Spectrum Sweater
November 2015
April 2016

Spectrum Sweater

Project info
I'm usually a size UK 10
Needles & yarn
US 3 - 3.25 mm
US 7 - 4.5 mm
Natural & Spectrum

Made from scratch!

Had fibre custom-blended: superwash merino with tussah silk, baby camel, light brown yak and fawn-coloured alpaca.

Dyed half as a gradient, left the other half undyed.

Spun and chain-plied.

Knit up into my first colourwork sweater, using inspiration from online patterns but basically making up the whole design as I went along.

Update 30 April 2016: I’ve started my notes/help section below. Please bear with me as I rummage through the vestiges of my memory and garble my way through the explanation/recipe.

ADDED: charts of the colourwork. Hope I got em all right from memory. The section within the red rectangle is one full repeat.

Feel free to let me know if anything is unclear.

How to make a similar sweater

Getting started

  • This is a top-down raglan with a similar construction to my Lily Pond and An Corrán Trá projects.

  • I used dk/sport handspun (my handspun is denser than commercial yarn) and US 7 / 4.5mm needles.

  • The sleeve and neckline edgings are attached i-cord. I used this method for a cleaner look between the contrasting yarns, and cast on 5 st on US 3 / 3.25mm needles. Attached i-cord can be done on live stitches (sleeves) with no need to bind off first, or by picking up stitches as you go along an edge (neckline).

  • Stockinette gauge swatch recommended. Roughly calculate the required stitch count for the back of the neck, between the shoulder increases. It helps if you own a well-fitting raglan to measure the correct width.

  • Divide your sweater in sixths to figure out the stitch counts for each part. The front and back are 2 sixths each, the sleeves are 1 sixth each. Place markers between them; this is where you will do the increases. Because you are creating a scoop neckline, the front will not have its full stitch count right away: you start with just a couple of sts on each side (say 2) and increase until the front has the same stitch count as the back.

  • For example, say you cast on around 24 stitches for the back, 12 each for the sleeves, and 6 on each side for the front / neckline, so a total of 60 sts. Then you would P one row, placing markers as follows: P6, place marker, P12, PM, P24, PM, P12, PM, P6. (IIRC I used slightly fewer stitches for the sleeves than exactly 1 sixth of the total.)

  • The first part of the raglan is knitted flat (not in the round). I opted for one-colour stockinette in my gradient yarn (main colour, MC) until I finished the neckline increases.

  • As you knit this stockinette, do raglan increases on every K row: kfb, slip marker, kfb for each marker. AT THE SAME TIME shape for the neckline by kfb in the first and last stitch of K rows. You will continue these increases for the neck until the front of the sweater has the same stitch count as the back of the sweater.

  • How often you increase determines the shape of the neckline. For more of a V-shape, increase in the first and last st of every K row (narrow/shallow V) or every other K row (wider, lower V) and continue until the front and back st counts are the same, then join in the round. For a higher, slightly square neckline like mine, knit several rows without increasing at all, then increase in the first and last st of every K row for a couple of rows only, then cast on several extra stitches at once at the end of the knit row to cover the rest of the neckline. Make sure the front and back st counts are the same, and join in the round. If you skip rows you get a deeper scoop. The pattern I used for Lily Pond will be helpful if you haven’t done a neckline like this before.

  • Take the example stitch count posted above. If you started with 24 st for the back and 6 on each side of the neck (12 in total), then you need to increase a total of 12 st on the front to get the same st count on front and back. You could spread a few increases out over the knit rows, say, increasing every other K row three times (6 st total), and then cast on the other 6 at once.

  • Note: if you do a low neckline, you will probably need to stop the sleeve increases before the neckline increases. Because my neckline was quite high, it was the other way around. I added a Paint picture at the bottom of the photos to clarify. My sweater is like the sweater drawn on the left.

After joining in the round

  • Once you’ve joined in the round (placing a marker at the join), keep doing increases around the markers until the sleeve parts are wide enough to fit snugly around your upper arm near the armpit.

