Friday, August 09, 2013


After a couple of years of releasing nothing but small projects--socks, scarves, hats, mitts, shawls--I am finally back on the sweater trail. Designing sweaters is my most favorite because it's a challenge. Also, there's just more territory to play around with.

What's the story behind this newest sweater design? Read on...

In July 2011 my friend Kelli and I went to Sock Summit in Portland, OR. We enjoyed the heck out of it, but I think we would have paid more attention if we'd known it was going to be the last one. (That's perhaps how we should go about each thing we do--as if it's the last time we'll get to do it.) While perusing the market there I went to visit my friend Liz in her MacKintosh Yarn booth. We had gotten acquainted the previous year at Stitches South and I wanted to check in on her and her sweet mom. Little did I know she was going to thrust about 12 skeins of yarn into my arms and ask me to design a cable sweater with it. Even though I was beset with projects already, I hesitatingly (but excitedly) accepted, telling her it would take me a few months to get to the project. I was able to get to work in earnest on the sweater the next January. The project encountered a couple of pauses and problems, but I never let it fall by the wayside.

At first I swatched and even made a mood board for the project. It turned out that a painting that I came across in my 1000 Masterpieces book by Sister Wendy became the major influence for the design. You can see it in the top left of the photo above and you can see and read about the painting here. I loved the medieval style of it and I knew I wanted to go about it in a modular way. I chose the Celtic cable for the shoulder band from Melissa Leapman's book, Cables Untangled and began to choose the stitch patterns for the rest of the sweater. I wanted more cables, but not too many. I wanted great expanses of the sweater to be simple so that the glorious cable at the shoulder would not be upstaged. I took a note from the sleeves of Mary's garment in the painting and decided on a simple knit/purl lattice for the body. I added cables along the side seam, which flank a panel of ribbing to make the sweater hug the body. Also, taking a hint from Mary's garment in Scorel's painting, I wanted the Magdalena to appear as if there were a simple undershirt peeking out from under the more detailed overshirt or vest, which led to the simple collar and sleeves. The band at the hips anchors it all and keeps the shape I envisioned. 

I wanted to have the Magdalena photographed while being worn over a diaphonous long chiffon or tulle skirt on someone with flowing, wavy hair, and by contrast, my original wardrobe styling included a short tartan with big chunky boots, as you can see on the mood board. Either look would have been great!

Meanwhile, I finished her up and blocked her along about last summer.

I tried her on for fit.
And then a few months ago my daughter Natalie and I went down to the beach and had some fun.

It's not as I originally pictured it, but that's okay. I've learned to be satisfied.

The Magdalena is a sweater pattern of few sizes, but for those sizes I think it will be a fun project for anyone who loves something a little different and who loves a bit of a challenge. It's knit with heavy worsted and so it goes pretty fast. You can see more of the details explained here.

I am working on a couple more sweater patterns that I hope to have released this fall. This is why I've been absent lately. Writing sweater patterns takes lots of time and concentration and staying off the internets!
I'll try to pop in more frequently and show you some progress.
Toodles and thanks for stopping by!

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