編み図について話しましょう!/////// ///// ///////// Understanding Japanese Patterns (Part II)

To see Part I of this series, click here.

Charts are absolutely magical, and to be quite frank, I wish all knitting patterns were written in this way. There are certainly shortcomings when knitting from a chart, and I’ll get to those later on, but they’re helpful when knitting garments. This is probably obvious the minute you view the pattern, but Japanese charts are different than the charts most western knitters are accustomed to; they’re really a schematic, rather than a gridded table like you might see for colorwork. Here’s the full pattern again for the fishermans rib sweater from last time, a free pattern by Pierrot yarns, viewable on Ravelry here.

To the right of the header, there are a few construction notes about the way the sweater is put together. It’s a raglan, it’s seamed, etcetera. There is a lot of Japanese up there -- if you have a pdf pattern which cannot highlight pieces of text like this one, and you don't know how to look up kanji by their radicals, it might too difficult to translate text this dense. The information in the construction notes is helpful, but not absolutely essential to knitting this sweater.

The drawing shape shows this sweater is a raglan, and it also shows a front and a back to the sweater, which means it's seamed. This is why charts are pretty handy -- most of the information about how a sweater needs to be knit can be found in the chart schematic. 

In this post, I'm going to break down the back panel of this sweater, which has the easiest to understand shaping. The back panel is shown in the drawing below.

Something I want to address before getting into the gritty of the chart is one potentially troublesome part of translating Japanese sweater design -- garments are rarely offered in multiple sizes. If you’re a 30-34” bust, there likely won’t be any major issues in knitting Japanese sweaters. Even still, let’s say you’re a 32” bust, but you’re over 5’ 4” -- extra length will need to be added to have a well fitting garment. It's always a good idea to cross reference the sweater’s finished dimensions with your own measurements to ensure the pattern won’t need extra tinkering. This sweater is 34.5 cm from the underarm, or 13.5-ish inches, with a raglan depth of 22 cm, or 8.5 - ish inches. I have a long torso, and a sincere aversion to tops riding up my body, so I’d add at least 2 inches to that length if I were actually knitting this sweater. Now onto the real goodness.

CASTING ON 

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Here’s a refresher of some Japanese words I listed in the last post, as well as a couple new ones. Like I mentioned last time, a few of these words can be defined in a number of ways, but I’m only providing the knitting definitions.

模様:stitch pattern

目:stitches

段 : rows

棒針:knitting needles

号:Number size (of knitting needles)

3号針:JPN size 3 knitting needles

1 目ゴム:1x1 Rib (If there were a 2 instead, it would be a 2x2 rib, and so on)

作る: Cast on

伏目: Bind off

The first thing look at in a chart is to see what direction the garment is knit. The arrow on the right of the sweater drawing means the sweater is knit from the bottom up, with the cast on edge starting the beginning of the ribbing.

Right below the sweater drawing, the pattern reads(103目)作る, which means the exact same thing as CO 103 stitches.

Within every drawing of a Japanese pattern section, there will be two important pieces of information: the stitch pattern needed and the needle size needed. Per the definitions above, the first part of the sweater is worked in a 1x1 rib (1目ゴム), on JPN size 3 needles(3号針).

The next important piece of info is the measurement to the side of the drawing. Each section’s length is separated by a dot on the line, which is the exact way most dimensions are given in western knitting, so this probably looks familiar.

The line to the right of the sweater schematic says the ribbing should be worked for 7.5 cm (about 3 inches) or 32 rows. And just like that, you’ve worked the very first part of a Japanese pattern.

GET THAT BODY

Next is the body of the sweater, worked in the fishermans rib stitch pattern on JPN 5s. The chart at the bottom right of the corner, notated with 模様編み, meaning stitch pattern, shows the way to work the fisherman's rib. Interestingly enough, fisherman’s rib in Japanese is called English rib. (If any native Japanese speakers are reading this, I’d love to know why). 

The chart above calls for this stitch pattern to be worked for another 27 cm, or about 10.5 inches, with no waist shaping. Easy peasy. 

RAGLAN DECREASES 

Working with shaping and decreases is where charts get interesting.

