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Sweater Workshop: Knitting the Jali Cardigan

May 12, 2010

A note from Kathleen: The Jali Cardigan by Pam Powers is a standout among standouts in the Summer 2010 issue of Interweave Knits. Knits editor Eunny Jang is here to look at the pattern in-depth for us, including sharing some styling ideas!

So here's Eunny to talk us through the Jali!

The Jali Cardigan

The Jali Cardigan by Pam Powers
The Jali Cardigan, back view

The Jali Cardigan is one of my favorite sweaters from the Summer issue of Interweave Knits. Let's take a walk through why it's so wonderful:

Jali chart
Jali stitch detail
1) A truly lovely stitch pattern. Pam was inspired by an eyelet and cable motif she found in a Japanese stitch dictionary, which formed large, separate crosses over a body fabric.

After playing around, she found a way to line up the eyelet diagonals to form an interlocking mesh fabric crossed by cables at each intersection—very handsome! It reminds me of the geometric latticed stone screens found in Islamic and Indian architecture—hence, the Jali Cardigan.

The pattern's lush ornateness is a result of repetition. Though it looks complicated, anyone who can make a yarnover, a decrease, and a cable can turn out a lovely result—as you can see in the chart and corresponding stitch detail at right, the eyelet lines and cables flow into each other in a very orderly and predictable way, making it easy to catch and correct errors quickly.

This is one of those fantastic stitch patterns that just works—you'll know it inside and out after a couple repeats, and be able to knit it without even referring to the chart.

Jali schematic
2) Simple, straightforward construction. This sweater is like a canvas for showing off the gorgeous stitch—no frills or furbelows to distract from the pattern, which itself is all the ornamentation needed. A simple collar and clean edge treatments provide an unfussy frame for the canvas. It pleases the eye, but it's good knitting as well: Pam begins the sweater at the bottom edge and knits in one straight piece until the armholes (1). The body splits there for right and left fronts and the back, leaving simply shaped armholes (2). Plain sleeves, knitted separately, are seamed in during finishing (3).

Finally, a band is picked up all the way from one bottom front corner, around the neck, and down to the other front corner, and then worked flat in a simple stockinette/reverse stockinette welting for a generous collar that drapes and moves well (4).

Simple, easy, with minimal finishing and minimal fuss.

Jali styling options

3) Wearability. I love sweaters that are wearable across seasons—the magazine sample is knitted in a cotton bamboo blend that, combined with the slightly open stitch, is cool and breathable enough to wear as a summer jacket, but this sweater would be perfect as a cool-weather layer as well.

The shape is classic and simple—tailored at the shoulders for clean fit but forgiving at the waist—making it flattering for a wide spectrum of body shapes and sizes. And it's flexible enough to wear in a ton of different ways: I might wear it as a loose, slouchy cardigan over a fitted, flirty summer dress—or use it to top off jeans and a tee shirt on the weekend—or belt it for a neater silhouette and wear it in place of a jacket at the office.

You could even wear it as a beach cover up over a swimsuit (you'll have to use your imagination for that styling option, though!).

At Interweave Knits, we're interested in sweaters that fit—your body, your knitting style, and your life. How will you knit the Jali Cardigan? Leave a comment and let us know!

Happy knitting,

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JeannineB wrote
on Sep 12, 2010 4:21 PM

I just finished my Jali Cardigan and would like to add a few notes:

1 - I had my husband help me with the measuring before I decided on the size to make.  I measured 16-3/4" across the back (NOT going to the underarms, I just let my arms fall naturally and had him measure just my back itself.

2 - Based on this measurement, I chose to make the size 36, which, according to the pattern should measure 18" across the back.  ( I was afraid the next size down would be a little small, especially for a cardigan that I plan to wear over other garments).  That has proved to be a good choice, as the finished sweater fits perfectly - yeah!

3 - According to the pattern instructions, my size 36 should take 1715 yards of yarn.  I did not use the yarn specified; instead I chose a Classic Elite yarn called "Premiere", which is a cotton/tencel blend.  It knit up very nicely, to gauge, using the needles specified, and is a very nice, soft yarn.  However, I only used 14 balls (at 108 yards/ball = 1512 yards), so I did have yarn left over...........

4 - Lastly, I decided to add the crosshatch pattern to the sleeves.  The plain sleeves just seemed to need "something".  I used the "Front-Crosshatch Shoulder" diagram on page 29, positioned it in the center of the sleeves stitches and worked it up the center of the sleeve.  I carefully planned/watched as I worked, and managed to get the crosshatch pattern to end right at the top of the sleeve cap!  

