The Hand-to-Hand Sweater featured here has sleeves and a yoke that are knitted in one long piece. It's a version of a garment I designed many years ago, and I've added a few improvements since then. Furthermore, I've simplified the sweater pattern to include a garter stitch version, and I'm not sure now which model is my favorite. I've included both patterns in these directions, so if you hurry and knit both models before spring comes, you can make up your own mind as to which you prefer.
Gauge: 4 stitches to 1" (and 16 stitches to 4"), measured over the stocking stitch.
Sizes: 38" (40", 42") chest. Don't measure yourself . . . measure a sweater that fits!
Materials: 8 (8, 9) four-ounce skeins of three-ply Sheepswool or 6 (7, 8) four-ounce skeins of Highland wool. [EDITOR'S NOTE: These are the names of yarns sold by Elizabeth's daughter Meg Swansen. See How to Knit Hats but any yarn that will yield the correct gauge can be substituted.} Use one 24" needle of a size to give the right gauge (roughly a No. 7 to a No. 10 1/2).
Key number of body stitches: 152 (160, 168), measured over the stocking stitch.
Starting at the right-hand cuff, cast on 46 (48, 50) stitches, which is 25% of the body stitches plus 7, since the cables "take up". Work back and forth on the circular needle, or you may use straight needles if you wish. Slip all first stitches.
Establish the cables: A four-strand cable is in the middle of the work, flanked by double-O cables, or "Mr. Magoo cables", as I call them. These will be divided by P1, K1 back, P1, and will take up 44 stitches. The end stitches are worked in reverse stocking stitch: purled on the right side and knitted on the inside. They will be increased by 1 stitch each side of the cables every fourth row. When you have half of your key number of body stitches-or 76 (80, 84) stitches-work straight to the neck opening, which should be about 24" (25", 26"). Now, it's time to describe the cables.
Double-O cable: This cable is 13 stitches wide and 24 rows high.
Row 1. (Wrong side) *P6, K1, P6.
Row 2. Take 3 sts on a spare needle and hold it in back, K3, K3 from spare needle (left over right cable), P1, take 3 sts on spare needle and hold in front, K3, K3 from spare needle (right over left cable).
Rows 3-13. Knit the K stitches and purl the P stitches.
Row 14. R over L cable. P1. L over R cable.
Rows 15-24. Knit the K stitches and purl the P stitches. Repeat from *.
Four-strand cable: This cable is 12 stitches wide and 8 rows high.
Row 1. (Wrong side) *P12.
Row 2. R over L cable twice.
Rows 3-5. P12 on wrong side. K12 on right side.
Row 6. K3, L over R cable, K3.
Rows 7 and 8. P12 on wrong side. K12 on right side. Repeat from *.
These cables may seem complicated at first, but you'll soon get the hang of them, and you'll find they go together nicely. The cabling comes on the same row, so that you'll have three rows of peace in between. Don't forget to separate the three cables by P1, K1 back, P1. And don't forget the increasing: It's 1 stitch at each side of the cables every fourth row (on the cable row if you like) until there are 76 (80, 84) stitches, which should be about 15" (16", 17"), or the length you want to the underarm.
The Middle Part
Now, you can introduce a different pattern across the chest on the 32 (36, 40) stitches you have increased, which will be 16 (18, 20) on either side. I used a fractured lattice pattern, which is beautiful but slightly tricky to keep track of. If you like, you can substitute a simpler pattern (some first-rate designs originate this way!).
The fractured lattice: This pattern is 8 stitches wide and 8 rows high. (Note: The sleeves and yoke are made back and forth . . . the body is constructed on a circular needle.)
Left twist (LT): Hold first stitch in front, K second st, K first st.
Right twist (RT): K2 tog, but do not take off the needle, K second st again, take both sts off needle.
Row 1 and all wrong-side rows. P all stitches.
Row 2. *LT, K2, LT, RT, K2. Repeat from *.
