I've knit so many colorwork yoke sweaters lately, it's time for a bit of a change. My latest pattern also features a circular-yoke structure but it's a lace cardigan.
Rockweed is a buttoned, fingering-weight cardigan worked seamlessly from the top down. The stand-out feature of the cardigan is the ornamental lace pattern on the round yoke and hem. Otherwise the cardigan uses simple stitches — garter stitch on the bands, plain and simple stockinette otherwise — letting the beautiful lace pattern take the center stage.
Rockweed is named after a type of brown-green algae (Ascophyllum nodosum) that grows in the northern Atlantic Ocean. This species of seaweed likes cool waters; rockweed can only be encountered in coastal regions in Northern Europe, Greenland, and from Canada to New England in the US.
The lace pattern on the yoke and hem of the Rockweed cardigan undulates to and fro like seaweed drifting with the waves. I'm in love with this type of lace that creates strongly drifting patterns that look completely different in a rectangle-shaped chart and only reveal their true nature once blocked. I've used a similar lace pattern before on the Chamomile Dreams shawl. The secret to creating these lace patterns is placing decreases at the same spot on consecutive rows. The more stitches are decreased, the stronger the effect.
Some old-school knitters make the distinction between lace knitting and knitted lace. Although these terms might seem pretty indistinguishable at first glance, they actually refer to slightly different things. Lace knitting refers to the kind of lace you've probably encountered before: yarnovers and decreases worked on the right side of the work with either an all-knits or all-purls row on the wrong side. In other words, lace is worked on every other row (right side) with so-called rest rows (wrong side) in between.
In knitted lace — or "true lace" as it's sometimes called — increases and decreases are worked on every row. If you're working in the round on a sock or a sweater, for example, this is no problem as all rounds are right-side rounds. But if you're working flat on, say, a shawl or a cardigan, this means having to do lace also on the wrong-side rows. Scary, I know!
The lace pattern in Rockweed is combination of lace knitting and knitted lace. There are a few spots in the pattern in which yarnovers and centered double decreases are made on five consecutive rows. This means working CDDs on the right side and it's reverse-stockinette equivalent, CDDp (centered double decrease purlwise), on the wrong side. CDDp, by the way, is the subject of my next blog post that comes out in two weeks. As usual, both written and charted instructions are given for the lace pattern.
The tiers of lace are interspersed with four-row garter ridges which accentuate the sharply undulating waves. To echo this, all bands including the neck edge, hem, cuffs, and button bands are also done in garter stitch. Garter stitch edges can often look a little uneven and wobbly (technical term). In Rockweed, both front edges are framed with built-in i-cord edgings that create a neat, polished look. I've used the same technique on most of my shawl pattern and also on the Maypop Hoodie and I love the results.
The button bands with one-row buttonholes are made at both ends of the needle as you go so you don't even have to pick up stitches at the end. Other than weaving in ends and sewing on buttons there's not much finishing work. Just block your cardigan and you're done!
The pattern also features short rows placed at the bottom of the yoke to create a well-fitting, round neckline. Waist shaping on the body is not done at the sides as is more common but at so-called princess seams: decreases and increases are placed about one third in on both sides of the center-front and center-back mark.
For my sample cardigan I used a rustic non-superwash, fingering-weight yarn, Retrosaria Mondim (100% Portuguese wool, 385 m/100 g, 421 yd/3.53 oz), in the colorway #305. This yarn is quite widely marketed as plastic-free sock yarn — it is named after a Portuguese village once famous for its sock knitting cottage industry. While I haven't personally knit any socks with Mondim (and I'm not planning to), I've heard that it doesn't really wear well in socks as the yarn doesn't have any kind of reinforcing thread, man-made or natural.
In my opinion, Mondim is best suited for garments and accessories that don't need much drape. It has a nice woolly feel and grabby texture that makes the yarn ideal for colorwork knitting. The bouncy, round structure would also make cables stand out. The yarn holds blocking well which means lace patterns also look great. In other words: use it for everything else except socks and drape-y shawls.
Rockweed comes in 9 sizes from XS to 5X with a finished bust of 81–161 cm or 31¾–63¼ inches. This was the first pattern for which I tried an extended test knitting deadline for larger sizes: sizes 3X to 5X got an extra two weeks to finish.
Despite this, I wasn't unfortunately able to find test knitters for sizes 4X or 5X. If you'd like to knit either of these sizes, I'd be happy to provide the pattern free of charge in exchange for your feedback. Contact me for details!
To knit the cardigan you'll approx. 900–1950 m or 1000–2150 yd of fingering-weight yarn (that's 3–6 skeins of Mondim), size 3.0 and 3.5 mm (US #2½ and #4) needles, and 13–15 buttons.
The pattern for Rockweed is now available in my pattern shops on Payhip, LoveCrafts, and Ravelry (seizure warning). Use the code ROCKON to get 15% off the pattern price! The offer is valid until midnight (UTC) June 15, 2022 in my Payhip and Ravelry shops. And I'd love to see what you make — share photos of your cardi on Instagram with the hashtags #rockweedcardigan and #talviknits.
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