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Random rant about knitting patterns

April 30, 2014

I have a rant and I don’t really have a forum in which to deliver it.  Facebook – most of my friends would say Heh?? because they don’t knit.  Ravelry – unless I ranted this rant in a designer forum (which I’m not in because I’m not a designer), nobody would pay any attention to it.  I put all my FOs on Ravelry now and really this blog has served me no purpose except as an archive of lots of good stuff people have posted over the past ten or twelve years.  But I have this rant.

We live in a golden age of knitting.  There are more wonderful yarns and patterns now than ever.  There are more designers of endless creativity now than ever.  When I started knitting as a kid in the 1960s, you had a few pattern leaflets by the yarn companies and you had whatever patterns came out in Woman’s Day and Family Circle (magazines my mother picked up at the store).  It seems that every few weeks some new book, magazine issue, or digital collection comes out and a flood of pretty designs appears on Ravelry.  However, I feel as though I find fewer and fewer designs I actually choose to knit.  This is not only an aesthetic decision.  My personal dislike of asymmetric designs is not what I’m on about here.

Maybe practicality doesn’t matter to a lot of knitters.  Maybe they are happy to fall in love with something beautiful, have a wonderful time knitting it, try it on for photos, then put it into the drawer or chest and somehow never find a time that’s right to wear it.  It matters to me, though, because I don’t want to create something beautiful, spend a lot of time working on it and watching it come together, and then never get to enjoy it.  So I have become a lot pickier about what I knit, and I find myself sighing over pretty pictures of things I know would be those items that sink to the bottom of the chest after they were photographed.

Things I won’t knit anymore because I can’t use them:

1) Short sleeved sweaters.  After being seduced by a handful of really pretty short-sleeved or sleeveless patterns over the years, knitting them, then never wearing them, I have realized that if it’s warm enough for me to wear something with short sleeves, it’s too warm to wear something knitted at any gauge heavier than fingering.  DK or worsted weight cotton is a recipe for SWEAT.  And all these short-sleeved sweaters in the spring and summer magazines, knitted in SPORT WEIGHT ALPACA??  Good grief.  I would be in such misery in short-sleeved alpaca – too cold in the spring and fall and too hot in the summer.   (I suppose if you live in California, or some desert location, where it’s never humid, all of this might not be an issue for you…)

2) Boatneck sweaters.  My reason for this is not just that I can’t get into the aesthetic of exposed bra straps, or that I can’t get away without them.  It’s similar to my issue with short sleeved sweaters.  If it’s cold enough that I want to wear a nice wool sweater, I don’t want a sweater that leaves my neck and most of my shoulders uncovered.  What good is a pretty boatneck sweater if I have to put a turtleneck under it?  (Don’t say knit a scarf and wear it – I try that, there is still a substantial breeze that comes in between the scarf and the sweater!)

3) Sweaters with lace panels on the back or down the sleeves or below the neckline area on the front.  If it’s cold enough that I want to wear a nice sweater, I don’t want a lot of ventilation all over the place.  I have a particularly hard time resisting these patterns, in particular, they are so pleasing – but I resist.  As much as I love my “Arches” sweater that I made a few years ago, I do feel a draft when I wear it, even with a turtleneck shell underneath.

4) Sweaters with bell sleeves and/or sleeves that come down to my knuckles.  I have a lovely cardigan with bell sleeves that I wear a lot, but basically only for driving back and forth to work.  Otherwise, I have to actually use my hands all day and thus these styles of sleeves are impractical for me.

So, dear designers overflowing with talent and creativity:  If once in awhile you could be sure to create something beautiful, that also suits the style to the yarn weight so that it works in some actual season, please do, because I’m planning to knit for many years yet, and I am not that great at rewriting patterns!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2014 11:50 pm

    I hear you. I like to knit things I’ll wear for decades. Some designers do quite well: but many seem to be into knitterly pyrotechnics.

  2. September 28, 2015 9:25 am

    As a designer, I love what you wrote. I (usually) start with a practical “problem” to solve, and so hopefully my pieces are useful, besides totally wearable. (Although, “knitterly pyrotechnics” are fun too.) Also, you can always customize: make sleeves YOUR length, whether long enough or short enough, give garments actual waist definition, etc. It’s the amazing power of hand-knitting to make a piece work perfectly for you. Anyway, I look forward to your joining my test-knit(s), and will *happily* share any tips I have on customizing. 🙂

  3. roberta mosenfelder permalink
    August 13, 2018 1:06 pm

    I vote for 3/4 sleeves, tired of fighting sleeves while doing stuff, washing dishes, kneading dough and so forth.

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