Thanks for voting and helping me with my pattern decision. I love it how polls pull all of the so-called "lurkers" out of hiding. Clicking buttons on a poll is kind of fun, don't you think? :)
Yesterday, as I was knitting short-rows to raise the back neckline of my Green Tea Cardi (based on the collar short rows for Black Friday), I started thinking about improvising.
For a line-by-line of how I did this, check my Ravelry notes.
I like directions. I like following them exactly. I don't always even know why I'm doing what I'm doing -- I just place my complete faith in the designer, trusting that I'll have a properly shaped sweater in the end. However, the more I knit sweaters, the more I understand them.
Socks are something that I now understand pretty thoroughly, but when I first started knitting them, I followed patterns explicitly, line for line, knitting blindly through pair after pair until one day, I finally "got" it. A sock is a sock; there are certain structural details that are important, and beyond that, there is a heck of a lot of room for improvising.
Now that I've gotten a handful of sweaters under my belt, I am beginning to understand what bits make for a well fitting garment, which details I really enjoy, and how to produce results I am going to love. I'm not saying that I'll ever want to design a sweater (or design a sock from scratch, Cat Bordhi or Cookie A style!), but I am starting to feel like I might be able to wrap my mind around modifications beyond the obvious lengthening or shortening of something.
Based on this line of thought, and your votes, this is what I've decided: I am purchasing the Estelle pattern, but, since I am just so smitten with the shawl collar idea, I'm going to modify the neckline with a bit of a "V" shaping, and then pick up stitches for a wee little shawl collar when I pick up for the button bands at the end. This will remove the danger of "sameness", while still giving me a cardigan with minimal finishing, and that lovely lace detail. I'm armed with a washed and dried swatch, gorgeous yarn, and my favorite wooden KnitPicks circulars, so we'll see what happens. And the adventure begins...