Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Published patterns using Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves

Since the Summer, 2018 issue of Cast On magazine, I have been publishing patterns with Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves. Each of these patterns started as a plain sweater pattern generated by earlier versions of the website while it was still under development. Each plain pattern was then enhanced in some manner to produce the design for publication. Here are all of the results with thoughts about why it was advantageous to use Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves construction.

Ultra Wide Mock Cable Pullover
Ultra Wide Mock Cable Pullover
Appearing in the Summer 2018 issue of Cast On, this was the first pattern I published using Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves. This is a V-neck so the neckline does not get closed until farther down the sleeve openings than for a crew neck. The mock cable pattern however only does cross-overs on every other row until the neckline join, so they are easy to do while working back and forth. After that knitting in the round begins and the pattern immediately begins doing cross-overs on every row, which would be more difficult to get right if knitted flat.

Triple Mock Cable Sweater
Triple Mock Cable
The Triple Mock Cable sweater in the Fall 2018 issue has a complex Alpine style mock cable design that would be very difficult to work flat. However, it doesn't begin until after the neckline closes, so it is never worked back and forth. By using Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves design it is no problem to work it in the chest area between the neckline and the underarms, unlike every other method for set-in sleeves.

Ziggy-zaggy Child's Sweater
This pattern also appeared in the Fall 2018 issue to accompany the original article describing Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves. The only modification to the Crew Neck pattern produced on the website was the knit-purl pattern. Being a knit-purl pattern, of course it could be worked flat. But by working in the round, it is a bit easier than remembering to reverse the meanings of the symbols on every other row of the chart.

Book of Kells Sweater
This sweater, published in the Winter 2018-2019 issue of Cast On, used only Aran style cables which has not cross-overs on the WS when worked flat. So it could have been worked using a different method for set-in sleeves. However it was such a complex pattern, it was nice to be always working on the right side in the round as it developed down the chest.

Weaving Diamonds
Appearing in the Spring 2019 issue, this was the first sweater using the Saddle Shoulder version of the pattern available on Phrancko.com. Not only is the stranded color work easier to create because it is done in the round across the chest and back, this sweater also takes advantage of the fact that the technique works entirely in the round across the chest/back and around the sleeve caps at the same time. As a result, there is no effort required to get the pattern to match across the set-in sleeve "seam."  

Fibonacci Striped Sweater
Another Saddle Shoulder sweater, this appeared in the Summer 2019 issue. There was no complex cabling or stranded color work here. The design is as simple as following the pattern as it is produced on the website and changing yarns at the designated times. Easy peasy!

Gray-dient Sweater
This is the back view of the sweater in the Fall 2019 issue of Cast On. This Crew Neck version of the pattern also simply changes yarns to produce the transitions from one color to the next. The focus of the pattern was how to do the transition in two different ways, depending on whether or not the two colors blend readily. 

And that's not all, my knitting friends! I'm am currently working on another variation for publication in the Winter 2019-2020 issue and have also worked out a plan for another one after that. You can see all these and so much more at TKGA.org for just $25 a year.

It seems the possibilities are endless. I can't wait to see what some of you come up with in your designs. Future blog entries will discuss how to make modifications to the plain patterns generated on the website to create incredible designs. Of course, if you just want to follow the directions without enhancement, you will still get a beautiful sweater in the yarn and colorways that you choose.

Happy knitting!


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves

It is often said that set-in sleeves are the best fitting type of sleeve. That's probably why T-shirts and polo shirts are constructed with set-in sleeves. A set-in sleeve sweater will not have the extra fabric at the underarm like you get with drop shoulder and modified drop shoulder sleeves and also in yoked sweaters.

So let's take a look at how a sweater is is constructed with set-in sleeves. The traditional way is to knit four flat pieces of fabric, namely the front, the back, and two sleeves. These pieces are then seamed together.

And that is the first problem. You may or may not be very good at seaming straight edges up the sides of the body and up the length of the sleeve. But then you get to that place where you have to fit the sleeve into the hole left in the body. This is considered the most error-prone seam in knitting. Many times it takes more that one try to get it right. How frustrating it is to get the seam finished and then realize it is stretched in some areas and puckered in others! So you tediously take out the seam and try again.