I think the sweater has turned out very nicely, and I'm looking forward to wearing it as a cover-up to our son's wedding next weekend!

INIT2XS wrote
on Aug 19, 2010 12:12 PM

Am I the only one having a problem with this?  The row I'm having the problem with is row 13 in size 39-3/4.  

I should be knitting 10 sts at the beginning of the right front before I begin the pattern, but I have to knit 12 for the pattern to come out right and then there's a stitch left over at the end.

When I start the back section there is one stitch and a yarn over where there should be two stitches and a yarn over so that I can k2tog at the beginning of the back sectionl.

One stitch too few when I start the left front section.  

Gr-r-r-r-r!  I've tried this a dozen times.  Good thing I'm using really good yarn!

on Aug 8, 2010 5:27 PM

I'm knitting this in a size 30" for my itty-bity mother- I think she'll love it!  I'm using a bamboo/wool blend yarn and it's knitting up beautifully- the cables don't pull in at all and it's got a lovely drape.

Unfortunately, I'm having the same issue as DaVinci- the charts don't seem to match up. I keep winding up with extra stitches on each end. It looks like I'm going to have to frog and start over. :(

Any one run into this issue? Any suggestions?

Davinci wrote
on Jun 11, 2010 9:05 PM

Could you follow up on how to read the charts for this -- I've taken the whole first repeat out 6 times trying to figure out the wavy lines in the chart when you don't loose any stitches or cast any off or even have then used up by some knit 2 togethers of SSKs.  I'm totally stumped.

I know that the solution is clear as crystal if only I could fall across it.  This last time I really thought I had it licked by -- no, I didn't and it's still not looking right.  Once the charts size line dents in I just cant seem to make it work.  <sigh>  Help me Obi Wan.

DonnaS@35 wrote
on May 19, 2010 9:35 AM

I love this pattern too!  Is there an "official" answer on JeannineB's question about sizing posted anywhere?  Are we to use the body measurement across the back only but measured at the underarm line or should the measurement include the underarm portion of the back?  Very confusing to me.  Thanks for clarification.

JaniceT wrote
on May 18, 2010 4:14 PM

I like this pattern along with many other patterns in the current issue.  Unfortunately, I have a 50" bust.  There are really no patterns in this issue with the appropriate amount of ease to fit me, or either of my daughters.  For a while it seemed that Interweave Knitting was responding to requests for larger-sized patterns.  That aim has seemed to drop off dramatically.  I understand that patterns can be upsized through various methods.  What with working full time and having other commitments, I don't have a lot of knitting time and the time I do have I don't want to spend figuring out math.  Lately, I've turned to knitting cowls, lace shawls, mittens, etc., because I cannot find the appropriate sizes for me and others sized like me in the magazines I subscribe to.

linnea@2 wrote
on May 17, 2010 4:37 PM

Started the Jali cardigan a few days ago. So far so good. Used the measurement from my underarm. I'm using an acrylic from Stylecraft called Satin Touch in a light grey witha lavender undertone. The pattern is easy to follow and I like doing the body in one piece. I'm going to shorten it a bit, think it will look better as I'm only 5ft. 1in.

I can't remember being this excited about knitting a sweater in a long time.                 Sherry W.

SuzanP wrote
on May 16, 2010 5:38 PM

For a larger size, I have read, you can use larger needles to up the size.  I have tried this method a couple of times with very good results.  Just do a test knit with chosen yarn and larger needles to see how many inches per stitch you get then you will know how much larger your sweater will get.

imalulu wrote
on May 16, 2010 12:09 PM

I've ordered the yarn in the Hyacinth color, and it should arrive this Wednesday, May 19th....and I can't wait to start it.  I'm a 44" bust size and 18" across my back....I've decided to make the 2nd to largest size (pattern says 39 3/4) with

19 3/4" finished across back since it will be warn over other layers.  Wish me luck with the sizing and all!!

Franki wrote
on May 14, 2010 1:52 PM

Eunny, are there some other yarns which come to mind as working well.  Specifically, that may be a little warmer for those in colder climates?



TheresaC@12 wrote
on May 13, 2010 5:09 PM

love the look........would even take the time to write out the chart so I could follow. I always have to go and feel the yarn...........What other yarn would you consider?

PatriciaW@3 wrote
on May 13, 2010 8:49 AM

It is a beautiful where can I get the pattern?

Georgette@2 wrote
on May 12, 2010 4:25 PM

I, too, am attracted to this sweater, but I don't usually like to knit with cotton and cotton blends.  Are there alternative yarn that would work well with the shape and stitch pattern?

