Design Files: Evolution of a Cable Pattern

I thought it would be fun to try something new here, a little idea I'm calling Design Files, where we examine a design or finished project and discuss the process, inspiration, and thinking behind the piece.

For my first Design Files, I wanted to take a closer look at the cable I was obsessed with all summer and show you how the stitch pattern evolved and changed over time.

Top: L / TallinR / Nico.
Bottom: L / Baby Jane. R / modified Birch Bay for Summer of Basics.

I first used this cable pattern on the Tallin scarf I designed for our inaugural Tundra Collection, published when the The Fibre Co. Tundra was released in 2012. Over four years later, when brainstorming ideas for The Fibre Co. Arranmore Light, I knew I wanted to work cables with the yarn, as I love the look of the woolen spun tweed with the dimensionality of cables.

I first began with a more traditional aran-style swatch, using the Tallin cable as a starting point, adding panels to either side and filling in with moss stitch. It was too reminiscent of other Aran designs, so I wanted to see what it would look like if I used the main cable in an all-over pattern. I copied and pasted the pattern into a half drop repeat, offsetting the motifs so there was very little space between them. I kept the size of the diamond the same - 17 stitches wide - but lengthened it by 2 rows to 20 so it would fit better into the half drop. The final change was to make the inside of the diamond seed instead of moss stitch. In order to make the all over repeat fit on the flat ground of the scarf, I divided the first and last repeat in half down the middle and ran a 4 stitch cable up the sides. It makes for a really lovely clean edge without feeling as if the all over pattern is cut off in any way.

I knit the original sample of Nico the last month of my pregnancy, and found the repetitive cables to be very relaxing. Once the scarf was complete, I didn't want to say goodbye to the cable, so I modified it even further and reduced the scale so that the main diamond was 15 stitches wide and 16 rounds long to better suit the smaller size of a hat. Instead of the repeat divided down the middle with an edging for the flat scarf, I worked the pattern in an all-over repeat. This requires a little finagling on the cables that cross over the repeat lines, but I created a tutorial for this technique, as it appears on a few of our all over cable patterns.

Once I finished Baby Jane, I still couldn't get enough of the cable pattern, so I used the repeat and edging from the scarf on my Birch Bay!

I really enjoy the swatching and scheming process, starting with an idea and seeing where it ends up. It was nice to apply this particular cable to a few different designs to see how it changes when the scale is adjusted. I really love it in such a high-impact application like the front of a sweater. It would be amazing in an all-over garment, too!