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Cambridge Cables

Designs come to me in a lot of different ways. Sometimes there is a fair amount of work: plotting, swatching, testing, and fiddling to get a design to look the way I want it to. Other designs appear in my head pretty much in their final form. This sweater was one of the latter. I know exactly what inspired the design too, it was this shirt:

I was getting dressed one morning and I realized the reason I like this shirt so much is the combination of the empire waist with the A line body. So many empire waist shirts make everyone who wears them look pregnant but the A line increases seem to help with that. The next thing I thought was - I bet I could make something like this.

The cable was the immediate answer to the question, “How do I work the waistband?” I’d used the cable cast off in a previous design so I knew it could work well here. I also knew right away that I needed to change the neckline – it may look nice but it’s my least favorite part of the shirt. I decided to pair the waistband cable with a similar cable forming a V shaped neckline which is one of my favorites. I wanted to be certain the empire waist would fall below the bust line for ladies of all sizes so I went with top down raglan shaping. I was able to write the directions for the bust short rows independent of the chosen garment size so everyone can customize the garment to their own shape. Hemming the tunic body and the cuffs with cables and putting cables on the raglan increases carried the cable theme throughout the garment without cables becoming the main point of the sweater.

The idea came easily to me, but then there’s the matter of getting it across to others. I admit to not being the best at sketching garments:

I mostly just hope to get the general shape and theme down on paper. Then I like to highlight the details in my swatch. I showed the collar design, raglan increasing, and cable bind off all in one 4x4 inch square (well, trapezoid-ish, actually).

Once my design was accepted I let the folks at Twist Collective pick the yarn. I had some suggestions on fiber content and weight to give it the right drape, but I felt the sweater would work in just about any color. I was thrilled to get a chance to work with Tosh Merino it’s a lovely yarn, possibly one of the softest I’ve ever worked with. Once it arrived I had a bit of a mad dash to get the sweater knit up on time. Luckily I could knit during the conference I had at work that week! With 8 hours of knitting time every day the sweater worked up quickly, and I even took a moment to take a quick photo before blocking it and sending it on its way:

The sweater has about 1 inch of negative ease when I wear it, compared with 1 inch of positive ease on the model.

see lots more photos and buy the pattern here.

I like knit tops with a little negative ease so I’m struck by how much nicer it looks with positive ease. The fit of the collar and the drape of the body and sleeves really need that extra ease.

I think this sweater could easily be changed in a few ways to fit the needs or mood of the knitter. I’d be really interested to see it knit up with the stretches of plain stockinette knit in a more variegated or handpainted yarn and the cables worked in a coordinating solid color. The V neck could be extended, as long as the knitter is willing to pay attention to the sleeve and bust shaping while working the cables at the same time. And for people who want a more fitted body working some extra decrease rows in the bust before the empire waistline would be a breeze.



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 19th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
a mini essay on ease
Unlike woven fabric knitting is stretchy (I'm sure you know that much) What it means, when you're hand-knitting something, is that you have to (or at least should) decide ahead of time if you want the garment to have a little extra fabric (like most sewing projects) or to fit exactly, or even to have a little less fabric. Knitters spend a lot of time discussing the ease of a garment, this is what they're talking about. It's important in sewing, but you always have positive ease in sewing, it's just a question of how much (well, never say always, if you're working on the bias you can have a tiny bit of negative ease).

The sweater itself is 35 inches around the bust, the model is probably 34ish inches around while I'm 36ish inches around. So if you look at the photo on the model you can see the drape of the fabric, the crinkles at the elbow where the extra fabric is obvious, and the way the collar stands up. The same exact sweater on me is stretched a little tight around the bust, across the shoulders, and around my elbows.

In some garments the stretch would be a good thing (hats, gloves, also some styles of vests and sweaters, my la moelle vest has about an inch of negative ease, and looks great) But in this one you need the sweater to be a bit bigger then the person wearing it so the fabric can drape properly.
Nov. 19th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
I love seeing your thought process here. And the sweater is gorgeous!
Nov. 19th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
Feb. 17th, 2010 04:37 pm (UTC)
Neat post! Thanks for sharing this process. And I think your sketch is great :)

(TotTopper on ravelry)
Feb. 17th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks! The sketches are the hardest part for me.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )