Monday, July 5, 2010


This black sweater is made for my dear friend Arkadiy from Odessa (Ukraine). He is a Russian submarine officer, and also a history teacher and physical education instructor, a man of great erudition and a wonderful friend. He knows hundreds of poems and songs by heart.Why this black sweater is called “Yellow submarine”? Because when I announced that I wanted to knit something for him, Arkadiy’s wife Marinochka said: ”… but don’t knit him anything black, it is not his color!!! Do make him something… yellowish, for instance….”

I said that I would call it whatever she wanted it to be (for instance, yellow) but actually it would be black. Because by that time I had a bunch of beautiful yarn made of the whole alpaca blanket, pure deep-deep black. The name of alpaca is Aleigha. True black is the rarest and the most precious alpaca color. Unlike with other animals, alpaca’s black color gene is recessive, i.e. even if the mother-alpaca and the father-alpaca are both black the baby could be of a different color.

PATTI, a friend of mine that owns Aleigha and many other adorable alpacas and peacocks, gave me all the 10 skeins of this yarn caviar and told me to make something pretty.

I love black knitted clothes: you can add as many adornment details as you want and they still will look chic assuming the yarn is fine. But it is pain in the neck to present them on photos. If the light is flattering for the face of a model, the sweater looks just like a big black hole (the better the black color is the less discernable is the garment), and vice versa: if the light falls sideways you can tell what the sweater is like; but it is usually not good for the face to be highlighted from one side.

We made the pictures on Odessian streets and on the beach. Hopefully they give some idea of the sweater, and if no – I’m providing many other ones, just of the sweater and its details. And some verbal description too :-)

The body of the sweater is made of one front central panel and one back central panel (they differ only by neckline shape), 2 very long symmetrically knitted side panels without shoulder seams, and 2 identical small under-arm panels. A felted pocket with embroidered letter A and felted cords sewn along the braids of the side panels serve as modest decorations. Central panels and sleeves are made with simple stockinet stitch (knit on the right side and purl on the wrong) and have 3 welts each. Under-arm panels are knitted in reverse stockinet (purl on the right side and knit on the wrong).

10 x 3.5 oz skeins of yarn was not enough for this sweater, that is why under-arm panels are made of another black yarn (wool/cotton blend) which looks the same black in real life.
A set-in sleeve sweater type was taken as a base for ours, that is why the side panels are shaped like on the chart by means of short rows:


So, we will need the materials:
11 skeins of home made alpaca yarn, each skein 100 g /3.5 ounces – 200 m/218 yards (20wpi sprot weight).
Needles #6/4 mm (or size to obtain gauge with double stranded thread) and 2 circular needles of the same size.
A zipper approximately 9” (22 cm)
Sewing needle.
Gauge - 20 stitches in 10 cm/4” worked on simple stockinet (double stranded yarn).
Size – S-M
Everything except the pocket and felted cords I made made with double stranded yarn (my yarn was thin).
Beside simple stockinet and reverse stockinet, only 2 stitch patterns were used in the sweater:
Row 1 (Right Side): k1, p1.
Row 2 (Wrong Side): k1, p1.
Row 3: p1, k1.
Row 4: p1, k1.

Slow lazy braid:c6f: Slip next 3 stitches onto cable needle, hold at front of work. Knit 3, knit the stitches on the cable needle.

Row 1 (Right Side): k6.
Row 2 (Wrong Side): p6.
Row 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13: k6.
Row 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14: p6.
Row 15: c6f.
Row 16: p6.
Row 17: k6.
Row 18: p6.
Row 19: c6f.
Row 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34: p6.
Row 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33: k6.
Row 35: c6f.
Row 36: p6.

Note about selvage stitches (ss): Always slip the first stitch in the beginning of each row and purl the last stitch in the end of each row. In such a way you will have a chain of selvage stitches, - one vertical loop for each 2 rows - on each side of a knitted piece. I usually don’t count rows, I count selvage stitches. Another advantage – they look very nice when assembled by mattress stitch.

For the BACK CENTRAL PANEL cast on 33 sts (including 1 edge st each side) and work 60 rows (30 selvage stitches, ss) in simple stockinet.

Knit right side row adding a contrast thin thread (I added pink, the sweater recipient doesn’t know about it anyway because this auxiliary thread is supposed to be removed later). This is the first row of a welt. Cut the auxiliary thread off.

Work 7 more rows. On the wrong side, pick up all the stitches of the marked row with additional or circular needle. Fold the welt by bringing together 2 needles that hold stitches and work a right side row with a third needle knitting a stitch form the front needle and from the back neelde. This technique is used in “3-Needle Bind-Off” method described in all knitting manuals and magazines, but for a welt you just don’t bind anything off.

Work 7 more rows.
Make the second welt.
Work 7 more rows.
Make the third welt.
Work 25 ss (50 rows) to the neck line. Then in the right side row work 5 sts, bind off 23 sts, work 5 sts. Turn, work 3 sts, 2 p together. Turn, bind off 1 sts, 2k. Turn, 1k, 2p together. Bind off. Finish the same way the opposite side of the piece.
The length of the back center side is 30 + 9 + 25 + 2 = 66 ss.

