But the oak trees I grew up with yielded brown leaves and acorns every October. In 1964, when I first walked to school, every step between Cresthaven Elementary and my house was ankle deep in sienna oak leaves. While the squirrels remained fascinated with the little nuts, I adored the little hats - a harbinger of knitting things to come.
When Coastal Knits showed up in my mailbox, I instantly wanted to make my own Gnarly Oak Cardigan. I loved the green Pigeonroof Studios Cassiopeia DK Alana Dakos used for the model garment, but I knew mine needed to be brown.
Then I figured out my mods. The best thing about Coastal Knits (as I blogged about previously) is that all the sweaters are at least 60-inches wide. Bless those designers! Given this, I know the top of the sweater and arms will work perfectly without changing a thing. But I still need to accommodate the mighty derriere.
Knitted from the bottom up, the Gnarled Oak is written with straight sides. As we've discussed at least 100 times before, I don't have straight sides, so I'm making mine with a wider bottom and princess shaping. So how exactly do I figure out how to make this change?
First, I know from experience that I need a 74-inch hip if I'm going to make a longer cardigan (the Gnarled Oak is 29.5 inches long). I'm figuring in six inches of ease at the hips because that's what I'm comfortable with. I also know that the pattern's largest size (61.5 finished bust size) will fit me perfectly above the waist and will give me 3.5 inches of ease at the bustline.
So my task is to cast on additional stitches at the bottom of the sweater and then do decreases to the bustline. My goal is to end with as many stitches as called for in the pattern when it's time to divide for the sleeves.
Warning: here comes the math. First, I need to know the gauge, which is 6 stitches per inch (and yes, I swatched!). So, if I need to cast on 72 inches worth of stitches, I multiply 72 by 6 stitches per inch:
72 X 6 = 432
This means I need to cast on 444 stitches. Then I checked the pattern to see how many stitches I need to have when I'm ready to divide for the sleeves: 369 stitches. So, from the cast-on at bottom of the sweater, I need to decrease 75 stitches:
432 - 369 = 63
I'll round down to 62 to make things even.
Next up, I need to figure out the length of area over which I'll do the decreases. The pattern schematic shows that the sweater length from hem to underarms is 18.5 inches. But I don't want the decreases to go from the very bottom to the very top of the cardigan, so I give myself two inches of room at both the top and bottom of the sweater (see the schematic above). The bottom of the sweater has two inches of ribbing, so I'll start the decreases after the ribbing, and will go until two inches below the underarms. This means I'm going to have 14.5 inches of space over which to do decreases.
To sum up, I'm going to:
- Cast on 432 stitches
- Knit two inches of ribbing
- Start the decreases
- Decrease 57 stitches over 14.5 inches
- Knit two inches of stockinette
- Divide for the underarms
Okay. That's the plan. In my next installment, I'll tell you how to do the math to figure out those decreases, and how to figure out the placement of princess darts, too. In the meantime, here's a photo of my sweater in progress and in the perfect handpainted oak leaf brown, too.