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Natasha Sweater

Natasha: Warmth, elegance, and flattery!

   This sweater was inspired by a wonderful Russian shawl, a gift from my daughter, in vivid reds and greens on black, and by the yarn. This is the first pattern I’ve tried to supply in a wide range of sizes, and I’m making it available free, through March, and would appreciate a detailed report from anyone who tries to make it.

   It’s really very simple tunic with an A-line and a long fit that should flatter most figures. The hem is flat; the sleeves have rolled cuffs; the collar is tall and warm. It’s stockingette nearly all the way, and not hard at all, though you must keep track of your increases and decreases, as detailed on page 3.

   The yarn is Cascade’s Cloud 9--50% wool, 50% angora, in a worsted size. However, because of the angora content, and the stretchiness of angora, I worked it a little snugly--19 stitches/24 rows to the inch on #6 needles, with #4s for the turtleneck and the hem facing. If you wash gently when the sweater is complete, and then block flat, this yarn will bloom beautifully, with a subtle halo of angora. A 50 gm ball is 109 yards. Purchase a couple of extra balls; any left will make great mittens or hats!

   I also sized mine to wear against the skin, or over nothing more than a winter silk long-sleeved tee shirt. This is a kitten-soft, well-plied yarn, and makes for smooth and speedy knitting. The one pictured is mine, photographed on my neighbor, Eve, who is about the same size.

   I’ve complied here with the standard Craft Yarn Council body measurements for six sizes, and ask that you carefully measure the person for whom you’re making the sweater. For many people, the shoulder measurements from CYC are a little large, so to get the desired measurements for a great fit, measure the prospective wearer carefully, chose a pattern size, and take notes on the face of the pattern about what needs to be a little wider or narrower, a little longer or shorter. Good articles on alterations and short-row bust shaping are at




   The instructions are for knitting back and forth; add a selvege stitch on each side to do that; it will disappear into the seams, or a purl stitch on each side (marker before) to knit in the round, which is how I did it.

   The Craft Yarn Council standard measurements, printed in red below, were used to arrive at the measurements for this sweater, which are as follows:





















Circumference of stitches at armhole bind-off







Back neck to hem







Shoulders measured

across between the two prominent bones







Sleeve length to armhole bind-off, allowing for the rolled cuff







Circumference of cast-on of body







   Another key measurement is the bust measurement, which should be equivalent to the band measurement of your bra plus two inches, NOT equivalent to your measurement around the largest part of the bust. Remember that a bra has two sizes: band size and cup size. A sweater should, too, though no sweater directions that I’ve ever seen mention this.

   If you wear a bra cup size larger than B, you should begin, about 2 ½ inches below the armhole bind-off, to work about an extra inch of short-rows—beginning about an inch in from the selvedge stitches on each side—for every cup size above B. That means an inch for a C cup, 2 inches for a D, and so on. For this sweater and yarn, an inch will be six row—three worked one way, three worked the other to pick up the loops.

   If you don’t do this a couple of things will go wrong: the larger bust will raise the front hem of the sweater—especially obvious on a sweater with this kind of hem. It will also pull the armholes forward and distort the line of the sleeves or, if the garment is sleeveless, will make those armholes gap badly.

   If you adjust the front of the sweater for cup size, you can often decrease the height of the armhole slightly, and the width of the sleeve, for a better fit. In patterns, the height of the armhole from bind-off to shoulder bind-off is often outsized, and with it the width of the sleeve before the bind-off, to provide enough fabric to suit a larger bust size and heavier upper arm.

   If you alter sleeves and armholes, whether to widen or narrow them, remember that the height of the armscye from body bind-off to shoulder bind-off have to work together. For every inch you deduct from the width of the arm at the bind-off for the armholes, deduct ½ inch from the height of the armholes; for every inch you add to the arm at the bind-off, add ½ inch to the depth of the armhole on each side. The armhole shaping will remain the same,

   The ideal length of a sweater will vary substantially with height and build, and so will the length of sleeves. Measure, then add or subtract rows you will need; you may need to recalculate the increases. If you are making the sweater for a person with narrow arms, you can often narrow the sleeves by ending your increases about three inches above the elbow, slightly decreasing the height of the armhole and sleeve cap.

   All I can tell you is that, before you begin to make this sweater or any other, measure the prospective wearer carefully, write those measurements down. Then select and print the pattern size you intend to use, and make notes on the face of the pattern where you will need to alter it. Don’t forget to measure wrists and upper arms, which measurements are not included in the CYC standards, and can vary. If you can do try-ons at several points—before the armhole bind-off on the body and sleeves, especially, and before you bind off the shoulders—that would be a huge help in arriving at a perfect fit.

natashaintro About the layout of this pattern: I have always disliked picking through the rows of numbers in commercial patterns, trying to remember which in the sequence belongs to my size. I have laid these patterns out so that you can choose your size, after comparing your measurements to those of the standards, print out the proper size for the sweater you’re making, and then have ample room to note any alterations in the margins. Each two page section covers one size from start to finish, and you need print only the one you want, each time you make it.

About keeping track of increases and decreases:
This is cheerful and fairly quick knitting, but you must keep track of your increases and decreases for smooth seamlines. I do this with nothing but a length of contrast yarn, which I weave in and out of the first increase or decrease on a given round, as shown at right.

   Increase and decreases: My increases are always matched lifted increases (Right: knit 1 from the needle, don’t take off, knit 1 below the needle—two stitches after the right selvedge stitch; Left: knit 1 from the stitch below the needle, don’t take off, knit 1 from the stitch on the needle, two stitches before the left selvedge stitch). My decreases are always ssk on the right, immediately after the selvedge stitch, and K2tog on the two stitches before the selvedge stitch on the left. On the body of this sweater, however, I worked the decreases six stitches in from the underarm seams.

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