Because there’s already one original sweater design underway in the house, when I decided to knit my mom a sweater, it came to me that I didn’t have to start from scratch, maybe I could adapt an existing pattern, and save my brain (and time).
In looking for a suitable pattern, I decided to look for a cardigan, preferably with a shawl collar. Generally, when I come across patterns on Ravelry (or other places, and hit the lovely “ravel it” button on my Firefox browser), I’ll save them as a favorite, adding tags like “cardigan cable sweater Mom” and then later I can check all the cardigans, or the ones labeled Mom to find suitable things. In this case, I think I just searched the amazing Ravelry database for cardigans and came across the free Knitty pattern Victoria – by the lovely Lori Versaci. This is a basic slouchy kind of sweater – a moss stitch (no biggie if you’re a continental knitter -I’m just saying), but I really love the collar on this sweater, and my mom loves a shawl collar.
I checked out the projects on Ravelry (one search tip – look at the “helpful” ones – check out that great new tutorial on Ravelry main page if you don’t know how to do that), and found someone else who’d designed her own cable stitch pattern that she’d put into the schematic of the Victoria sweater. She mentioned that the schematic (the measurements of the sweater) were good enough to make it easy to adapt, and checking it myself, I realized she was right. There’s no body shaping, and Lori tells you where to start the band and collar shaping too.
The next step was to figure out what stitch pattern to use for the sweater. My mom is 89 and more traditional, and small and round, so I wanted some interesting pattern on the front of the sweater, but something basic on the rest. In searching my pattern books and stitch dictionaries, I found one in Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns – the Triple Gull Stitch on p. 248. But I wanted a bigger panel, and having just knit the Yarn Over Cable socks by Charlene Schurch (from Sensational Knitted Socks), I decided to do a mirrored-version of that cable pattern on each side, and add in a small bit of garter rib. I liked how it came out:
Once the stitch pattern for the cable insert was determined, I created a chart for the pattern (it’s pretty simple, other than the Triple Gull Stitch) with some Intwined Studio software, but I could have gotten away with out it. But what about the rest of the body? and the sleeves?
Then I realized that doing a 5×1 garter rib over the whole body would add a nice vertical line and complement the cable pattern, and would be able to come out of the 1×1 ribbing with a lovely line. With a bit of swatching, I got gauge (meaning that all the stitch counts were going to be the same as in the pattern – much easier!) and was able to cast on. Now I did add stitches when I switched from the ribbing to into the cable pattern insert (swatching is your friend here) but from now on I can pretty much just follow the measurements of the pattern, making the adjustments in length. I’m not sure I’ll do the rib pattern for the sleeves, those might end up with plain stockinette, that’s a later decision.
Whew, it sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it? But in fact, not as much as figuring out a whole design (I respect how much work designers put in), and because Lori is talented, and others have knit the pattern, I know her measurements will work. It’s a good way to dip your toe into designing for knitting, because someone else has done some of the heavy lifting, and your sweater looks like an original – which it mostly is.
On the health front, I’m happy to report that I am feeling stronger, and went to another doctor to get some meds for the pesky lingering effects from the chicken pox – and may get another picture of my head (not the kind of “head shot” that I can share with y’all) to be sure that what I’m experiencing is really from the chicken pox. We shall see.