outside in

Here is a knitted gift, completed this morning. I can show it to you because it is no secret.


Mr B has been party to my knitting of his sweater over the past couple of months and, in fact, played a large part in the design process. He picked out the yarn — which is an undyed Herdwick aran from Fornside farm near Keswick. We bought it at the Wool Clip this October. Both of us love Herdwick sheep. I won’t go on about what a smart and hardy breed the Herdwick is, but these lovely animals are a ubiquitous feature of the Cumbrian landscape and an integral part of our walks in the Lake District fells.


I swatched up several cables for the front panel, from which he selected one design. I had wanted to include cables on the arms, in a similar manner to some recent designs I’ve seen, but he was having none of that. Arm-cables were deemed too fussy. The shaping was very important, because sweaters never usually fit him. Like many men, he actually has a waist — theres a 10 inch difference between his waist and chest measurements — but this (ahem) trapezoid shape is hardly ever reflected in either bought garments or (most) masculine knitwear designs — which tend to assume that all men are rectangular. I based the mathematics and design of the sweater on a combination of EZ and Ann Budd’s instructions for a seamless raglan. It was knit at 4 stitches to the inch in the round from the bottom up. I tapered the sweater to the waist and chest accordingly. It is really an excellent fit.

I am also pleased with the cables, which (to me at least) echo the aesthetic of the masculine torso. Hence the sweater’s name — suggesting how its exterior reflects the interior it contains.



The yarn knitted up lovely. It has a satisfying spring and tremendous solidity — and absolutely no drape at all. To my mind, this is just what’s required in a manly garment. It was, frankly, a bit scratchy to knit with and I imagine even more so to wear. But man fears not the hair shirt. That said, it also has a very high lanolin content, so my hands always felt super-soft after an evening’s knitting.

Man is very pleased with his sweater and sports it smugly. Wearing it, his torso is evidently endowed with magical properties:


Actually, thats just what the winter light did on the bathroom wall a little while ago.

Now it will be blocked and dried and wrapped up in some jolly packaging for a week or so. Merry Christmas, Mr B!

Pattern: Outside In (my own, with help from EZ and Ann Budd)
Yarn: Fornside Herdwick aran. (6 skeins – around 550 grams)
Needles: 5.5 mm & 5mm for rib. (I knit most of it on one 100mm circ)
Gauge: 4 sts to 1 inch.