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My new favorite: The French Braid Pullover

Dec 9, 2011

The French Braid Pullover by Angela Hahn
I've finished several hats for Christmas presents and now I'm itching to get back to sweater knitting. Whether knitting for women or knitting for men, there's one thing I know about my knitting personality: I love working cabled sweaters.

I remember seeing Angela Hahn's French Braid Pullover in the Fall 2009 Interweave Knits and liking it a lot. That stockinette cable down the front is really attractive and different. And it's aptly named isn't it? It really does remind me of the French braids I tried to do with my hair and was never successful with!

With all of the new patterns coming my way, I forgot about the French Braid Pullover until I saw it in The Interweave Knits 2012 Calendar: The Sweater Workshop, where it's featured as part of the "Twist and Turn" collection.

The French Braid is a relatively easy knitting pattern with raglan sleeve construction and the super-wide cable. Knit in worsted-weight yarn in the round it's a pretty quick knit, too.

I like this sweater just as Angela designed it, but I think I'll make some mods to suit my figure. While the cables down the arms are certainly lovely, I won't include them in my version because I don't want to add bulk to my arms, especially at the upper arm and shoulder.

To make this modification properly, I'll need to use my gauge swatch to recalculate the appropriate number of stitches to cast on for the sleeves. Cables pull fabric in quite a bit; if I used the prescribed number of stitches I'd end up with huge, baggy sleeves with too much fabric bunched up under the arms, not to mention a way-too-big-neck. I'm up for the challenge of this modification, though. I love this sweater that much.

There's a cable running up the back of the sweater, too, and I'll keep that to make the knitting interesting. I omit back patterning a lot in my sweaters, for no really good reason except that I'm lazy and I want to be done knitting so I can wear the sweater!

Plait Cable
This cable is unlike any I've ever knitted. It's a 16-stitch plait cable, with extra stitches on each side to make the cable look really wide. Here's the cable pattern:

Plait Cable (28-st panel)
Rnds 1-11 and 13-23: P2, k23, k1tbl, p2.
Rnd 12: P2, k8, sl 8 sts to cn and hold in front, k8, k8 from cn, p2.
Rnd 24: P2, sl 8 sts to cn and hold in back, k8, k8 from cn, k7, k1tbl, p2.
Rep Rnds 1-24 for patt.

The cable panel is really easy to work once you get it set up. The last stitches on each side of the cable stand out nicely because they're knitted through the back loop, and the whole panel is set off with two purl stitches, which make the vertical lines on the edges of the panel.

Designer Angela Hahn notes that it's easy to drop stitches or knit two stitches together while working the cable crosses, so it's a good idea to count your stitches after each cross. Better safe than really sorry!

Angela also provides two overall lengths in this pattern; because of the number of rows between cable crosses, the body length can't be easily adjusted without altering the appearance of the neck edge. The two lengths are 25 inches and 26¾ inches. I'm going to do the longer version.

Want to join me? Download your copy of the French Braid Pullover today and cast on!


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French Braid Pullover Knitting Pattern

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The braided cables and organic wool give this sweater a rustic look with feminine charm.


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Becky@66 wrote
on Dec 10, 2011 11:25 PM

I had the same thought for modifications of this sweater - to take the cable out of the arms.  But I don't know how much to change the pattern by - I'd love some expert advice on how to do that!

Anitac315 wrote
on Dec 10, 2011 10:22 AM

Kathleen, I would love to see your version of this sweater.  Please post a picture when it is done. The cable is beautiful, but it adds way too much shoulder bulk for me.  It looks perfect for someone with sloping shoulders.  Also, it looks like the neckline of this sweater is crying out for a hood.  Maybe you could add one and bring that gorgeous cable up through the hood.


gegette wrote
on Dec 10, 2011 8:00 AM


It's funny , in France we call this Braid an " african braid"!

That Pullover is so nice!

Thanks for all!


DavineW wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 10:57 AM

I noticed the same, but the total of 28 sts did not allow for a stitch on each side, so I thought perhaps the twisted stitch was just on every 2nd row, and on row 2 you would purl through back of loop . . . and it was then I noticed that the instructions say to knit 23 every row (would need to K2 on ends and P23 to end up with cable as shown) and to do the cable on rows 12 and 24 which would actually be purl rows if Row1 is right side of work.  If this is the way the cable instructions are actually written in the pattern then I'll take a pass on downloading this one (although it is very pretty, and I do love cables . . .)

ergoni wrote
on Dec 9, 2011 8:51 AM

Did something get left out of the cable pattern?  

You say "The last stitches on EACH SIDE of the cable stand out nicely because they're knitted through the back loop".  (my emphasis)  This would make me think that there is a stitch knitted thru the back look both before and after the cable,  but the pattern only has it after the the cable.