Soon after I returned from my holiday trip visit to the grandchildren in California, I came down with a nasty cold; a week later, Thor succumbed. Too sick to feel much like knitting or weaving, I read a lot of fiber books and, in particular, studied cables. Thor’s (belated) birthday sweater is (still) on the drawing board, and the man loves cables.
Thor left the sweater construction design up to me. I’ve already drawn it out: a shawl-necked cardigan with raglan sleeves and a shaped saddle shoulder. I want to put a wide (≈20-24 stitches wide) cable of some sort down each of the front panels (and maybe down the back too) and a smaller cable (≈8 stitches wide) up the middle of the sleeves ending at the neck. The yarn is Brown Sheep’s (discontinued) Prairie Silk (50g=88y, 72% wool, 18% mohair, 10% silk), which I overdyed from its original light green.
So, tissue box, a pitcher of water and a bowl of oranges by my side, I studied the cables in various books, especially: Shelagh Hollingworth’s The Complete Book of Traditional Aran Knitting; Elsebeth Lavold’s Viking Patterns for Knitting; and Barbara Walker’s Charted Knitting Designs: A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns. Then I gave the books to Thor so he could browse cables.
Ultimately we came up with a few contenders, I started knitting more swatches. (In the pictures below, the swatches have been washed and blocked.)
1. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of Lavold’s designs. Thor picked this cable called “Bjärs Hitches” and is one of the cables Lavold used in her Fjörgyn sweater pattern. (If you don’t have her book, you can see pictures of the sweater on Ravelry.) I can put mirror images of this cable on either side of the button band.
I kept coming back to Hollingworth’s book. (NB: I have the 1985 first edition; I have not seen the more recently revised version.) In particular, we both liked her Chain Link Knotted Cable, the Triple Cable Pattern and the Wide Multi-Cable Pattern. Deciding that the last cable pattern would be too wide (see pic at right), I swatched out the first two.
2. The swatch on the left is of the Chain Link Knotted Cable. Following Hollingworth’s instructions in manipulating the stitches with the cable needle results in a nice little “knot.” I think it will be a great cable centered on the sleeve and worked up over the saddle shoulder until it reaches the neckline.
3. The picture on the right is of my swatch of the Triple Cable Pattern. I was at first puzzled by the instructions that had me make purl stitches on knit stitches when making some of the crosses. I groaned, thinking perhaps there was an ancient errata sheet somewhere. I decided to do it the author’s way to see if I was mistaken. I was; it worked perfectly!
4. Thor also chose one of Walker’s cables called Enclosed Cable, Version II. After I washed and dried the swatch, Thor didn’t like it as much. He thought the cables looked too “scrunched together.” I originally agreed, but I have been looking at these swatches for a couple of days now, and I no longer find this one so “scrunched.”
I could go on swatching cables until I have enough squares to stitch together for a blanket, so I decided to stop. I know I want to use #2 (Hollingworth’s Chained Link Knotted Cable), on the arm, but Thor and I keep vacillating among which of the larger cables to use – 1 (Lavold), 3 (Hollingworth) or 4 (Walker). He suggested I blog about it and ask other fiber enthusiasts!
So, any thoughts? All ideas welcomed!