The Zephirine Cardigan pattern appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Interweave Knits-- yes, one year ago. I never got around to writing a blog post about the design process, so this seemed like a good time to remedy that. It may be hard right now to even think about going outside with just a sweater, at least here in the snow-buried Northeast! But this is a great three-season cardigan, perfect for cool spring days, chilly summer evenings, and crisp fall afternoons. Part of its versatility comes from the yarn (Universal Yarn Nettle Lana), an unusual organic wool/nettle blend; the wool provides warmth and shape, while the nettle fiber (related to hemp and flax) adds drape and a pleasing dry hand.
Looking back, it seems that I was obsessed with garments with yokes at the time that I came up with the idea for this design: at the time, I was also working on the Plumage Wrap, the Bell Yoke Tee, the Facet Pullover, and the Cabled Capelet (which will be included in the book Wanderlust, coming out in both a print and an e-book version in March 2015). In all of these designs, I was having fun with how to work the yoke decreases into different stitch patterns. (Photo below, clockwise from top left: Facet Pullover, Plumage Wrap, Cabled Capelet and Bell Yoke Tee; all images courtesy of Interweave Press except Facet Pullover: courtesy of Twist Collective and Linus Ouellet.) For Zephirine's lace yoke, I did two things: omitted some of the yarnovers in the last repeat of the lace pattern, and changed to a smaller knitting needle halfway through the yoke.
There are several other design elements that I really like in this cardigan. I like the way the yoke is fastened only at the center, allowing the neckband to separate into a flattering "V" at the top front edge, and allowing the lower front edges to gracefully fall away to the sides. To avoid having to add a front edging that would interrupt the lace, I simply added button loops to one of the front edges of the lace section. And finally, I like the subtle textured vertical lines that extend from the yoke down the body and sleeves. To allow these lines to continue uninterrupted, I decided not to taper the sleeves or shape the waist; the angled fronts still create a flattering silhouette, and the sleeves are 3/4 rather than full length to allow for wider cuffs. This makes knitting the body and sleeves quite simple! It did require some math to make sure that when I added all of the stitches from the body and sleeves (and subtracted the stitches held for the underarms), I ended up with the right number of stitches for the yoke lace repeat-- especially since those textured vertical lines flow right into the lace.
(1st, 2nd and 4th photos courtesy of Interweave Press)