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A Knitter's Feast: The Zarabel Sweater

Jan 29, 2010

Sometimes a pattern catches your eye and you can't stop thinking about it. Whether it's the yarn that gets you, or the texture or fit, there's just something about certain designs that grab you and won't let go. You put them in your queue, or buy the patterns or books and keep them on top of your pile of knitting to dos, and you're so happy when you wind your yarn and make your swatches. At least that's what happens to me!

And I think I have a new one for you—it's today's free pattern! 

The Zarabel Sweater

We're so excited about Margit Sage's online-exclusive design: Zarabel is a sweet, intricately textured pullover in a modern wool yarn.

Margit, known as "Fiber Fiend" online, is known for her beautiful cables and fitted knits, and Zarabel is a perfect addition to Margit's design collection.

It's a knitter's feast—with shaping built right into woven cables and delicate lace accents, there's enough detail to keep you knitting well into the winter.

When I first saw Zarabel, I admired how the lace and cables worked together so well. Cabled knits can be bulky, but since this one is interspersed with lace, you get the best of both worlds—a lovely cabled sweater with some delicate, lace "air-conditioning."

The lace pattern is called Cat's Paw lace, and it's just beautiful, as you can see in the detail photo at right. I think this lace pattern would make a beautiful center pattern in a shawl—maybe knit out of a fine silk or cashmere mohair or something! I love the openwork look and the circular pattern. This lace repeat is only 6 rows, too, so you'll get it memorized in no time.

Whoa! These charts look hard!

I know they do. Charts are like that for me, too. I know some of you can look at charts and see the picture in knitted stitches, but I have to work the chart for at least one repeat before I can see it in my knitting.

I was browsing through an article in Knitscene recently, and I thought I'd share some tips about reading charts.

Charts 101

Cable patterns are often written in chart form to save space. If you see a chart, don't panic—they're actually quite easy to decipher once you get the hang of them.

Charts tell you how many stitches are in your cable and which way to twist them. The
X shape spans all the stitches in the cable. The angle of the top leg of the X tells you where to hold your cable needle (in front of your work for a left-leaning cable or back in back of your work for a right-leaning cable) and therefore, which way the cable will slant.

When the top leg if the
X in a chart angles to the right, you will have a right-slanting cable, and vice versa. For instance, indicates a left-slanting cable. The key to a chart will tell you how to work the actual cable.

Take It One Line at a Time

What's really helped me is taking a chart line by line, using a sticky note placed right above the line I'm working on. That way I can see how the work is playing out below and compare it to the chart, and the row I'm working on is isolated from the rows to come. See how much easier it is to concentrate on one row rather than the whole chart?

This vs. This!

And, here are some tutorials we've shared with you recently in Knitting Daily, just in case you need to brush up on some skills before you cast on for this project: cabling without a cable needle 1 and cabling without a cable needle 2  and here's some info on following lace charts. Once you get going, you'll be so anxious to see what comes next that you'll whiz through the cables and lace.

And as if you needed more convincing, this sweater is worked in the round from the bottom cast-on to the armholes, so you'll be able to try it on as you go. We've labeled this sweater as advanced because of the combination of lace and cable work and the increasing and decreasing in the cable pattern. You can see the cable decreasing in the detail photo at left.

Go ahead and download Zarabel now; maybe you can work on swatching for it over the weekend!



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Dove947 wrote
on Dec 3, 2010 11:53 AM

Your download link doesn't work.  How frustrating!  Is it in a Knits magazine?  I have a subscription and several past issues.  It is a beautiful sweater and I would love to make it.  How do I get the pattern?  Thanks.

NancyG wrote
on Feb 4, 2010 12:24 PM

Love the sweater, but do not love the chart. I think it's an age related problem (generation gap if you want to call it that); but us 'oldtimers' just can't abide charts. Soooo much easier to read what to do along the way. Must be something with how our brains work, I can see the stitches on the chart (sort of), but to knit row after row trying to follow the chart - is wayyyy too tedious. Even with the  'helpful' hints - it just won't do. Too bad someone couldn't also write out the pattern for us senior citizens. I noticed another post citing age as the reason that 'charts are out'.

janetma wrote
on Feb 3, 2010 6:49 PM

I like the cable and lace look but this gets messy around where the sleeve meets the body. Think that would have been cleaner with the cables fading on the body as they got to the armhole.

SBiswas wrote
on Feb 1, 2010 10:33 AM

Wonderful sweater it is ! ILove cable and lace ,Planning to make a shawl because I am not a expert  knitter .

Thank you

judy@13 wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 10:45 PM

Kathleen:  Another way that I find helpful in reading charts is to enlarge them on a copier. Then using  a colored marker, I line out the row I just finished. I have used this method to do lace work and complicated stranded knitting.  It works great.


