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It Started with a Sketch: Brontide

I’m starting a new post series! In It Started with a Sketch posts I reveal what goes on behind the scenes in my design process: what sparked the idea, how it evolved, and how the final design turned out.

Back view of Brontide

Brontide is my first ever graded garment design. Previously I’d done a simple pullover, the Chunky Moss Green Sweater (a free pattern), but that was over 15 years ago and one size only.

Sketch for Brontide

I’d had the initial ideas last fall but nothing too specific. But the basic shape was already there: top-down cardigan with a cabled yoke, with some of the cables running down the fronts. My sketch reads “top-down raglan” but that was later changed into a round yoke.

In September 2016, I happened to notice an Instagram post by Manos del Uruguay: they were starting a design submission program for indie designers called Viva la lana. I’d never done a design submission before but this sounded too intriguing!

Mood board for Brontide

This is the mood board I put together for my submission. The theme of the first round was tango but I didn’t want to be too literal so I interpreted the theme as a dramatic and thunderous mood.

Looking back on it, it’s interesting that the color palette – stormy blue-grays – and the big dramatic cable were present even in my initial ideas. The smaller cable got simplified to something resembling my quick sketch.

Cable detail on Brontide

To my surprise, my design got accepted! Now I had to turn the sketch into an actual pattern. Calculating the rate of increases for the cabled yoke – and then grading it for seven sizes – took several iterations. Not the wisest decision to start garment designing with something this complex, but hey, I learnt a lot! Luckily the yarn took its time to arrive so when I finally received it in January 2017, I already had the pattern down pat and was ready to cast on.

And here it is! Brontide is now available for download on Ravelry. I would love to see your interpretation of moody cables. Please share your project with the hashtags #brontidecardigan and #talviknits.

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Susanna Winter is a knitwear designer, creating timeless and elegant pieces with clean lines. She has been knitting for over 20 years, knit blogging since 2007, and designing knitting patterns professionally since 2016.

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