21 April 2007

Is this a good idea?

Today I got my first knitting commission! Not sure if this is a Good Thing TM or not... one instinct is to say "Run away!"...

My dad's wife K (she's not been a step-mother to me, as my dad remarried when I was in my 30s) - was given 6 balls of Filatura di Crosa "Ricordo" yarn - it's 58% mohair, 21% Polyamid, 12% Viscose, 9% Acrylic. 50g balls, recommended gauge 16 sts : 4". It's really pink mohair on a black 'core' thread, with patches of coloured stuff through it. It is a tiny bit glittery 0_o.

She was going to cr****t a top for herself, but it's become more of a weight around her neck rather than a project she's looking forward to. So she asked if I'd be interested. She said she'll pay me (any ideas on what to charge? She's not particularly well off - but wants to give me something for my time - suggestions on how to handle this are welcome).

The project? Make a cropped cardigan, with a simple scoop or V neck, straight front and hem, a few buttons, and straight long sleeves. No collar. Able to be worn over a shirt etc at work.

The challenge? She is TINY. I'm talking seriously petite. Miniscule. Barely there. 80 cm chest, under arm to wrist is 46 cm, desired length of cardy 40 cm. She's practically a child's size.

So I've spent hours tonight looking for a cardigan that goes down to an XS / Size 8 (a first for me, I usually have the other trouble ;) ... and could be knit in this weird fluffy stuff, possibly with the addition of a few balls of plain wool for edges / hems.

Current maybes are :
  • Tahoe Cardigan from Knitty - has small sizes, but not sure if would work with a fluffy yarn
  • Cropped Cardigan from Mango Moon - hmmm.
  • Cropped Cardigan from Crystal Palace Yarns - about the right design, would just need to make it smaller, and add more buttons.
  • Raqama Cardigan from Ornaghi Filati - could work, not sure what "S" size means in measurements though.
  • Vienna Sweater from Drops Designs - I quite like this one, as I think the yardage would work, and I can simply knit it as a cardigan instead of a jumper. I'd need to do some maths to adapt it to be 20cm smaller in the chest, though!
I'll need to knit a swatch or two, to gauge what size needles to use, and so on. I've looked through my small collection of Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits without finding anything appropriate. If it all looks too hard I guess I can say to her that a cardigan isn't going to work, but that a shawl / simple wrap / shrug would be better...

Advice, suggestions gratefully received.

Sunday update : Many thanks for all your ideas! Very helpful - I was blown away at how many replies I got immediately - you guys are the best! I will definitely look at the links and books you've suggested to me. I think I will go with the 'skills swap' - she's got a law degree, and I could ask her to help us draft new wills (something long overdue)...

Hmm, yes Taph, this one is quite good, if I go up to 6 or 6.5 mm needles, I think I'd get gauge, and then if I just make it a bit shorter, the smallest size could work. Kate, I like those designs in IK as well - I don't have those issues though, I'd need to ask around.

Here's a swatch that I knitted this morning. It's not too bad to knit with, actually. I prefer the look of the stocking stitch - the 'fluff' seems to sit at the back of the fabric, and you can see some stitch definition. This is 15 stitches to 4" on 5 mm needles.

PS My e-mail is down, something has gone awry at my ISP's end of things...


  1. You can try swapping skills - knit her yarn up for her, and ask her to do something for you in return that she's good at. That way you're both happy. (Hopefully.)

    Good luck!

  2. The whole situation is absolutely fraught with danger. You are never going to get paid enough for the labour you will put in - particularly if you have to do the maths as well. Will stating a price strain the relationship even further if she thinks it's too much? Money and families - too hard. Maybe you need something she could get you. It's often easier to swap stuff than cash.

    In ref the designs - my tuppence worth:

    Tahoe would require SERIOUS maths. I know you’re up to it, but it’s a lot of work. Also those sleeves are very wide and flairy and may look strange on a small and short woman.

    Mango Moon cropped cardi might work – like this one better http://mangomoonyarns.com/ST5/ST5-shortcardigan.html

    I really like the Crystal Palace one and its gauge is pretty close.

    Ragamah – again with the maths

    Vienna – more maths

  3. I was discussing payment with a friend the other day.

    We basically agreed that she pays for the material and I get the fun of knitting with something I didn't have to pay for (being on a yarn diet).

    She'd also buy me a bottle of wine or champagne or something, as a token.

    That doesn't seem quite appropriate here though. We all know we won't get the money to the value of the time and effort, so getting money really isn't meaningful here.

    I like julie's idea of swapping skills. I basically think an 'in kind' arrangement is the safest way to go, whether it's skills, or something else.

  4. oh and I mean to say, the book I got my purple mohair cardigan out of has some other really lovely cardigans in it, all in mohair and some very delicate. Have a look on Tuesday night and see what you think. The patterns go down to size 8-10 (bust 85cm) so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to make it a little smaller.

  5. Oh, yeah - family and commissions are an experience in bad mojo. I think Julie's idea of agreeing to a exchange of services or objects is a much better idea. Think of something that needs to be bought, e.d. fees for a school camp, and ask that she takes care of that rather than getting the dollars in your hand. That way it's more of a jumper for one quarter's water or something. Much safer.

    As for patterns, Crystal Palace is my bet but it's going to take a lot of fiddling to get it to fit properly - you could be pulling out and re-knitting until the cows come home. Something with a deep neck line would be good like this pattern, though. I'll hunt around my patterns and see what I can find.

  6. I'll give you a few links that have yarn requirements and you can see if they match up with what you've got:
    How about Silken Spencer from this edition of IK: http://www.interweaveknits.com/preview/2006_fall.asp
    Chenille Cutaway Jacket or Fur-Trimmed Wrap (Pam Allen) in this IK:

  7. My recent commissions are going the same way as Bells' - they buy the yarn and I get the fun of knitting (and to bask in the admiration of a muggle for a while), and there might be a bottle of wine or some choccies at the end. I worked out that if I was paid for my time to knit a beanie it end up costing about $100!

    So the "skills swap" idea is definately a good one.

    Can't help immediately in the pattern front but will have a look.

    And yes, I prefer the stocking stitch too.

  8. hmm....it looks quite nice - are you going to be happy working with it? That's always my criteria when taking a commission - how much can I bear working with something that I didn't choose and might not have ever chosen for myself?

  9. Any way you can get your stepmom to pick the pattern? Sounds likes she wants something pretty conservative in construction (based on your description), but the yarn itself is a little "edgy" (from all aspects, from the slight hint of metallic to the texture and colors). I like the designs you've collected for the selection. I think the Tahoe one is probably the closest - with the exception of the slight bell in the sleeves. Good luck with it. I'd tally up the hours and come up with a per hour fee - or perhaps the cost of a similar sweater - more high-end department store price versus upscale boutique (althoug the later would be more appropriate given your skill, attention to detail, and the no doubt high quality of the end product).

    Of course you can say, "How about a nice shawl that will NEVER go out of style and always look modern - can be worn so many ways, even over a lightweight knit sweater, or over a blazer or thin jacket?"

  10. After reading over the comments everyone left, I think shawl would be a better way to go.

    My op, for what it's worth.

    : )

  11. Ah..:) Looks like you are in good hands. Everyone's already chipped in with good ideas.


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