Oct 6, 2014

Meet the Finch Cardigan From Graphic Knits

The Finch Cardigan was the fifth pattern I wrote for my book, Graphic Knits. I sat down to write this pattern on my thirtieth birthday. Though I was still fresh off the heels of my demoralizing Rook Pullover disaster, and dreadfully behind on my book schedule, I found myself feeling focused and determined to make forward progress. On the cusp of a new era in my life, I felt empowered with a renewed sense of purpose.

I was so glad that I ordered a chunky fast-knitting yarn for this design because it gave me a much-needed opportunity to catch up on my schedule.

Sometimes my design concepts seem to arrive on my sketchpad fully formed and ready to go. Finch was definitely one of those designs. The one-piece cuff-to-cuff construction was something I knew I wanted from the beginning. Here's the sketch I did for my book proposal.

I envisioned a beautiful smooth unbroken line that flowed elegantly across the shoulders. I thought a sideways knitted fabric would be so pretty. I always love to design things that are knitted in odd directions, so this guy was right up my ally.

I challenged myself to make Finch stylish and well fitting but also make it easy enough for an advanced beginner. The idea was pretty straightforward, but I had a little trouble working out the fit. I knitted it halfway and tried it on, but it wasn't really working. The silhouette wasn't even close to what I had envisioned.

It was clear that I would have to scrap everything and start over. I was still a little gun shy from my dreadful experience with Rook, so I decided to make a miniature version for my little wooden design assistant, Gertrude Pine.

Making miniatures is something that I do sometimes to work out unusual construction ideas. Gertie is a nice scale because it only takes an hour or so to knit her a tiny sweater. In this case, I sewed a mini mockup of Finch using some jersey that I had lying around.

I made a couple mini versions to try out all my ideas. Somewhere in that process I figured out that inverted bust darts could work wonders for this simple shape. The darts curve the fronts upward and do great things to flatter feminine shapes.

With my new plan, I ripped out everything I had knitted so far and started over. The new design was everything I hoped it would be. That smooth line across the shoulders turned out so pretty. I can't even look at it without smiling!

I also spent a little extra time to write an in-depth sidebar for this pattern that explains how to sew all different kinds of seams using the mattress stitch. My editor ended up moving this section to the glossary in the back. So if you're knitting Finch and you have questions, be sure to look for that.

If you want to see some more of that lovely mattress stitching in action, check out my video entitled "The Mattress Stitch: Sewing For Knitters". I think mastering this fundamental seaming technique is very important for knitters at every level, so I really wanted to include something about it in my book.

I'm so happy with the result of this pattern. I hope you'll pick up a copy of Graphic Knits and try it out for yourself. For more information about the design, check out the pattern page here.


  • Steffi
    over 9 years ago

    Thanks for your background stories on how you came up with the designs. I am looking forward to more insights!

  • Alexis Winslow
    over 9 years ago

    Thanks Steffi! I really love making these posts, so I'm glad you're enjoying them. I plan to post at least one "Meet The..." story every week for a while, so stay tuned...

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