I’ve done it! After 7 years of designing knit accessories, I’ve upped my game and released my first garment pattern! (Find Tionne on ravelry here, or on my website here.) It’s a stripy asymmetrical pullover sweater, which can be worn in any direction!
Aaand, it’s for any weight yarn, custom sized to your body, by measuring your gauge, taking measurements of yourself, and filling out a worksheet to find all your custom pattern numbers. (If this part scares you – it’s 2 pages of easy-to-calculate math, all adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing; if you have a calculator app, and you go through it slowly and carefully, you’ll be fine! It’s super important to get accurate numbers, so you can’t just wing it… but you can do it, I believe in you!)
Tionne features a stretchy, garter stitch, solid color cowl neck on one side, which can be flipped around to be the waist instead, making the striped, wider side into a huge cowl neck, with a fitted waist:
The striped side has an eyelet pattern, so that you can use the eyelet holes to scrunch it up with ribbon, or even sew some buttons on and use the eyelets as buttonholes, so the stripy neck can be styled in different ways. (Or it can simply fold down around the shoulders, like in the top photo.)
The sample is in Hikoo Kenzie worsted weight yarn (on the lighter side of worsted) – I am completely IN LOVE with this yarn!! It’s a blend of New Zealand Merino, nylon, angora, alpaca, and silk noils. It is soft but durable, tweedy, with a subtle halo and I just want a pile of it in every color to use it to knit all the things! (Seriously. Love it.)
Here’s what this wacky sweater looks like flat:
Oh and there’s a short sleeved variation included as well! My first prototype was a short sleeved one; some changes were made to the pattern after I made this one, but you get the idea. It’s in bulky yarn (knit loosely), which I don’t really recommend for a short sleeved one – it works, but it’s a bit cumbersome for something with no arm coverage.
This is a variety of bulky yarns, for some stash-busting action. The awesome pink and orange neons are Space Cadet Elara, as is the grey in the middle – the leftovers from my giant Mikkey cowl. The beige is Berroco Blackstone Tweed Chunky, the dark blue is a random handspun I had in my stash, the neon green is leftovers of the handspun used to make this Unbroken hat, and the grey at the bottom is some leftover Austermann Natura from my Maurice cowl.
And now, some details about construction…
The sweater is worked partly flat, partly in the round, using short rows combined with increases & decreases, provisional cast-ons, and grafting, to make for a totally modular construction, with no picked up stitches or sewn seams. The six sections are all connected as you knit, with 4 seams to graft with kitchener stitch at the end (only 2 for the short sleeved variation), making it completely seamless.
Section 1 – sideways garter stitch – is connected seamlessly to section 2 using my sideways edge cast-on technique (simple short rows + increases as you knit, to avoid picked up stitches and make a smooth join):
Here’s a detail shot of where sections 3, 4, and 5 all come together, with a grafted bit there in the middle:
The sleeves are knit in opposite directions, but the cuffs are identical, so they will fit comfortably, with exactly the same number of garter stitch rows around. The first sleeve is worked flat, side to side (starting with Judy’s magic cast-on to work outwards in both directions, ending by grafting it together), and the second sleeve is worked in the round down to the cuff, then uses what I call a sideways-edge bind-off technique to work the cuff sideways around (grafting it closed). The second cuff is worked with a stockinette stripe in the middle, to match that detail on the first cuff:
There is a very simple slip-stitch faux-seam where the colors switch, to deal with stripe jogging, for the parts worked in the round:
The pattern includes a detailed schematic, a diagram showing how to measure yourself, 16 process photos showing how the piece is constructed (on their own pages, so you don’t need to print them if you don’t want to), photo tutorials for the crochet provisional cast-on and Judy’s magic cast-on, and step-by-step instructions for grafting the different sections (some in stockinette, some in garter).
Want to know the backstory of my design process? I had no plans to design a sweater anytime soon, at the beginning of this year, but then in March I took a trip to my local Japanese bookstore. One book caught my attention instantly, because of the piece on the back cover (below, left), and when I started flipping through it, there were several more eye-catching items that looks fascinating to me…
And then I reached this page, below. I think I audibly gasped when I saw that page. That sweater shape, I became obsessed immediately. I bought the book, to take the inspiration home with me, and I couldn’t stop thinking about that sweater shape. I loved the cabled design in the book, but the basic shape of it, that’s what I couldn’t stop thinking about…
I spent days thinking about how it was made with all straight lines, no shaping really, and because of this, even though I had zero experience with garment design, and I had only even ever knit ONE real sweater before, I thought I could maybe, possibly, use that shape concept as a jumping off point to come up with a sweater design of my own. With the parts coming out in different directions like that, the shape seemed a perfect fit for the techniques I’ve developed over the years, which modularly connect knitted sections worked in different directions.
