Sunday, May 18, 2008

Norah Gaughan designs

I used to knit Fair Isle garments mainly. These days, I am all for cables and geometric designs. As soon as I learned that Norah Gaughan published new booklet series last fall, I had to get a copy. The first volume has many designs I just adore. I ended up knitting a shrug from her second volume first. Although it is designed for a summer yarn, I thought it might be nice with winter yarns. I had Noro Silk Garden Lite in blue/yellow color which I used for a hat. I wanted the shrug to be extra cozy and added Kidsilk Haze in Trance, a slightly darker blue. I just love the way colors in Noro yarn get blended with each other by the silk-mohair’s blue wash.

I used 4.5 mm needles and cast on 171 stitches as specified for the smaller size and knit the Top piece. For the bottom lace section, 4.5 mm needles produced a fabric which was stiff compared to the top section. So, I re-started with 5.5 mm needles and cast on 49 stitches instead of 64. The gauge for the lace pattern was 5 rows per inch. I knitted 290 rows for the bottom section. It is so lovely that I’ve been wearing it every night.

Next, a fellow knitsmith, Nancy, was knitting Manon from Norah Gaughan’s book No. 1, and I decided I want to knit one for my sister. I happened to have 12 balls of Peruvian Highland Wool in terra cotta, the color she loves. Now, my yarn is worsted weight while the pattern calls for Aran weight. This difference did not deter me, but I had to keep in mind that my sister is at least one inch taller and quite skinnier than I am. Especially, her shoulder width is much narrower. There is no way of fitting the garment while I knit as she lives in Azumino, Japan. If the garment fit me too tight, it would fit her just right.

Instead of planning changes like I did for Elizabeth I, I decided to plunge fearlessly this time. As I expected, things went wrong. I began knitting the peplum for size 34” with 4.5 mm needles. The finished peplum section was much larger than I intended. Also, I noticed that I prefer to have the ribbing section a bit narrower and sitting at waist level. Switching to 4 mm needles, I started from scratch and decided to skip two rows of ribbing over every 8 rows of cable pattern. It turned out almost exactly how I wanted it to be.

The rest of the bodice went smoothly and the only change I made was to lengthen the underarm side seams to 5 ½”. My sister does not wear trendy clothes. Those short sleeves won’t be easy for her to deal with. I knit slim and long sleeves with cuffs which are not sewn at sides. For the closures, I crocheted button loops with chain stitches. Extra buttons were attached at the top of the cuffs.

The finished cardigan fits me very snugly, too snug actually. My DD1 looks quite good in it, too. As I truly love the design, I started knitting one for myself in green.

Looks like it’s going to be much larger than my sister's. Thanks goodness!


  1. Almost everything I want to make is from Norah's first 2 pattern booklets. I can't wait to see vol 3 too! Your Manon looks beautiful. I was tempted by that pattern but I'm going for Currer instead.

  2. ooooh! O.O
    may, this is beautiful!
    and i love the green color you've chosen for your jacket ^-^
    (though the red one is lovely, too!)

    mh... norah gaughan, yes? I'll have to open up my eyes for her books and patterns... cables are SO very "me" :)

  3. I like your version of the shrug better!
    The cardigan for your sister is beautiful, I'm planning on making it too.

  4. I love Norah as well, and love what you did to the pattern to make it a winter shrug. The colors are amazing!

  5. I do love Norah's designs. Your FOs are lovely, May! As always.