CindyL@3 wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 9:05 PM

I love the LARGE charts included with this pattern, but could you please include yarn size with your patterns.  Is this a 3 or 4 yarn?

dunnsm wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 4:21 PM

SusanR  -

Do you mean all the grey squares that are labeled "no stitch"?

So does it means to just knit all those grey boxes in the round and the other parts that are not in the round are k on rs and p on ws?  

I love the color coding ideas!  Think I'll do that.

PoppyPal wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 3:12 PM

I have just downloaded the pattern  I love the look of the sweater but am concerned about how the stitches look across the shoulder blades in the back view picture on the right side bottom of page 9.  Is there just too much negative ease and the stitches are pulling or is there a mistake in the knitting?  I am guessing that is a combination of both issues.  Or is it a bad join in of new yarn?  

I have noticed this before in other Interweave patterns and other publishers as well - that sometimes the garment looks like it was done in a hurry to meet a deadline and unfortunately photography sometimes emphasizes flaws.

ghknits wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 3:05 PM

Thanks for offering this pattern!  I will be setting it on my list of things to knit!

Carole G wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 1:29 PM

This is a gorgeous pattern, just have to find the right sister, niece, friend or girlfriend of a friend to knit it for. I'm thinking a very soft cashmere, or silk cashmere, or cotton cashmere. Something with some soft fiber for drape, but not too soft to stretch out and a fiber that will give good definition (silk superfine merino?). Oh well, I love yarn and collecting knitting patterns. I only have 10 projects on the needles now. Where is the time?

AnneB wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 1:14 PM

What a gorgous sweater!!

It will go in my knitting project list - behind the three pair of socks I have on needle and the toy mouse for my niece and the sweater I started many months ago for hubby and.........  You get the picture.

Maybe I'll do a scarf with the patterns in the sleeves to check my guage.  That I can fit in - somewhere.

Lewis2 wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 1:05 PM

As an old timer, charts are OUT - way beyond my comprehension even with helpful tutorials (thanks to you  for those for people in the "digital" age). If it's something I really want to make, and if I can figure it out at all in less than several hours, I change it to numbers and words. Saves tons of frustration and  time in the long run - never have to look at that chart again!.

EddyG wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 1:00 PM

Actually I find charts alot easier after I get my highlighter pens out!

I highlight all left slanting cables one colour

right slanting cables a second colour

twist 3 back another

and twist 3 forwards another

then colour in the chart key in the same colours

It's so much quicker to check what a colour is than squint at a chart trying to work out if a line slants left or right - not easy after you have been knitting for a while - it all goes a bit squiffy.  

Colours are just quicker for me.

AnnetteR wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 1:00 PM

Oh my god, this is EXACTLY the pattern I need to make myself a replacement for my beloved Calvin Klein sweater!

Susanne wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 12:33 PM

This is a beautiful sweater. I would also swatch the pattern first, maybe as a shawl as Lee@2 suggests, great idea. I am not very successful with sweaters either, but I might give this one a try. Thanks for sharing the pattern.

kayakin wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 12:27 PM

I found one chart intimidating until I colored the different cables  stitches(this one had 6) in the pattern chart with different colored pencils and then coded  the stitch in color on my sticky note that kept me in line.

motezuma wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 11:41 AM

This is beautiful.  What does 1" negative ease mean?  I have never knitted anything in the round before.  Thanks, Mo

GraceJ wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 11:27 AM

SusanR@5  - I think this is a typical way of reading charts (unless you are mostly familiar with German charts such as Verena and Rebecca). It makes the chart match visually to the knitting. The odd thing about the "wrong side" direction in this case is that this sweater is knit in the round, so one would always be looking at the right side anyway.

SusanR@5 wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 10:39 AM

I am puzzled by a convention used in Interweave knitting graphs (and some others, I'm sure). An empty square in the graph means "k on RS rows; p on WS rows" I find that very confusing. For easy reading, I believe an empty square should mean "knit" no matter where you find it, and a square with a dot should mean "purl," also everywhere you find it.

Which convention do you prefer?

flossie7 wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 10:22 AM

thank you SO MUCH for the chart/cable reading tutorial. such a help!

SueMauer wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 10:07 AM

Thanks for the free pattern and the helpful suggestions. This is the kind of article I love to find in my email!

tysgramum wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 8:40 AM

Absolutely breathtaking sweater.  Love lace and cables together.  Have got to try this sweater.  Thanks for sharing. Suzie

tysgramum wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 8:40 AM

Absolutely breathtaking sweater.  Love lace and cables together.  Have got to try this sweater.  Thanks for sharing. Suzie

Lee@2 wrote
on Jan 29, 2010 7:33 AM

I have just added this sweater to my must do projects. I will make at least a scarf if not an afghan using these charts before I make the sweater. I am not a great sweater knitter yet. Love Knitting Daily & every single blog. Thanks