Cirriform Cardigan Notes

I'm sure that you caught the Deep Fall issue of Knitty and with it, my Cirriform Cardigan. I wanted to share some tips for those of you planning on knitting it. Let's begin!

 Photos by  Lindsey Topham

Photos by Lindsey Topham

Front Lengths

User sheilatoy on Ravelry knit up a modified version and noted that the pattern schematic shows the fronts as being asymmetrical when they are actually the same length. I wanted the schematic to show the front lengths as they look when being worn to help illustrate how one side hangs lower due to the bias of the fabric. But she is totally correct--each lace front has the same number of rows! For reference, I'm 5'3" and the longer front hits about knee length on me (see above photo.) The yarn you use will either enhance or change the effect of the hang, which brings me to my next point...

Yarn Substitutions

I've been flagged in several Ravelry discussions about yarn choices for this project. Berroco Kodiak is a pretty unique yarn but unfortunately it's discontinued! You can still find it on closeout at Webs, and one LYS owner wrote to me that she still had stock in her store. User foodieknitter on Ravelry pointed out that Kodiak is closer to an aran weight than a bulky, and seeing as I knit it up at 4sts/inch in this project, I'd tend to agree. Kodiak is a tube style yarn similar to Blue Sky Alpacas Techno. I know Techno is created by forming a silk tube and then blowing the alpaca into it, so I imagine Kodiak is formed similarly but I don't know for sure. It's super weightless, which is what really makes this design work. I hesitate to suggest traditionally spun alpaca or wool yarns for Cirriform for a few reasons. Most bulky 100% alpaca yarns I see are 2-ply and actually quite heavy with a tendency to sag and weigh themselves down over time. I worry that the extra fabric on the fronts of this cardigan, combined with the natural bias of the lace pattern would give you fronts that reach your ankles by the end of the day! (Ok, slight exaggeration.) A tightly worsted-spun merino, on the other hand, is so springy that I don't think it would add that lovely drape the Kodiak provides.

Aside from the yarn suggestions listed in the pattern, I think your best luck lies with a brushed alpaca or a lofty woolen-spun wool yarn if you must have wool. I'd suggest generous swatches, plus hanging your lace front swatches to dry (perhaps even with weights added) to ensure the best representation of how the final fabric will behave. However, if you plan to wear it closed with a shawl pin or belt, or if you want to add a button or two at the top neckline, you don’t have to worry as much about the drape because those will hold up the sweater fronts. Not to mention they are fun and very valid styling choices to switch it up!

Front Lace Patterns

Both the very talented tech editor at Knitty, Kate Atherley, and knitter Kerstin (who emailed me) pointed out that the left front lace pattern is not a true diagonal lace pattern like the right front. That's how I designed the pattern, since I found the left front lace pattern biased enough on its own to create a cheater diagonal effect. But you are totally welcome to adapt it to create a truly diagonal lace pattern! Kerstin adapted it to a 4-row repeat like the right front, as follows:

Row 1 (RS): K1, *yo, k2tog; rep from * to end.

Row 2 (WS): Purl.

Row 3: K2 *yo, k2tog; rep from * until 1 st remains, k1.

Row 4: Purl.


The sizing on this pattern is a little unusual because it's designed to be worn with a lot of ease. The official finished bust measurements of the finished garment are 35.75 [40, 44.5, 48.75, 53.25, 58.75, 63.05] inches. However, as you can see in the above photo, the fronts overlap each other quite significantly when held closed because the cardigan is intended to be worn open with excessively large, drape-y swaths of fabric acting as the fronts. My full bust measurement is 33" and I'm wearing the 40" size in photos--that's 7" of positive ease!

As you can see, the cardigan fits across my upper back and shoulders which is really the key here for this style. The back width after all raglan increases are finished (aka in line with your bust) are as follows:

16.75 (18.75, 20.75, 22.75, 24.75, 26.75, 28.75) inches

Based off that, my personal recommendation is that as the wearer, your personal full bust measurement should be about 30 (34, 38, 42, 46, 52, 56)" in order to have the intended amount of positive ease. If you prefer a slightly more fitted look, match yourself up with a size based on your back measurement and go down rather than up if you are between measurements. The fronts will still be drape-y and excessive even if you go down a size!

(One final shot for atmosphere because I'm obsessed with this gloriously vine-y wall!)

Got any further questions on the Cirriform Cardigan, or want to show off your own modifications to the pattern? I'd love to hear from you!