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Today we welcome Marnie MacLean to the blog to share some of her thoughts on creating Sunapee

It’s been quite a few years since I designed a garment instead of a shawl. I love designing garments and still wear many that I’ve published in the past, but shawls allow me to dream up large and complex stitch patterns that would be hard to work into a design that needed to fit a range of sizes.

A few months back, though, Kate asked if I could do two pieces for the edition and I suggested I do a warm-weather top. BC Garn Bio Balance is the type of yarn I love for garments. The cotton makes it comfortable to wear next to the skin while the wool gives it some resiliency, allowing for a more fitted piece than 100% cotton would allow.

I started by picking a stitch pattern and swatching as though I were going to knit a shawl. I played around with increasing every other row, and three times for every four rows and I took to my dress form to see if anything looked promising.

Playing with swatches on my dress form

This is the brainstorming stage where I don’t worry too much about the practicality of an idea, I just try to visualize how these swatches might become part of a garment design.

Once I had played around with the swatches, I moved to my computer. Designers Nexus offers a really great set of Fashion Sketch Templates that designers can use to turn their ideas into flat sketches. I find these helpful not only for ideas I’ve fully thought out but also as a reminder of other types of garment details I might want to consider. So taking my brainstorming a bit farther I tried to see how my dress form ideas might look in a completed garment.

Fashion sketches incorporating swatches

Now’s the point where I have to have a real talk with myself about whether or not any one idea is suitable for a pattern in an array of sizes. Is there a good solution for reproducing the effect I want? Will the smallest and largest sizes look visually consistent with the sample size? Can I write a pattern that doesn’t require a unique chart for every size? Will the design allow people to wear a supportive bra underneath?

In the end, none of these ideas felt like the one. I went back to my dress form and just started moving the swatches around when it hit me, the every-other-row increases form right triangles that would make attractive raglan seam lines. Additionally, the other swatch worked nicely as a flutter sleeve. The fact that I wouldn’t need a lot of extra seams or biasing fabric to incorporate the swatches into the final garment, sealed the deal for me.

 

The swatches assembled to create a raglan sleeve and neckline

From there, the design came together easily, and I think the final piece is really fun to wear, too. The neckline can be adjusted to be higher or lower, and the sleeves are entirely optional, making this a great project to customize for your own taste.

 

If you think this project is right for you, BC Garn Bio Balance comes in lots of great colors. I can’t wait to see how knitters make this piece their own.

You can find Marnie on Instagram, Facebook, and her website
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