Monday, May 5, 2014

Circling back

Four years ago, I started my Early Bird Cardigan, got very waylaid, and went off to knit 15 other sweaters. I recently found my way back to this project, a sweater I've always loved.

Back then, I started with a stunning cable from Kathy Zimmerman. She also turned me on to the perfect yarn, Vintage Alpaca DK from Kraemer Yarns. A softer, more glorious merino and alpaca blend does not exist. It is truly the perfect match for this sweater.

At the time, I finished the sleeves - aren't they beautiful?

And then started on the back before I got waylaid. I wrapped the original back around my beloved pug and took this picture, one of my absolute favorites of Moosie.

That was then - this is now. I've spent several years envisioning and re-envisioning this cardigan and have started again in earnest. I gutted the back - I've earned a four-year degree in sweater shaping since I first began and know much more about how to make a garment that fits my complicated (yeah, that's the correct adjective!) body. This time, I made it in the shape of my shape. That means it will fit.

Because of the all-over patterning, I can't do my favorite princess-seam shaping - there's no way to put the decreases in a third of the way in on each side without breaking the cables, so I have to make do with side shaping. It's turning out pretty well thus far - we'll see how the sweater fits at the end.

In this go-round, I added more of the main cables to the center of the garment and added more of the little cables at the sides. This give me a strong vertical up the center back. 

Unlike the first rendition, my plan now is to make this a modified drop cardigan, but with significantly greater decreases at the crossback than usual. This crossback is only going to be 17 inches wide - most modified drop sleeve sweaters are much wider. I want this to fit my shoulders almost like a set-in sleeve. I used a similar approach with my Memories of Maine cardigan and it fits great.

With this new approach, I am also adding a saddle shoulder, again drawing inspiration from the Memories of Maine cardigan. Note that the Maine cardigan was knit top down - my Early Bird is knitted from the bottom up, but it's using a similar construction.

This means I need to unravel the sleeve caps back to the widest part and then to knit straight up. When the new sleeve cap is the proper length, I'm going to continue the center cable to create the saddle shoulder, as shown in the mockup below. Everything will be seamed together at the end.

I will finish the back tonight and then maybe fix the sleeves so I can noodle some more on the fronts. I have this vision of a very interesting and beautiful button band and neckline treatment, but I have to cogitate some more on how to actually make it work. Stay tuned...


  1. Absolutely beautiful. I always loved this sweater. And thanks for the yarn recommendation.
    re: princ.seams.
    Can you give a good tutorial for back princess seams?
    I usually divided into 3rds with a ssk and a k2tog.,decreasing every 5 or 6 rows, knitting evenly and then increasing after that .
    Would you add a tip or 2 for calculation after the even section,Julie?(not a-line, but proportioned shape to get rid of back flair at the hem.) t_a

    1. Teresa, Amy Herzog is the queen of back waist shaping. Try this from her Fit to Flatter tutorials:!/libertymontano/explore/knits-4675/blocks/bookmark/fittoflatterinstallment8shaping

    2. Hi, do you happen to have these posts or the accompanying pdfs? I don't think they are available online anymore?

  2. Gorgeous! You are amazing! And thanks so much for sharing. I learn so much about sizing/grading from your blog.

  3. Wow! You have gotten so far on the back- it looks so awesome.

  4. This is going to be spectacular! I think with this one you've moved well into the graduate school of sweater design!


  5. I've wondered what happened to this wonderful project (but didn't want to be impertinent and ask! ha-ha!)
    I'm so happy to see it featured again. It's one of the most beautiful cable patterns I've ever seen.
    Horay, the Early Bird is back!

    1. Hooray, Pat is back! Miss you, girl!

  6. How neat to see you come around to an old favorite with all this new knowledge. The sweater is going to be gorgeous!