But that's not the only problem with this construction. What if you have a pattern that is very difficult to work on the wrong side. Some people have a lot of trouble working Fair Isle in alternating right-side and wrong-side rows, for instance. Or perhaps you want to use a complex Alpine style pattern, which unlike most Aran patterns, works cross-overs on every row. It can be very confusing to get the cross-overs in the right direction when working on the wrong side. Or maybe you just hate to purl and now half the sweater in Stockinette Stitch has to be purled. For any of these reasons and perhaps a few more, knitters may want to do as much of the sweater as possible in the round.

It is possible to modify the traditional approach by working the lower body in the round (and maybe also the sleeve. But everything above the underarm still needs to be worked flat since the sleeve is knitted separately. And you still have that pesky shoulder seam to sew.

If you Google the phrase 'seamless set-in sleeves' you will find a number of books and articles. Most of them will suggest a top-down approach that works something like this. The top of the sweater is worked flat from the shoulder to the underarm, leaving shoulder holes as usual. Then the lower body is completed in the round. Finally you pick up stitches around the armhole in the body. But you can't just start knitting in the round because the sleeve needs to be given a shoulder. So you then have to work a number of short-rows, working flat, back and forth, until you finally get to the point that you can finish the sleeve in the round. Look how much of the sweater is still worked flat, even though now don't have any seams to work.

With that construction, it is still difficult to work complex patterns above the underarms where you have to alternate right side and wrong side rows. It can also be difficult to work the shoulder area if you want to have a complex pattern there as well.

So I have developed a method and enhanced it over the past year to construct a sweater with set-in sleeves that is seamless and is done almost entirely in the round. Of course nothing is really new in the thousand year old craft of knitting so I am sure this has been done somewhere or some time before. In fact, the general idea was suggested by Barbara Walker in her book Knitting from the Top.  But her suggestion did not produce a sleeve cap that is bell-shaped as would properly fit the shoulder. See the sleeve cap in the traditional sweater construction above? It is shaped like a bell. Not like a witch's hat with a flat brim, two flat sloped sides, and a flat top, as JC Briar pointed out in her class on set-in sleeves. 

What I developed was a computer algorithm to use properly spaced increases down the sides of the cap to generate a five-sectioned curve that closely resembles a bell-shape that perfectly fills the sleeve hole with the proper depth and recess to replicate the traditional set-in sleeve construction. An early version of this algorithm was published in an article in TKGA's Cast On magazine in the Fall, 2018, issue. By all means, you should subscribe to that magazine for only $25 per year and not only get every new issue that comes out, but also access online to their entire archive of issues, including the one with that article. 

Take a look at the construction of a sweater using Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves:

 As you see, the only part that is knitted flat is the very top on the sides of the neck. Once the neckline is joined, you work in the round down to the underarms by working across the front, around the left sleeve cap, across the back, and around the right sleeve cap. When you reach the underarm, you place the sleeve stitches onto a waste-yarn, cast on a few underarm stitches and complete the lower body in the round. Then you begin working with the stitches that have been waiting on the holder plus the cst on stitches and finish each sleeve down to the wrist...all in the round.

I have published a pattern using this technique in every issue of Cast On magazine since the Summer, 2018, issue. An article I wrote specifically describing an early version of the algorithm appeared in the Fall, 2018, issue. In the next blog entry, we will take a look at those patterns to see what you can do with Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves that is more difficult with other means of construction.

Once I realized the algorithm would work for almost every realistic sweater size and knitting gauge, the idea occurred to me to create Phrancko.com to create custom-fit sweater patterns using the technique. Even though the sweater pattern is for a plain sweater, you will see in the next entry how the pattern can be modified to create all kinds of sweaters that would be difficult in any other type of set-in sleeve construction.

Happy knitting!


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Why aren't the sizes Small, Medium, Large, Ex-Large, etc?

