So a while back I was knitting the tops of the sleeves of my Norsk Strikkedesign-inspired cardigan-to-be.
I finished the green-on-black bands around both sleeves and around the top of the lower body. The body is all in one piece, with three steeks (for the front and both armholes). The time to make decisions about the yoke patterning could not be delayed any longer.
I had intended to draft freehand designs with swirls in the yoke area, similar but not identical to the charting in Lise Kolstad Yuen’s design in the book, which I am using for inspiration. While turning pages to look at the way she put the yoke pattern together, I flipped open another set of pages with a yoke design for which the chart was significantly easier to read. I thought, “Hey, that looks like it would be compatible with what I’m doing. . . .”
I was not altogether surprised to discover that the second sweater was by the same designer. No wonder its motifs felt compatible with the concept I’m working from. In this photo, the pages for the sweater that is my primary inspiration are on the left; its neighbor is on the right.
I took a couple of the motifs from the second sweater, used in its sleeves and the sides of its body, and started exploring how they might fit into my yoke sections. I worked with gauge-correct graph paper printed out with Print-A-Grid, taped together and measured off to the actual stitch count and the planned row count of my yoke area (I re-measured my gauge and re-counted my live stitches before I drew the lines).
I could place the motifs on both front panels and on the back so they’d fit nicely. Initially I didn’t pay attention to how the designs would crop at the armholes, front edges, or shoulders—sometimes I focus on those areas first, but in my opinion this design needed to be centered on the back and to be placed judiciously within the fronts. I did match the baselines of the patterns on the front and the back. I was about to say "of course," but I can imagine situations where I might not do that. Few, but possible.
Here’s how I set the motifs into the front panel:
And here’s how I set them into the back:
I used highlighters in a variety of colors to trace out the sections of the motifs. While I intended to knit the design in two colors (black on blue), a multicolor chart is easier to draw (fewer errors) and later is easier to knit from. A few bright white blobs indicate where I colored the wrong square anyway and had to touch up with error-correction fluid.
Because I only need to make one size, I could fudge the edges to suit myself. Below are the back and the
front charts bumped up against each other so I could look at how the
armholes worked, and when I took this I’d started to sketch in the
edges on the front (left piece). These are working drawings; I didn’t redraw when I repositioned the band motif—the green—in relation to the armhole decreases on the body, so there’s one row of chart sketched in below the squares on the chart for the front (on the left). I didn’t bother redrawing the band on the chart for the back (on the right). I’d already figured out how the horizontal repeats would work and that was all I needed to know there. Sometimes I am more compulsive about redrawing the whole chart, but I was impatient on this one.
As I mentioned, I didn’t focus on how the patterns would meet across the shoulders, and I still haven’t worked that out. Here’s the situation I’ll be dealing with, though. The patterns don’t align from front to back. There are the same number of stitches in each shoulder; it just looks like the front has more stitches in this photo because I didn’t tape the charts together. I’m going to find it an interesting challenge to figure out how to bridge the pattern across the shoulders. But not yet!
I also haven’t decided whether the front neckline will be V or crew. I don’t have to make that decision now, either.
Here’s how I resolved my patterns at the edges. To make it easier to see what’s going on in the photo of the charts (a funky way to convey the information, but it’s what I’ve got right now), I outlined a few critical edges in green and joined the shoulders accurately with removable tape.
- 1a and 1b Front armhole edges and front cardigan edges. I added some color patterning here to keep from having long floats leading up to the edges, since the full motifs didn’t fit and I didn’t want to just put in partial motifs that would look like fragments. I don’t mind partials, but they need to look like they make sense.
- 2 The back armhole edge could accommodate a swoop of one of the motifs in a way I could live with. I charted off the edge so I could be sure I was getting the squares laid in accurately.
- 3 Unlike on the original, I’m going to do a little shaping on the back neckline. Between the 3 and the 1b, I’m going to do something about a front neckline!
- 4 Here’s the shoulder area that I’m going to need to resolve in a way that blends the fronts and the back. I have some ideas. One involves drawing a swoop (like the motif that’s drawn in pink, only customized to the space) that bridges the two pieces of knitting, which will be joined with a three-needle bind-off. Another involves taking a different motif from the second sweater and playing with it. I’ve put myself into a situation where I need to solve this problem because I decided to center the motifs on the back upper body and the front upper body pieces.
Once I had filled in the side edges on the front and back, though, I could start knitting again. Often I work out only enough of the design questions to pick up the needles again and go. The bright pink sticky flags show my current location in the work. I’m knitting circularly, so there are stickies on both front and back. No, I don’t knit with the charts like this! They’re just temporarily joined for designing (and explaining) purposes.
I’ve got maybe a dozen rows to go before the V-neck decision. I could start a V now if I wanted a deep one.
At first, I wasn’t sure there was enough contrast between the blue and the black to warrant all the color work I was doing. I kept peering at the blue-and-black on the sleeve cuffs—there was just a touch of that color mix there—and it looked fine. You can’t judge these things until you’ve got a chunk of the patterning worked. I think the contrast is going to be okay.
Next post about this sweater: a few tech points about the knitting itself.