Once the sweater is to the desired length, bind off six stitches at the beginning of the next two rows. As a bit of a refresher from above, 伏目 means to bind off, and the required number of bind off stitches is numerically notated before the kanji.  

Decreasing and increasing annotation in Japanese is super funky, but know this is the hardest part of learning charts, so once this is down, the rest is cake. The decreases are noted like this:

 

 

This is what those numbers mean

2段平 : work 2 rows even

2 (# of rows decreases occur)-1(# of decreases)-14 (# of times repeated) :

4 (# of rows decreases occur)-1(# of decreases)-14 (# of times repeated):

Read the decreases like you would if they were in a normal chart, from the bottom up. These decreases are given only for one side of the sweater, so if the pattern says decrease 1, it means decrease 1 on either side of the knitting. The direction of these decreases is noted in the drawing above along the armhole edge. Since it's a raglan, the decreases are angled inward. To complicate things even further, some Japanese patterns aren’t specific about where to do these decreases. Most sweaters call for the decreases to occur one or two stitches in from the knitting edge, so sticking with that rule is a safe bet. If this is confusing, and I'm sure it's confusing, this is how the decrease directions would be worked if I wrote them out:

Row 1-3: Continue in pattern.

Row 4:  k1, ssk, continue in pattern until 3 stitches before the end of the row, k2og, k1.

Repeat rows 1-4 13 times more.

Row 1: Continue in pattern

Row 2: k1, ssk, continue in pattern until 3 stitches before the end of the row, k2og, k1. 

Repeat Rows 1-2 13 times more. 

BIND OFF!

There should be 35 stitches remaining, and this sweater doesn't have any back neck shaping. Once the raglan decreases have been worked, the work is bound off in pattern. The above chart says the finished back neck should measure 16 cm, or about 6.25 inches blocked. And that's the back of the sweater! I genuinely hope this has been of some help to anyone trying to knit from Japanese patterns. The rest of the pattern can be figured out with these basic principles worked on the back, but if anyone has specific questions, let me know in the comments or email. And if you've gotten this far, eat a fat slice of cake or something, because this shit is complicated. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

編み図について話ましょう!///////////// //////////////////Let's Talk About Japanese Patterns (Part I)

Hi all! Most knitters out there probably don’t know I speak Japanese, and admittedly it's waned a wee bit since moving from Nagoya. Language is one of those fickle things which can fade over time, and quite unfortunately for me, there are scant number of native Japanese speakers living in Maine. Use it or lose it  I can hear every language professor whispering into my ears. I’m sure to the chagrin of many of those professors, the only thing I do use it for anymore, is knitting patterns.

There are so many fantastic Japanese designers out in the world, and most western knitters are likely familiar with some of their work. (Michiyo and Yoko Hatta are two designers who immediately come to mind.) I know there are likely countless other Japanese designers who do incredible work, and offer their patterns in both English and Japanese.

Ah, but there are so many other fantastic patterns, offered only in Japanese.

I've been thinking about Japanese knitting quite a bit lately, and language difference shouldn't get in the way of a good sweater. This isn't going to be a word-for-word translation, and unfortunately it's unrealistic to go from no Japanese experience to understanding absolutely everything in a Japanese pattern. There might be some things left unknown, so think of this more as a rough field guide.

This fishermans rib sweater is called 215w-02 V Gazette Knit (rolls off the tongue, no?) and I think it's a challenging, approachable introduction to working off Japanese patterns. I was originally going to do one post on this subject, but because there are a few differences in the way these patterns are written, I'm going to break it into a couple of days so this doesn't seem like information overkill. 

I'm hoping these series of posts will help anyone who has a pattern sitting in their Ravelry favorites, collecting metaphorical dust because of a language barrier.

OVERVIEW + SOME VOCAB

There’s absolutely no way around this, but almost all Japanese patterns are written in charts. Once you get used to them, the charts are pretty handy and  make Japanese knitting more approachable and easier to visualize if you don't speak the language. I'll go more into how to knit from charts in a separate post, but here’s what the pattern looks like (this is a free pattern from Perriot yarns, viewable here and on Ravelry).

