Monday, May 20, 2013

Design Process: Wavelength Tank

Thank you all for the supportive comments on my last post!  Moving is stressful enough (which we've done...sort of...we're officially "in town", but we're staying at my parents' house until our house is finished, and all of our stuff is still in San Francisco...), but add in all of these renovations, and it's all pretty crazy!  But it's coming along, and every day something gets checked off the list.

I have a few minutes before I have to run off to meet with a potential house-painter, so I thought I'd finish up my little series delving into the process behind my designs in Knitscene's summer issue.  And here it is...the Wavelength Tank.

The pattern on this tank was inspired by the wavelength charts I would see on a day-to-day basis in my job on NASA's SOFIA project.  One of SOFIA's defining characteristics is that it's an infrared observatory -- it studies light at wavelengths we can't see.  Part of our education and outreach programs was to teach folks about the EM spectrum and where the infrared falls, so these sorts of charts would show up in a lot of our materials: posters, handouts, etc.  So I'm pretty familiar with it at this point...especially for a Classics major!

Credit: Infrared Cameras, Inc.

I decided to stick with a single wavelength, instead of making them increase or decrease in size, and I wanted to put them on a simple tank that could potentially double as a vest in the colder months.   (I love how it's styled in Knitscene over a 3/4 length tee as a summer vest.)  Here's my first sketch...


I originally swatched a twisted stitch pattern on a background of purls to create my wavelengths...

and I actually knit the entire first version of the tank that way.  Buuuut, I just did NOT like how my purls looked in the cotton yarn.  So, I switched it to a pattern created with increases and decreases -- the decreases form the wavelength lines, and the increases keep the stitch count constant.  On a background of knits, it looked much better.

I'm not going to lie, Wavelength was a stinker to design.  Planning out the wavelengths so they were both evenly spaced on the front and back AND would travel directly up into the arm straps almost made my brain explode.  But, like any knitting or math problem, it was ultimately doable with a little persistence.

Wavelength is knit with Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Cotton (lovely!) on size 3 needles and is a fairly quick knit.  Once you have the wavelengths set up in the first couple of rows, it's a pretty intuitive stitch pattern (in my opinion) and the shaping of the tank is simple overall.

You can find out more about the Wavelength Tank on Ravelry or check out the whole summer issue of Knitscene here.


Nettie said...

I love your inspiration posts!! The one about Eclipse was awesome, too.

Julie said...

Howe very cool! And I'm super impressed you knit a whole tank in the other way, and then decided to change it when you didn't like the purls. Designing is such a long and detailed process, I'm glad you didn't compromise!