Part of my design process is keeping notes, not only of the final decisions, but also of the possibilities considered along the way.
The choices and challenges I face in this early process I keep in a small notebook in my craft bag.
As I list the options, I write pros and cons for each until I begin to make decisions about the final form.
As each choice is made, it informs the other choices, until all or almost all of the variables are chosen.
At that point, I make a note of the final choices and open a Ravelry.com project page.
This allows me to make progress notes and keep track of needle size online. If I'm on the road, and away from my craft design book, I can access information that will allow me to keep working on the project. For instance, if a needle or hook goes missing, I may not remember what size I was working with. A quick look on my online project page, and I can stop into a local yarn shop, replace the crafting tool, and keep on working.
I also record stopping points, questions, problems, solutions and dates of progress.
Then, when the pattern is finished, I can gather the information from all the sources - quick paper notes in the project bag, Ravelry project page, blog postings and the early design pages - and collate them into a pattern capable of being test knit.
What exactly do I want the finished piece to look like?
My goal is to have warm neck, shoulders, arms and back, but not deep winter warm.
I want to be able to adjust my temperature while wearing this garment by opening up the front, and I want it easy on and off without pulling it over my head. So, open front is a must for me, and since I'm not fond of sewing in zippers, I'll go with buttons for my closure.
So, I know I want a way to keep my neck warm. There are many designs to do that, but for this I think I prefer a collar. I'll need to decide what type of collar it shall be. How tight? Loose or fitted? How tall? Single thickness or doubled? Fold over? Straight? Shawl type? What stitch pattern? Knit first, top down? Picked up and knit up at the end?
I know I want an open front with button closures. Do I want button holes or loops?-not sure yet.
Knit in edges? Definitely.
Next, on to the shoulder shaping. Raglan? Pie? Contiguous by SusieM? That last is a way to make a seamless fitted shoulder that looks and fits similarly to a seamed fitted one, but without the fuss of knitting in pieces and sewing up seams. It's a nice way to get a great personalized fit. Raglan is pretty easy, and Pie shaping is easier yet, but I like the look of a fitted shoulder, so I'm going to go with Contiguous for mine. Don't worry. It's much easier to knit than to say. :)
Length? Long enough to keep my neck, shoulders, arms and waist warm. I want to have mine go at least to my waist; hip length or longer would be preferred. No longer than knee length. I probably won't make it that long. More than likely, hip or just past. The yarn I'm using is light enough I could comfortably wear that length or longer without putting too much strain on my shoulders, And I like the swing look of the mid length models.
Once last thing - Access. I want to stay wrapped up warm inside, yet have easy access for my hands to reach and do things without pulling the garment open to let in cold air, or putting pressure on my arms. One option I've thought of is simple flaps that divide along the front from just above waist level to the hem of the poncho. That would be easy-out, non-binding, and easy to knit. It would also let a lot of cold wind inside on a breezy day. Not optional.
Another option is slits in the front to reach through. Those would also be easy to knit, but have the potential to be binding or pull the garment up or let cold air in, too. For this option, placement, depth, and borders could solve most of these issues. It won't allow me to wear the poncho and lift my arms out and up over my head without lifting the poncho, too, but if I knit them the right size and put them in the right place, and add an insulating border to block the wind, I think it would allow me to walk a dog, shop and have a coffee without the poncho binding.
Since this is going to be designed as I knit, there will be a few things I need to decide before I can begin.
First, the yarn. I'm using already purchased, stashed away yarn for this project.
I have a 32 ounce giant ball of soft worsted weight acrylic in a medium denim color I'll be using. I don't expect to use it all, but I'll have it if I do.
If you are knitting along with me, you have a few options for yarn.
You can get 32 ounces of yarn all the same color and dye lot.
Or decide to buy yarn as you go.
One potential problem with buying as you go is that you may have skeins that don't match the rest of your yarn, even if you go with the same color.
You don't have to knit it all in one color as I am.
You can do stripes if you choose, or each element a different color, or gradients from dark to light of a single color, or any other color option you wish.
I would suggest you begin and end with the same weight of yarn, and the same fiber type for the whole project. I've tried mixing it up with weight and fibers and it didn't always work out so well. Something like this, that will have a bit of weight to it, you'll probably want to have one fiber and weight the whole way through.
Anyone interested in making a worsted weight, button up the front, top-down poncho with me?
I'm picturing something easy and textural, with a button collar and room to move around inside, with exit slots for hands and arms, but still plenty warm for those cool spring breezes and chilly evenings.
If you're interested, pick out a yarn that has no dye lot, because we'll be designing this as we go and I'm not sure of yardage at this point.