I know this looks intense, but let’s break it down into bite sized chunks.

Almost all Japanese patterns have the materials, gauge and needle size listed right under the pattern heading. Think of this pattern as a weird puzzle you only need to solve half to get the full picture, and it might be helpful to only pay attention to the numbers. Here is a list of some of the helpful kanji (what Japanese characters are called) and words you may need to reference. Some of these words can mean a few different things, but these definitions are only in relation to knitting. Focus on only these words, and the header above is a lot easier to digest and understand.

毛糸:wool yarn

棒針:knitting needles

号:Number size (of knitting needles)

2本:2 straight needles ( a long circular could be substituted for working flat)

4本:4 double pointed needles

模様:stitch pattern, in this case meaning a fishermans rib.

ケージ:knitting gauge

平方:square, as in a 10cm knitting swatch square

目:stitches

段 : rows

Zooming in further, here's the first subhead. There's a lot of nonessential info there -- no need to worry about anything other than the amount and type of yarn needed. I think the basic key to figuring out Japanese patterns is to fixate on the numbers, not the Japanese. From the Ravelry page, this sweater uses a sport weight yarn called Momo-Little. Momo Little comes in 118 yard balls weighing 30 grams a piece. And hey, what do you know, there’s a 30 g in the Japanese above. Safe bet the forward slash after the 30 g is the weight of yarn you’ll need for the sweater -- a bit of calculator magic clocks this sweater in at just shy of 10 balls of Momo Little, or 1180 yards of sport weight yarn.  Onto the next. 

Looking at the definitions I gave above, this bullet point is talking about knitting needles. Same basic principal as above, only look at the numbers and essential words, and forget the rest. This pattern calls for a set of straight needle JPN 3 and 5s, and a set of 3s on DPNs. Because nothing can be easy, (thanks customary units) Japanese needles are sized differently, take a look at this conversion chart to figure out the US equivalent. In US needles, this pattern calls for a set of US 2.5s + 4s, as well as a DPN set with 2.5 needles.

Gauge! Yes, Japanese patterns have them too, sorry folks. Many western patterns call for a 4 inch square gauge swatch, and Japanese patterns usually call for a 10 cm swatch. In the fishermans rib pattern, (as a refresher, 模様 means stitch pattern) 22 stitches and 39 rows = 10 cm.

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I hope this has been a helpful overview of Japanese pattern, on Friday I'll get into the best stuff: the charts!

 

The Difference a Month Makes

Hi everyone! It’s been an incredibly long hiatus since my last post, and I wish I had a better reason other than to point at the pesky thing that always gets in my way: life. Feeble of a reason as it may be, I’m back, with so many things I’m incredibly excited to share.

I’ll now be keeping this humble little blog updated biweekly. I’d like a better record for myself of my own thought and decision making processes when working on new designs. I’m a person who has a full-time job dealing in the currency of image making, more simply put, a newspaper photographer, and writing feels like working a long atrophied muscle. Here’s to getting back it.

Since I last posted, I’ve got a new sweater pattern called Marcellus publishing from Quince in the following month. I’ll be sharing more images from the sweater later in the following days, but if anyone is here who didn’t see it on instagram, here’s what it looks like:

My sample is knit with Lark in the Iceland colorway, and I’m currently fighting the urge to immediately cast on another once the pattern is live. Karen from Fringe Association wrote a post about black fiber last week, and it had me foaming at the mouth to cast on another Marcellus with Quince’s Lark in Sabine. It’s a nice heathery black, something you could still see stitch definition in, and I’m carving out time next year for one. 