  • AT THE SAME TIME, as soon as you’ve joined in the round, you can join your contrast colour yarn (CC) and start a mosaic pattern. I’m not completely happy with how mine turned out - if I could redo it, I would use only the small squares at the top. Here’s how to do those:

  • My stitch count was a multiple of 6. Row 1 (CC): K all st. Row 2 (MC): K2, sl 1, repeat to end. Row 3: same as row 2. Row 4: same as row 1. You will of course still be doing raglan increases, and that is why I wanted something simple here. I had hardly any colourwork experience and didn’t know how to combine colourwork with raglan increases, hence mosaic. Even as my stitch count increased, I simply continued in pattern for the mosaic. If you’re more experienced than I, you will probably know much more elegant ways to do this.

  • OK, once your sleeve parts are wide enough, the fun starts! On the next row, put all the stitches between the sleeve markers on scrap yarn or stitch holders. Count how many stitches you have left for the front and back. It helps to have a nice divisible number for the colourwork. I had a total of 72 stitches around, so I looked for patterns with 6-stitch or 12-stitch repeats. If you need to adjust your st count so as to end up with a nice even number, you can cast on 1-2 st under each arm (where you put the sleeve st on scrap yarn). If not, simply pull the yarn tight when you skip the sleeve stitches and go on knitting. Knit the next two rows in your CC (in my case, the undyed yarn).

  • Start your first colourwork pattern. Because it was my first cw project, I went for simple repeating patterns that were easy to read and memorise. I think I found one of mine through Google image search, one in a free Rav pattern, and one I drew myself. I used different coloured markers to draw them clearly on graph paper so I could see how they repeated. Edit: added charts to the photos.

  • For my colourwork, I held the CC in my left and the MC in my right hand, knitting continental with one and English with the other. I also caught the floats in a really easy way as I knitted. Not sure which video tutorial I used, but it may have been this one. I got the hang of it pretty quickly and the inside of the sweater is beautifully tidy, with no long floats whatsoever.

  • I did not use any kind of shaping for the body, because I didn’t want to mess with my stitch count. The shaping it appears to have, is just negative ease and pattern placement (the green one looks slimmer than the turquoise/aqua). Anyway, after breastfeeding 2 kids my tits have shrunk to the point where I can do without bust darts.

  • Looking at the sweater though, you might conceivably be able to add 1-2 st under each arm in the first white band (to make slightly more bust room) and decrease these again in the second white band just underneath the bust. In that case the colourwork across the bust would be a different number of stitch repeats. Or if you are not a colourwork noob like me, you can probably do more sophisticated shaping.

  • Make as many colourwork panels as you like, separating them from one another with 2 or more rows of CC. You can try the sweater on as you go if the cable on your needle is long enough (or put the stitches on a long piece of yarn). That way you can make sure the bands hit in flattering places to create a nice optical effect (to me, the placement of the green band does good things to my waistline).

  • Once the sweater is long enough, knit several rows of k1 p1 in CC, then bind off using a stretchy method like Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind-off. Alternatively, use the attached i-cord finishing method, taking care not to make it too tight if you want it to fit across the hips.

Sleeves and finishing

  • I knitted most of the sleeves in my CC because my MC was one long handspun gradient and I didn’t want to mess with that. If you don’t do a gradient or you use commerial yarn, it is easier to do colourwork sleeves as well. I did save some scraps of green and gold to add to the red, so I have a lovely little gradient going on at the bottom of the sleeves. I used the same pattern as the bottom pattern used on the body.

  • Pick up the stitches of one sleeve on DPN, join in the round, place marker, and start knitting every row in CC. In my case, I had made the armholes a bit too big (too many sleeve stitches) so I decreased one stitch after the marker for 18 rows. You can see these decreases in the second photo. Normally, I make sure I have barely enough stitches to fit around my arm, so I can pick up 2-4 stitches under the arm. This makes for a neater armpit. If you don’t pick up any stitches here, you will have a hole there that you need to close as you weave in the ends.

  • Other than the decreases described above, I did no shaping in the sleeves either. Try the sleeves on as you knit, and decide where to start the colourwork cuff. Finish with this attached i-cord and do the other sleeve the same way (it helps if you keep notes of no. of rows, shaping, etc. when you do the first sleeve so you can do the second one exactly the same).

  • Pick up stitches along the neckline (about 1 in each stitch of your work) and finish with the attached i-cord. Use contrasting colour, i.e. if the knitting is in MC, use CC for the i-cord and vice versa.

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November 2015
April 2016
About this pattern
Personal pattern (not in Ravelry)
  • Project created: April 16, 2016
  • Finished: April 16, 2016
  • Updated: February 21, 2021