For the look of Relax in a worsted weight yarn, take a look at Worsted Boxy.

Perfect Sweater: Rubber Hits the Road

Dear Kay, and the Perfect Handknitterz,
So distracted! I was just fixing my eyebrows. OK so my eyebrow stylist was just fixing my eyebrows. She comes by every morning to check them out and make sure I’m good to go. Really, the experience of you reading that KnitLit piece at Coliseum Books has changed my life so utterly. People have such expectations now. The phone calls, the endorsement offers. I’m off shortly for a Pepto-Bismol photo shoot. It was so weird–when the Pepto people called, I just had to laugh–I mean, I ALREADY USE THEIR PRODUCTS! I love that stuff!
But Enough About Moi!
The Future Search is almost done, folks. We are basically THERE, in a disorganized way.
The last quick poll answered the burning question of how long we should futz over the issue of the neckline.

What should we do next?
Move on and land this lunar module! Tom Hanks is looking kind of pasty.
64.1% 294
Vote on the neckline until we get a majority. We need a majority!
35.9% 165
total votes: 459

Power to the people! We move on!
At this point we have a sweater on the cusp of greatness, yet there remain lingering cavils, gripes, worries, concerns, issues, and whines.
There has been some question (Kay and KT) about the issue of executive authority and whether somebody (me) can simply “abort the V-neck” or say “People, suck it up, we are making THIS kind of neckline.” Man, would I ever like to exert some executive override here, but then I’d be Karl Rove or Barbra Streisand or Alice Starmore, right? I hasten to remind you that my role in this Future Search is simply to facilitate this process–I map the minds that make the whole world sing, I make the blogpolls about tedious things. This Future Search is about the Us-ness of it all.
Gwen and Natalie get the Erin Brockovich Whistleblower Award for noticing that I somehow hijacked the whole deal by saying that the Perfect Sweater is a cardigan when in fact the vote was for a pattern could be either a pullover OR a cardigan. How’d that happen? Glad SOMEbody was paying attention. Like this situation needs to be any more convoluted than it already is. Glad they don’t have me over in Baghdad counting ballots.
Solution-oriented Thoughts
Sarahfish: “Maybe someone could offer a re-write of the pattern for those who want to futz with the neckline or adjust from cardi to pullover.”
Susan M.: “Since we’ve come so far, and found a consensus on so much, could we maybe have a flexible neckline plan? I mean, the Perfect Sweater To Date seems to be the kind of thing that will fit-and-flatter just about anyone: set-in sleeves, a little shaping. Maybe the neckline is where those of us who like to fiddle around with a pattern can focus our fiddling? Personally, I like a neckline that’s a little squared off; or maybe has a little collar added.”
Anne Margaret: “Let’s remember that a truly Perfect sweater is one that is DONE! So let’s get to the knittin’!
Next Steps: The Long and Winding Road
At this final stage of a Future Search, everybody commits to what their next actions will be after the Future Search ends. This usually involves a lot of affirmation (“I just want to thank Susie for organizing all the great snacks” and “Why can’t we just do this EVERY year?” and “Glad Bill was out of town this weekend or none of this would have worked out”), and somebody volunteers to raise the money for the new building. For us, it’s much more interesting, and cheaper, too.
Here’s how it looks from here. We do in fact agree on a lot: cardigan OR pullover, long sleeves, set-in sleeves, slightly shaped waist, row of buttons up the front for the cardigan. Using Cascade 220 yarn.
The V-neck got the biggest vote, but not a majority. Who cares? I think we can crank a pattern that includes all the above elements, then work out a series of variations which Give The People What They Want: the collar of their dreams.
Now. This is the fun part. You have the chance to be a part of history, to help design the Perfect Sweater. Think of it! I will cook up the basic pattern, a pullover with a jewel collar because that’s the one I wanted, in a size Small because it’s easier to add stitches for larger sizes than to subtract them.
You, as a loyal and stalwart member of the Future Search team, will adapt this basic pattern for one of the other necklines that were nominated: V neck, crewneck, shawl collar, two-point collar, and funnel cake (which Liz will have to design because she’s the one who seems to want it the most). I have not included turtleneck because I’m having trouble imagining how to make it a cardigan, but if somebody’s jonesing for a turtleneck, have at it. And that goes for any other neckline style you prefer–boatneck, square neck. If you want it, here’s your chance to GET it.
Once we have these patterns set–a pullover with varied collar styles–then we’ll figure out how to adapt a cardigan pattern from that pullover pattern. And we’ll add different sizes once we get all this set.
Now, I know some of you are saying, Hey, Barry Manilow, I didn’t sign up to write a sweater pattern! I’m here for the drinks!
To which I respond, I know, neither did I. I kind of hoped it would fall out of the sky like a pony at Christmas. But I have no doubt that we can do this. With basic math, a few Googles, and enough beverages, we can write these patterns together. If you’ve never designed a thing in your life, but secretly kind of wish you had, this is for you. Writing a pattern is like cracking the human genome, or being first in line for recess–so exhilarating!
So. If you’re game, please leave a Comment about which neckline you want to tackle. If several people want to do the same neckline, we’ll figure that out. I will say that no preference will be given to bloggers over non-bloggers. (We blog for the blogless here at MDK.) But if you’d like to chronicle your design process on your blog, we would love to watch.
I’ll work on the basic pullover pattern as fast as I can. I’ll even resist my urge to steek in the name of the Perfect Sweater.
Finally, let me thank everybody for all the great drinks. And I wish we did this EVERY year.
Love,
Ann

