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Anatomy of a Hoodie

August 30, 2009

camp-hoodie-sketch-a

Hi Spud & Chloë Friends,

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times, I love the behind the scenes, the development, the struggles and the hits and misses of the design process. That final project that you see in the end often starts as a completely different story. Awhile ago I was asked to design a woman’s hoodie sweater for the premier patterns for the Spud & Chloë launch. I was thrilled that I received this opportunity because I love knitting adult sweaters but my focus has usually fallen toward baby/kid/toy knitting. This would be something new, fresh and fun for me to work on in the midst of writing a knitted toy book. 

I want to walk you through the journey of how the Camp Hoodie came to be. Instead of a sweater I had a sleeveless hoodie in my mind. I had been wearing a sleeveless hoodie with a zipper front all winter long and I had been longing to design one of my own to knit. I requested a change in the pattern idea to become a sleeveless hoodie sweater. When I got the okay to design a sleeveless hoodie I immediately started sketching. These sketches only take me minutes to draw up. They are simple and provide a sounding board for the people you are working with so they can see the direction you are headed. It is an important step.

The first sketch above is most like the hoodie I had been wearing all winter. It was rejected. I never mind or worry when this happens, I just wipe off my pencil tip and try again. It’s business.

camp-hoodie-sketch-b

The other element that was requested was that fair isle be worked into the design. Here is the second sketch I came up with. Now I was on the right path with the shape of the hoodie so that was a go. The circle fair isle pattern was not quite right for what they were looking for. I still like the circles and will definitely do something like this on some project in the future. 

Back to the drawing board for me on the color work, the shape will stay the same.

camp-hoodie-final-sketch

This final sketch was right on track. All was approved, the shape and the fair isle pattern. Now that I had a good concept down I had to think about colors. Time to make this thing come to life. The real fun for me begins here.

camp-hoodie-yarn

I selected the colors of Spud & Chloë Sweater in Firecracker, Grass, Ice Cream, Moonlight and Toast as the main color. The next step most knitters do is to make a swatch. I admit that I am not much of a swatcher and I probably never will be. Instead I set out on a slightly different path.

camp-hoodie-hat-full

In an evening I whipped up this baby hat as my swatch. It really is the perfect small try for this pattern. It is knit in the round just like the vest starts out for the body. I could try out the fair isle in the round in the baby hat just as I had intended the vest would use. I also wanted to see how a multi-colored pom-pom would look. I loved all of the components and so did the team at Blue Sky. 

camp-hoodie-hat-close

Now I was all set to fly. I had my yarn, my fair isle pattern, my sketch to work from and the sky was the limit. I even ended up with a pretty sweet looking baby hat that I later gave as a gift to an expectant mother I knew. It was all perfect. I worked long and hard on knitting the sample and writing the pattern for the Camp Hoodie and I had a ball doing it.

camp-hoodie-vertical-full

I want to point out a few features of this garment. First off, you cannot find an easier and more satisfying fair isle pattern for any level of knitter. You are using a variety of colors and basically you are making a checkerboard pattern which is basic and simple. If you are a beginner and you are dying to try a little color work, here you go! This will get you started working with two colors at a time and in a simple straight forward pattern. I held one strand in my left hand and the other color strand in my right hand, throwing and picking along the rounds. It went very fast. If you are experienced as a knitter, you can do this pattern in your sleep. Plus it gives a beautiful effect in the end. Everyone needs a no-brainer sometimes.

The color work accentuates the slight shaping at the waist. This brings the eye in and makes for a flattering and fitted silhouette.

camp-hoodie-collar-close

I was determined to add an element of surprise around the hood and collar by turning under a shock of Firecracker. This type of detail and finishing makes or breaks any design for me. A little extra detail effort takes any design to a whole new level. When I see the band of red peeking out of the collar and hood it drives me crazy with happiness. It’s the little things that count in design. I love it and it isn’t difficult to do.

camp-hoodie-collar-close-up

The cord is strung right through the casing of the hood so gathering the hood up a bit while you are wearing it on your head is an option. When I am sitting at the cool fall soccer games or hiking through the woods the extra warmth of a closer fitting hood really helps at times for warmth and for keeping the hood on your head. I wanted to make a garment that people could really live in and use.

camp-hoodie-embroidery

The embroidery is sweet and simple. A simple X is stitched on the main color squares and then an extra stitch is drawn through at the center of the X’s to hold the stitches in place. You can use a long length of the yarn strung on a yarn needle to work across the rows. I love hand-stitched embroidery on knitting. It adds texture and interest in a unique way. Plus it is fun to do.

camp-hoodie-susan

Of course before I sent off the knitted sample of the Camp Hoodie to Minnesota I had to try it on and take a quick photo. Now I want to knit a Camp Hoodie for myself in the worst way. I am thinking about an all-over stripey version using lots of colors of the Sweater yarn. The sample was knit in a size small but for me to keep I would make a size medium. I like things a little looser and a little longer but that’s just me. (I’m getting old:) The small actually fit fine, too. The extra-small size would easily fit kids of many sizes, too. My 10-year-old daughter has requested her own Camp Hoodie but it will have to wait for a bit. There is too much to knit in a day, right?

Anyway, look here for details on the Camp Hoodie pattern. And look here for stockists who will happily help you purchase the pattern.

On to a few other quick things, thanks for all of the ideas for naming Ribbit’s friend. I love them all and will put my thinking cap on when I choose. It’s fun to have help naming a project. I will definitely do that again! That pattern is coming soon, I promise. 

I was just on a brief vacation where I started working on a pair of socks out of Fine that are super long, fun, colorful, gorgeous and slouchy. I am using one skein of each color. You are going to flip over these socks because that’s what I am doing. I could not stop knitting on my stripey slouch sock the entire vacation. I was spellbound. I have almost completed the first one and I will post a sneak peek when I am getting close to releasing the free pattern for you or even sooner. What a fun project.

I have quite a line up of free patterns coming down the line. It should be a good fall season on Spud says! Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a beat. I have been working on my son’s Track Jacket, too. I am making progress (I’m on the left front) and he is already thinking I won’t get it done. I have assured him that as soon as it is sweater weather around here he will have his completed sweater. I love that he is so anxious for his handknit sweater. That’s good.

One last note for this long post, if any of you shop owners are interested in being a featured shop on Spud says! please email me. I want to post about shops that are carrying the Spud & Chloë line. I want to see your displays, hear your thoughts and reviews and see what your local knitters are making with the S & C yarns and patterns. Don’t be shy! I’d love to post about you here.

Have a great start to your week! Each week poses a new opportunity for knitting, at least that’s how I see it.

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