Some quick notes about the pattern, it’s a seamed (ergh) set in sleeve (gah, I know) cabled sweater, with a simple honeycomb + braid cable front and back panel. Moss stitch separates the cables and provides a nice texture to balance the weight of the honeycomb. I truly wrestled with the construction of the sweater when I was sketching out the design. I know a knit flat set-in sleeve sweater, not to mention one with cables, is not the easiest way to put a pullover together. The purpose of this sweater, for me, was to make something I could pull out as a silvery dame with white hair down to my waist, and show whoever will listen to my knitting rambling. I made this. I wanted to make something with longevity. As a caveat, this thought process was without an iota of disrespect to top-down, seamless, or raglans. I have a closet full, and I love every one of them. Er, if I don't, it's definitely my knitting and not the seams' fault. I hope I can pull those out too when I’m an older woman. There’s something about seams, though, especially in my shoulder area, and I wanted the neckline to stay just as it was the day I cast it off. Or, probably more realistically, a year or two after I cast off. I can’t wait to share more about my design process as I get closer to the release date.

 

 


 

 

 

 

High contrast inspiration

Lately I can't stop designing and sketching high contrast super simple color work. One of my favorite pieces of classic commercial knitwear, and something I've been diligently watching for every time I step foot in a resale shop, is the L.L. Bean Norwegian sweater (below), even if the knits from that era of the company were made with Rayon and wool fit for a brillo pad. Can't get the dang thing off my mind, so here's some other inspo in the same key. All photos are click through enabled to their sources. 

                                                                                                         LL Bean 

                                                                                                         LL Bean 

asos

asos

                                                                                                               Allknitwear

                                                                                                               Allknitwear

royalcaballito

royalcaballito

Whit-ny

Whit-ny

Madewell

Madewell

Anthropologie

Anthropologie

http://aristocrator.tumblr.com

http://aristocrator.tumblr.com

A long story about yarn stashes.

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When I first seriously got into knitting, I was in a strange mental place. 

In the fall of 2010, I left the University of Missouri to study abroad at Nanzan Daigaku in Nagoya, where I was placed in a fully immersive Japanese program. At the time, I wasn't considering adding another major, much less in a language, but my Japanese professor was adamant about the importance of learning a language outside of the academic classroom. He convinced me, and he was right, but it would be dishonest to say it was the reason I decided to go to Nanzan. I wanted to get the hell out of Missouri. 

It was only by luck that I was placed in the Ushida family. No one spoke much English. My Japanese I found out, was functional only in the context of answering worksheet questions, and in real life, my Japanese was more hand motions and apologies rather than complete sentences. 

My host family's neighborhood in Hoshigaoka, Nagoya. 

My host family's neighborhood in Hoshigaoka, Nagoya. 

I started studying my ass off. Every waking moment I studied, writing words and kanji out over and over and over until they made a moderate impression into my thick skull. And slowly my host family and I started getting to know each other. 

Non-chan, Nodoka. 

Non-chan, Nodoka. 

I found out that my host mom knew how to knit, and at the time, I knew how to crochet from my grandmother. She taught me the basics of knitting, and I was completely hooked (pun intended goodbye crochet!)  I think the fun fur craze had all but died off elsewhere, but it was still around in Japan. My host mom made me a fun fur scarf, and I made a hat fit for a beach ball out of dollar store wool from the Daiso

I decided to stay another semester eventually, and the Ushida family was gracious enough to let me stay for 2011. 

The spring of 2011 might tip off a small warning bell for those who have ties to Japan, or those who have a good memory for dates and natural disasters.

Nagoya was far away from the destruction the tsunami and Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power disaster. I watched as the little warning map of Japan popped up on the right side corner of the TV, the coastline lit up in red. It looked a lot like those county tornado warnings from back home. We sat and watched NHK for hours and hours, non-stop for the next two days. I have this vivid memory of my host mother knitting another one of those fun fur scarves, the TV on mute, the only sounds were her metal needles and whispering over and over how she couldn't believe this was happening.

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The University of Missouri wanted to mitigate their liability for any future problems associated with the radiation from Fukushima. With only four days warning, I was told I would be leaving the country and put into an easy random assortment of classes to finish the spring semester. I was devastated, and furious. I clung to that anger for longer than I should have, and it made my transition back home a tough one. The photo above is the last I took, Nodoka and a friend asked me to go on a bike ride after she got out of school. 

Tokyo, going home. 

Tokyo, going home. 