If you have created a pattern (or looked closely at the sample pattern in the Forum), you may have wondered why the Sizes are not the usual ones, like S, M, L, etc. like you are used to seeing in published patterns. But instead they are words like Snug, Tight, Standard, Roomy, etc. Here is the top of a Sample Pattern where you can see these Sizes:

That's because this is a custom-fit pattern for exactly one person whose measurements have been entered in the process of creating the pattern. Usually the chest circumference from S to M or M to L, etc. is 4 inches. Notice in this pattern, the chest circumference is 26 for Snug which is the measurement of the chest as it was entered with no ease. Tight is 27 with one inch of ease, Standard is two inches of ease, and Roomy is four inches of ease, all for the child whose chest is 26 inches. There is also Form-fitting (-1"), Undersized (-2"), and Oversized (+6").

And now for another aha moment consider this. Just because the ease is different for different fits, the person's neck size does not change. Nor does their shoulder width, their arm length, or their shoulder to waist measurement. Those all stay the same no matter how you want to vary the sweater's body and sleeve widths. So now take a closer look at the schematic for this sample sweater:

Notice that the measurements that don't change show as only one measurement on the schematic while the measurements that depend on the ease all show four sizes. This means the pattern is custom-sized for a single person in four different fits, each with its own chest circumference, arm circumference, armhole depth, and set-in sleeve recess.

Odds are you have never seen a pattern like this before! In fact if you wanted to use a standard pattern but increase the ease for a looser look, you had to go up a size, increasing the chest by four whole inches in most published patterns. Maybe that was just fine, but you also got a wider neck, longer sleeves, and a longer body. If you wanted it to fit properly you had to adjust the pattern yourself or just live with extra long sleeves, etc.

Now that you understand what this is about, I hope you are as excited as I am about having custom-fit patterns with various eases, all for the same person.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Yardage estimates!

The pattern now includes an estimate for how many skeins are required. However, there are lots of caveats so please read on...

First, please be aware these are only best guess estimates. I believe I have made them liberal estimates, so you may have a skein or two left over. But I thought that far preferable to finding out that you have run short and then can't find the same dye lot at your local yarn store. Please let me know if you ever have it turn out that the estimate was too short. I do not want that ever to happen to anyone. But also if you have more that one or two extra skeins at the end, let me know that too. (The best place to communicate with me is in the PhranckoForum.com, rather than in comments here. Thanks!)

If you do not provide the yards or meters in each skein of your chosen yarn when entering the yarn data from the band, then of course the number of skeins can't be estimated. So then the estimate shows in yards and meters.

Sometimes you may not see a yardage estimate in the yarn description in your pattern. Instead you will see "[sorry, no yardage estimate]." There are a couple reasons this may occur. If your stitch gauge is less than 3 (i.e., 12 sts in 4") or greater than 7.5 (i.e., 30 sts in 4") sts per inch or if the ratio of row gauge divided by stitch gauge is not between 1.2 and 1.55, then I think any attempt to estimate would simply be too far off. This should cover all common cases using Sport (#2) to Bulky (#5) weight yarns in Stockinette stitch. Of course you may use any stitch you like, but if the gauge falls outside of these ranges, you will have to estimate the yardage yourself.

This is an experimental attempt to estimate the yardage. I have tested it against all of my published patterns and it seems to work quite well. But I certainly cannot test it against every possible gauge that you may use. So let's work together to perfect this over time by letting me know if it works, or if  (horrors!) you did not have enough skeins, or if there were way too many left over.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What to do if you no longer want a name in your "who for" list

Suppose you created a sweater pattern for someone that was a one time deal and you'll never make another one for them. Maybe you added that person as a test just to see how the website works and now you don't need to ever see that name again. Or worst of all, maybe the "curse of the love sweater" turns out to be true and you really, really don't want to keep seeing that name in the list. How can you remove that name from the list in the "Who for" dropdown menu?

