Design Story: Ribbon Cape Shaping

Sunday, March 01, 2009
Last week I talked about how I got started with the vision for a cape made with K1CToo Tartelette. Between the yarn and the idea in my head for a rounded shawl shape, I developed an idea for what I wanted to do.

But then I had to actually do it. I'm one of those designers who has to play with the yarn in order to get a working design. I know some designers never actually knit the designs that they come up with (particularly once they have standard shapes that they like, and the "design" is really overlaying a stitch pattern or motif on top of the template), but I'm just not that kind of girl. I have to see how the yarn, stitch, and shape all work together.

Perhaps one day I'll be able to go on faith that the vision will work, but that day is a long way off.

On this project I have to admit I didn't bother swatching first. I was willing to have a fair amount of uncertainty in the width of the cape, especially since I wanted a fairly loose neck. I also decided that I didn't want particularly fancy stitches, as the point of the project was to come up with a standard shape for a capelet that I liked.

At first I decided I would use all garter stitch, since it would be very easy and go very quickly. I started out with a top/collar section of a few ridges of garter stitch, and then launched into the increase sections.

Intuitively I knew that the increases would have to be spread out in wedges around the cape - both because that's the aesthetic I wanted for later capes and because that would also spread out the "points" that result from repeated increases. The whole reason for this cape is to avoid attracting attention to the behind, after all.

The first iteration, then, was all garter, with three wedges between interstitial strips. I like the M1 increase, so was using this. I increased 6 stitches every other row. However, this had some problems: garter stitch is "short" (roughly equal rows to stitches for 4" gauge), and so the increases were happening at a weird rate, and the M1 stitch also tends to pull up and be tight, so that was also causing the capelet to be too short.

Second iteration, then, was to change the wedge sections to stockinette stitch, with garter stitch strips in between. I also decided to do a yarn over at the beginning and end of each wedge. It would be easier and pretty. The problem with this iteration was that it didn't have enough wedges - so I ended up with a capelet that wasn't increasing fast enough to fit comfortably over the shoulders. It wasn't forming enough of a circle.

After several tries at adjusting the number of wedges (3, 5, 6) and frequency of increases (every three rows, every other row, every row), I finally came up with a shape that I like. It has some extra detailing at the top and bottom of the wedges, and increases for part of the time then falls straight to the hem. I'm also pleased with the lightweight feel of the yarn.

With my sample knit and the pattern written out, the next step was to get tester(s) and see where my instructions were wrong and/or confusing. That'll be described in my next post!

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All content in this blog, including patterns and photos, is the intellectual property of Katherine Vaughan. All rights under US Copyright Law are reserved. Teachers, please direct your students to download/print out their own copies of patterns used in class. You are, of course, welcome to use items knit from any pattern for charity or sale, with the statement "design by Katherine Vaughan" appreciated.