Stripes and Stripes and Stripes…Minimalist-ish.

Swinging Stripe Cardigan


Note: This sweater is inspired by the shape of the Minimalist Cardigan from Interweave Knits, Fall 2007. I owe my aesthetic inspiration entirely to Ruthie Nussbaum, but the following pattern notes are all my own. I did not pilfer any part of Ruthie’s pattern and try to pass it off as my own, because that would be really really lame.

That said, here’s how I did it.

I am a sucker for top down raglans, so I started with a simple raglan formula as my “skeleton”. If you’ve seen or knitted my other patterns, you should be familiar with the idea by now. I am knitting this sweater in worsted weight yarn (in Cascade 220…since it’s my favorite go-to yarn). My gauge with this yarn and a size 9 needle is 18 stitches/ 4 inches.

I decided on a neckline that was a little wide, to leave room for the band of stockinette that will be attached later. If I were knitting a complete pullover raglan, I would cast on 90 stitches, to give myself a 20 inch neckline. BUT, we are knitting an open-fronted cardigan.

In the case of a pullover, the cast on amount would be divided into thirds…two thirds would make up the front and the back, and the third third would be split to make the sleeves. (So, during a cast on of 90 stitches, you would CO 30, pm, CO 15, pm, CO30, pm, CO15, pm.)

Since we want an open front, We will leave the front section of the raglan out entirely. Instead, we will cast on only the sleeves and the back, PLUS two stitches on each side of the front to support our first few increases. So, cast on goes like this:

CO2, pm, CO15, pm, CO 30, pm, CO 15, pm, CO2

That’s 64 stitches total cast on.

Knit two rows in stockinette to begin, then proceed with raglan increasing to shape the yoke of the sweater. This means increasing before and after each marker on every RS row. I increased like so:

knit to the second stitch before the marker, kfb (knit front and back), knit, slip marker, knit, kfb, repeat…

Continue increasing this way until your sleeves are the desired width and the yoke is deep enough, making sure to switch your yarn every 14 rows to create nice thick stripes (you can cut your yarn and leave tails to weave in, OR carry your yarn up the rows as you knit.) Make sure to try the sweater on as you go. Once the two stitch markers JUST meet under your arm, you should be good to go. The keyword here is JUST. You don’t want the markers to overlap, or meet in the air a few inches below your underarm. The fit should be snug around the shoulder. Knitting until the underarm is loose will leave you with a much baggier fit.

Once your armholes are large enough, place them on waste yarn, or on spare circular needles, and attach the front to the back of the sweater.
When you come to the two sleeve markers, remove them both and knit the last stitch of the front, and the first stitch of the back together. Place marker again and continue. Repeat on the other side.

Now you are knitting happily away on the body, continuing your stripes. To add a little bit of movement to the sweater, increase before and after the side markers every 14 rows or so. This will give the body a little extra room to swing around.

When you near the end of the body, count your stitches and make sure you have a multiple of 4. If not, add or subtract stitches to get an appropriate amount. When you reach the end of a stripe, switch colors as before and knit two rows in regular stockinette.
On the third row, go down two needle sizes (I used a size 7) and knit in 3×1 rib for 9 rows. On the tenth row, bind off in pattern.

Ta da! Your body is complete! You now have a decision to make. You could either knit your sleeves and THEN the collar, or finish your collar and THEN tackle the sleeves.
I went with the collar first.

Firstly, you want to be aware of your length. Take a minute and carefully measure your sweater from one front edge, up and around the neckline, and back down to the opposite edge. This is how long you want your collar band to be.

For my collar, I cast on 18 stitches. You want it to be pretty wide, since the edges will roll, even after blocking. Decide which of your two colors you want to use for the collar, and cast on your desired amount. Now knit in stockinette until you can’t knit anymore.
Stripey Cardigan
DO NOT knit all the way to the length you noted when you measured your collar. The best way to be sure your collar is exactly the right length is to seam it on while you are still knitting. This is the best way to see how your stitches line up, and how many rows you need to knit in order to get it perfectly lined up. So, knit about ¾ of the way to the length you are shooting for, and then begin to seam the collar onto the body of the sweater.
When you reach the last row, bind off, complete your seaming, and admire your work.

The sleeves are very straightforward. No shaping is required, so you will just knit in the stripe pattern until your sleeves reach to just below your elbows. You WILL want to count your stitches and make sure you have a multiple of 4, to plan for the ribbing at the cuff. As with the body, add or subtract stitches to make an appropriate number. When you reach the desired length, switch colors like normal, knit two rows in plain stockinette, 9 in 3×1 rib, and then bind off in pattern. Repeat on the second sleeve.

Weave in all ends and block, paying particular attention to the collar, as the edge will be very keen to roll up on itself.



17 thoughts on “Stripes and Stripes and Stripes…Minimalist-ish.

  1. Ohhh I’ve been looking for a minimalist sweater like this, but with a little “pizazz” – I really like the idea of the edging. I think I’ll try to use up my stash yarn for this one! Great pattern! 😀

  2. Thank you so much – just what I wanted. I’ve never tried this method of knitting, and I’m going to do this one exactly as given here, so I’ll let you know how I get on – when I do!

    1. Thank you, Kelly!

      I only used about half of the second pink skein, and I dipped into a third brown skein.
      So I guess the total yardage would be just over 800 yards.
      I originally purchased three skeins of each color. If you are my size and you decide in advance which color you want your collar to be, you should be able to get away with three of one color and two of another.

  3. Oooooh…I love this sweater! The color choice is beauteous and it looks really comfy. Thank you so much for sharing the pattern…it’s in my queue now and I’ll probably end up starting this in a couple of days.

  4. Lovely! Uh, this sounds weird, but would you mind sharing your bust size so I have a comparison for myself and how it would look on me (and also, if it’s close, maybe I wouldn’t have to do any math and could just use your stitch counts – wouldn’t that be fab)?

  5. Hi there,

    This sweater looks great and I would like to try making it. I am, though, a little confused. When you say 18 stitches per inch, do you mean a square inch? I imagine that would be 9 across/9 down, but that seems like a lot of stiches per inch. Also, how many skeins do you think I will need? Anyway, thanks for posting. It looks so cute.

    1. WOW! That is an obvious typo. I can’t believe I didn’t see that before. I meant 18 stitches in FOUR inches. Doh.
      I used just under four skeins for a relatively small sweater. If you want to go any longer or bigger, but around the same size, allow yourself two of each color and one additional skein of whichever color you’ll use for the collar. Good luck!

  6. i can’t thank you enough for this simple set of directions. i am just starting my second version of the sweater. after hours of searching the web i haven’t been able to find anything as simple and complete as your directions. thanks again! happing knitting!

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