The answer is to update that recipient's details, change the name to someone else and put in that new person's measurements. Here are the steps to do that:

  1.  If you have created a sweater pattern that you have not yet purchased, click the "Edit" button  to go to the "Edit sweater specifications" page as if you were going to change that sweater. If you don't have one that is not yet purchased, then start a new one and enter some yarn information to get to the "Edit sweater specifications" page.
  2. On that page, select the name of the person you want to remove in the dropdown. It doesn't matter if the sweater you are editing is not for that person. You can change it back later.
  3. Click "Update [recipient's] measurements".
  4. Change the name to someone you will knit a sweater for and enter their proper measurements and click "Save recipient."
  5. If you are editing an already created sweater, change the "Who for" back to the person that one is really for. If you are creating a new pattern, either continue creating the pattern, or abandon the effort by clicking the "Sweaters" link at the top of the page.
Now the person you don't want to see in the list has become a new person with new measurements. However, just so you know, changing the recipient's name or measurements after a sweater pattern has been purchased will not change that pattern. It will always be for that person with the measurements at the time you purchased the pattern. But if you don't want to see even the pattern that you created for them, all you have to do is hide that sweater from your view by following the instructions in my earlier post.

I know that seems a bit confusing. So if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments on this page or, better yet, in the forum.


Hide sweaters you don't want to see any longer

If you have purchased a sweater pattern that you are done with and would rather not see in your "Sweaters" listing any longer, you can hide it from your view very easily. Just click the 'hide' link in the lower right corner of that sweater on the "Your sweaters" page.

But what if you click it unintentionally and it just disappeared from the listing? Or what if you change your mind and want to use it again?

That's easy. If you have any hidden sweaters, the "Your sweaters" page will have a "show hidden" link in the lower right corner of the page to the right of the "Create a new sweater" button. If you click that, you will see all the sweaters you have hidden. Each one will have an "unhide" link that will bring it back to your listing page.

And just to cover all the possibilities, if you are looking at the "Your hidden sweaters" page but decide not to unhide any of them, the lower right corner will have a "back to sweaters" link to get you back to the "Your sweaters" page.

So it's very easy to hide them and bring them back. Feel free to try it out even if you don't really want to hide any sweaters right now.

Happy knitting!


Saturday, August 3, 2019

We are going live!!!

After starting development on this website a year ago in July, it is finally ready to launch. I am so excited!

I conceived of the idea while writing an article for the Fall 2019 issue of Cast On magazine describing the technique I was developing called "Phrancko's Seamless Set-in Sleeves." I developed a basic spreadsheet to do the calculations as I understood them at the time. Then I thought, if I can calculate the upper body of a pattern in a spreadsheet, why not try to calculate an entire pattern in a website.

After a year of development and many iterations and improvements of the algorithm for both the sleeves and the overall pattern, it is finally ready to put it out for all to try.

Here's the plan

Starting Monday, Aug. 5, the "Under construction" blockade on the homepage will be lifted and we will officially enter the "beta test phase" of the project. During that period, anyone who signs up for an account will be able to create patterns for FREE!

I don't yet know how long that phase will last--perhaps a few days or a week or possibly even longer. It all depends on how well it goes.

Once I am convinced that we have a fully functioning website that successfully does what it is supposed to, the beta test phase will be ended. But we will still be in a more extended phase called the "Charter Member" phase. Anyone who signed up during the beta test phase and any one who signs up during this next phase will be designated a charter member.

Initial pricing

Charter members will then use a credit card to purchase the patterns, but the cost will only be $1.00 for them for some longer period of time. That's right, one dollar. Even after the Charter Member phase ends, those designated as Charter Members will still get the charter member price for some period of time while new members will pay the regular price.

Initially, the "regular price" for each pattern for non-charter members will be $6 for the first fit, $2 for the second fit, and $1 for each additional fit for a given sweater. These prices are subject to change over time, however. There may be promotions from time to time when the regular price is lower and there may become a time that the regular price goes up.

Fit vs. Size

Notice I used the word "fit" rather than "size" for the multiple versions available in a single pattern. That's because each pattern is designed to fit one single person. So we do not create a pattern that is Small, Medium, and Large, for instance, for different sized people. We create patterns that are Standard, Tight, Snug, or Roomy, among others, all for the same person. The neck size and shoulder width are the same for all fits for that person because those don't change on the person just because you want a looser or tighter fit. The ease around the chest and arms is what changes from one fit to the next. So all the variations in a single pattern are intended for the person whose measurements you have entered.

Here's hoping this website will bring you as much joy and successful knitting as I have dreamed it would.

Happy knitting,