Suffolk Collection Process: Swatching and Sketching "Cardigan 1"

All of the Suffolk Collection ideas have been swirling and percolating for a while now but its time to start making them real if I would like to release the collection next autumn (and I really would!)

I am still in flux about the shawls/scarves I have planned and its been a little while since I designed and made a garment so my creativity is leaning that way at the moment.

I decided to get some ideas swatched out for a cardigan worked in a deep brown chunky wool, this is Knit Picks Wool of The Andes in Chocolate. I have a whole sweaters worth and I am dying to turn it into a warm snuggly cardigan.

My inspiration for this cardigan is ploughing. An image in my mind from my childhood, that I keep coming back to, is the tractors moving over the undulating fields and how that changed the landscape for a few weeks until the crops grew back in.

Keeping the overall theme of undulation in mind, I want two types of cable: one that looks like earth turning over as its ploughed and another that looks a little like a tractor tyre print. I will also be adding serious amounts of waist shaping to the cardigan to keep it flattering even though it is bulky so it will undulate over the hips and bust.

I have done the first sketch and swatch

The first pass of the swatch has told me that the stitch patterns are not quite what I hoped but that I am on the right track. I will rip this back and have another try.
The sketch helped refine the ideas and I am pretty happy with it. I have two unanswered questions at the moment: I am not sure about the neckline or what to do about pockets.
I think I want a simple neckline, something more sophisticated than a hood probably (although I may go hood), but I am getting a bit bored of round necks. The current thinking on the neck is to make it square but flapped back and a collar added to create almost lapels but it doesn’t feel quite right. Perhaps a nice deep V would fit the bill or a scooped neckline? As I type, scooped is winning hands down and the mind is whirring again. While I’d like to get all the details smoothed out before I start knitting, this is planned to be bottom up seamless so I will have a fair amount of pondering time before I make a decision.
The decision to make it bottom up seamless isn’t anything to do with an uncertain neckline though. That is just a happy accident. Because I had decided that there would be cables running hip to collar and cuff to collar and also that the yoke would be a raglan it made sense to me to make it bottom up rather than top down. With a wide range of sizes, it will be easier to instruct people to decrease over a pattern than add it as they increase. Also there is a lot going on in the pattern with cables and different stitches, much easier to get used to the patterns without having any shaping to do at first then ease ourselves in with a little waist shaping before hitting the yoke.
As for the pockets, a cosy cardigan really needs pockets but in a bulky jumper it can add a lot of, well, bulk. Ideally I’d have concealed pockets running vertically but I need to work out if I can do that and still keep the design suitable for an intermediate knitter. These pockets might ruin the plan for establishing all the patterns without any other complications! If I do I’ll have to work out how to line the pocket whether it will be knitted, and if so in this wool or a finer yarn. To date I have only included patch pockets on my designs but this is an area I really want to explore as I am never quite as comfortable in a cardigan without pockets. Is this a universal thing?
I hope you enjoyed this peek into a design in progress and will follow the cardigan through to publication with me. My next steps when I am happy with swatch and sketch will be to do the maths. For other posts in this series take a look here.



  1. says

    Thanks for letting us into the design process … I like the sketch very much. I understand the desire for pockets – shall be interested to see how you work that out. A scoop neck would be very feminine. :)

  2. says

    It’s so interesting to follow the pattern creation process with you. I had no idea how patterns went from idea to full version. A different neckline would be my choice: the one in the sketch seems a little… ‘mature’ for my taste anyway. Pockets are always good, especially for us less confident types who like some form of hiding at all times!