Blog, Fiber Musings / February 28, 2017

The Value of Vertical

Do you ever wonder how a design comes to be? about the various design elements?

The design process can be a bit mysterious. I’ve heard that some designers create everything in a sketch before it becomes a pattern (if I could draw worth a darn I might do that, too, but no). Mine starts with a hint of an idea and a lot of math – a spreadsheet, to be more specific. My designs are numbers long before they are anything else. Then I start to work with the yarn and, along the way, the sweater lets me know what it wants to be. The creative aspects happen along the way. Crazy, right?

This one was no exception. All I knew was that I wanted it to be this shade of blue (from Bumblebirch yarn) and be inspired by the shoreline. The rest was math and magic.

Ten seconds after a sweater comes off the blocking mat, I go immediately to the next step: how am I going to wear this?


I used to think wearing a monotone outfit was a faux pas. Granted, most clothing can use a little pop of something to spice it up – and color is one of the best ways to do it. When I started working on Washed Ashore, I thought a lot about how I’d wear it: with light colored capris, mostly. I didn’t envision it with jeans, perhaps because I didn’t think I should wear a denim colored sweater with denim pants.

What I neglected to think about, though, was the value of the second layer underneath Washed Ashore – the tank top. You can see it better in the next photo, but that little sliver of white really makes a difference. Depending on whether I draw the tank top to it’s full length or not, I can create a whole ridge of white along the bottom… but strong horizontal visuals aren’t really what I’m going for. (Right?)

It’s all about the vertical, which was a significant motivating factor for this design. I asked myself, how do I create a lengthening, slimming vertical panel without doing the same old-same old with the center insert on sweaters like Nekia, for example?

Don’t get me wrong – I love Nekia. The vertical panel creates just enough interest without being too busy. It accomplishes the goal of providing a lengthening, slimming visual. But how many vertical insert panels can you design in a sweater before they all start to look the same? That was my challenge to myself: figure out a new way to do it.

I think I nailed it.

Washed Ashore accomplishes more than one thing: the nice fit in the upper body makes it just that much more flattering, and the way the panel overlays and splits, you get not only a vertical/A-line shape, but you end up with asymmetry at the bottom – an intentional style choice that enhances the flattering, lengthening shape.

You could make it longer or shorter, play with the sleeve length, tack down more of the waves (or none of them) – there are a lot of ways to modify and make it perfect for you.

As a sweater knitter, I encourage you to think about how you’ll wear the piece before you start knitting. This could dramatically alter the color choice, body length, and sleeve length. Thinking of the future sweater as a wardrobe piece, not just a project, means you’re more likely to wear it (and love it) when you’re finished.

And that’s what it’s all about.

Marie Greene