A couple of winters ago I went to a knitting retreat organized by the Finnish indie dyer iKKe (Etsy, Instagram, FB). In her booth I spotted three skeins of fingering-weight BFL Tweed in a purple so dark and rich it almost looked like brown. When I noticed the colorway was named Elfwine, the deal was sealed.
My mind went immediately into a very Tolkien place. In The Hobbit, Bilbo and the dwarves journey through the Mirkwood on their way to the Lonely Mountain and are captured by elves.
Mirkwood Cardigan is a beautiful top-down design with hanging vines of leaves on the round yoke. The cardigan is a little shorter than what I usually love to wear and design — but that just makes it perfect for wearing over a dress or paired with a skirt.
The cardigan has a hybrid round yoke/raglan construction. Increases for the round yoke are incorporated into the leaf lace pattern. This is followed by a short raglan increase section.
The back of the yoke is shaped with short rows. Because of the nature of human anatomy, the back requires more length than the front of the body. A common problem with circular yoke designs is that the front tends to ride up too high on the neck. When more length is added to the back piece, it gives your back more room and the front sits exactly where it should: right at the tips of your collarbones.
The leaf lace pattern on the yoke is mirrored in the two lace pockets placed at the fronts. They may look like patch pockets that are sewn on afterwards but the lace panels are actually worked at the same time as the rest of the hem, and the inside pocket linings are knitted after the body is done.
Cuffs, hem, and the button bands are all knitted in twisted rib.
Waist shaping is used to get that flattering hourglass shape I love so much. This cardigan also has back shaping to get rid of sagging or wrinkles at the back. This is another common issue (at least for me) when there's too much fabric at the small of the back. Back shaping in knitting is similar to the sway back adjustment in sewing.
The pattern for Mirkwood Cardigan is now available on Ravelry! The pattern comes in 7 sizes ranging from XS to 3XL. You need approx. 1150–1950 m (or 1200–2050 yd) of fingering-weight yarn and 8–10 buttons, depending on your size. Both written and charted instructions are given for the yoke and pocket lace patterns.
iKKe has stocked her Etsy shop with some BFL Tweed sweater sets for the cardigan, including the original Elfwine. And there's a little coupon code for the pattern if you order the yarn through her, valid for the rest of May.
If you plan to knit the cardigan in hand-dyed yarn, I recommend alternating skeins every two rows to prevent pooling or flashing of color. One of my skeins was ever so slightly lighter than the other two — you can see it in the photos as very subtle striping on the lower part of the body.
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