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designing watershed

April 27th, 2010


My design process is generally not this abbreviated. (Bets and dares aside, at any rate.) But from the moment I found these two skeins of yarn at Lettuce Knit last Wednesday – Sweetgeorgia Superwash Worsted – I had a vision of exactly what I wanted it to become.

This is the time of year where layers rule. I’m sick of my winter clothes, but it’s not quite warm enough to bring out the summer tanks and sundresses. Not without a light over layer, anyway. I wanted something small and lightweight, feminine and pretty, specifically to wear to work. But I only had 400 yards to work with.

As a designer, often you’re blessed with a full bag of scrumptious wool to design with. More than enough yardage gives you ample opportunity for making mistakes, for changing direction, and for designing on the fly. If you’ve followed my work, you know that’s how I like to work. Starting with one idea and ending with another, based half on serendipity and half of questioning ‘what would happen if…’.

In this case, I’d only bought two skeins of the aran-weight merino. 400 yards. I’d intended it to be something cropped and short, a bolero, maybe like the one I’d bought from the Gap five years ago that’s now nearly worn to shreds.

Normally when I have just a bit of yarn to work with, I like to work from the top. A layered piece can always be shorter, but if you run short before finishing the armholes, the only choice is to unravel and try again. In this case, however, I’d planned to knit on the first skein until it was nearly done, then begin the armholes. Splitting the piece into two halves worked with one caveat; I had to work as much of the finishing details as possible while knitting the body, or it would be impossible to estimate.


I’d selected a diagonal graphic lace panel for the main motif, modeled after one in Barbara Abbey’s “Knitting Lace”, a wonderful book of vintage lace patterns. I decided to start with this motif along the lower edge of the piece. Just under 4 inches wide, it provides a lovely drape and weight to the edge.

To finish the cast on and cast off portions of the lower edge, I knit on a sawtooth edge that seamlessly blends into the right and left edge motifs; reflections of the lower edging lace panel. In this way, I was able to knit all the edge details together, right up to the neckline.

I’m extremely happy how this piece turned out. While I could have applied similar ideas to make a fully fashioned sweater, the short shape hits just at my natural waist and works wonderfully over tees, dresses, and lacey tops. I hope you like it too!

Pattern now available!

Read more about Watershed. On Ravelry too!

(Special thanks to my friend Kristen who was gracious enough to model, and Lara for helping with the gold reflective thingy. I generally get Sandra to photograph myself, but it was really fun working with a model and I love how the photos turned out!)

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9 Responses to “designing watershed”

  1. Nicky Says:

    Oooh, this is nice!

  2. Adriene Says:

    This is so sweet! I love it – so delicate, but so wearable!

  3. Teri Says:

    I love it….

  4. Jacquie Says:


  5. Jody Says:

    LOVELY!!!!! The design and the yarn

  6. Oriri Says:

    Beautiful! I’m usually not one for bolero type items, but this is has a very classic feel to it and is just the right length! (I have no waist, so the short boleros look awful on me!)

  7. ana Says:

    this is so pretty!

  8. Ravelry Red Vest « babbling brook Says:

    […] I have a new project on the needles – Watershed by Amy Swensen.  Yes it’s vest-ish as well.  I may have a problem.  It’s also lace.  […]

  9. Watershed « I’m Crafty Says:

    […] Watershed by Amy […]

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