This sweater has been getting a lot of comments and requests for information – so I thought I’d tell you a bit about it. It’s a simplified two-shade version of my Strathendrick design, which I produced for my West Highland Way book.
This sweater says quite a lot about my design process, and the integrality of Mel to the whole thing. When I started work on Strathendrick (over a year ago) I was understandably nervous about knitting a gigantic expanse of colourwork, steeking the sweater’s armscyes and neck, then discovering when I cut it open after several weeks of knitting, that the design wouldn’t work (because at that point I’d be unable to unravel). So, rather than starting with an experimental sample, I graded and wrote the pattern, and Mel kindly offered to knit a plain version, as a sort of toile.
We chose Milarrochy Tweed shades ‘Ardlui’ and ‘Horseback Brown’ for this enterprise: two of my favourites individually in the palette, and especially nice together because of their shared orangey tweedy flecks.
Mel’s two-shade Strathendrick worked out perfectly, and once I knew that the pattern was just fine as written, and that a colourwork sweater in a tweedy yarn with an oversized shape was likely to look pretty bloody good, I went ahead and knit up the stranded Strathendrick I’d originally designed.
Typically, I also retained both my and Mel’s samples, and since then, both sweaters have been on hot rotation in my wardrobe.
This is pretty much how we work. Sometimes Mel swatches first, I design and grade, and then she knits a sample, making suggestions for adjustments to the pattern as she goes. Or often I’ll swatch and knit a sample completely experimentally, after which I grade and design the pattern, and Mel will test my work by knitting a further sample. We end up with a lot of samples . . . and it is fair to say that I wear a lot of them. Mel and I have worked together in this way since the very first pattern I published (o w l s) and while I think I’m kind of ok at making pattern instructions clear, it is Mel who often makes my patterns more ‘knitterly.’ I’m always grateful for her input. And, of course for all the fabulous sweaters.
With Strathendrick Mel’s sampling was particularly important because I was working with designing a new shape: would a sweater with 33 inches of positive ease even work for me?
Not only does it work, its a shape I now can’t get enough of! I am rather enjoying this slightly cooler weather because I can now wear my oversized Strathendricks once again.
Two shade Strathendrick in Milarrochy Tweed
15 (16, 17, 18) balls shade A (Ardlui)
3 (4, 5, 5) balls shade B (Horseback Brown)
I’m wearing the sweater in the first size with 33 inches positive ease at the bust. I’d say this size would work fine for a bust up to 42 inches; anything above that, go up a size or two as necessary (aiming for no less than 20 inches positive ease)
The pattern is written with a provisional cast on, the idea of which is to allow you a little leeway for adding / reducing the length of the sweater at the end by adjusting the depth of the hem rib. But if you would prefer to start with the rib, simply knit the two split sections separately (back and forth) in shade B, then join in shade A (to work in the round) to knit the body.
Work body as per pattern in shade A. You can steek the armscyes, just as you would do with the colourwork version, working exactly as per pattern, or you might choose to knit the upper body back and forth. If taking the latter option, just ignore the instructions to add armscye and neck steeks in steps 3 and 4; separate back from front and work the upper body in two pieces, before grafting the left and right shoulders as per pattern. If continuing to work in the round, follow the pattern as written. Pick up stitches for the sleeves in shade B knit down to the wrists, adding ribbing in shade A. Finally, work neck and hem ribs (if necessary) in shade B.