Sorry for the delay – It was hard to find enough time to finish up the new shawl collared cardigan, wash it and wait for it to dry in the New England humidity, but now I’d like to walk you through the process of charting an original design. I used some hand dyed yarn that a friend gifted me because it wasn’t right for something she was working on – and it was just perfect for my cardigan! The yarn, Maude’s Mountain Spun (which may not even be available anymore) has 200 yards per 4 ounce skein and it knitted beautifully on my Brother bulky (9 mm) machine. My gauge, with stitch size 7, was 4 stitches and 5.33 rows per inch. Throughout this pattern there might be places where my numbers are one or two off from what you figure – probably just how I chose to round off or up. I do not own a ribber for my bulky so the bands were worked in 2×2 rib by hand on size 8 needles.This is the pattern for the brown cardigan brown cardigan
Charting the Back
With a calculator and a copy of the basic pattern (cardiblank no stitch or row numbers, just measurements) I began by re-charting the back. I multiplied the width (27”) by my stitch gauge (4) and found I needed to cast on 108 stitches.
Next, I multiplied my shoulder width (10.5”) by my stitch gauge (4) and determined that I needed 42 stitches for each shoulder. Subtracting 84 sts (2 shoulders) from 108 sts (the cast on ) told me that I would have 24 sts for the back neck. (To double check, divide 24 by the width (6”) and you get 4 stitches per inch. Perfect.)
The total length of the garment should be 24.5”, which, when multiplied by the row gauge (5.33), dictates a total of 130.5 rows – which I rounded up to 132 so that I ended on the right. No good reason for that other than habit. I also broke down the length measurement by multiplying the length to the armhole (13.25”) by row gauge so I knew where to hang a tag (RC 72) at each side to mark the beginning of the armhole. These tags are handy to have ready when you start assembling the garment. (I also tag the beginning of the front neckline at the same time.)
Charting the Front
First multiply the lower width (18”) by stitch gauge (4), which amounts to 72 stitches to cast on. When you multiply the stitch gauge by the width of the collar extension (6”), you’ll find that it accounts for 24 stitches. Subtract 24 (collar stitches) and 42 shoulder stitches from the total width of the garment (72) and you’ll find that 6 stitches remain. These 6 stitches will be decreased to shape the front neckline (which is not nearly as sharp a V as it looks on my diagrams).
To figure the neckline decreases, you need to divide the number of stitches that must be decreased (6) into the total number of rows you have to do it (60 rows), which (conveniently in this case) results in 1 decrease every 10th row, six times, or, more concisely: -1 10/R x 6. This places the first decrease to right at RC 72, which is correct.
Charting the Sleeves
Multiplying the garment measurements by the stitch gauge dictates casting on 36 stitches and ending with 90. Subtracting 36 from 90 indicates that we need to increase by 54 stitches over the length of the sleeve. Because increases will be made at both edges of the sleeve, this means that there should be 27 increases worked over 88 rows (measurement x row gauge).
When working sleeve increases, you should never have an increase on either the first or the last row so the formula for spacing out the increases is worked a little differently than it was for the front decrease spacing. What we really need to find here is the number of spaces between the increases and between the beginning/ending edge of the fabric and the first/last increase.
You’ll finally get a chance to use that long division (with a slight twist) you learned in 3rd grade! You need to divide 27 (increases) into 88 (rows) except that, in order to avoid placing increases on the first/last rows, we’ll actually divide by 28, which is the number of spaces between/before/after the increases.
Now add 1 to the answer (3), which now becomes 4. Connect the new answer to the remainder below (which just happens to be 4 – could be anything). This tells us we will increase a 1stitch every fourth row four times (+1 4/R x 4).
Hopefully you are still with me because it gets kind of weird now. Subtract the remainder (4) from the divisor (28), which equals 24. Then subtract the 1 you added in the first step. Connect the 3 and 23 to indicate that you also need to make an increase every third row 23 times (+1 3/R x 23).
Its easy to check the math on this. First multiply the frequency of the increase (3/R) by the number of times you should increase (23) and the answer is 69 rows. Do the same thing for the increases made every 4th row, four times, which equals another 16 rows. 69 + 16 = 85 rows. Perfect.
I have no idea why and how this is designed to work – I just trust that it does because math was never my strong subject in school. The formula always works. If you’d like a short cut, there are a couple of calculators on line that do all the figuring for you. So will Garment Designer or DAK if you use those programs. This link http://www.getknitting.com/ak_0603mfcalc.aspx will bring you right to an automatic magic formula calculator.
How you work the increases is up to you. Sometimes computer programs try to shuffle the increases for you so that you might do an increase every 4th row after having done so many of them every 3rd row. I find it confusing to work like that so I generally work all my 4th row increases first, then move on to the 3/R increases when there is such a huge difference between the number of times I do each. I work the 4/R increases first to start shaping the sleeve more gradually so it doesn’t suddenly balloon out around my wrist.
You can arrange the increases however it makes the most sense to you, but I can guarantee that nobody is ever going to say “she knitted this gorgeous sweater but when she worked the sleeves, you can tell she did all her 4th row increases first and then all the 3rd row increases instead of alternating them throughout….” Not going to happen. Nobody will notice – not even you.
Just a couple more thoughts on this basic sweater shape. You could make the front even wider if you’d like to increase the size of the collar. You do not have to make any front neckline decreases if you want the entire front to roll all the way to the lower edges. You can add buttonholes and buttons, pockets, cables or any other details you want. Instead of rib, try finishing the edges with I-cord.
Double check the length of the sleeve by measuring yourself from the center back neck to the cuff and then compare to the garment schematic, adding half the width of the back to the length of the sleeve. Don’t forget to figure the added length of the rib.
Try charting this sweater with your own gauge information. It really is an easy garment shape to modify and change. Keep in mind that the bulkier the yarn, the more ease you need to build into a garment so that it drapes and fits correctly. If you decide to make a really oversized (OS) version of this cardigan, remember that as the body pieces get wider, the sleeve gets shorter. I’ve knitted some OS garments that had sleeves only 8” long and more snug fitting to support the weight of the garment. Also, you might need to knit the back in two pieces with a seam – make it attractive or make it invisible!
I’d love to show some of your sweaters here on the blog. So – when you get a chance, brush your hair, put on some lipstick and get somebody to take a nice photo of you wearing your design. Email it to me as a jpeg and I’ll post it so other knitters can see what you’ve done! Until next time!