Wheatsheaf Poncho is out now, check out our Test Knitter’s projects
I was late released the Wheatsheaf Poncho Pattern but it was finally released the day before my birthday. I am so grateful, as always, to the amazing Test Knitters who ask questions, knit beautiful items and help to make the pattern the best it can be. It does make a real difference to the end result and I love, love, love to see their photos, close ups of buttons and their yarn choices. Karen used her handspun yarn in a jewel toned heathered pinks. It is stunning and I love the yarn she made just for this pattern. How totally cool is that?
This is the second birthday I’ve spent in full lockdown, which seems a bit weird, but I won’t be the only one. Last year, my son ordered us a pizza each and garlic bread. As we both had Covid at the time, neither of us tasted a thing. I’m happy to say that this year, we had a Chinese meal and it was delicious, no cooking or washing up for me! YAY.
I’m having a birthday sale that ends tonight, all my individual self-published patterns are 30% off with the code Birthday
The code will work in our Ravelry store and our Payhip store, but sadly not in the Lovecrafts store. If you need to wait until payday, you can get 20% off the Wheatsheaf Poncho with the code Wheatsheaf until Sunday night BST.
I’ll be publishing the Wheatsheaf Poncho Pattern very soon and our email subscribers will receive an exclusive discount code, just for them.
Here are some photos of my testers garments, Karen did some short rows on hers, but the others worked the pattern exactly as written.
I love this cool purple that Cathy chose, she’s a beautiful lady and this compliments her colouring so well. The buttons look glittery almost in this photo, but check the one below that for a close up. Cathy knitted the L Size.
Karen’s poncho is in another cool colour, this multi tonal pink handspun is to die for. Karen knitted the S/M size.
I’m always glad to see some different yarns used for testing and when Nita suggested James C Brett Rustic Aran Tweed in the colour way 30 Dat I was delighted. It’s a blend with 20% wool, blocks nicely, washes well and has amazing colours. Isn’t it stunning? It’s also an affordable option. I like this yarn because the colours, like Stylecraft, are consistent and dyelots rarely matter very much. Nita knitted an XL size.
I knitted my Wheatsheaf Poncho with some Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool in the Spruce colourway. It’s a heathered mix of greens both warm and cool. It’s machine wash, softens with each wash and is really affordable for those on a budget. I’m wearing the XL sized Poncho and it used around 520g of yarn, so 1 and a bit 400g balls.
Following on from an excellent blog post about Pattern Pricing by my friend Ruth Brasch, it got me thinking about pattern pricing and the way the industry is moving. I’ll add links for Ruth’s post and also a post she references which goes through survey results of how long it takes to carry out each part of the pattern development and it’s a scary number. (links to all sources below on this page).
Like Ruth, I’m against the pay what you can model. Why? Because it appears in many cases to be a stealth method to up the lowest price (which is higher than the norm) and then add more expensive options. I like that it gives people choice, but 𝗶𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂’𝗿𝗲 𝗴𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝗽𝘂𝘁 𝘂𝗽 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗽𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗲𝘀, 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗱𝗼 𝗶𝘁. I’ve put my prices up and I’m happy to have made that choice. My work has value, I have value and if you want the pattern, then buy it. If you don’t, that’s cool too. I’m not out to please everyone, it’s not possible.
I’m all for being flexible, but I did have someone give me a sob story about not being able to afford the pattern, gifted it to them and saw photos of them knitting it while on holiday in Barbados. I sat at home in Cumbria with no holiday. Did I get some exposure? I suppose I did, but not from anyone who buys patterns.
Looking at the figures in the article by Thread and Ladle, the minimum number of hours involved in creating a good quality knitting pattern for a sweater is 53.1 hrs, the maximum in her survey being 113.65 hrs. That’s NOT including yarn, the cost of Tech Editing, needles, notions, tools, website, email service, marketing the pattern, graphics, Ravelry fees, Paypal fees, models, schematics, time spent testing and answering testers questions.
