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Of Salt and Sea

Summertime is here and with it a new cardigan pattern that's perfect for layering over your favorite tops and dresses in the gentle summer breeze: Salt Tide.

Salt Tide :: cardigan knitting pattern

Salt Tide is a buttoned, top-down cardigan with a lace yoke made with yarnovers and twisted stitches. The majority of the cardigan is simple stockinette, letting the intricate lace detailing on the yoke take the center stage. Sleeve cuffs, hem, and button bands are all worked in twisted ribbing.

Salt Tide is in many aspects a sequel to Rockweed. They both share the same coastal theme, construction choices, and some of the design features. Salt Tide, in particular, is inspired by the textures of the sea and the shore: the delicate lace pattern on the round yoke evokes the ebb and flow of the tide.

Salt Tide :: cardigan knitting pattern

They're both also circular yoke cardigans: an intricate lace pattern adorns the yoke with increases incorporated — or hidden even — between the lace tiers. Whereas in Rockweed the lace pattern is worked on both right- and wrong-side rows, in Salt Tide yarnovers and decreases are done only on the right side of the work. That doesn't make it quite easy breezy, though! There's lots of twisted stitches and twisted ribbing in the pattern — both on the yoke and in the edge treatments — which unfortunately means that you'll get very accustomed to purling through the back loop. As is usual in my patterns, both charted and row-by-row written instructions are given for the lace.

Once you get past the lace yoke, the majority of the cardigan is done in stockinette until you get to the hem and sleeve cuffs. In my first design idea I'd envisioned incorporating the lace design on the hem as well but decided against it in the final pattern. The lace repeat is quite wide which posed some issues with getting to the right stitch count after doing waist shaping. But in the end I think it was the right decision: the eye is drawn to the beautiful lace yoke instead of getting distracted with other details.

Like Rockweed, Salt Tide is also knit in fingering-weight yarn. For my sample I chose Vuonue Wilhelmi, a blend of 70% Finnsheep wool and 30% tencel. Tencel, also known with its generic names lyocell or modal, is a regenerated cellulose fiber that's made of wood pulp. It's similar to viscose (rayon) but more environmentally sustainable to produce in that it uses less energy, fewer and less-toxic chemicals, and is less wasteful than rayon production. Tencel fibers are light and breathable so coupled with sheep's wool they make a yarn that's both warming and cooling. Very appropriate for a summer cardi!

Tencel also gives the yarn a subtle sheen, slickness, and drape similar to the properties you might encounter in wool/silk blends. But this also makes the yarn ruthlessly show any irregularities in tension. I'm a tight knitter to begin with but with this yarn I had to go down in needle size to what I'd normally use with fingering weight. And it's also the reason why the button bands in Salt Tide are picked up afterwards rather than made on to go. The needle size that otherwise looked good with the lace pattern made for very sloppy button bands indeed.

Salt Tide :: cardigan knitting pattern

Like all my round-yoke designs, Salt Tide features short rows placed at the bottom of the yoke. Some people call this "raising the back neck" but technically it isn't — it's lengthening the back yoke. What this does is create a length difference in the back versus the front yoke which prevents the upper part of the cardigan from tilting backwards to strangle you. For more technical information on this, read my blog post on improving circular yoke fit with short rows.

This type of shaping I consider to be a must-have in modern top-down knitting patterns. But bust and waist shaping in Salt Tide is optional.

Salt Tide :: cardigan knitting pattern

Like in Guilty Pleasure, bust shaping in Salt Tide is done as vertical bust darts, placing increases and decreases at the sides of the front between the bust apex and underarm. The pattern comes with pre-calculated instructions for a D cup in sizes L–4X and an F cup in sizes 5X–6X. If your cup size differs from this, a separate worksheet walks you through calculating custom bust shaping based on your upper and full bust measurements.

Waist shaping, on the other hand, is done with decreases and increases placed at the sides of the sweater, giving the garment a subtle hourglass silhouette. But the body of the sweater can also be knit straight, omitting both bust and waist shaping. They're also independent of each other: you can choose to do one or the other, both, or neither. Out of the 15 test knitters who have completed the pattern, half chose to do waist shaping and a third bust shaping; others went without. This makes the pattern flexible and customizable in fit when you can mix and match the options to best suit your body type, shape, and size.

Speaking of sizes, Salt Tide comes in 10 sizes (XS to 6X) with a full bust circumference ranging between 80–175 cm or 31¼–68¾ inches without bust darts or between 80–185 cm or 31¼–72¾ inches including bust shaping. But as said, bust darts are customizable. For a best fit in the shoulders, choose a size in the pattern based on upper torso circumference.

To knit the cardigan, you'll need approx. 1060–2310 meters or 1160–2520 yards of fingering-weight yarn. Or perhaps not quite as much? A curious aspect of the wool/tencel blend I used for the sample is that, for whatever reason, yardage requirements calculated based on that yarn tended to overestimate the actual yardage used to knit the pattern. Even accounting for tension differences, on the whole my test knitters used around 140–170 m (or 150–190 yd) less yarn than predicted. Whatever the case may be, size-by-size yarn requirements are listed on the pattern page.

Salt Tide :: cardigan knitting pattern

The pattern for Salt Tide is now available in my pattern shops on Payhip, LoveCrafts, and Ravelry (seizure warning). And even with Instagram's questionable decisions regarding which and how many posts to show when looking up hashtags, I'd love to see what you make! Share photos of your cardi on Instagram with the hashtags #salttidecardigan and #talviknits.


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Salt Tide is a buttoned, top-down cardigan with a lace yoke made of yarnovers and twisted stitches, inspired by the textures of the sea and the shore. Read this blog post to find out about the design features, sizing and shaping options, and yarn requirements of this fingering-weight, light and airy summer cardigan. #knitting #knit #cardigan #lace #yoke #yokes #sizeinclusive

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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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