Until Eternity: Back

The nice thing about designing a bolero is that waist shaping is essentially a non-issue, which means that the back only has to deal with armhole and neck shaping. Huzzah! Don’t ask me how to decide where armhole shaping needs to start…I completely failed that challenge and had to get creative with my sleeve design (explanation to come).


Armhole Decreases

Best advice I can offer on armhole shaping is: (1) you need it and (2) when you figure out where it needs to start, the math for the decreases goes like this…

[Width of back before decreases – Width of back after decreases] / stitch gauge = Number of stitches that need to decrease

[Overall height of back – Height of back from beginning of decreases] / row gauge = Number of rows over which decreases will be worked

Armholes are usually started by binding off the first inch or so of stitches, so subtract one inch worth of stitches and one row from the two numbers above and then divide the rows by the stitches. This will tell you how often you need to decrease. For example:

60 row / 20 stitches = 1 stitch every 3rd row

Because you want to decrease evenly on both sides, you multiple this by 2, so what you end up doing is decreasing 1 stitch on each side ever 6th row.

Neck Decreases

The back on this sweater is meant to meet the front of the sweater in a nice seam across the top of the shoulders. Think of your neck as a tree in the middle of a road. The back of your sweater is going to come up around half of it. You need to measure the circumference of your neck and dust of pi to figure out how to work the neck properly.

When to bind off across the center:

[Height of the back to shoulder seam] – [radius of neck] = How many inches before the top you need to set up for the neck straps

Math tip: C/2π = radius

How much to bind off across the center:

[Diameter of neck] * [stitch gauge] = how many stitches across the neck you need to bind off

Math tip: C/π = radius

Unless you are severely lop-sided, leave an even number of stitches on each side of the sweater. Leave the stitches on one side on a stitch holder, finish the strap on the side you end your binding off on, break the yarn, then finish the strap on the side on a stitch holder.

Cast On

If you haven’t done a provisional cast-on before, don’t be daunted. It’s super easy. Here, see?



The lace chart is inspire by a Celtic eternity knot, though the back doesn’t really capture the interweaving that makes me love the motif so much. Here are some instructions I put together for a cabled eternity knot ages ago–I’d love to see someone do this sweater in a lace/cable combo, but the lace chart is only going to be available in the paid pattern or to anyone on my email list when I publish the pattern.

Hint, hint: Sign up for my enewsletter! (Guaranteed awesome and non-spammy.)

To Design a Sweater

I just finished my very first sweater design. It’s not perfect, but it fits (more or less), and boy howdy, did I ever learn a lot in the process!


My primary thought, looking back on this process, is that all knitwear design boils down to basically three driving questions:

  1. What look are you going for?
  2. What body are you trying to fit?
  3. How big are your stitches?

Because I am the laziest person on God’s green earth, I am also the WORST person to take advice from on how to meticulously combine any of these. I do, however, have some thoughts that may be helpful if you’re thinking of designing a sweater yourself.

1. What look are you going for?

This was the toughest part of the design process for me. I spent hours combing through Ravelry and Patternfish looking for shapes and techniques I like. I only designed because nothing struck me as quite right, but I bookmarked many patterns that were either close or had features I liked in order to get the creative juices going. I then took to my sketchpad and started playing with lace charting.


Eternity Lace Version 1

The first lace chart didn’t work out well, and the shape of the sweater evolved somewhat, but my sketches gave me something to consider in light of point number 2.

What body are you trying to fit?

Maggie Righetti’s Sweater Design in Plain English is a great book for learning sweater designs. If I were to work my way through the sweaters, I’d probably be a stronger designer for it. I lack that kind of patience, so I primarily used the book for the excellent advice on what to measure and how.

How big are your stitches?

Gauge or tension, whatever you want to call it, you CANNOT design without knowing it. I did do a full 4″ gauge swatch because I was working with new yarn and new needles. I didn’t block it, but I should have. I sure as heck didn’t try to get overly precise with my math. That’s not how I roll. You might be able to tell from the end result. 🙂

More notes to come as I work up the pattern for you! Make sure you’re on my email newsletter list if you want a free copy.

“J” is for Joy

This is the first, and as of the publication of this post, the only, pattern that I am selling instead of giving away for free, mostly because I put an insane amount of time into getting it right and I’m fairly proud of the end result. These fingerless gloves are very light and delicate and the pattern has enough complexity to keep things interesting without driving inexperienced knitters crazy.

Buy “J” is for Joy Now!