To cover all that, and have some actual income for me, that means a minimum number of pattern sales of 350 to 760 per sweater pattern.
Sari Nordlund has an interesting chat about pattern pricing on her YouTube channel, what income she makes and what patterns are worth designing for her.
She’s very open and honest about it, so give it a look. Link below.
I appreciate money is tight for many people, but designers also need to make a living and cover their actual costs. There are lots of free patterns, sales and other promotions and we always discount a pattern on it’s launch with a bigger discount for email subscribers.
The amount of work is considerably more than most people think and to market your pattern effectively, you should spend double the time it took to create it. Adding more time to the calculations.
As someone who loves to knit garments, to wear and for pattern designing, it’s a sobering thought.
It’s not like I take the easy route out, I always go up to the larger plus sizes and add tips on how to upsize even more. It doubles the Tech Editing costs because there are more numbers, measurements and stitch counts to be checked. As a curvy woman, it’s important to me that I produce patterns that a woman of any size can wear, but it comes at a price.
Do I stick to accessories for a quicker win, or plod on with garments and hope that at some point, more of them will reach that magic number of sales?
Wheatsheaf Sweater – what did I learn and what do I love?
I finished the actual knitting of the Wheatsheaf Sweater on Saturday night while on a Zoom call with some friends from the After Party group on Ravelry. We always have a lot of laughs and enjoy chatting, but knitting or crochet happens at the same time. I was picking up the neckband of the Wheatsheaf Sweater and cast off/bound off my stitches not long before I left the chat to go to bed.
I prefer a fitted knit to a saggy, baggy knit that swamps me. The 20 year old me would be appalled, she liked to cover up her shape and hide her body.
I like that I have a waist, boobage and curvy hips. The belly, less so, but it’s the same belly that covered my son and kept him safe during my pregnancy, so I can forgive it anything.
I love the two cables that run up the front of the sweater and split at the V neckline to follow the V shape and create a beautiful design line. If you’d like to see more of the project, you can see my Ravelry project page here.
I learned a long time ago that I prefer to seam and knit flat. But I also know that many of you prefer seamless knits so there will be two versions of the pattern to suit both types of knitters. For this cable, I prefer bottom up as it’s easier to work the cable, so I will probably stick with that.
Wheatsheaf Sweater – let’s talk ease
I wanted 1-2 inches of negative ease at the bust, pre-blocking. After blocking, it’s a perfect fit. At the lower body, which is Aline in shape I wanted it to fit me without too much extra fabric, a neat but good fit. My preference is based on my own shape and knowing what suits me. I’m not tall, only 5ft 2in and I’m a curvy girl. Boxy knits or oversized items absolutely swamp me and all that extra fabric makes me look a lot bigger than I am. Not a good look for me.
For a modified drop shoulder sweater you might want 2-4 inches on the body, but the most important measurement is the shoulder width on the back. That measurement needs to fit you. With a modified drop, it’s easy to adapt, as you can work the lower body wider (Aline, straight or with waist shaping) and bind off more or less stitches to get the shoulder width you need.
Understanding your sleeve length also helps. The sleeve for a modified drop shoulder sweater is lengthened to fit the armhole gap. If you make your upper body narrower, add length at that part of the sleeve, if you make it wider, reduce the length of the sleeve top. There’s a little bit of easy maths involved, but you’ll love your sweater so much more if it actually fits YOU.
What would I do differently?
I’d have knitted the sleeves with a couple of inches of ease. They’re a good fit, no extra fabric and the cables look good down the centre of the sleeve. That said, an extra inch or two for comfort would be nice. Though with washing and wearing, I know this yarn will relax a bit. Next week it’ll be a looser fit on those sleeves. I’m also carrying a bit of lockdown fluff, which I’m planning to shift over the coming months which will make all the difference, no alterations required.
What is the Wheatsheaf Sweater a Modified Drop Shoulder?
