Last week on the podcast I shared that I was starting a sweater with some of the yarn I purchased at the Sneffels and Taos fiber festivals. First, I'm working a border for the sweater, and then will knit the body of the sweater and seam the border on.
I started the project when I was traveling, and didn't have all my stitch dictionaries handy. Plus, stitch dictionaries are really a jumping off point - there are infinite numbers of possible stitch combinations, and stitch dictionaries can only give you a fraction of what's possible. I knew that I wanted an antler cable, so first I looked on Ravelry for other patterns that had antler cables.
Since I didn't find any sweaters that were exactly what I had in mind, I decided to design my own. (More on that later!) I found a basic antler cable pattern chart from the free Antler Toque pattern by Tin Can Knits. It is a sixteen-stitch wide cable with six rows:
This is a pretty standard antler cable - like you might find in many stitch dictionaries. However, based on my gauge swatch, I felt like this cable would be too narrow for me. Rather than hunt for more cable patterns, I decided to modify it. First, I added two stitches to either side of the pattern, making a 20-stitch wide cable pattern. In order to continue the pattern, I also needed to add two rows. Then, I added in the cable crosses in the pattern that had already been established.
I felt like this still wasn't wide enough, so I added another two stitches on either side of the pattern, making the cable 24 stitches wide. Instead of continuing to add height, I added these cables at the bottom of the chart, so that the beginning and end of the stitch pattern nest together:
Lastly, I added a ribbed border of 5 stitches on each side, for a grand total of 34 stitches. The ribbed border sets the cable off in a subtle way, keeps the cable from curling, and will give me room to seam the band to another piece of knitting.
Modifying stitch patterns can be daunting at first, but it's really just a process of tweaking an existing pattern until you have something that works for you. For more information about modifying cable patterns, Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook is an unbeatable resource.
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