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Sweater Workshop: The Charvet Pullover

Dec 1, 2010
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Charvet Pullover by Maria

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A note from Kathleen: At Knitting Daily and Interweave Knits, one of our favorite features is the Sweater Workshop. There are so many worthy contenders in the Winter 2011 issue of Interweave Knits, but we've chosen a bias-knit pullover with wonderful, casual flair: The Charvet Pullover by Maria Leigh.

"Charvet" is a type of bias striping that you see a lot on men's ties, and there's also an exclusive shop in Paris called Charvet, which has supplied high-end men's shirts and ties since the mid-nineteenth century. Maria's Charvet Sweater, like its namesakes, is a classic wardrobe-builder that you'll rely on all season.

Here's Knits editor Eunny Jang to workshop the sweater for you.

The Charvet Pullover

The bias-knit sweater is an old standby. But Maria Leigh's Charvet Pullover from the Winter 2011 issue of Interweave Knits is different—careful shaping worked right into the structure of the sweater highlights the intriguing construction and creates neat, tailored fit all at once.

Let's take a closer look at what makes it so special:

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  Beautiful drape!

1) Yarn choice. Notice the way the fabric of the pullover drapes and folds—though the fabric is dense garter stitch, a llama/silk blend yarn works up with lush, fluid drape rather than stiffness. Inelastic cotton or bouncy wool couldn't create the same effect.

2) Clever construction. Maria builds the Charvet Pullover in the four standard sweater pieces—a front, a back, and two sleeves. Each piece is turned 45 degrees—if you've ever knitted a bias-knit scarf, you know how easy it is to create a bias piece with straight sides, simply by increasing at one edge while decreasing at the other. Every piece of the Charvet Pullover is based on this idea.

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3) Fine detailing. A pullover made of straight-sided pieces wouldn't be very flattering. Instead, Maria includes additional shaping on top of the increases and decreases required to keep the edges straight, building in delicate waist, arm, and neckline shaping. The finished pieces fit together like a puzzle.

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4) Customizability. Part of the genius of this pullover is the way it takes advantage of garter stitch's square gauge—almost exactly two rows for each stitch. Substitute any other stitch with a similar gauge, or use a stitch with a dramatically different gauge and adjust the shaping.

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Yarn choice might be a fun way to play here as well. How about stripes that alternate a heavy yarn and a laceweight? Or a rustic wool and a strand of silk?

And the color combinations, of course, are endless. How about quiet tonal shades? Or bright, eye-popping optical stripes? The choice is yours.

We love sweaters that make you think. Subscribe to Interweave Knits now and make sure you don't miss a single issue.


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JaneneD wrote
on Jul 27, 2013 1:39 AM

I too found the written pattern impossible to follow.  I wrote out each row, using a +\- before and after the row number to indicate increases and decreases at the beginning and end of the rows.  I'm about half way through the back and it's going great.  The shaping of the front looks a bit more complicated.

Oma2many wrote
on Jul 22, 2013 12:05 PM

Beautiful sweater, and knitting on the diagonal is easy, but this is one of the most difficult patterns I've ever read. It is so poorly executed in the interweave magazine that I literally had to rewrite the pattern one line at a time in order to get the shaping in the right spots.

BeKKnits wrote
on Dec 3, 2010 6:40 PM

I liked this Sweater Workshop and the Sweater!!!!