This story does relate to the marled scarf I finished, I swear. It became clear once I was back in classes at MU, no one minded if I mentally checked out for the rest of the year. I physically attended, but I wasn't there. Other than zombie out to Fallout3, knitting was the only thing I could muster the effort to accomplish. I had a hard time wanting to socially interact with my old friends, or make new ones, and so I knit, knit knit. My stash grew out of freaking control, because knitting was the only thing I found joy in, and so to keep chasing that joy, I felt like I had to keep buying yarn. Thankfully this was before I started knitting sweaters, and so my impulse buys were limited to single skeins. Unsurprisingly probably to most knitters, my stash quickly became pretty non-functional. I wish I could say there was some cataclysmic event which shifted my thinking, but truthfully the more I readjusted back home, the less I felt I *so needed* a new skein of sock yarn. I whittled through that stash eventually, and today I feel like the yarn I have now mostly all serves a purpose. 

This scarf was a continuation of that effort, to keep my yarn stash filled with things I have intention to use soon. I started to notice a backlog of handspun and hand dyed experiments, and started to feel like I was creeping back into the "where did this yarn come from again" headspace. This was knit on US10s, with worsted held double. I'm guessing this took about 600 yards (so 1200 because it was held double). I'd be really curious to see how other knitters handle their stashes when they start to overflow. Big patchwork project, or yarn swap? 

New Pattern: Cumberland Shawl

I'm excited to be sharing a new pattern today, called Cumberland Avenue. I'm a photojournalist in my day job, and because I have a chronic habit of arriving to assignments too early, I spend a lot of time sketching out new knitting designs while I'm waiting. This was sketched out while I was waiting along Cumberland Avenue in Portland, and probably quite obviously, is the pattern's namesake. This triangle scarf can be worked longer than the sample into a full-blown shawl, or the fringe and cord omitted for a different look. The pattern can be downloaded on Ravelry here

Woolful KAL in Handspun Romney

Alternative title: my favorite sweater so far. Alternative Alternative Title: I look so terribly serious when showing my knitwear, I promise I'm not so brooding in real life. 

The Lesley pattern from Hannah Fettig's Home and Away is a keeper, and I can't wait to knit another five for my closet. It's easily modifiable, (the version in-pattern is well fitted, but it could easily be altered to something roomier and slouchier, which is how I ended up knitting it) and the neckline is so dang flattering, I wish it were fall. Which means a lot coming from a human living Maine, who recently resurfaced from a (non-hyperbolic) hundred inches of snow. 

This is the first time I've knit anything more than an accessory with handspun yarn, and so far I'm willing to do it again, though it was admittedly labor intensive. I initially miscalculated my yardage slightly, and had to go back to the wheel for another 50g skein when I got to the sleeves. The Romney wool is thick and toasty, and I know I'll be able to layer the absolute heck out of this come winter. The next one I knit will probably be in Osprey, and also fitted as the pattern calls for, so I could wear it comfortably under a fitted jacket before the weather turns too hellacious. 

FO, yo.

Finishing a sweater is one of the most satisfying sensations. There was a time where I was pretty sure this gal would sit unfinished at the bottom of a drawer. And suddenly one day I decided that I was absolutely craving cables, and it was done within the week. I learned a lot with this one, mainly that set-in sleeves exist for a reason (the reason having nothing to do with how fun they are to knit, because they are not). I usually cling to raglans like a crutch (because let's be real, those are the most fun to knit), but the decreases would've messed with the overall look to the front and back panel. The shaping and neckline of the sweater is very loosely based on the Knitty Beatnik. I loved the overall look of that garment, but wanted a more simple cable motif than the original pattern called for, and I think seeing all of those incredible Amanda cardigans from the Fringe KAL back when totally influenced my choice to go with something in a honeycomb cable. Because I'm insane, and that huge cable screw up which caused me to set this thing down for a month ago is a distant, distant memory, I'm already planning to knit another one. So to not be redundant in my closet, I'd like to make the next one with the armholes a bit wider and lower, and create a more relaxed boyfriend feel. Never one to be crazy about a boatneck collar, but this one folded over and whip stitched definitely suits the pattern. I'm also finishing up a triangle scarf soon, which I'll gab more about once it's all blocked. 

Monogamy, or not.