Tags:

40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. Funnel cake? Huh? I didn’t see that on the refreshments table. . .
    And Ann, honey — I think I missed this way back in the murky beginnings of this project, but, um, why are we doing this?
    Your loyal reader. . .

  2. ::::::chirp chirp:::::::
    Lotsa crickets in blogville today. I volunteer to pour the drinks!! Howzat? Having never knit a full grown adult sweater that’s about all I am qualified for.
    Come one now, I will make an “I designed the perfect sweater” button for the volunteers :-)

  3. Omigosh, we’re almost there! So exciting.
    Having done the pattern-writing thing (successfully, even) can I just say one thing? Ann Budd. Ann Budd’s book: The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. Its a great book. All that math. Done. I can’t recall if any of the pattern templates provided has waist shaping, but we, I mean you, can figure that part out.
    Waiting eagerly,

  4. Omigosh, we’re almost there! So exciting.
    Having done the pattern-writing thing (successfully, even) can I just say one thing? Ann Budd. Ann Budd’s book: The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. Its a great book. All that math. Done. I can’t recall if any of the pattern templates provided has waist shaping, but we, I mean you, can figure that part out.
    Waiting eagerly,

  5. Not to be cliche, but I’m going to have to go with Hatfield here (vs. McCoy, get it? No? Ok. Moving on)
    I’m all for drinking and watching everyone else knit sweaters. I’ve never actually knit any sweaters at all – not even those wee ones for your softboiled eggs from that Weekend Knitting book that I never really understood the purpose of.
    So I vote for drinking. I don’t write no stinking patterns. :)

  6. I have two funny images of a turtleneck cardi… in one version, you pull the turtleneck piece on as you slip your arms into the sleeves! In the second, you steek the front from the turtleneck down and when buttons are added — add buttons all the way up through the turtleneck.
    What not to knit!
    Erm. Maybe I should step away from the booze… (is that why only non-designers get to drink?)

  7. No, I’m not going to volunteer to do a neck type either. What I will volunteer to do is to help with the up-sizing from small to XXXL (or so) once the basic pattern is done. I want to be able to knit and wear The Perfect Sweater, too, and patterns always seem to stop around a 44″ bust. Just file me under Omar the Tentmaker and send me the info when the basic shape is done!

  8. Geez don’t all jump at once!
    Ann, I’m with ya babe. Assign me a neckline. I’m willing to make one, I’m wanting to make one, I’m waiting to make one. A neckline is nothing more than knit to the middle, cast off some stitches, then work one side of it and decrease at the neck edge a few times. It’s a piece of funnel cake. Where do I sign up?
    But I’ll do crew neck because it’s easier. It’s like 2 rows of shaping, no?
    Don’t know nothin’ ’bout designin’ no necklines! xoxo Kay

  9. Jess is close–but remember, zippered cardis often have those nice necks that come up under the chin almost like a turtleneck.
    Now if this is a basic sweater pattern–no colorwork? lace? cabling? did we vote on this? I recall some mind maps–then how is this any different from creating the Anne Budd book sweater in a million variations? Like 1,000 Sweaters but in worsted rather than DK? Sigh. The future search seems to have yielded a variation on the present with much more limitations (only Cascade 220!).
    I should add “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” I guess I’d leave the retreat saying, “We sure didn’t change the world but I feel a lot better about the path we’re on.” I might retreat to the lounge before that happens though.