It’s one of the best ways to go with the current trend for Drop Shoulders but have a garment that fits someone with narrow shoulders. Just because something is popular, fashionable or on trend, doesn’t mean it’s for me or you. Wear what suits you, the shapes that flatter your figure and leave the high fashion to others.
The shoulder seam ends at the main shoulder bone, at the top of your arm, not near your elbow. The line of the shoulder and armhole draws the eye up to your face, now down the body to the extra fabric or droop of standard drop shoulder sweaters.
If you have lovely broad shoulders, then a standard drop shoulder will look great on you, so please go for it. But, for those with a narrower upper body, they’re not usually the most flattering shape.
Drape, Fabric and Swatches
Other considerations include drape and how the fabric of the sweater behaves. Does it drape nicely or is it so firm that it could stand up without you wearing it? I’ll state the unpopular view that a swatch will tell you a great deal, I’ll also add that one of the best, absolute best swatches for a sweater is a sleeve. It’s large enough and heavy enough to show you have the yarnwill really behave on the rest of the garment, rather than a six inch square which only tells us how it behaves in a small piece of knitting or crochet.
You can work your sleeve swatch in the round or flat, whatever suits the pattern you’re making, but that one item will tell you so much and save you a lot of time.
For those working top down and in the round, a large swatch of any kind is your friend. I will admit that for top down sweaters, where I have used the yarn before, I have a rough idea of the needle size I will need to get gauge/tension. I’ll just cast on and crack on with the knitting or crochet. However, I measure A LOT, during that first part of the knitting. I need to know whether it’s going to be wide enough, do I need to add length, adjust my increases etc. So pay attention at this stage of your garment.
I cast on for a Wheatsheaf Sweater to go with the Wheatsheaf Poncho. It’s a V neck sweater and I’m knitting the Aline version, not least to match my own shape as I’m bottom heavy or pear shaped. I am using Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool in the Oatmeal colourway. I’ll be writing the pattern to work in the round (bottom up) and also a seamed version. I have talked before about how seams add strength and structure to a garment, they also stop it moving around the body when worn.
I also had to consider the cable pattern and what impact that would have on the fabric of the sweater. Because the cable pattern uses more stitches per 4 inches/10cm, I had to add extra stitches to maintain the correct width of each piece of the sweater. That was easy for the sleeves and back of the sweater as they only have one central cable panel. However, on the front which has two cable panels, it required thought to centre the cables, add some stitches between them to make a seam stitch either side of the V neck.
Shoulders and Fit
I do like the trend for drop shoulder sweaters, but with slimmer shoulders and a larger lower body, it’s not a good look for my body shape. I decided to go with the Modified Drop Shoulder, I’ll add a diagram below this section so you can see what that means.
Drop Shoulders typically have the seam part way down the arm, which can be unflattering for those with slim or narrow shoulders as the jumper looks like it’s falling off the body and you end up with a large amount of fabric under the arms.
A modified drop shoulder, in this case, has the seam moved in to sit on my shoulder line, the sleeves are extended to match the difference between the underarm position and the new shoulder/armhole line. The solid line at the top of the sleeve shows the extra length added to the sleeve to ‘fill’ the armhole area but keep the shoulder seam where I want it to be.
Wheatsheaf Sweater Sleeves
The photo below shows both sleeves, on in progress, the other completed and blocked, they are worked flat for my prototype garment, but the pattern will be written to include instructions for working in the round too!
I’ll be starting the test knit for the sweater pattern on the 20th February, if you’re interested, do sign up in the test volunteer thread to receive an earburn/message when the test starts, here. Or, sign up for our newsletter here.
Suitable yarns for the Wheatsheaf Sweater
You need an Aran weight or heavy worsted weight yarn. Cascade 220, Berroco Vintage or Vanna’s Choice would be suitable or any Aran weight yarn. I used Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool because it’s affordable and machine washable.