Sun 22 Feb 2015
I think I mentioned before that this picture got me thinking about one-piece kimono designs.
Except for a little bit of bunching at the underarm and a tiny bit of binding over the shoulder, a few pins turned a wide scarf into a very comfortable, flattering sweater.
The idea nestled quietly in the back of my brain for a few days, and then began to toss and turn. What if the front panel had a split in it so that the wide part went under the arm and the narrow part went over the shoulder? How would that geometry work?
That turned out to be a harder question than I at first suspected. I started out with some drawings of what I thought the shape would look like, but quickly realized that this was a slightly bigger leap than my brain could make alone.
So I got out some scissors and started playing with paper.
I cut out a shape something like the rectangle I’d imagined, and then began playing with the dimensions to see what it would take to make it fit a real body. I added some measurements that I thought would reflect the right dimensions.
…and quickly realized that I had not yet accounted for a neck.
Whoops! Changing the folding angle helped a little, but I wasn’t convinced that it would be enough.
Changing the fold location made the neckline a little more realistic. (This was a lesson I learned when making the Striped Shawl Sweater…increase/decrease placement makes all the difference in fit!) We’re also getting close to the kimono look here, which I like.
But notice those shoulders? That’s still a pretty steep angle, unlike the body of anyone I know. Clearly, that was going to take a little more work. After a few more adjustments to the shaping, I ended up with something a little closer to what I was looking for (early models to the left, newer models to the right. Note that the shape looks less and less like a rectangle, and more like an “M” as you go).
But still, those shoulders are pretty steep. How much are they off by? I got out the dressform and a roll of wide paper, and started pinning things in place to see how it would all work out. (The beauty of paper here is twofold: it’s cheaper than fabric, and it has absolutely no give…it won’t hide any problems with the shaping! Also, you can write notes all over it explaining what you think you should be doing instead.)
Not too bad, actually, but there was still a lot of extra fabric at the neckline, and the hem clearly needed some more room. I lopped off a good 5 inches of fabric at the neck, and added some deep darts at the shoulder to increase the ease. Armed with these measurements, I adjusted my original sketch.
This was getting closer to right. The question of how to actually achieve this shape with knitting still remained, though. If you follow the shape through considering the knitting direction, there are several places where things don’t quite seem to work. So I cast on for a mini-sweater to figure out what it would take to knit this thing – kind of an oversized swatch. I ended up reworking the shoulder section several times (I’m still not sure I’m satisfied, but it’s getting there), and today, I steam-blocked this (one half of my “M”):
That’s one half of the sweater, with the hem at the bottom and the center back section still on the needles. All folded up, you can see that it’s starting to look like half a sweater, too.
The shoulder is looking just about right here, though I still need to fuss a bit to get the decrease line to lay flat. There are also some choices to be made about how much underarm panel should be allotted, and exactly how wide the back panels should be. I haven’t decided if I like the deep v-neck or whether I’d go back to the wide-band kimono look, but now that I have a working knitted model all of those changes will be easier to make.
I’m not sure that this will ever be anything more than an interesting swatch, but it has been fun to figure out how to fold an almost-rectangle into a sweater body all in one piece (the sleeves would have to be picked up and knitted on, like in a traditional raglan design). If I do scale up the design, there will be lots more swatching to make sure that those angles stay consistent and that the measurements will work for an adult body. Still, in between projects, it’s been a fun idea to toy with, and that’s what process knitting is all about!