  10. Squirrels hitting transformers and ponies falling out of the sky? I’m calling the ASPCA and writing note to self to bring a really strong umbrella with me next time I come to Nashville.
    And with that I hereby volunteer to figger out the turtleneck.

  11. I was thinking about a sweetheart neck, because I’ve never knit one before.

  12. Raising a salty frozen margarita to the brave designer of the funnel neck cardigan. *hick*
    I might try my hand at the two pointed collar. But you’ll have to take away my drink first.

  13. I would like to make a motion that we use Barbara Walker’s “Knitting from the Top” – all kinds of necklines, sleeves, seamless – fits all sizes – a thing of beauty – http://www.schoolhousepress.com

  14. Wow, Ann, this is great! I’m so glad we’re moving along. I’ll have several drinks with you to encourage the basic pattern process. I’ve just used Ann Budd’s book on a cardi and it’s been very helpful. Bring on the martinis!

  15. Y’all–I am SO with the Ann Budd program. Ann Budd is how Fern started out. Ann Budd is great because all her calculations put you at least in a BALLPARK for a structure. Then you can futz around with it. But she gives you a place to start.
    AnnHB, I hereby deputize you to create a top-down version using Barbara Walker. If I give you the basic measurements, can you go from there???? I’ve never done a top-down sweater but would love to–and the simplicity and lack of seams would be a boon.
    Daphne, I think there will be plenty of room to add lace and cables and patternwork once the basic pattern is written. Everybody seems to have an idea about that, too.
    Greatly heartened to hear from you all. I have NO DOUBT that the fearless Future Searchers will rise to the challenge of actually designing collars for the Perfect Sweater. Be bold, O Searchers!
    And Ma Hatfield, I expect that button Monday morning first thing, you hear? Either that, or just pour me a drink, willya please?

  16. Sounds fabulous. If you need help with the set-in sleeve, let me know – I’m willing to work out the math in the smallest size. (Can’t promise more than that as I have holiday knitting on the horizon!) xox,

  17. Please keep me on this project, I can’t stand the thought of leaving the land of future search, my other world just doesn’t work as well as this one.
    I’ll be happy to help with upsizing as well. Can’t have the perfect sweater look awful on girls with hips.

  18. I’ve been eying so many patterns with this feature lately that I’ll volunteer to work on the shawl collar. I even volunteer to work it from the top down, as I believe to the depths of my soul that no sweater pattern is perfect if knitted from the bottom. Us short-waisted folk need the ability to get started without doing a ton of math and just stop when it’s long enough.

  19. do we need the 220 gauge and stitch count for your neckline before we can design? methinks maybe Ann needs to make her pattern first, before we can alter it…i just think we need those details of yours in order to make our own ;)

  20. I’d offer to help, but I’m buried under current- and future-projects as it is. You REALLY don’t want to wait until I have the time to tackle one of the necklines! I only get about an hour of knitting time a day as it is . . . But I love the option of having a slew of necklines to pick from, and can’t wait to see the results! I know, I’ll bake a cake for the party….

  21. Say WHAT?! Design? Non-preference to bloggers? No drinks? No funnel cake?
    Do you get the feeling I walked in late to the lecture? Heeheeeeee!
    Um. I’m a-skeered to design a neckline. End of story. I’ll do cleanup. How’s that? ;-D

  22. Man, I wish I had thought of the Ann Budd thing. Her books have helped me–knit from them all the time. Great idea. She even has shaping in the book.
    I’m in for a v-neck! Though I would do a turtleneck too (a-la the Ribby Cardie, which I made with a folded over and backstitched turleneck.) No problem.
    Let’s knit!

  23. So – I can offer…….Pastoral/Knitters care…I can also pray for the process! How about that? Prayers of gratitude for all those who have taken the responsibility of a neckline! And prayers of hope that we finish this process….and if you need anymore prayer just call on me….I’ll be in the lounge (ready to pray at a moment’s notice!)

  24. Hey, sign me up for the pullover turtleneck neckline. I am working out a pattern for this very thing right now, so I am game!

