The Making of a Sweater Design

Recently I was honored and thrilled to be featured in Vogue Knitting Early Fall issue in their “Maker Feature”. I worked very hard on the cabled sweater of my dreams. Along the way the sweater had many adventures. It went with me on all my work travels and on vacation with my family. It also experienced a few mistakes and some RIPPING (more on this another day).

It also inspired a brand new class, called “Chart it, Swatch it, Love it”, coming soon to Vogue Knitting Live! I thought it would be fun to give you a peek behind how I designed all those cables.

Cable Design Fun

I knew I wanted to create something really special for this issue, and I had the silhouette in mind. I also knew I wanted the garment shaping to be in the cables. So just how do I approach cable design . . . with yarn, blocking boards, graph paper and pins.

How to Design Cables

First comes a tiny sketch (not very pretty) for my eyes only, that gives me my starting place.

Cable design

Then I started to play. I often hand draw the basic shapes and then I start to braid yarn. After figuring out how large I want the different cable sections to be, and how many columns of stitches are involved, the fun begins.

First, I lay graph paper over my blocking boards. I pin thick yarn to the bottom of the board and start playing, as I go, I pin out the twists.

Here’s the large cable that runs up the side of the sweater and the sleeve.

cable designOnce I like the way it looks, I trace the entire design. Since it’s hard to see the direction when I trace, I put a little R or L (for right or left) next to each cross. Then I unpin.

From there it’s time to tweek and turn those lines into real cable symbols.

After I draw out half the chart, I put it into my charting software, and then copy and mirror it to the other half.

Here’s the same thing for the edging stitch.










Next up, swatching, and lots of it. These were LARGE swatches. I was having trouble deciding what I wanted to do for the center cable until I realized the edge stitch mirrored would make the perfect center cable.












I thought – hey, this would make a fun class. Chart it, Swatch it, Love it. You can sign up for it at Seattle Vogue Knit Live  We will look at how to add a stitch pattern into an existing pattern, and how to create your very own stitch patterns. I’ll be bringing along some fun props for you to play with!

There was also a bit of ripping, but that will be a post for another day. For now, here’s a slide show of some of my in progress shots (not the ripping ones – stay tuned for those). I can’t wait to see your sweaters!

If you want to check out some of my other video sweater classes (with hours of video tutorials built right in) – click HERE.

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