PamD@22 wrote
on May 12, 2010 1:17 PM

This caught my eye in the mag. and is on my list for a near future project. I'd like to use a light yarn rather than wool but am always worried about cotton stretching. I hope that this cotton bamboo blend will provide stability. Does anyone have other ideas?

imalulu wrote
on May 12, 2010 12:43 PM

Whoa, whoa, whoa.....I think BethL has started a wrong idea here that the Jali Cardigan is only sized up to a 44" bust.  The explanation of this cardi's fit and sizing, in the "NOTES" section, at the very beginning of the pattern, clearly explains that the cardi's "fronts don't close" and the collar adds 7 to 9.5 inches (depending on the size your knitting) looks to me that it could be 53.5 inches around for the largest size (44"+9.5").  As for how to choose a size for yourself....I think it is saying to measure yourself ACROSS YOUR BACK at just under your arms...and compare to the "NOTES" back measurement for each size.  Clear as mud??

on May 12, 2010 12:41 PM

Like thousands of other knitters, this cardi immediately caught my eye as I was eagerly looking through the new issue of IWK.  I appreciate the insight that Eunny has brought to this with her comments, and I am especially pleased that the cardi is knitted in one piece to the armscyes.  With a nice long circular needle, this style of construction makes for a faster knit, more even gauge throughout and better alignment of features - no need for counting rows!  

Thanks again for a great issue and excellent designs!


Burbank, CA

judemarie wrote
on May 12, 2010 12:22 PM

What a wonderful sweater! I love the style, I love the pattern! Too bad it's not for BIG ladies like me.

JaneC@43 wrote
on May 12, 2010 12:07 PM

The Jali Cardigan got my fingers on the computer keys, about to order the magazine, until I read that it goes to a sz 44.  I need a 48.  You can't please everyone, but is it too terribly expensive to size up to at least a 1X?  I realize that some cuts don't look well that large, but this lovely cardy seems that it would be perfect for my short, round self and quite versatile for Atlanta fall or spring weather.

AudreyD@2 wrote
on May 12, 2010 11:28 AM

OH. WOW. sigh.

This would be beautiful in natural tussah, but I have to spin it up first...and get more fiber...


BethL@13 wrote
on May 12, 2010 10:52 AM

I'm sorry, but if this is such a wonderful, wearable pattern... why is it only sized to a 44 bust.  Interweave is slipping, again, at offering flattering and wearable patterns in larger sizes.

This Knitting Daily was the first good information in a long time.  The sales pitches are getting excessive.

NancyS@61 wrote
on May 12, 2010 9:02 AM

I have started the Jali cardigan and have finished the sleeves, and began on the body.  I started with the sleeves to make sure my gauge was OK. I am using a Henry's Attic cotton that has been marinating in my stash.  I am shortening the sleeves to 3/4 and making them a bit wider and using the same collar welts as cuffs.  I am also going to shorten the sweater a bit since I am not so tall.  So far I am really enjoying the knitting, and though there are a lot of stitches on the body, it goes pretty quickly since the pattern is interesting, but easy, once set up.  I think it will be the perfect sweater to grab for chilly restaurants and movie theaters this summer.

Nancy Shroyer (mother of "you know who")

JeannineB wrote
on May 12, 2010 8:10 AM

I am seriously considering making this sweater to use as a "cover-up" for my son's wedding this fall; he is getting married on a "riverboat" and the evening may turn chilly.  That said, I'm a little confused about the note describing how to choose which size to make.  It says to use the "back width at underarm"; does that mean the back measurement  when the work is divided for the armholes (which is what I'm assuming), OR the measurement across the back once the armhole shaping is done?  The pattern states that the model has a 34" bust and is wearing the 30" size cardigan.  My bust measures 39"; my back (from middle of my underarem to the other underarm) is 19".  However, if I measure my back straight across (not turning in for the underarm), I get 18".  I'd appreciate your help; depending on which measurement is used, I could make either a 36" or 39-3/4 finished size.  Thanks!

ElizabethD wrote
on May 12, 2010 7:49 AM

I absolutely love this pattern. But the instructions about choosing a size are confusing...can you give any guidance on that? The numbers don't seem to match up.

ncalgal wrote
on May 12, 2010 7:48 AM

I love the looks of the Jali Cardigan, but I'm not so much wanting a cardigan with that formal sleeve cap/armhole shaping, so decided to make it with a more gansey-style armhole/straighter fronts, adjust the sleeve length accordingly, and less taper to the sleeves themselves.  Now to find the perfect yarn from my stash...