This is a traditional cable aran cardigan inspired by the neo-gothic stonework architecture of Bay Area treasure Julia Morgan.
Step 1: I swatched like crazy in 2013 with a bunch of different yarns to see what I’d like the most. I tried out:
- Berrocco Tweed
- Brooklyn Tweed Shelter
- Rowan Felted Tweed Aran
- Blackwater Abbey Worsted
- Cascade Eco Wool
Then this summer, after I made my yarn choice, I made about four different sleeves, that, one after another seemed to be all wrong (one counts as an official swatch). The final sleeve design has a slightly parabolic shape. It’s got a snug wrist, but then gives way for the forearm and elbow.
I designed this to have positive ease throughout (except for the wrists). Once I knitted a good sleeve, I used the number of stitches for the upper arm, before the armpit decreases, and multiplied it by 3 for the total body stitches, then divided that number in half for the total back stitches, divided that number in half for the front body stitches MINUS button band stitches.
Charted all the cable patterns with my trusty Knitters Graph Paper Journal, keeping the cable-to-moss stitch ratio (relatively) even in order to maintain a similar tension throughout.
Knitted each piece – 2 sleeves, 1 back, 2 fronts & their pockets – up to the armpit decreases. Then commenced the raglan shaping on each: a standard 45º angle, ie. decrease by 1 st. on each side of work on alternating rows.
Crew-neck is shaped over about 18 rows. On alternating rows, bind off 4 st, then 3, then 2, 2, 2, then 1 henceforth until 1 st. remains. (PS, charting a neck shape can be an invaluable tool! #KGPJ)
Stitched the raglan seams using Mattress Stitch, leaving the ends on until final finishing. Seamed the sleeves, body sides, then armpits with Mattress Stitch. Wove in ends, saving tops of raglan seams for later.
Then using smaller needles I picked up 16 stitches from each front neck shaping, and the stitches on st. holders for the sleeves and back thusly: Right Front, Right Sleeve, Back, Left Sleeve, Left Front. Worked about 14 rows in 1x1 twisted st. ribbing for the neck, and then bound off. Wove in all the rest of the ends.
Last came the button band. Some Arans call for the button bands before the neck band, some not. I found it to be less crazy-making to not have to think about a buttonhole while I was knitting the neck band, so I opted for ‘not’. Using smaller needles, I cast on 11 sts. and worked 1x1 tw. st. ribbing until its length equaled the front, WHILST giving the button band a good stretch. Placed stitch markers where I wanted buttons to go, knitted the next one with buttonholes. Stitched on to fronts. Wove in all ends.
Bonus round! Attaching the Buttons… hand-made ceramic stoneware, made by a clay artist I met while in Santa Fe New Mexico in 2013! Not only am I delighted to have yet another hand-made aspect to my garment, the stoneware really speaks to the theme of the design, Julia Morgan’s Stonework architecture.
Some final thoughts:
Being an EZ fanatic, I’m always looking for ways to make my sweaters seamless. But I followed tradition with this Aran Cardigan, and learned to respect it. I have to admit that the seaming was time-consuming, but not cumbersome. What WAS cumbersome, however, was knitting the neck band – hefting the entire garment along with me as I worked back and forth, back and forth. Whew!
As much as I love seamless knitting, and the magic of a complete garment done in nearly one fell swoop, there’s isn’t enough compelling logic to knitting this many cables in the round. Given the amount of K and P sts, one may as well relinquish to the RS-WS way. Plus, seams are extra reinforcement, and I was able to hone my (admittedly sloppy) finishing skills. I feel I have a good grasp on Mattress Stitch now.
(In pondering the future: Can I knit a raglan sweater in the round seamlessly, and then reinforce my seamless “seams” with an extra seam?)