  25. Ok, I read through the comments and am not sure who signed up for what, but I’d love to design a V-neck pullover or a crew neck cardigan.

  26. Can I just jump ahead to a jewel neck cardigan? That had my vote all along ;-)

  27. Wow, this is really turning out great. Thanks Ann!!! And thanks everybody who has volunteered to do sweater design. This future search has reminded me of an episode of Fraser where he and Niles are looking very disappointed at the end of what must have been the _perfect_ meal. They complain that it _would_ have been perfect but there was nothing wrong with it to complain about. And after all, the post-meal chit chat is what it was all about!
    So, perhaps, the perfect sweater for knitters is the one that’s _almost_ what they wanted. It’s almost _it_: there’s just one tiny thing that they get to change to really make it their own. Isn’t that what we all do? Sounds like we’re well on our way.
    And since I’ve never designed a knitted anything — I would like to volunteer to contact some vendors of Cascade 220 and see if the future searchers can get a discount. I mean, it was voted the PERFECT yarn. Can’t get advertising much better than that!
    What do you think?

  28. Did we all miss the ol’ Future Search premise? EVERY Future Search ends up with “Let’s build a new building.” Or “Let’s re-design the basic sweater that is in all the best knitting books.” That doesn’t mean it isn’t FUN. That doesn’t mean we can’t get all teary-eyed about how MEANINGFUL it’s all been. Jeez Louise, people! As the instigator of this madness, it is not only Ann’s right, but her DUTY, to agonize over the graph paper and the calculator and some outdated charts about what size it what. Why else do you think there’s a mind map of alcohol involved?
    Of maybe it’s just that I have to justify why I feel compelled to re-invent everything I’ve ever knit because it’s just too EASY to use a pattern.
    Anyway, Ann, I’m very proud of your steeking and of Leaving The Stitches Alone. You are hereby absolved of the sin of weaving in all those state-fair ends.

  29. I don’t want to, but I’d be glad to.

  30. Ann: I may be exposing myself as the sweater knitting novice that I am (I’m just finishing my second sweater this weekend) but I have a question: Would it be possible to employ some type of steek down the front of this Perfect Handknit to provide for the cardigan? I know nothing about steeks (obviously) but I am fascinated (ok, a little fixated) on them so I am just curious.
    Also, I will help with the square neckline. I say help because, while I have designed patterns, never a sweater pattern….
    Kristy

  31. I think this whole thing is going to work out quite nicely (she says, taking another sip of her G&T). You all will design your patterns, get started, and long about the time people are rolling on their sleeves, I will pull out that languishing Cascade 220 cardigan of mine (which unfortunately is not shaped at all and does not have set-in sleeves, but let’s not quibble), “knit along” and finally get that puppy finished because otherwise it would be just too mortifying. Yes, yes, I’m quite happy with where we’ve ended up.
    You can put my sweater in the “renegade” room when we have our little state fair and send in the photos! (There will be good drinks served in the renegade room.)

  32. Give me a v-neck or a square/scoop necked one? I’ll take either?
    Ohh the questions. lemme know either way. I’ll stick to my Tim Horton’s with Bailey’s thankyouverymuch.
    xoxo

  33. Your book is coming out on my mom’s 74th birthday! Awww, did you plan that?

  34. I know I’m still in the lounge, drinking happily, but if you’re short on neckline volounteers (can’t quite work out whether you are or aren’t) then send one my way, I will put the drink down long enough to be competant.

  35. You guys don’t want me trying to write a sweater pattern, seriously, it will come out looking like a sock.
    I’ll cede that responsibility to people far more skilled and experienced than I. Sorry, I would contribute if I could but you really should just let the new knitters man the punch bowl…

  36. I can’t think design because I’m simultaneously incredibly jealous and incredibly worried that ponies fall from the sky at Christmas where you live! Where are all my ponies? And are the ponies ok, falling from such a height? Poor ponies.

  37. Wow, everyone! I’m so far behind on the Future Search. Perhaps too much time spent in the lounge sipping my Manhattan. I’ll tackle a boat neck variation if you’ll put your confidence in me. Just between us, though, it’s the funnel cake version that I want to wear. Sounds so…Teva Durham, doesn’t it?

  38. Oohhh, I’ll do a V-neck too…

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