I thought I’d start writing about my latest sweater effort. This blog post is entitled Cobalt Cables Sweater, and that’s with both apologies and thanks to Marly Bird. So, why both apologies and thanks? What originally started off as a riff of Marly’s cool pattern has morphed into something so different that I’m calling it Offset Diamonds Aran. So, apologies for changing the pattern so much, but also gratitude for the inspiration, and also for the clear directions and charts. If you’re interested, the pattern is in Fons and Porter’s Love of Knitting, Fall 2013. At any rate, I thought I’d write about how I chose this pattern, and why I’m making the changes I’ve decided to make, and how those changes turn out.
This sweater will be for my husband, Steve. Any time I make a sweater for another adult, or a child old enough to help make decisions about sweater features, sweater-making begins with at least one conversation. We look at sweaters the recipient already owns and discuss what he or she likes or dislikes about them. I measure the recipient and at least one good-fitting sweater. We leaf through pattern books and magazines and talk about what the recipient would like. Cables? Plain knitting? How closely fitted should it be? What color and fiber? What sort of neckline? Will it need to be rugged, for the outdoors, or is it a special occasion sweater? And on and on.
As I was finishing the last sweater in my queue, I sat down with Steve to have The Sweater Conversation. I knew he wanted cables, something rugged to wear for outdoor activities. Indeed, I’d ordered and received the yarn some time earlier. He chose Virtual Yarns 3-ply Hebridean in Lapwing. When it came time to have the Sweater Conversation, I’d already swatched up some candidate cable patterns and marked some ideas in my pattern books.
Steve settled on Marly Bird’s Cobalt Cables, but of course, we came up with some changes right away. Could I make the neckline more snug? And could I incorporate a basketweave pattern somehow? Oh, and take care to make the sweater somewhat fitted?
Yes, indeedy. The good thing about being a knitter is being able to make sweaters that fit the person well. To make a smaller neckline, I’d need to make the shoulder saddle narrower, for starters, and then do some more decreasing in the collar, when I arrived at that point. I decided to narrow the saddle by using a basketweave pattern instead of a wider diamond, as is called for in the pattern.
To incorporate the basketweave pattern but keep the overall panel narrow enough for Steve’s frame, I eliminated the cables between the diamonds, choosing to flank the diamond panel with the cables, followed by basketweave. I also swapped out the filler seed stitch with another filler I’d used on an Aran some years ago.
With those basic changes in mind, I swatched up the individual patterns and then did one large swatch before doing math, math, and more math to ensure a good fit. I changed the sleeves to be shallow cap sleeves with saddles (for more on this fit, see Janet Szabo’s book on designing Aran sweaters). Because Steve likes a snug ribbing, I used 20% fewer stitches there, then increased to obtain the correct number of stitches for the pattern.
So far, so good. I knit the first repeat and then cast those stitches off onto a string so that I could check the measurements. They’re spot-on, so I’ll be able to continue with the back and not worry so much about whether it’ll fit or not.
So, Cobalt Cables it isn’t. Not quite. But what it will be is a unique sweater that suits the wearer well.