© Julie ADams Photography

Making clothes is always a messy business. Our bodies are so lumpily assembled, with arcs everywhere, all swooping and wild. When laid flat, the pattern pieces corresponding to our parts will never lock easily together, no matter how deliberately arranged. In creating woven apparel, these pieces are cut from sheets of premade fabric, leaving wasteful remnants. (For a short time, American Apparel packaged the scraps for customers, pricing them at $8. This may have been a joke—let's hope it was.) To create knit garments, though, the pieces are formed rather than cut out. Through yarn and math and fussy needle grids, they take their proper shape. Such knitten forms are how esteemed designer (and knitwear teacher) Helen Sharp begins.

Knitwear exists in a slanted realm, where completely different things matter. For the inexperienced, brutal shit storms are inevitable. There are trillions of types of stitches, which behave varyingly. Tuck stitches scrunch together, shortening the fabric, Helen explains. Garter stitches hang heavily, adding length. Tensions bring more problems: A garment with too loose a weave suddenly becomes flimsy and cheap looking. But if it's too tight, the stretch vanishes, affecting fit.

Helen has been working for loads of years, and her artsy projects are severely delightful. She's formed sculptural panties from paper and glue, and from the waistband of an old pair of jeans. Also: arranged on a podium, a batch of stuffed knit gloves reaching into the air, suggesting disembodied hands. Her body of work is largely commercial, though, and her designs sell to established brands. Flipping through her portfolio, we see a catalog photo with one of her traditional-style Fair Isle cardigans festooned with blurry geometric patterns, purchased by J. Crew. Its wearer is a clean woman, standing in a clean room, thinking clean thoughts.

Next is a chunky, hand-knit skirt and sweater set, earth-toned and offset with blocky tribal shapes, featured in a spread in British Vogue. The image shows a beautiful model, crouching elegantly in a fantasy garden scene. On her head rests a gigantic brimmed hat, piled with broccoli and lettuce. She appears bored beyond words. The next look, created for Italian designer Carla Radaelli, is aggressively dazzling: The model's sweater is at once angular and billowy, with dolman sleeves, and caked in sequins. Her hair is a crisply wadded pompadour, and high upon her temples, the fat strips of eye shadow and blush meet, forming a straight and vivid line. She looks great. recommended

Attention, makers of fashion and workers of garmentry: Tell me what you're doing at mjonjak@thestranger.com.