Row 4. K1, *LT, K2, RT, K2. Repeat from *, ending K1.
Row 6. *RT, LT, RT, K2. Repeat from *.
Row 8. K3, *LT, K2, RT, K2. Repeat from *, ending LT, K3.
You now have three patterns going simultaneously. Continue without shaping, until the piece is long enough to reach to the beginning of the neck opening, or about 24" (25", 26"). The neck width will be about 9", or-very roughly-half the width of the body. In order to give it superior shaping, make the yoke back longer than the yoke front by including the center four-strand cable with the back. Leave, therefore, the front 31 (33, 35) stitches on a piece of wool and continue on the back 45 (47, 49) stitches. (Note to "blind followers": Yes, you will be shy the K1 back stitch on either front or back. Just increase an extra stitch on the back edge to make a point lisiere-that's French for edge stitch-for a neat back edge.)
When you have worked about 9", try the piece on, in the interest of centering the double-O cable if possible. Break the wool, and with it continue the yoke front to match. Join both pieces, and continue down the left sleeve, not forgetting the decreases when the time comes. When both sleeves match, cast off in pattern.
The Plain Part
Now comes the plain part. Measure off 19" (20", 21") at the center front, and knit, with the right side toward you, 76 (80, 84) stitches along this piece. I like to do this by knitting up 1 stitch in each of 3 yoke stitches, and 2 stitches in the fourth yoke stitch, and so on. This method rectifies the imbalance between the stitch count and the row count in the stocking stitch. (If you have not been slipping all first stitches, you are on your own.) Join, and work around.
A piece of shaping to do away with bulky underarms: On the front, knit to within 10 (12, 14) stitches of the underarm, and turn. Purl to within 10 (12, 14) stitches of the underarm, then turn. Knit to within 8 (10, 12) stitches of the underarm, and turn. Purl to within 8 (10, 12) stitches of the underarm, and turn. Continue in this manner, with 2 more stitches on each row, until you reach the underarm. Repeat this process on the back.
Now, you can work around to the wanted length, or 17" (18", 19"). Put in 3 sets of short rows across the back if you wish. At 15" (16", 17"), you may decrease about 10 stitches, evenly spaced across the back only, for a superb fit. Purl 1 round to turn the hem and work 2-3" in thinner wool, and on fewer stitches if you like. Sew down gently without casting off. Sew the sleeve seams. . . if you have been able to resist this so far. Steam the garment lightly, and try the beautiful thing on.
The Garter Stitch Model
This version is childishly simple. Follow the same directions, using only the center four-strand cable in all knit. You will find the knitting of stitches for the back and front are much simpler . . . just 1 stitch for each ridge. The front and back are, of course, worked separately, and the pieces are joined when you join the sleeve seams.
For a cardigan, you may stop the front yoke with a hiccup on either version when you come to the center front. Cast on again and continue as described.
The lower fronts of a garter stitch cardigan may be made indescribably elegant if you shape a curve using the following method:
When one front is about 3" shy of the wanted length, K8, K2 tog at the front edge every second row. Do this four times (4 stitches decreased away). Now, starting at the front, *K7, K2 tog, turn, K8, turn, K8, turn, K8. Repeat from * four times in all. This achieves the curve. Now, *K7, K2 tog, turn, K8. Repeat from * across the lower edge, then across the back, and weave to the border on the other front.
I've just finished a Hand-to-Hand Sweater in a child's size, without the cable but with a bold stripe of contrasting color. By making it quite long, and widening the body slightly and gradually toward the lower edge, it could make an enchanting dress for a little girl, especially in the garter stitch, because of the contrast of the horizontal and vertical ridges. If you make the neck in the exact center of the yoke, the garment may be worn inside out, outside in, back to front, or front to back!
Need a refresher on the basics of knitting and crocheting? Would a list of abbreviations be handy? How about more project ideas and patterns? See How to Knit and Crochet.