Saturday, 8 January 2011

Keeping Pattern Correct

I wrote last month about my cardigan in Rowan Cocoon, to Sarah Hatton's Elise pattern. I should write about a modification that I made, that I didn't mention in my earlier post, because it is a change that I would suggest to anyone knitting this pattern.

Clearly, the cables are the main feature and because it is a V-neck cardigan with set-in sleeves, there have to be decreases at the armhole and neck edges that might overlap the cables. The narrower cables, over six stitches, are fairly easy to deal with. The cable at the armhole edge (in my size anyway) becomes a strip of stocking stitch alongside the sleeve seam, and the other one disappears fairly neatly and quickly into the neck decreases.

I assumed that the widest cable, over 14 stitches, would continue up to the shoulder seam, although you can't tell from the illustration in the Cocoon Collection book, because the model has long hair that hides the shoulders of the cardigan. So I was dismayed to discover on working through the pattern that in fact the decreases at the neck edge reduce the width of this cable by 2 stitches, several inches below the shoulder seam, and from then on the neck edge continues straight.  I don't know how you are supposed to adapt a cable that is designed for 14 stitches to look right over 12.  The pattern gives no help - it just says "keeping pattern correct"  (or actually "keeping patt correct"), and then tells  you how often to decrease at the armhole and neck edges. (That's not a peculiarity of this particular design, of course - it is usual for pattern writers to leave it up to the knitter to work out how to incorporate decreases or increases into the stitch pattern.)

The knitters that have posted photos of their finished Elise cardigans in Ravelry have all managed to reduce the width of the cable panel quite neatly, I must say.  But I couldn't see how it could be done well enough to look good and I didn't want the headache of trying.  What's more it seemed completely unnecessary.  Why not just make the shoulders three stitches wider, so that the 14-stitch cable panel is kept intact as far as the shoulder seam?   (The third stitch is for the selvage, or in my case to separate the cable from the button band, because I made a built-in button band.)   That works perfectly well - the shoulders are not too wide, and of course, the cable panel looks right throughout.

So my recommendation to anyone knitting this cardigan would be to do the same thing:  make the shoulders 3 stitches wider, so that you can stop decreasing at the neck edge on the fronts when you reach the widest cable panel. It will look much better for a minimal change.

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