

and Cable Crown Hat and Cowl Set.

Each design came from the phrase “every little girl is mum’s princess”. So I decided to create couple of hats with an imitation of a princess crown. While I was knitting swatches I made up about five different cables for it and then decided to use the two most appealing ones.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I love knitting lace stitches for summer garments and cables for winter ones. I also like learning new techniques and using them in my new designs. So I guess, I don’t have a favourite one.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
Absolutely! I love seeing other people knitting and following their creative way. Particularly, for those of them who I remember started as hobbyist and over years of their knitting journey became popular knitwear designer, teacher or yarn dyer. I love reading their stories of success, they inspire me to follow my own way further, improve my skills and discover new techniques.

For example, I used to ignore variegated and melange yarn for many years and preferred a solid colours yarn for my designs. I wasn’t good in multi-colour knitting too. But after discovering indie yarn dyes and some designers I’ve started making some steps in this direction. My Colour Fantasy shawl is my first attempt in combining colours and yarn textures (The photo is at the top of this post).

Another example, I used to knit with Sport and DK types of yarn a lot and ignore the idea of using thick chunky or bulky yarn. But after I discovered a couple of designers who knit with thick yarn and brands of chunky yarn I’ve tried to use it in my designs too. I've fallen in love with this type of yarn. It creates really beautiful textures like the one in my Fancy Twist Hat and Cowl Set:

You can see another in the Gear Cardigan, which I designed for my husband.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I always knit my first sample by myself. Sometimes it takes number of re-knits to get the proper result and good fit. Sometimes I even change the yarn to a more suitable one as it can look good in stitch swatch but doesn’t look good in the finished item. After the first sample is knitted and I’m happy with it I write the pattern and then depending on the design I can knit a second sample by myself or open the test knit on Ravelry. I use two groups, Free Pattern Testers and Testing pool for my test knits and my goal is the have at least two test knitters per size. 

I also work with Mary Maxim Yarn Company closely. Some of my patterns are sold in their knitting kits. Before creating kits their test knitters also test my patterns.

Did you do a formal business plan?
I have a list of projects I plan to make this year and plan of steps to follow but my project list can be changed depending on inspiration and new ideas which I need to try “right now” so I don’t think I can call this plan as “a formal business plan”.

Do you have a mentor?
No, I don’t have a mentor but I have a very supportive husband who helps me through my knitting journey and helps me to go ahead if I’m stuck.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

Do you use a tech editor?
Yes, all my patterns are tech edited.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
This is most difficult moment in my self-career.  As a mom of two little girls (two and four years old) I need to give a lot of my attention and time to my kids and family. So I have to be very organized. Most of my designer work is done while they are sleeping. Luckily they love playing together so sometimes I can answer urgent emails while they are busy with their toys and each other. Part of my work, such as taking photos can be done while we are walking around and having fun as a family. My girls are my best models and my husband is a great photographer for my designs so we can do some unplanned photo shooting.

How do you deal with criticism?
I'm open to constructive criticism and appreciate the knitter’s feedback if it is expressed in a polite manner. I ignore rude people and do not go down to their level of communication.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I published my first paid pattern in September 2013. Now I have over 100 designs. I started writing my patterns as a hobby before I left my job. It was a good idea to have extra money to buy the yarn and other craft suppliers. It took me about four years to allow myself to be self-employed knitwear designer while enjoying looking after my kids and family. I can’t say that I’ve already reached the desired level of income from my knitting but it is a tangible part of our family income. Especially because as “work from home mama” I can save on childcare costs too.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Follow your dream and start taking some steps in this direction. You would never know the result if you wouldn’t try. But be ready to work hard and learn a lot of new subjects and aspects of  a self-career. A knitting career is not just the fun of knitting and creating. It also involves self-promotion, communication with different people, customer support, luck of free time, accounting and etc.
Back in 2017 I wrote a post in my blog “Behind the scene: the cost of knitting or crochet pattern” where I explained my process. It can help new crafters to understand some aspects of this job, give some idea where to start and what to expect. The link to the blog post:

What’s next for you?
There are a lot of plans and projects ahead. First of all, I need to finish writing patterns for some of my finished projects. I’ve got about six completed projects so far, a couple on my needles and so many in my draft book. I plan to learn couple of new techniques for my next projects, start my Ravelry and FB groups. I also have life changing event coming soon which, I’m sure, will make a big impact not just in my private life but in my knitting career too. But I’ll keep it in secret for a while.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Inspired Shawls by Laura Zukaite

I interviewed Laura back in May of 2010, you can read that interview here.