I've never ever been knit monogamous. I find that I'm most productive when I have 3 projects going, and I usually stick to this rule. The Woolful KAL made me break that 'rule,' but spinning was involved, so I'm totally telling myself that doesn't count. More important than the number of wip's I've got on my needles is the type of wip's. I thought if anyone was curious, here's what I usually stick with when I'm working on new projects.

Big complicated Sucker

I try to have one tricky project always on my needles, which is the blue cabled sweater above. It's based on the Beatnik shaping, but I substituted a honeycomb and braided band of cables for the pattern called for chart. This is a knit where I can't let my eyes go hazy into 10 episodes of Mad Men, which is probably good for my brain. It makes me feel like I'm pushing myself, so with each one of these patterns I try to pick something with a knitting element I've never approached before. This was my first honeycomb cable pattern.

The Zone Out

I've already knit an Aisance cardigan, which is the beginning to the natural light tan cardigan above. It's stockinette on a fingering weight Quince & Co Finch. The pattern itself isn't exactly a easy peasey knit with the raglan and neck increases worked on different rows, but since I've done it once before I can watch those 10 episodes of Mad Men without it becoming frog city over here. I go to this pattern after I accidentally made a left cable instead of a right cable in the sweater above, and had to correct 10 rows down. Keeps ya sane. 

The Accessory

Something I know I'll be done with in less than a week is nice to have around. After I've knit hours on that Aisance cardigan and feel the need for speed, going from the ball of my foot to finishing the toe in a morning gives me the satisfaction and the patience to go back to the blue sucker of a complicated pullover. Also I have wide feet, if anyone thinks that sock profile looks odd. ;)  

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I'm always curious how other people handle their works in progress, let me know what you guys do. 

 

Spinning & Yarn Substitution, A Hello

I find the best way to get to know someone is to blow through superfluous small talk and get right to the meat and bones. So hi, how are ya, I'm Whitney and I'm a photojournalist living in Portland, Maine. I like wool. 

I've always considered myself a knitter, but I've taken up spinning pretty recently. My end goal in spinning was not to enjoy the process, though that has been a surprising perk, but rather to create yarn I would enjoy using in my knitting workflow. Sounds like a simple enough goal, but I'm (frequently) auspiciously naive when it comes to reality and ambitious goal-setting. I thought I'd dedicate this first blog post to substituting handspun yarn in a knitting pattern, through what I've learned knitting Hannah Fettig's Lesley sweater for the Woolful KAL. As anything you read on the internet, take what I'm saying with a giant lump of salt. I'm pretty new to the spinning racket, and these things are things I've learned mostly through trying something and it working, or not. At the end of the day, all I'm looking for is a garment I know I'll wear for years to come. It's been important for me to keep that in mind, and not obsess over trying to make a yarn that perfectly emulates the called for yarn. It's not gonna happen, but here's how it can work. 

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Compare / Contrast, Sheep Breed Choice

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The first major obstacle I knew I would need to overcome when knitting the Lesley, was making something which could be substituted for the awesomely lofty, squishy Quince & Co. Osprey. It's genuinely one of my favorite yarns to work with, but the simplicity of this pattern made me feel like this would be a good project to sub-in some handspun. Also something I knew, was I had a lot of natural grey Romney roving that spins into super lush aran weight. Hooray, utilizing my stash! Problem being, Osprey is lofty and Merino based, and spun in such a way I knew 100g of my Romney roving would not get me 170 yards of Aran weight. My actual advice is to pick a wool similar to the yarn needing substituting, but if stubbornness and fear aversion are apart of your daily diet, you'll need to figure out whether your fiber wants to spin into something heavy or lofty. My Romney wants to spin into something a little heavy, and I would be incredibly grateful to anyone who could tell me if there's a word for this phenomenon. This will affect how the finished garment will feel as a worn object. Take this into account if you're spinning something like a huge cabled sweater. Do you want something that heavy on your body?

