Back in August or September, when I started knitting again after several years’ hiatus, a friend gave me a ball of fuzzy green yarn. It sat in the bottom of my knitting bag, too small for most projects and not the right weight for any of my needles, until a week or two ago when the perfect project for it came to me—a heavy cape or cloak for a doll I’m getting. Sure, even my smallest needles right now are one or two sizes too big, but I was confident I could make it work, given time.
It ended up being a lot more time than it should have. The pattern () I found first, with size adjustments, would have only taken an evening of solid knitting… so why has over a week passed and it’s just getting finished? Because I have started and re-started probably half a dozen times, and knit several smaller swatches, before deciding on my final design. I tried different stitches for the edging, and several different lace and cable patterns, trying to make it a little more ornate. Sure, there are quicker, more efficient ways to see what will work with a certain yarn, but I wouldn’t learn nearly as much as I do starting from scratch with new ideas and trying things I know may have problems. As a relatively inexperienced knitter, finding out firsthand what ideas work, what don’t, how each looks and what it takes to make them has been a big part of my growth, and the same goes for other craft and art media I explore. I jump into the deep end and just start creating. This type of experimentation has its drawbacks—mainly the time it takes, use of materials, and frustration when the result isn’t what you had planned—and it’s not right for everyone or every situation, but it has worked very well for me in a variety of endeavors, both when I’m new to something and when I’m trying to quickly improve.
Back to that doll cloak, before setting in to make the final project, I sat down with my word processing program of choice and wrote out my pattern, thinking through the piece’s construction and appearance and doing any calculations I needed. Thoughtful design is ultimately more crucial than experimentation, as (in my opinion) it is more important that a piece be well-thought-out than it is to be highly creative or original. In fact, all the experimentation, time, and effort spent on this project led to a final pattern that was simpler than my inspiration piece, and contained very little of what I spent the last few weeks trying out. I wouldn’t call all that time a waste, though, as I now know a little more about working this type of yarn, have added some cable and lace patterns to my repertoire, and have concepts for three or four other garments to pattern out when I finally get those smaller needles and a more suitable yarn.
Knitting Pattern: Ribbed Doll Cape
This pattern is for a 30-cm, or YOSD-sized, Asian Ball Jointed Doll (BJD). I used US 6 needles and don’t know the weight of my yarn. My gauge: 9 st = 2 inches in broken rib stitch (described below).
Work in broken rib stitch:
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: p1, [k1, p1] across
Repeat until measures desired length from hem to shoulder (mine is 3 inches), finishing on the wrong side
Next row: k1, [p1, k1] across
Next row: p1, [k1, p1] across
k1, k2tog ten times, k1, SKP ten times, k1
BO 4 st, purl to end
BO 4 st, knit to end
continue in st st until you have about 3 inches
Seam top of hood and finish as desired.
CO: Cast On
k1: knit 1
p1: purl 1
k2tog: knit 2 together
SKP: slip 1 knitwise, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over
BO: Bind Off
st st: stockinette stitch. Knit across on the right side, purl across on the wrong side
Feel free to modify this pattern. Add edging, change the stitches, adjust the gauge and size, add buttons or delete the hood… be creative, and don’t be afraid to try something new!