Land o’ Cakes

Morning, everyone. Hope you are all very well and looking after each other. The whole team here is fine, and we feel extremely grateful for our internet connections and well-established methods of remote working. Sam is at the warehouse, in happy solitude, and will continue shipping anything you order, both locally and internationally, as long as Royal Mail is able to maintain its service.

Have you been following Claudia’s patterns from her Colour Moves collection? She’s revealed 7 designs so far, with another 10 to follow over coming days. I thought I’d say some more about Colour Moves tomorrow, but today I’m releasing a garment pattern after what’s been (for me) quite a long hiatus: Land o’ Cakes

It was perhaps inevitable that my new weaving obsession would inspire my knitting, and I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the different relationships — both aesthetic and structural — between the two crafts. Plain weave patterns worked on an inkle loom have a very pleasing striped and notched appearance that reminds me strongly of corrugated rib. . .

. . . and I found myself wanting to combine the two, by making a co-ordinating plain-weave belt and corrugated yoke cardigan, to accompany one of my favourite pairs of super-comfortable wide-legged trousers.

In recent months I’ve been doing a lot of what I refer to as ‘winging it’ knitting, which you might also think of as designing-on-the-hoof: I cast on and know the basic parameters of what I intend to do, then make it up as I go along. With this design, I’d planned out a group of complementary colours and knew how they’d work across the rib and body (which I wanted to knit in the wonderful, soft oatmealy hare shade of Milarrochy Tweed). I also had a plan to knit the yoke entirely in different combinations of 2×2 corrugated rib, and, having made countless yokes at this gauge, already had a good sense of a workable round-to-decrease ratio. So when I got to the yoke, I just made it up as I went along without a chart, trying not to second guess myself, and keeping a record of each shade change as I went.

The yoke was an immensely relaxing and rhythmic knit and I’m very happy with the result. The pattern includes a fully charted yoke, of course, but that’s not to say that you can’t have a go at my approach: picking a group of shades that work together, knitting in 2×2 corrugated rib throughout, decreasing where indicated, and combining colours when they please you. A most enjoyable experiment.

This is a steeked cardigan, and I want to say a brief word about this particular steek, which was reinforced and cut by Mel (following the basic method I outline here). In all respects, both personal and knitterly, Mel is a neater person than I am, and our collaborative approach means that we often share different parts of a project. I’d actually woven and prepared a narrow ribbon especially to cover the steek edges of this cardigan but, after Mel reinforced and cut the front opening (assisted by the miraculous magnifying device henceforth forever known as the steek specs ) I decided this steek edge was too good to hide.

Here’s the secret to Mel’s super-neat steek: the crocheted reinforcement is worked on each side of the central 3 stitches of the 9 stitch steek (allowing you to simply cut away all the yarn ends and shade changes – bingo!) and the crocheted reinforcement is worked with Malabrigo laceweight and a 2mm hook. The button bands are finished with small i-cord buttonholes, which I’m happy to say worked really well here as a satsifying change to the sew-on-snaps I’ve previously used on corrugated bands (into which conventional buttonholes can be tricky to insert).

And, if you are wondering whether this pattern includes a weaving draft for my co-ordinating belt . . .

. . . yes indeed it does. It’s a really good beginner project if you’ve just acquired an inkle loom. You just need four shades of 3/2 weaving yarn and a belt clasp. There are lots of suppliers of belt hardware on Ebay, or you could also leave the belt ends fringed, if you prefer.

I’m afraid this is only the start of my matchy-matchy knitting / weaving roll, as I now have several more patterns in the pipeline in which the two crafts are combined (some involving our new top-secret shades of Milarrochy Tweed, which I’m most excited about) – so watch this space.

Finally, a word about the pattern name – Land o Cakes. As a child, I first came across this phrase as the name of a Manchester pub (which had originated in the 1790s) and was delighted to later find out the phrase was in fact a colloquial name for Scotland, appearing in the work of one of my favourite eighteenth-century poets, Robert Fergusson, as well as our national bard, Robert Burns. The cakes in question are oatcakes of course – the hearty Scottish staple, much derided by Samuel Johnson, whose gout-inducing diet might well have benefited from a few simple oatcakes. I love oatcakes (and all things oaty, in fact) and the soft shades of this cardigan (particularly the main shade, hare) make it feel particularly oaty to me.

Want to make your own Land o Cakes? The pattern is now available on Ravelry and there are kits in the shop

Happy knitting.