And the other aspect that made me obsessed with the idea was how the shape looked like it could be flipped upside down – the sweater in the book wasn’t meant to be, but if the two sides were both wide enough to fit around the waist, then it seemed like it could work that way! And if the two wide sides were different, like one worked sideways, and the other worked around, one with negative ease, and the other without, different lengths, etc, then you’d end up with two completely different sweater styles when wearing it the two different ways.
So days were spent obsessively thinking about this, working it out in my head, how the parts would all work, and I had to try it out somehow! So I dug through my craft stash and found parts of old reclaimed sweaters, cut them to size, and sewed them together into the shape I had in my head. It was a seriously wonky piece, but I wanted to see if it would even work at all, and also see how the proportions should be and stuff. And it worked!
So I used what I learned from that, and wrote it all out into a knitting pattern, while it was fresh in my head. While trying on the proto-prototype and examining it, I realized that if the sleeve parts were left off, it could still work. So I decided to use some bulky yarn and big needles, and try out the pattern with a short sleeved variation, quickly – I needed to test it out while it was fresh, and my obsession hadn’t worn off. I dug through my stash and grabbed all the bulky yarns that would work together, using neutrals for the main colors and brights for the contrasting. And I knit my prototype! And it worked! The pattern needed some adjusting here and there, but overall, it worked.
Okay so that point is when I knew I had taken this obsessive inspiration to the point where it needed to go before I could let myself get back to my regularly scheduled work – for about a week (maybe 2?), I’d basically let myself put everything else on hold while I followed that process through to having a complete pattern draft. Now that the pattern was designed, I could plan ahead, and let it sit for awhile; I could come back to the pattern draft later and know what I was talking about. (If you’re like me, you might sometimes jot down or sketch ideas that strike in a moment of excited inspiration, then go back to them several months later and have NO idea what you were talking about. So, if I’m really into an idea, I make sure I write down coherent thoughts/plans/diagrams/etc so I can follow them later. Writing out the entire pattern is ideal for my future self!)
So, planning ahead. I thought hard about how I wanted my official sample to be – I decided on worsted weight, and after swatching a square with some that I had on hand, I landed on the Kenzie. I ended up spending an entire month deciding on colors (such a hard decision!) – I even photoshopped a bunch of my top color combos into a sketch of the design (or what I sort of thought it would look like, since I hadn’t actually knit it yet), to help me decide. Final color choices ended up being Malbec and Boysenberry (that’s top center in the grid above). I got the bag of yarn around mid-May; by this time of the year, I was unable to even think about the sweater design, while my focus was on Adventure Knitting and other design responsibilities, so the yarn sat there for quite awhile…
Until I was finally able to cast on in early September! I revived the pattern, refreshed my memory on the whole concept, and started knitting! I made this sweater as quickly as I possibly could (since I’d originally wanted to release the pattern in early fall, but it was already too late for that, sadly), getting the pattern all perfected as I knit it, finishing it by the end of the month.
And it was awesome! And I was so happy! So then I had it test knit throughout October, by some fabulous test knitters – see their projects on ravelry! – and that was my first sweater design process! Bam!
Oh so then throughout the year, since I had this plan to release my first garment pattern, I did lots of brainstorming about other future garment ideas… and I came up with two more ideas that I’m super excited about! So, Tionne is the first pattern my in leethal Full Body Trio (on my site here). Lopes and Chilli will come next year; this will be a spread out trio, many months between each pattern release.
The future two designs will both be versatile, wearable in different ways, like Tionne is. If all goes according to plan, neither will be a pullover sweater like Tionne, they will both be other kinds of garments. I’m hoping that if you like Tionne, and you like my general design style, you can be confident that you’ll like at least one of the future patterns, hopefully both!!
Something else I love about this pattern: it’s almost entirely garter stitch worked flat and stockinette worked around, so very little purling – only 2 of the 6 sections involve purling, the other 4 are entirely knit. And there is no shaping, it’s all just straight lines. So, even though there are weird construction techniques used, all the long rows of plain knitting make this an excellent multi-task knit! Once you get each section set up and know what you’re doing across/around the rows, it’s easy to knit mindlessly while focusing your attention elsewhere. I knit a chunk of the middle section in a movie theater, while watching Snowpiercer! (I’d never knit in a theater before, it was VERY exciting. I think I might have even mentioned that already on the blog, but it was so exciting I had to tell you again, hah!)
I really hope a bunch of you get inspired to make a Tionne in really different kinds of yarns. The Kenzie works excellently, so I highly recommend it if you want a sweater that looks like mine… but if you have a different kind of vision, go for it! I think it could look rad in a lightweight yarn worked super loosely, for a transparent kind of look – like the looks of this sweater, or this sweater, or this sweater. If you do end up making any kind of Tionne, be sure to post your project on ravelry so we can all see it!
That’s Tionne! It’s weird, but I love weird! I hope you do too!