I also reviewed her previous book Luxe Knits here.

Laura's publisher just sent me a copy of her newest book Inspired Shawls to review as well. 

It's got patterns for 15 shawls, all of which were inspired by the handicraft traditions she observed during a trip to South American. All the shawls are beautifully photographed and all include a schematic which is something many accessory books often skip. I'm often annoyed by this especially if the photos and description are unclear as to the shape and construction method. The designs employ a wide variety of hand-dyed yarns, including Madelinetosh, Artyarns, Shalimar Yarns, Amano, Miss Babs, Malabrigo, Be Sweet, Hedgehog Fibers, Sweet Georgia Yarns, and The Plucky Knitter. There are a variety of shapes, triangles, half circles and a colourful ruana. The book has a lot of both texture and colourwork used in various ways. Many of the stitch patterns are both written out and charted, the book includes charts for the colourwork patterns, and there are detailed instructions on special techniques which include embroidery, and tassels. One thing which isn't included is skill level ratings. I don't like them as I feel they create more problems than they address. I have written in detail on this topic here if you would like to know more about this topic.

Oddly the book has not been loaded into Ravelry which I mentioned to the publisher contact when I let them know the date this post would be going up.  

Friday, March 23, 2018

An Interview with ...NellKnits

Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world.

You can find
Nell here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere, for me, it usually pops up out of the blue, almost never when I’m searching for it. It’s come to me in dreams - I woke up once to an indecipherable sleep written note that might have been the most fabulous design - if I could ever remember what it meant.
What is your favorite knitting technique?

Cables are one of the most amazing and magical techniques to me. I’ve been devouring Norah Gaughan’s ‘Knitted Cable Source Book’ and Alice Starmore’s St. Brigid is something that I’ve admired forever. I especially love teaching cable work, students are so (rightly) thrilled with what they’ve learned to do.

Do you look at other designers work
or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?

Of course! Nearly every facet of my life is touched by yarn and knitting. I work at my LYS, I teach knitting, many of my friends are knitters, also I go to fiber festivals and follow so many knitters on Instagram.

I study other designers techniques, and read their blogs and books and am awed and inspired by so many great ideas.

How many sample/test knitters do you have to work for you or do you do it all yourself?

I do knit one of everything that I design myself, at least once. I love and appreciate test knitters, although I don’t use a specific number.


Do you have a mentor?

Not one mentor in particular, but I admire and have learned from so many people, luminaries, and students alike. That said, I’ve had a few serious fangirl moments…


Do you have a business model that you’ve emulated?

I’m constantly working on this, the right way to do things. The goal of keeping my blog and newsletters going has been a challenge. I’m a very regular Instagrammer, I love sharing what I’m doing, seeing and discovering.
Do you use a tech editor?

I have and am currently looking for a new one.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?

Knitting is a huge part of who I am and will always be. I do have several part-time jobs, not all knitting related, and it often feels as if I’m all over the place. It’s hard to step into another facet when I’m in the design or writing groove. That said, it is a wonderful life.

How do you deal with criticism?

I deal with criticism way better than I deal with snark. I have come to peace with the fact that you cannot write a pattern or create a design that works for every single knitter. And I do make mistakes. I listen, and consider (critical) viewpoints and try not to cry too much.
How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?

I haven’t gotten there yet, and although it would be quite nice to have that security, I do this work because I love it and can’t imagine not!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career?

Do it. Although the market may seem glutted with amazing designers, there is an audience for your product, technique, and voice.

What’s next for you?

My goal is to teach and travel more.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Reboot - Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Yarn Ply - Part 4: Multistranded Cable and Crepe Yarns

This series on Yarn Ply from 2016 continues to get a lot of traffic, mainly through google search. I'm going to rerun it over the next month for those of you who are new to my blog. Also a reminder, there is a topic index at the top of the page if you are looking for older posts. 

We've hit the point where my knowledge as a knitter isn't enough to fully explain some concepts.

These definitions come from Knitty, you can read the full article here.  

