>Hitting a smaller target: Part 4

>Yarn is a gift from the gods.  Yarn is a pleasure that calls to us from yarn shop shelves, from the pages of catalogs and fiber web sites. I have previously written about a fiberazza’s relationship with yarn here.  Unlike other commodities that one can seek, purchase, collect and stash (like Hummels or vintage cars), yarn is not considered the end product of the consumer chain.  Nope.  We are expected to take our yarn and make something out of it.  We aren’t allowed to have yarn for its own sake.  Yarn must become something else in order to legitimize our desire for it.

So yarn is also a cosmic joke. No matter what plan or project we had in mind when we purchased or acquired the yarn (if indeed there was a plan) life will intervene. Times, tastes and situations change.  We change. I look back with dismay at some of the yarns I stashed a few years ago.  What was I thinking?

I have heard of crocheters who don’t stash.  They get yarn, just enough for a project, they make the project.  They go on to the next yarn purchase and project.  To me this sounds so sane and reasonable.  But I don’t actually  know anyone who works this way.  Really.  Among my friends and acquaintances this model of behavior is completely unrealistic.  I guess I have yarn-addicted friends.

As a crochet designer, I discovered that the alarming rate of yarn discontinuance made it impossible for me to keep yarns for design in stock.  Often a yarn company won’t be able to tell you if a particular yarn or shade of yarn will survive through the coming seasons.  One cannot design with unavailable materials.  So I only stash (for professional purposes) current, classic yarns that will live pretty much forever.

One of them is Tahki Cotton Classic.  It is a DK weight mercerized cotton that comes in, like, a hundred shades.  If one happens to fall off the color card, then there is usually a color choice close enough to substitute. Cotton Classic is the ultimate yarn for demonstration swatches.  The texture and sheen give the stitches great definition, even in photography, and the cabled Z-twist means that the strands will not come all untwisted and wonky with repeated crocheting.  In other words, the swatches look good and stay looking good…

Which is why I chose Cotton Classic for the demonstration for a KnittingDailyTV segment I did a couple of years ago, Episode 208 which aired early in 2009.  After the shoot, no longer caring that the materials remained perfectly blocked and camera-ready, I shoved them into my suitcase. They have been wadded up inside a shoebox in the back of my closet for two years.  I should have re-blocked these puppies before doing the photography today, but I couldn’t mess with it.  But they still look good, huh? The point here is that these swatches will help you understand how a seamless garment evolves, which is the last piece of the puzzle I need to show before getting to the real point of this series.

My seamless garments are made from the top down.  For a top, this means beginning with a neck foundation and creating raglan-type shoulder shaping as you work toward the bust.  The yoke (what I call the section from the neck to the underarm) is the most critical area.  The fit of the garment depends on configuring the yoke to give you a suitably proportioned neckline, shoulder slope, armhole depth and body width.  Honestly, if the yoke fits well then you can adjust the rest of the garment later.

It helps to think of a seamless yoke as a motif.  Ever make a traditional granny square?  In order to shape a square motif from the center outwards you have to jam more stitches into the four corners.  To keep the corners square there are increases at each corner in every round.

Granny Square

If you scoop out the center rounds and begin the square instead on a round of foundation stitches, you make a square with a neckline.

Square with hole
Square yoke

This seamless yoke is still square, with the shoulders sticking out straight like a drop-shoulder T.  Also, the armholes are the same width as the body.  If you think about it, that means for a 36″ bust circumference, the body width of this shape would be 18″, but the armholes would be 18″ as well.

So we tweak the numbers, elongate the neckline to bring the body into better proportion to the armholes.  We also adjust the frequency of the corner increases; more often at first, then less often, then perhaps not at all as the yoke reaches underarm depth.

Tweaked Square

This piece no longer lies flat because you have now created a shoulder slope.

Better fitting yoke

For different kinds of necklines besides round or boatneck, you’ll want to divide the yoke at the front and shape the edges.

Divided front
V-Neck yoke

When you move from traditional granny square stitches to more complex lace stitch patterns, then it gets harder to see the progression.  But the principle is still the same.

Enough to digest for now.  More in the next part.

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10 thoughts on “>Hitting a smaller target: Part 4

  1. >OOOOH!! awesome!! Doris thank you! thank you! thank you! for being a designer that understands that i need you to SHOW IT TO ME!! And thank you for giving us enough credit to know that if you explain the concept, we can follow and adapt (because we're thinking crafters, not robots). ps- I got Everday Crochet and your new Lace book for my birthday, and started diving in right away!!

  2. >I just finished making the lacy cardi-jacket and this was extremely helpful – I understood what I was doing and didn't have to rip back a single row (well, maybe one row, but that was not because one can forget a dc or two even when they know what they're doing). THANK YOU DORIS. You're the best.

  3. >Doris, thank you for this post – couldn't have been better timing! I was just starting my second Doris design – the Bell Sleeve Pullover and really intimidated and confused on the yoke, when I read this and voila! I'm now starting the second sleeve, made it through the yoke with minimal ripping. You're the greatest!I love your designs – you brought me back to crochet.

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