behind the scenes


We’re having a much-appreciated sunny day today, so I took advantage of the now ever-so-rare daylight to snap some photos of my sweater-in progress. They ended up a bit overexposed, but really anything that captures the brightness of the light brings a smile to my face, so overexposed photos are just fine by me.

96: knitting

I thought it might be fun to give y’all some behind-the-scenes rambling about my design process for the latest sweater I’m working on. I’m still not 100% sure everything’s going to come together nicely, but either way, it’s fun to talk about the choices I’m making along the way to creating a new sweater.

I decided awhile ago that I really wanted a squishy, comfy, grey shawl-collared cardigan, one that would work with a lot of the skirts and dresses that I wear and take some of the load off my poor Vahtralehed (which is currently my only handknit cardigan and thus sees more wear than it really ought to). I thought that garter rib would be a perfect choice for a squishy cardigan, so I started swatching…

garter rib

I knew from the start that I wanted to use Eco Wool; it’s my second-favorite yarn (behind Beaverslide), and I have quite a large stash of it, so it was the perfect choice. I ended up getting a nice texture on size 9 needles, so after that it was time to do some math using my stitch gauge of 4sts/inch. I’m about 34″ around at the bust (though that’s mostly ribcage, not so much bust!), and I wanted this cardigan to have a little bit of ease, so I calculated my cast-on number aiming for 35.5-36″. Of course, I actually ended up casting on the number of stitches I normally would for a 34″ sweater, since I intend to have around 1.5-2″ of button band taking up some space on the front; I’ll make sure to take that into account when I place the sleeves, later, so that I don’t end up with wonkiness between the width of the front vs. the back.

I began with a tubular cast-on (my favorite!), and knit 2 inches of 1×1 rib before switching to garter rib; I just hadn’t really liked the look of the edge I got when I started with garter rib after the tubular cast-on, so decided a bit of a switch at the hem would be nice. The next decision I needed to make was what to do with the waist-shaping. Since I want to add pockets to the fronts later on, I decided I’d try out placing all of the shaping on the back of the sweater, in princess-seam-style columns:

back shaping

I think this will end up being a really good choice, since I’m a bit more curvy from behind than from the front (which I’ve always found rather odd, but I guess bodies are just weird like that!), and this will help the cardigan to hug the curve in my back rather than bunch up. I created the waist-shaping using double-decreases, so that I could maintain the columns of garter rib – this meant that I was decreasing 4 stitches each decrease row, just as I would if I were decreasing at the sides, but all of the decreases were focused at the back.

Once I’d gotten the waist-shaping finished, I needed to decide where to start decreasing at the front edges to create the sort of wide v-neck shape that I’d need for the base of my shawl-collar. I did this by finding the point on my own body where I wanted the sides to start sloping away from each other, and then starting my decreases when the sweater reached that length, again using double-decreases to maintain my garter columns. I’m spacing those decreases fairly far apart, since I don’t want the slope to be too steep.

At this point, I’ve got about 3 more inches to knit on the body, and then it’ll be time to knit sleeves, which I’ll be knitting in the round up to the underarm before joining them to the body and finishing with seamless set-in sleeves at the yoke. It’ll be interesting to switch from doing garter-rib flat to doing it in the round!


8 thoughts on “behind the scenes

  1. It’s looking great! I love the yarn – that is going to be a cardigan that gets a lot of use. I need to add a few cardigans to my clutch of sweaters myself – lately it’s been all henleys, all the time around here.

    • Oh, yes, definitely a cardigan that will get a lot of use. I’m trying to focus on cardigans this year, since I have so few right now and they’re so very practical!


  2. barefootrooster

    love this insight into your process — thank you! i am totally with you on needing cardigans that go with dresses. in fact, i just bought a crappy grey cardigan that is the right basic shape to tide me over until i can make one i’m happy with. (so if you eventually need a test knitter, i might be interested…) can’t wait to see more!

    • Thanks! It was fun to put my thoughts in writing about this sweater. I will definitely keep you posted re: test-knitting, since I do intend to write this one up as a pattern/tutorial (and I hope to do so fairly soon rather than let it drag on and on like I have with other designs!).


  3. mick

    Thanks for the thoughts into your process! The decreases on the back not only look lovely, but make perfect sense. I’ll have to keep that in mind!

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