I am a proud graduate of Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and about a year ago, after a long process of nominations and voting, the college announced its new mascot- the Amherst College Mammoth! When I saw the new logo, my first thought was- that would make a great sweater!
Now, I could make a sweater for myself with the logo, and probably never have a problem. But I wanted to do something bigger. Besides earning an English degree at Amherst, I also learned to knit while I was there, and it seemed fitting to create a pattern others could use. On top of that, I wanted to use it as a way to give back to the College that gave me so much. In my church (I'm Episcopalian) there's a saying, that we can (and should) offer our "Time, Treasure, and Talent". I don't have much in the way of treasure, but I thought I could use my time and (questionable) talent to develop the pattern.
Before I did so, however, I needed to get permission. Not only is it illegal to use a trademarked graphic in your knitwear design, I wanted the college's permission to promote it as the Amherst College mammoth sweater. So I sent an email to the school, hoping for the best but fully prepared to never get a response. (I should mention here that. although it's a small college, they're more in the habit of dealing with billionaire donors than people like me!) Very soon, I got an email, enthusiastically supporting the plan.
I immediately started working on the pattern. I knew I wanted to offer a range of sizes from babies to (very) large adults. I decided I wanted to make one chart for all sizes- for one thing, with all these sizes, it would be confusing enough to use the right directions, let alone find the right chart. Next, I wanted it to have the same scale- if a mom or dad wanted a matching sweater with a baby, I wanted a mammoth to fill each sweater front. In order to achieve this, I used a different weight for each size range- fingering for baby, dk for youth/small adult, aran for adults to plus size adults.
Next, I wanted to make it easy for knitters to customize it- for example, an adult with a large chest might want shorter arms. So I kept the shaping as simple as possible- a box shaped body with simple dropped sleeves. This makes it easy for a knitter to lengthen or shorten a body, switch sleeve sizes, etc. The only real difference in shaping is for the baby sizes- in those sizes, both the fronts and backs have neck shaping, while in the other sizes only the fronts have neck shaping. This is because a baby's head is so disproportionately large compared with its neck and shoulders that sweaters can be hard to pull over the baby's head. (That's also why I usually make baby cardigans rather than pullovers!) Besides making for easy modification, the boxy, simple shape fits the mood of the piece- a casual college sweatshirt look rather than a tailored fashion piece.
Next I got to work on the samples. It was more difficult than I had anticipated to find the right purples in each weight! (This was exacerbated by my colorblindness- I'm serious- and the failures of laptops/websites to accurately show colors).
Once the sweaters were done, I submitted the patterns and pictures to the college for approval, and they sent me a licensing agreement (!). In order for me to use the logo, I needed a legal agreement from them, and a lawyer not only took the time to write up the agreement, but walked me through all the aspects of it. This not only made this agreement clear, but I feel as though I've gotten a free education in licensing, which can only help me in the future.
They also sent me a copy of the second logo- the circle with just the mammoth face- which they said I could use if I preferred. I love this logo, but I thought, why not give knitters the choice, or the option to have one logo on the front and one on the back? So, I converted the logo to a chart with the same number of stitches and rows as the original, to make them interchangeable. Then I knitted up a version of that logo. Full disclosure.....I wanted to get the pattern out, so I didn't knit an entire new sweater...I knitted just the front with the new logo and sewed it on top of the already completed adult mammoth sweater for pictures!
So, now, the Mammoth sweater is live, and I'm hoping it will bring in at least some funds to the college, as well as giving other alums and students the opportunity to wear some college pride! In fact, I think it's cute enough to make and wear even without a connection to the college. The only thing that remains now is for me to make a version in my size, for me!