My newest knitted design: Turtlenect Batwing
My favorite place for inspiration is my own closet. So I used my most beloved sweater as the model for my latest knitted sweater design. I figure that if it's a style that has a proven success record in my own wardrobe, chances are that other women will like it too. Here's the story of what inspired my latest knitting design and what I was doing while I designed it.
For years, my cheap-acrylic-yarn-Forever-21 sweater has been my absolute favorite. I actually bought it on a whim - I think it might have been on sale. At the time I bought it, I hadn't yet tried one of the voluminous sweater fits, and thought it would be fun to experiment.
Hanging with family in my favorite sweater.
I found that the sweater was fun to wear with just about everything as a layering piece - especially with more fitted tights or a slim maxi-skirt. There were only two things I really didn't like about it: 1) the gross yarn it was made of and 2) the cropped length. The cropped length worked with some outfits I had, but a lot of time I wanted the warm layer and a little extra coverage down below. I didn't feel like I always had a good first-layer garment to provide the length I wanted below so that I could wear the sweater with leggings or a pair of pants with a clashing waistline.
So when I designed the sweater for myself, I copied the shaping and the fit of the sweater, but I changed up a few things to address the short-comings of the original sweater I loved. First, I used Pearl, a warm wool yarn with a little bit of bling that is bulky so it will work up a voluminous sweater quickly. Next, I decided the sweater had to be relatively hassle-free to work up, so I designed it as a 1-piece, top-down garment that you can try on as you go. I added cabling details that I thought would make it an interesting hand-knit that was beautiful to wear, and I lengthened the body of the sweater so that it could be just a little more versatile than my already track-proven favorite.
I knit this whole sweater on my recent trip to India. I think that travel and knit/crochet are excellent companions once you learn a few travel tricks. For example, getting a data sim card for an internet dongle is a lengthy bureaucratic process in India requiring all sorts of paperwork, passport photographs, and multiple trips to the wireless provider. And you really do need a dongle if you are staying for any length of time and want reliable internet. I was able to cheerfully cope with the red tape because I had my Batwing project.
We traveled by all means imaginable for a month through the states of Tami Nadu and Kerala. When the scenery became monotonous AND there was enough room to move my needles on public transport, my trusty Batwing project made me feel that my time was not wasted, and I struck up countless conversations with locals who were curious about what I was doing. Women and children came up to me and wanted to touch my project, and on many rides I had people who just wanted to sit near me and watch. It is really remarkable how approachable you become by those of different cultures when you display a skill that they (or their mother or grandmother) may have, and how easy it is to forge bonds. We got "adopted" by many people along the way who shared their food with us and showed us the ropes, partly because they were drawn in by the curious sight of a foreign woman knitting on their bus or train.
A hat collection will be released in the near future with the Star Beanie that will look great with the Batwing. Watch for it in the coming weeks.