Friday, September 7, 2012

The Four-Direction (Rainbow) Sweater

These are pictures of the front and back of what is probably the most beautiful sweater I ever knit for myself (plus, of course, a doorknob and part of a wooden hanger). I started by knitting the two cable and lace panels. Then I picked up stitches along the sides of the panels and worked out  towards the cuffs. The ribbing at the bottom and neckline were added somewhere in the process.  (Everything except the blue yarn was in very short supply, so I had to ration the colors carefully. I remember how delighted I was when I had just enough of that amazing pink yarn to highlight the bottoms of the sleeves!)

This was not my first four-direction sweater. The original came about when I was trying to find a stitch pattern for a yarn that was not really keen on letting me design with it. What I finally settled on was a distinctly horizontal stitch pattern. Horizontal lines? On my vertically-challenged body? Never!

So I needed to turn it on its side. A logical idea would have been to work the sweater cuff-to-cuff, but I have some issues with that style. In particular, one sleeve is shaped with increases, the other with decreases. Ditto with the curves of the neckline. In addition, the pattern stitch I had was not symmetric top to bottom, so it would not have been identical on both sides of the garment. And so I had to work in both directions.

As I showed in a previous post, most stitch patterns do not line up when they are started at a common cast-on. My solution to this was the center panels.

The panels are a great asset. They can be as fancy as you like, because there is no need to worry about garment shaping interfering with the patterns.

Another advantage is the ability to alternate the sections you're working on. In addition to being helpful with yarn rationing, the method also allows you to try on the sweater in progress. And you can use all your stash yarn in vertical stripes without struggling with bobbins. All in all, a lot to recommend this style of sweater.

So, over the next couple of weeks, I'll present the instructions for a miniature sweater. The one in the photo was worked in a heavy-ish dk-weight yarn on Size 5 needles with 4s for the ribbing. It is 5" high and 9.5" from cuff to cuff.  In sock yarn and holiday colors, it would make a cute little ornament.

To get you started, here's the pattern for the cable panel.

Cast 11 sts onto the larger needles.
1 & 3 (WS): P5, k1, p5.
Row 2: K1, sl-2 to cn and hold in back, k2, k2 from cn; p1; sl-2 to cn and
hold in front, k2, k2 from cn; end k1.
Row 4: K5, p1, k5.

Make 1 panel with 7 repeats (28 rows) and 1 panel with 8 repeats (32 rows). Put each panel on its own holder.

Until next time.

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