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Project Diary: Breacan Swing Coat, Fall 2010

Nov 30, 2010

Project diaries walk you through one real knitter's experience knitting a project from our magazine. Stay tuned for more project diaries—and enjoy Amy Palmer's version of the Breacan Swing Coat from the Fall 2010 issue of Interweave Knits. —Eunny


Project Breacan Swing coat by Gwen Bortner, Interweave Knits Fall 2010

Knitter Amy Palmer, Assistant Managing Editor for Knitscene.

Yarn:  Zitron Nimbus: #413 (dark grey), 11 balls; #414 (light grey), 7 balls; #410 (sage), 4 balls; #412 (teal), 3 balls.

Why you were excited about knitting this project: When Gwen’s sample came into the office, I carried it around with me for a few hours. I love swing coats! With the right cut and the right size, a swing coat is pretty much universally flattering, drawing the eye in and down and hopefully not too far out around the hips (this is where the cut and style come into play). The yarn is incredibly soft and lofty while also being light, so I get a lot of warmth without a lot of heavy bulkiness. And who doesn’t love a good plaid?! I was excited to brush up on my intarsia knitting skills in a way that mimics a true woven plaid fabric.

What size you made:  42½"

Your measurements in inches

  • Bust: 44"
  • Waist: 42"
  • Hips: 44.5"
  • Back length (from neck to waist): 16.5"

Schematic measurements for your size:

  • Bust: 44.75"
  • Waist: n/a
  • Hips: 54"
  • Overall back length (from neck to hem): 25"

Modifications made:   I didn’t actually make any modifications. If I were to knit this again, I might do a little bit more dramatic waist shaping, to nip in a bit more and then increase around the bust, but I also feel like it fits perfectly as is.

What did you love about knitting this?  I like my knitting to be relatively simple but not mindless, yet I also enjoy a little bit of a challenge and new-to-me skills. This coat afforded me all of those: Once I got the hang of switching out the colors, the plain stockinette was a breeze. The intarsia knitting technique required just enough effort that I didn’t get bored. This was my first knitting project with set-in sleeves, so that was both mind-boggling and incredibly gratifying when I finished them (hint: marking pins are your friend!). The larger needles were a bit challenging to manipulate, as I’m used to working on size 8s and smaller.

What would you note for other knitters about when knitting this pattern?  Choose a size that gives you a little bit of ease on either side, no more than 2” negative or positive ease. The sample jacket was a bit too big on the model, so the coat hangs kind of funny in the photos. When I put the sample garment on in the office, it fit me rather well, but having the extra couple of inches for my coat makes it a little roomier, perfect for layering (whenever winter decides to show up).

Also, learn how to spit splice. This yarn was a little tricky, given that it’s a singles yarn and doesn’t have plies that are easy to pull apart, but I was able to divide the singles into separate pieces and splice them together. This will save you hours of untangling yarns as you’re working the intarsia: Simply cut your yarn into yard-length pieces as you go, and splice them together with the yarn already in use. It also cuts down on the number of ends to weave in when you’re finished.

What would you note for other knitters about when knitting this pattern? I wear jeans much of the time, and this jacket is not so tailored that it looks clumsy when worn with jeans, but it also dresses them up. I can also see myself wearing this over simple layers with a black pencil skirt, tights, and heels on those days I feel like getting dolled up.


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AmyPalmer wrote
on Dec 6, 2010 10:26 AM

BeKKnits, Judy P, and jordana2, thanks for the kind words!

Judy, the article actually says "Choose a size that gives you a little bit of ease on either side, no more than 2” negative or positive ease."

I chose to go with negative ease because I didn't want it to be TOO big around the bust area (I also knit loose and have a bad tendency to have things grow in the blocking process, so choosing a size down is one way I combat these habits). Some folks who knit tight, or prefer a looser fit, may choose to go with positive ease, but in this shape, too much positive ease will lose the gentle shaping.

Does this make sense?

jordana2 wrote
on Dec 4, 2010 8:34 AM


Thank you for sharing!  Your coat is beautiful.  I would like to see more articles like this in Knitting Daily.

Judy P wrote
on Dec 4, 2010 7:12 AM

Just for clarification....the article says to allow 2 inches of ease but it says Amy made the size 42 1/2 but her actual measurements were 44" and the schematice was 44.75.   Was that a preference ?  It looks like it fit well.

BeKKnits wrote
on Dec 3, 2010 6:45 PM

I love Project Diaries!!!!!!

Beautiful Coat!

AmyPalmer wrote
on Dec 3, 2010 11:26 AM

Thanks Alice and Amontillada!

You don't really need to cut a separate length for reach row; I just worked those, back and forth, from the ball. I did cut a separate length for each vertical column; that is, the yarn that was only going UP, and not going across. Does that make sense?

As for preventing gaps, I wrote an earlier blog post ( about this jacket, and part of it talks about how to twist the yarns up to avoid the gapping that can happen with intarsia.

Happy knitting!

Amontillada wrote
on Dec 2, 2010 6:28 AM

The colors you chose are absolutely gorgeous! I need to remember your hints about cutting yarn lengths and splicing yarns--untangling all those strands is a mess for me! If I understand correctly, you're saying cut a separate length of yarn for each row and section of the color, rather than winding lots of bobbins to dangle from the back. I'll need to try that, since I have trouble preventing gaps on the ends of color sections with bobbins.

MonsterAlice wrote
on Dec 1, 2010 6:59 AM

This is the sort of article (and Amy is a great model) that you should be doing for larger knitters like myself. What I needed to know about knitting the pattern in a larger size was made clear, and I got a good look at what the completed garment would look like on me..