Day Zero: Swatching and Pattern Analysis

Right, let’s begin!

Filatura di Crosa Zara Plus Chine, in a gorgeous, saturated, heathered purple (Colour 1706). A true purple, born of molten red and inky blue. And the yarn, with its countless plies, is squashy to the point of being spongy. I’ve used the Zara line in many forms – fingering weight Zarina, DK weight Zara and this aran weight Zara Plus – and each one is beautifully soft and strong.

After so many sweaters, I have now got to the point where I read the pattern only for an idea of how the sweater is constructed: are there any interesting shortcuts? unusual ways of doing a usual thing? nifty tricks to make a potentially difficult design execution easier?

Once I know all this, I just swatch to get a fabric density I like, read my gauge from the swatch, and plug those numbers into the sweater template that I know will fit me well (which usually involves much more shaping than in the original pattern, but by now these mods have become second nature and I hardly think about them).

In this case, I liked the fabric I got with 4.5mm needles; drapey yet dense, indicating good fit and warmth.

Pattern Analysis
Braided Pullover from Interweave Knits Fall 2008.

I really like:

  • the Braid. It elevates the simple clean lines of the sweater to Something Else.
  • the V neck

I don’t quite like:

  • the way the cable makes a straight diagonal like across the torso; it looks like a beauty pageant sash or that metal thingy worn by WhatsItsName, the furry creature from Star Wars.

I want to add: 

  • Pockets! A squooshy yarn like this one begs for pockets to stuff hands into. One pocket’s opening will be cunningly hidden along the edge of the cable; the other one… well I’m still thinking.


  • Will change angle of cable into a stronger vertical along the sides of the garment to make it look like a wrap top. Will begin cable pattern from hem ribbing to support that illusion.
  • Since I’m right handed, will change the orientation of the braid to place the pocket opening on the right side.
  • Although I don’t detest purling, an entire garment’s worth is a little disheartening, so will add purl columns outside the cable for definition, and then do the rest of the sweater in stockinette.
  • Will knit back and forth for the pocket opening section.
  • Will definitely add faux seams along the sides to give the spongy yarn more structure.
  • Should the braid continue on the other side of the neck? Will decide at the end.
  • Arms to be knit top down.
  • Since this is such a thick yarn, will make the pocket lining last, in a thinner yarn.

4 thoughts on “Day Zero: Swatching and Pattern Analysis

  1. What an amazing purple! Love your mod notes … looking forward to seeing your progress on this.

  2. This is fascinating already. I look forward to the future posts, and hope you’ll describe in more detail your mods and shaping.

    I love Zara, though I’ve only used the DK version. I’ve used it repeatedly, though, and for many different types of projects.

    How does putting in a faux seam add structure?

    1. I’ve found that putting in a faux seam adds more structure and helps the garment fall better when worn. Also, it creates a crisp fold line for blocking and storage. I’ll add pictures and more details when I make the seam, once the body is done.

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