Singles + Plying 

For your first time substituting handspun yarn, I would suggest buying a skein of the original yarn. I know that probably seems counterintuitive to the goal here, and if you're substituting the yarn for a hat or mittens, I could understand not wanting to spend essentially double the $$$ for a project. But, if you're subbing the yarn for a garment, having the yarn intended for the pattern on hand is a good step to avoid kicking yourself later. Trust. 

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Separate the original yarn and take a look at the singles. The thickness, number of singles, how tightly it's plied, etc. Osprey is a 3 ply aran weight, all of which you could've figured out through the internet. If you're an unexperienced spinner (me) I think seeing the singles in person is hugely important to making a yarn that behaves well in a pattern. So, now that you've got a handle on the pieces, spin some wool into a couple yards of singles. Pay attention to how tightly you're spinning; any difference will affect how much roving you'll need and the weight/feel of the finished garment. The sheep breed of the wool will also have an effect, so keep that in mind. To make life easier later when figuring out how much roving you'll need to get the yardage for the pattern, I'd suggest spinning the weight of the branded yarn skein, in my case 100g of roving, for your first singles. 

A couple of thoughts on the ply, If this is your first time substituting handspun for a garment, like it was mine, I'd stick to making a yarn which has the same number. I made this yarn 3-ply by using the Navajo or chain ply method. 

Swatch, Sorry!

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I'm a swatch em' and frog em' kind of gal, so you'll have to take my word about the swatches. They existed. And I won't take this moment to yap on the importance of swaching in your regular knitting, but here it's absolutely essential. It's going to help make sure you don't waste hours on a piece of ill-fitting clothing, and also it'll help in figuring out how much wool is needed.

There are two elements here at play, whether you as a knitter are on pattern gauge, and whether your yarn is on gauge, which makes having the original yarn on hand helpful. Wash and set your first plied skein, and knit a swatch of your handspun yarn according to the pattern. Then do it again with the original yarn, and play a game of compare and contrast. Don't be bummed if it isn't perfect, nothing is perfect, you are not a machine. The most important things are whether your gauge is on, and whether your wraps-per-inch match up. Here's a little handy guide if you're not familiar with wraps per inch.

Wash and gently block both swatches, and if your gauge is on, pop some confetti and celebrate. If not, examine your singles and the ply, and figure out if you can live with the differences, keeping in mind you might have to knit a sweater with a chest circumference of 36" instead of 34" as an example, if your stitches per inch aren't in line with the pattern. 

Last thing involving the swatch is to weigh both. I'd wager your handspun is going to weigh slightly more than a conventionally milled yarn. Figure out the ratio of difference, and multiply that fraction with the weight of your original skein to figure out how much fiber you'll need to get the yardage. Here's an example with made up weights, sorry 'bout the algebra.

Original yarn swatch weight: 30g ; Handspun yard swatch weight: 40g ; x=amount you need to multiply the weight of the original skein
   30x=40, or 40/30=x   ----> x=1.33   (basically, this means your yarn weighs 1.33 grams more than the branded yarn)    
For every skein needed, multiply the weight of the skein with the number above, or "x" 
100g X 1.33= 133 grams (this means that for every 100g skein, your skein needs to be 133g to get the equivalent yardage)
Take that number, and multiply it by how many skeins are called for in the pattern to get the weight of the fiber you'll need to spin. The Lesley in my size calls for 5 skeins of Osprey, so I'd do this math to figure out how much Romney roving I'd need.
133g X 5 = 665 grams of Romney roving

I hope that didn't seem unnecessarily uncomplicated, and this math is by far the most tricky part of the whole process. As with anything new, I'd get more roving than this equation calls for, to account for accidental mess-ups and experimentation.

Cast on!

I spun most of my skeins before casting anything on. I don't have any real evidence to back this up, but I spin most consistently by getting it all done at once. It might drive some people nutty to sit at the wheel for that long, so if you're of that ilk, periodically examine your singles to make sure they're roughly on point. It deserves repeating, but keep in mind this is handspun, not milled yarn. It's going to be uneven; it's not going to be perfect.

If anyone reading this has a question about this whole process, give me a shout in the comments. In the next couple of days, I'm going to talk about knitting the Lesley pattern - hopefully I'll be done by then! Cheers to a new beginning.