Happy Halloween!!! 🎃 While some knitters find intarsia scarier than a headless horseman, I think it’s a blast and a half! (I mean, within reason.) If you master intarsia knitting, the design possibilities are endless. You can add all kinds of large scale designs to your knitting, even a jack-o’-lantern face! In this post, we’re going to look at how a little bit of intarsia and a good understanding of fit helped make the happiest little Halloween sweater a part of my handmade wardrobe.
The Pattern: self-improvised and charted / The Yarn: Ewe Ewe Yarns’ Ewe So Sporty in Orange Peel, Chocolate & Lemon Chiffon
After attending Sydney Crabaugh’s (@squidneyknits) vintage knitting retreat last spring, I have found myself in love with seamed sweaters. After knitting a 1940s-style baby sweater during the retreat, I went home and immediately cast on an adult-sized sweater, working from a vintage pattern I found online – the 1938 Fernlace Pullover pattern. You might remember the fit on the first wasn’t quite right, so I cast on a second version almost immediately afterward that addressed the fit issues.
On the heels of the twin Fernlaces, I decided I wanted to keep working in this same silhouette, but was convinced I need to find the perfect existing pattern to add an intarsia design to. Then I realized, “Hold on a minute! I’m a f*cking knit designer. I can do this!” (Sometimes my anxiety brain makes me forget I can do things – I’m working on it. 🤷🏼♀️)
With that confidence in mind, I also was feeling the extreme urge to make a sweater with a vintage decor-inspired jack-o’-lantern motif on the front just because I thought it would be fun! I wasn’t making this on a deadline, it only had to fit me, and it only had to look like whatever I wanted it to look like. And you know what? It’s perfect. Between the fit and the fun, I haven’t been filled with more joy in a finished object of my own design in awhile, and I kind of needed that joyful feeling more than I realized.
Since I’m sure someone will ask, no, this isn’t available as a pattern, but if there’s enough interest, I could be convinced to release something super similar next year. Let me know if you’d legitimately be interested in such a thing because sweaters are a lot of work and I might be the only nutter who is excited to run around with a jack-o’-lantern on her chest. 🎃
Fit trick – adding some ribbing!
I included a couple valleys of ribbing under each arm to help with fit issues I have noticed in the past for me with vintage-style, seamed sweaters. I liked this easy trick and will definitely use it again! The best part for me is that I can toss this ribbing on the sides of a lot of knitting patterns to help with fit. In talking casually with other makers with curves on Instagram, it’s clear that an easy trick like this side ribbing could come in handy for more makers than just myself. Ribbing, by nature, pulls in your fabric a little bit, and has some elasticity to it, which is how it can help (even just a little bit) with fit.
I’d initially toyed with the idea of making a much more dramatic and voluminous sleeve. Then I realized that I’d wear this sweater far more (as much as one wears a jack-o’-lantern sweater I suppose!), if it had a casual, Betty & Veronica t-shirt vibe. So I went with a vanilla fitted short sleeve and am very happy I let go of those dramatic sleeve notions.
The simple sleeve and sporty looking ribbing at the sides really help make this a sweater I can wear as a regular top all by itself. Especially since this is a piece I’ll be wearing most often in autumn, a knit t-shirt makes total sense.
Last but not least, the jack-o’-lantern intarsia bit!
Here’s where the bit about being a knit designer came in handy – I’ve used knit design software before to design charts, and I’m used to the pitfalls of miscalculated aspect ratios and the flattening effect knitting in intarsia can have, depending on your tension. The intarsia design was pretty easy once I nailed down a couple reference images. I wanted something that was very 1940s in its visual style, but not impossibly complicated to knit in intarsia. After playing around with a couple paper sketches, swatching & blocking in intarsia for my gauge (critical TBQH), and doodling up the chart in StitchMastery, I was good to go! And again, I’m very delighted with the outcome. ❤️
Happy Halloween, friends!