For the FRONT CENTRAL PANEL cast on 33 sts and work in the same way as back central panel, make 3 welts at the same height. Work 6 ss more after the 3rd welt. Then in the right side row work 16 sts, bind off 1 stitch, work 16 sts. Every side will be finished separately.

Turn and work 16 ss more. To shape the neckline decrease on every other 5, 3, 2 and 1 sts, starting with ride side row. Continue to decrease 1stichs in the beginning of every right side row until piece measures 66 ss long. Work the rest 2 sts together and bind off. Finish the same way the opposite side of the piece.

LEFT SIDE PANELCast on 33 sts. Initial row: 1 st – selvage stitch (ss), 6 sts – lazy braid, 1 p, 17 sts of Rice, 1p, 6 sts – lazy braid, 1 ss. Here it is:

Work 63 ss, then start working short rows so that outer edge of the panel remains the same 63 ss, but the inner edge is longer to match the center pieces: in the wrong side row work 25 sts, the 26th will be your turning point. Take yarn to the wrong side of the fabric and slip the turning point stitch from left to right needle; take yarn to the front side of the fabric and turn work. The yarn is wrapped around the turning point. Always slip the turning point stitch in the right side row from left to right needle. It was the first short row. Make 5 more wrong side short rows.

Continue to work straight – 63 more ss, bind off.

The Right Side panel is worked as mirrored left side panel.


Cast on 25 sts. Work in reverse stockinet until the piece measures 13.5” (34 cm). In the right side row work 10 sts, then bind off the middle 5 sts, work 10 sts. Decrease on every other row 3, 2, 1, 1, 1 sts and bind off. In the same way finish the opposite side of the piece.

SLEEVECast on 55 sts. Continue to work in simple stockinet increasing 1 stitch each side on every 4th rows 16 times to obtain 88 sts on the needle. Continue to work this way until the piece iss 41 selvage st long (AT THE SAME TIME when the piece measures 32 ss make 1st welt, work 7 rows, make 2nd welt, work 7 rows, make the 3rd welt). Decrease each side on every other row 7 sts 1 time, 5 sts 1 times, 3 sts 1 time and 2 sts 1 time (54 sts on the needles). Then decrease each side on every other row 3 sts 3 time, 1 st 7 times, and bind off the rest. Cast 50 sts on the sleeve bottom and work 2x2 rib stitch – 2.5” or 6 cm.

Spread all the pieces and lightly iron wrong sides through a wet cotton cloth, without pressing. Let them rest until totally dry.

Cast on 25 sts with single strand and work 15 ss (30 rows) very loosely. Cast off.

Cast on 5 sts with single strand and work 224 rows very loosely; cast off (shorter cords for outer braids).
Cast on 5 sts with single strand and work 234 rows very loosely; cast off (shorter cords for inner braids).
Making cords: cast 5 sts on double pointed needle or circular needle. K5, don’t turn but slide the stitches to the other end of a needle. Repeat to desired length.

FELTING Set the washing machine on hot wash cycle and lowest possible level of water. Add a little bit of soft soap. Start the washing cycle but every 5 minutes stop it, remove and check the pieces. Don’t over-felt like I did: my first try was very funny, I didn’t control the washing cycle and received a fluffy piece of fur instead of a pocket  So, I would recommend to try it with a swatch first. When the desired felting is achieved, rinse the pieces manually in cold water, stretch and block them to the desired size, let them dry. The pocket can be marked with embroidered initials as I did.

ASSEMBLY Using mattress stitching, attach side panels to the center panels starting from the bottom. Attach a pocket and line up the braids with felted cords as shown on the picture. Felting adds some interesting texture although probably the photo is not very persuasive (black color is not very photogenic).

Colar and zipper. Cast on 88 sts around the neckline and work 2x2 rib stitch about 27 rows. Check if it is the right length to accommodate your zipper band. Pin and sew in the zipper.

Sew in the under-arm panels on the bottom of the sweater cast on 78 x 2 stitches and work 2x2 rib stitch 2.5” or 6 cm. Cast off, sew together the rib.

Insert the sleeves under the braids easing them up a little bit around the top of the arm holes.

On me....


Adushka said...

Оля, замечательный свитер!! про штучки такие складочки не поняла :( чет мне как-то запутанно! видать надо попробовать!

O'Casey said...

Ада, пасибо! :-)
Складочки - подбираешь все петли отмеченного ряда с изнанки на третью спицу, укладываешь эти 2 спицы ровненько параллельненько а потом в лицевом ряду вяжешь лицевыми, подхватывая по 2 петли - одну с одной спицы, другую со второй.

Rosalía said...

yes, It's a brilliant work. Looks perfect on he. I love cables and aran style . This is a good choice.

Alla said...

Оля, отличная работа!
А фото можно сразу в журнал ставить.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Florence, Montana

VagabondKnitter said...

Love the pattern & the backstory. thank you very much for sharing them.

Anonymous said...

well done. quite nice.

Anonymous said...

Greetings... I was showing my husband the sweater (we liked it very much, and he loves black) and he thinks he recognized your friend as someone he met in Saint Jones Newfoundland in the early 70's. My husband Stephan was singing in a Band at some of the Night clubs there and met several sailors from different countries whose ships stopped at the port.
Please if you could ask your friend if he has ever been there?
Thank you

Anonymous said...

thanks for the interesting information