Normally, for a sweater-sized project, we make a point of going out into the wide world and doing a photo shoot at a (hopefully) well-chosen location. But Vivian? That's not really the way she rolls.


Vivian is a much more casual garment than the ones I usually make, and she is all about cozying around at home. Everything about her - the zip closure, the hood, the extra-long sleeves, the bulky yarn - evokes a day spent lolling about, reading a novel, sipping a cup of tea. Instant cozy!


This yarn is something I would never have thought of buying had it not been for a series of events involving a 40%-off coupon with a looming expiration date, a limited color palette, a desire for a sweater's worth of yarn, and a panicky refusal to admit defeat. It's bright purple, for one thing, which is not my favorite color. It's also bulky, a weight I generally find uninspiring. Even its lovely sheen and soft texture were not enough to make up for these two faults, so it sat in my cabinet for a year and a half. I know some of you are laughing, but that's a long time for yarn to sit around unused at my house; until I started designing, I had pretty much no stash at all. So I was feeling a little guilty about this sweater-quantity of unused yarn, and every once in a while I would take it out and try to design something with it...but it was purple. And bulky. And I would put it away.


But eventually I was glad to have it, because without it I wouldn't have made this pattern, and the pattern turned out to be super-fun. It's so well-designed and cleverly constructed, and the entire time I was knitting it I was thanking my lucky stars that I didn't have to worry about figuring out the sizing on it. Such an integrated, flowing design, where the cables and seed stitch panels form internal shaping in line with a six-row cable pattern in which all the pattern rows align across the entire sweater, was undoubtedly a giant pain in the ass to work out - and gloriously, it was Someone Else's Problem. Thanks, Ysolda!


The only part where I had to use my brain was the the saddle shoulders. They're designed in a very clever way: the shoulder decreases are worked into the far left and right stitches of the cable that runs up the saddle. This is such a pleasingly elegant solution that I was disappointed when it didn't work with my knitting style: the edges of the cables looked all wonky when I knitted them according to the instructions, and I wanted a clean line. So I ripped back and hid the decreases in the purl stitches next to the cables, instead. This worked beautifully, but threw off the math for the hood. After a couple of attempts to follow the directions while modifying them in my head, I just chucked the whole attempt, looked at Ysolda's hood photos, and did what I needed to in order to make mine look like the pictures. No muss, no fuss!


I remembered while knitting this sweater that I learned everything I know about knitting from following other peoples' patterns and observing how they construct garments and solve design dilemmas. And I still have so much to learn. This pattern involved a couple of things I've never done before (shaping a hood, for example, and making seamless saddle shoulders), which are sure to prove useful at some point. This project was a surprisingly productive, inspiring thing to knit, and I realized afresh that I should make other peoples' sweater patterns now and again, to keep my bag of tricks expanding and my range of knitting experience diversifying. An excellent realization!


Mr. Bingley thinks so, too.


  • Beautiful work! I can feel the coziness from here. I haven't attempted my first sweater yet (well, anything larger than baby-sized), but this may have to go on the list :).

  • I think you did a lovely job and the purple looks good on you too. Purple isn't my favorite color either, actually it is my least fa.
    And.. Great pictures! Must commend the photographer. I like the setting :)

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