This is the first post in a sub-series that I've been thinking about writing, which is to give ideas on how to modify knits by subject, and referencing past Mod Monday knits for guideance. I'm a little nervous, since there are definitely lots of different ideas and it's impossible to cover everything in a cohesive blog post, but I'm going to give it a try (gulp!). This is a huge subject of course, so I'll be breaking them into bite-sized chunks and sprinkling them in between regular Mod Mondays. Sort of like sneaking vegetables into cupcakes.
Modifying a knit starts with the big picture view and then works down to the details- you're envisioning what you want to change about an existing pattern to make it suit your needs. I think a good gateway into modifying knits on a small scale is using a stitch or pattern from mitts and making a matching hat (or cowl, or scarf, or making matching mitts from a hat pattern, etc. Oh, the possibilities!).
Ideas and Examples:
Super simple, but high impact stripes are an easy way to create a matching set for accessories (dont forget textured stripes, using moss or garter stitch!). Here is the Mod Monday from Sept. 26, 2011 as an example, using the Ships & Seaside Cowl as inspiration:
Toast mitts. Keeping the gauge the same for both knits (both original patterns call for aran weight and similar needle size) makes it easy to add stripes.
Patterns that have elasticity (variations on ribbing, tight cables, etc.) Are a great way of incorporating a textured stitch motif. Use at the cuff for mitts, or at the brim of a hat. Here is the Mod Monday from Jan 31, 2011:
Stockholm Scarf. It features a 7-stitch repeat that has a lot of stretch. How do you figure out how many stitches your repeat needs to be to get around the brim of a hat? You can use the size information from an existing hat pattern (say, 20" head circumference for example) and knit a gauge swatch of the stitch pattern you plan on using. Then measure your swatch, counting how many stitches are in one inch. Here comes the math! stitches per inch x circumference= total cast on stitches. In our example, let's say we have 5 stitches per inch. 5 x 19= 95 stitches to cast on. BUT- our stitch repeat is 7 stitches. So: 95 divided by 7= 13.57. Not good. We need to round to the nearest whole number. Here is where you need to decide if you think your knit would be better a few stitches smaller or a few stitches bigger. 7 stitches x 13 repeats is a cast on stitch count of 91, and 7 stitches x 14 repeats is a cast on stitch count of 98. Important: if you are using a swatch to calculate gauge, I really recommend blocking your swatch like you would the final knit. Otherwise you're in for a not great surprise.
And who says it even has to be an elastic sort of edging? If the original pattern is simple in its details, those same details can be carried off well into other knits, like this cowl from Mod Monday Nov. 14, 2011:
Colourwork from mitts can be repeated for a hat (or shorter cowl). Examples from Mod Monday July 6, 2009:
and Mod Monday Jan 18, 2010:
One uses a tam hat of the same gauge for the colourwork template, and the other is a slouchier style. You are not hemmed in by hat styles at all, pick whatever suits you best. Don't forget to make sure to count the stitches you'll need for the full colourwork motif repeats!
You can use a great stitch pattern for all-over texture and high impact, like this Mod Monday from Mar 26, 2012:
Finding the Right Pattern Mash Up
Sometimes you won't want to reinvent the wheel. You want to have a hat/cowl/mitt pattern to work from, as well as add the stitch or colourwork in. If this is you, I reccomend doing a pattern search for something that is simple in design but is the same yarn weight as the original knit. This will eliminate recalculating gauge (we'll save that for later posts!).
I know, I know- how many of us really bother with a gauge swatch for an accessory (or maybe that's just me, totally not swatching when knitting mitts!), but check your gauge if you are counting on using a repeated motif, either for colourwork or for a textured stitch. Otherwise you might end up with a too-skinny cowl, or a too-big hat. Trust me, it happens.
If you are making changes as you go along, keep track. You might want to do it agian, or make a second modified mitt. Write down what you've done, it'll make things loads easier when everyone is messaging you asking how to make the same mods so they can imitate your fabulous style.
Some (probably unwanted, feel free to disregard) Fashion Advice
There is such a thing as too much matching. A hat, cowl/scarf, AND mitts all featuring the same motif is overkill. Pick two and have a different third. It creates visual interest and automatically makes you look more put together, oddly. Beware the opposite- sometimes totally differing colours/patterns for each hat/scarf/mitts is too chaotic and takes away from the loveliness of the individual knits.