A drop shoulder pullover can be knit in a combination of knit-in-the-round and knit flat, whether it’s knit from the top down or the bottom up. If you add cables to the pattern, like in the Saddle Up pullover, well, it gets a little trickier.
Cable patterns are almost always written to be worked flat, with a right side and a wrong side. The cable crossings are worked on the right side rows. This simplifies things a little bit. You know those right side rows are the ones to watch out for.
At some point, you may need to work in-the-round. Then, you have the right side facing you all the time. Figuring out when to cross cables can be a little more difficult.
Here is a 4-stitch cable, where two stitches are crossed over two stitches, every 4 rows. The lines in the photo indicate the outside stitch of this Left Cross. See that hole just to the left of the crossing stitches? That’s caused by the crossing. (On a right cross cable, the hole would be on the right of the cable.)
When this cable is worked flat, there is a Right Side Row where you worked the cable cross, followed by a wrong side row, right side row and one more wrong side row. On the next Right Side row you would work a new cable cross.
When you work in-the-round you only have the Right Side facing you. Then you have Round 1 where you cross the cable, followed by Rounds 2, 3 & 4. Then cross again.
If you put something straight into the hole created by the crossing and run it under the horizontal bars to the needle, you should see the 4 bars. I used a sewing up needle but your cable needle may be handy and it would work great.
When you can count 4 bars, you are ready to cross again on the next round. If you have a 6 stitch cable, crossing every 8 rows/rounds, you would work until you can count 8 bars from the hole created by the last crossing. It works.
Designing your own garment? Maybe you are working on the Saddle Up pullover with me and it’s time to work the cables. Here’s what you need to know.
Cables pull your fabric in as soon as the first cable is crossed. You have to make sure you accommodate for this fact or … well, your sweater or project will be much smaller than you had anticipated.
Let’s say you want to work a 4-stitch Rope Cable (worked by crossing 2 stitches over 2 stitches). This cable is worked in stockinette stitch and is a pretty common cable to work.
Once you start crossing this cable, it is no longer the width of 4 stitches. It is closer to the width of 3 stockinette stitches.
If you have a sweater where you want to introduce a 4-stitch Rope Cable, set it up for 3 stockinette stitches to begin with. Then increase 1 stitch before you work the first cross. That’s it.
A basic rule of thumb: for every 3 stitches of the cable, set up 1 less stitch. Add them back in by working increases before the first cross.
Here’s another example: 6-stitch Rope Cable where you will cross 3 stitches over 3 stitches – set up 4 sts and before the first cross, increase 2 stitches (now you have 6 sts for the cable).
This is fairly straightforward, except … (you knew this was coming, right?), the more complex the cable, the harder it is to do this successfully. Do I have to say the S word? Yeah, I do. You have to swatch!
Elizabeth Zimmermann had some great advice. Her suggestion was to cast on 96 stitches and knit a hat with all the cables. It will fit someone.
That can work as your swatch. Measure across the cable once you have worked the cross several times. Use your stockinette stitch gauge to figure out how wide the cable is in stockinette stitches. That is the number of stitches to set up and how many stitches you need to increase before the first crossing.
Example: Let’s say you have a 12 stitch complex cable, repeated several times on your hat, measuring 1.75″ across. Your stockinette gauge is 20 sts = 4″ OR 5 sts = 1″. 1.75″ x 5 sts = 8.75 sts, rounded up to 9 sts. Set Up the cable with 9 stitches and increase 3 stitches in the first row to 12 stitches and cable away.
Norah Gaughan has coined the phrase SSE: Stockinette Stitch Equivalent. The SSE for the complex cable above is 9 sts, even though the chart for the cable is 12 sts wide. Yeah, I know, this can mess with your head.
I would like to recommend her book, Knitted Cable Sourcebook for this information. There are tons of cables in this book and they all have an SSE. She’s done it for you. No swatching necessary. I don’t receive anything if you buy this book. I’m so happy I bought it. You might know that I am not a happy swatcher.
The latest section of the Saddle Up pattern is in your ravelry library. Update the pattern and set up your cables. Have fun.
Do you know how I-cords work? They are a little bit of knitting magic. When paired with Garter Stitch they do all sorts of good things.
First, 2 or 3 stitches of I-Cord on the outside edges of garter stitch give it a tidy finish. This is sometimes called a Built-in I-cord because you work the I-cord edge as you knit the garter stitch fabric.
Secondly, because these outside stitches are slipped every other row, they give the edge stability. They are a tiny bit shorter because they are not worked every row. These I-cord stitches hold the edges firmly so the edge won’t stretch.
Garter Stitch with 2-stitch I-Cord edge: Knit to last 2 sts, bring yarn forward, slip the last 2 sts. This row is worked over and over, on both the right side and wrong side of the fabric.
When you slip the last 2 sts, your yarn is attached to the 3rd stitch in from the tip of the needle because that was the last stitch you knit. So what happens in the next row? You need to pull the wool across the back of your work, from the third stitch to the first stitch so you can knit the row. This pulls the first stitch around towards the back of your work, as you knit it.
Because these two stitches are slipped every other row they look like stockinette stitch. A 2-stitch I-cord is the tiniest tube you can knit around the edge of your garter stitch fabric.
The Saddle Up pullover begins with a Garter Stitch Saddle with I-cord edges, of course.
The Saddle begins at the left shoulder and is worked across to the the right shoulder, with a hole for your head in the middle. Pretty straight forward, right?
But that’s not all there is to it, of course. That would be way too easy. There is another way of working the 2-stitch I-cord.
There are occasions when you would like both the I-cord stitches to be rolling to the wrong side of your work. This can be done, too. The Saddle uses this technique for the Back of Neck stitches.
2-Stitch I-Cord rolling to the wrong side: Right Side Row: Knit to last 2 sts, leave yarn in the back, slip last 2 sts. Wrong Side Row: Purl 2 sts, knit to last 2 sts, yarn forward, slip last 2 sts.
What is that line down the middle of the Saddle? The shoulders of the Saddle for this pullover need a lot of extra stability since the sleeve will be trying to pull it down. So I added some non-stretchy stitches right down the centre. It looks like an I-Cord but it isn’t. The middle 2 stitches are slipped every other row and work the same way, in that these 2 stitches are a tiny bit shorter and won’t stretch. Thanks L for pointing this out.
There is one more reason for all this I-Cord business. A 2-stitch I-Cord gives you a sideways stockinette stitch for every garter ridge. In the Saddle Up pullover, stitches are picked up & knit along the bottom edge of the Saddle to form the Front which is worked flat, down to the bottom of the armhole. If you pick up & knit into the I-Cord stitch that has rolled to the back the Saddle, you get a very lovely line of stitches running between the Saddle and the Front. It will never stretch and it’s so very neat and tidy. Don’t you think?
You can add I-cord stitches to any garter stitch project. You may get to love them as much as I do.
Are you are interested in knitting this Saddle Up, drop shoulder pullover with me? I’m publishing each section as I get it done and tested. I’ll update the pattern with each new section as we go along. The Saddle section is up for sale.
I’m interested in any comments, corrections or problems you have with this pattern. I’ve included lots of photos and my blog posts will be featuring this pullover for the next month. Happy to have you join me.