First from Knitty's the definitions of Cable and Crepe:

"A basic crepe yarn is a 3-ply yarn made with a 2-ply and a singles. The 2-ply is spun Z in the singles and over plied S. The single is spun S with enough twist to make a regular balanced ply and plied Z with the original 2-ply. The yarn looks bubbly when it’s finished. The single traps the 2-ply which pushes out between the singles as it untwists and expands on its second ply.

A basic cable yarn is two 2-ply yarns spun Z in the singles and over-plied S in the first ply then plied together Z to finish. The yarn looks pebbly, like a bridge cable. On the second ply, the two 2-ply yarns lock together and bloom."

Once I started researching the meaning I got quite excited. I as a knitter had always wondered about those multi-strand yarns where the knit stitch in stocking stitch has obvious differences between the right and left leg. The left legs are more vertically aligned in a column and the right legs form a steep angle.

So what does this mean to us knitters? These are multi-stranded yarns which are then plied together again. The yarns are balanced and very strong. These yarns stand up to abrasion which occurs during wear. The yarn is less likely to pill. The fabric created is smooth with great stitch definition. The strand of yarn is very round when viewed in cross section. Many of these yarns are commercially made, often coming from Italian mills and they are frequently created from Merino wool. The Zara yarn pictured above is a well known example. The yarn is easy to knit with as it's less likely to split and it slides smoothly off of your needles. In the case of Zara it's a Superwash yarn which impacts it's nature as well.

And back to the reason for that right/left leg difference. It's due to the nature of the spinning method and the fibre. The fibres are elastic and crimped, while the plying is done with the strands held in a steep angle away from one another rather than in a more parallel manner.



Friday, March 16, 2018

An Interview with...Kristin Jones

Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world.

You can find
Kristin here and here on Ravelry. Here are her other social media links:

Where do you find inspiration?
I draw inspiration from the world around me, everything from the traditional fashion magazines and runway looks to floor tiles and park benches.
What is your favourite knitting technique?
I enjoy knitting lace or slipped stitches. Not only do I enjoy keeping something interesting on my needles, but I love the finished results. Texture is definitely a favorite of mine!
Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
While I do have my favorite designers and it's impossible to avoid other knit creations entirely, I do try to stay away from knit designers because I don't want to inadvertently copy someone else's designs.
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I love drawing from my followers, especially on Instagram, for test knitters. I don't have anyone that I regularly employ, but I try to have at least 3 test knitters for each project. I haven't used any sample knitters, but that will probably change this year.
Did you do a formal business plan?
I don't have a formal business plan because I want my business to be able to grow and change as I do, but I do have a general plan that's open. This year I'm following the 12 Week Year so my business plan is even shorter than normal!
Do you have a mentor?
I don't have a formal mentor, but I do have other designers and knitters that I admire and look to for guidance.
Do you use a tech editor?
I  do use a tech editor. While I don't mind the math and grading for 7 sizes, it can be really easy to overlook something with all those numbers!
How do you maintain your life/work balance?
In the mornings I meditate and journal with my coffee. It keeps me sane, helps me focus, and allows me not to get overwhelmed by my thoughts or even general anxiety with trying to do everything at once. I also plan things out in advance, and I break tasks down into tiny steps so that I can easily accomplish everything. Lastly, I keep track of everything that's been done so I can celebrate it. It's really easy to get lost in the moment of trying to do everything without realizing how much I've done in order to get to that point.
How do you deal with criticism?
Besides denial and general dismay? ;) I have to be in the right space to handle criticism so I make sure I'm in a good mood first. Then I carefully break it down. Sometimes the criticism is valid, and I incorporate changes into my work. Sometimes it's not valid and is merely a differing of opinion, in which case I dismiss it. 
How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
To be able to support yourself, you need consistent products and fans to purchase the products. I wasn't producing patterns regularly until perhaps a year and a half ago, and so while I had fans and income prior to that, I wasn't able to live off of it because I wasn't treating it as a business, but rather a hobby that occasionally made money.
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
If you want to have a successful career in knitting, treat it like a career. Whether you want to partner with companies or do everything solo, you have to know what your options are and put time and energy into it. Enjoying knitting and enjoying pattern writing aren't enough; it is a business.
What’s next for you?
We're only in March, and this year is shaping up to be wonderful! Currently I'm working on quite a few patterns, some for self-publication, others for magazines, and still more for a yarn store in New Zealand. I'm co-hosting a weekly podcast on business in the fashion, accessory, and beauty industries at FAB Entrepreneurs, and I'm in talks for developing a new line of knitwear.