Wholly inspired by the magnificent designs of Brunello Cucinelli, several of us began to see how difficult, or how easy it might be to make our own versions of his very pretty elbow length cape. What follows is a digest of the ideas we Artemesians and our design friends have come up with to make our own versions. None of us are quite finished yet – there will definitely be photos of our finished garments for inspiration and demonstration, as we do them. This is a recipe: we’re encouraging you to take the elements you like and make your own version using some, or all, or none of them. We’ve used a variety of yarns from DK to chunky. It is essential to knit a swatch in whatever yarn you have chosen and work out your sizing from there. It’s easier than you think: our version is worked top down, so you can increase as you go to get the fit you want. The cape in the pictures here uses RYC Soft Tweed which is now discontinued, but was and may still be available from Kemps Wool Shop in the UK or online. That’s Anne Makepeace, originator of Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s magnificent The Knit Studio emporium, wearing this version, which uses a scant 7 balls of Soft Tweed (you’ll have enough if you buy approx 600 yards), but you’ll need more if you make an elaborate hem. You can talk to Anne about yarn ideas and supplies on Twitter, Facebook or her Ravelry page. Construction basics
* top down * in the round * a provisional cast-on * cast-on numbers according to desired width of neck opening
* optional short row back neckline
* increase YOs or Kfb like the yoke of a top down sweater * shoulders in rib or stocking stitch * body in a textured cable design: 'smocking' * hem and collar in stocking stitch * back same as front
Complications arising, and how to deal with them
1. the gauge of the smocking is different to the gauge of the rib or stocking stitch at shoulders/arms. Suggestions include: - knitting all the rib on a much smaller needle, making the front and back separately and joining. - using smaller circs in these two sections. You would knit the front on say a 7mm, and the sides on 5mm. For this you would need four circular needles, two of each size. - don't let it worry you: your sides will be looser than your fronts. 2. The gauge of both is different to the gauge of the hem and collar. Suggestions: - a smaller needle to knit the hem - knit 2 tog at a number of points on your final row of the hem before joining - both of those or - knit separately to the measured length and sew on.
You Will Need: – your own choice of yarn in approx the right quantity. This is an ideal stash buster, or buy using the hold-back method popularised by traditional yarn shops. – stitch markers. Use the tiny wee hair bands made for braiding, or short lengths of scrap yarn, knotted. – a length of scrap yarn for the provisional cast-on – one circular needle long enough to stretch around your body. If you are used to making top-down jackets and cardigans, use that one. If not, buy one and make this with it. We will soon have you converted. – a bodkin to sew in the ends or attach the lower cable. – a ready and willing attitude and a confidence about tinking back where you feel you can make improvements. Stitch Patterns 1×1 Rib: Knit 1, Purl 1, repeat. Stocking stitch: knit all (there is no purl row since we are working in the round) Smocking: CF6, CB6, staggered, over 12 rows. CF6: put the next 3 stitches onto a cable needle and hold in front, knit 3, knit 3 from cable needle. CB6: put the next 3 stitches onto a cable needle and hold in back, knit 3, knit 3 from cable needle. To stagger the cables to create the smocking, K3 before starting the CB6 and K3 at the end. To make tighter or looser smocking, knit the cables with fewer or more rows between them. This works as well as loose smocking. Section One: Getting Gauge Make a swatch, or even better, make two. Look, we know everyone always says this. And we know that no-one you or I know does it, especially when knitting from a commercial pattern in the stated yarn. For this design, please do change the habit of a lifetime, and make not one, but two swatches. Knit a square of 20-40 stitches by approx 6″ in the 1×1 rib pattern or the stocking stitch, whichever you are using to make the shoulder and side sections. Knit a square of the smocking. You will need to cast on a multiple of 12 stitches + selvedges for this, and you can use your swatch to test the numbers of rows you want between the cables. Measure your swatches to calculate how many stitches you are getting per inch or per 4cm with the needle you are using. Do this by measuring how many stitches per 6″ (or 20cm) and then dividing by 6 (or by 5). As an example, I was getting 4.25 sts per inch using the RYC Soft Tweed on 7mm needles and 5.5-6 sts per inch over the smocking. Your technique will be looser or tighter than mine. Section Two: Cast-on and Neck Shaping Calculating how many stitches you need to cast on depends on two things: how wide you want your neckline, and how many stitches you are getting per inch (or cm). There are a number of tutorials on the internet for calculating cast-on numbers in top-down garments. Do feel free to add your favourite in the comments. We rather liked this one from Spud & Chloe. As an example, using the RYC Tweed, 7mm needles, and the stitch count per inch from my swatch, I finally settled on:
cast-on numbers - 9 each shoulder, 32 front and back = 82 total
If you are using finer yarn, you will need more stitches. If you are using similar weight yarn and want a wider neckline, you’ll need more stitches, if you want a narrow or funnel neckline, you will need fewer stitches. This is one you must work out for yourself. The Provisional Cast-on You don’t have to do it this way. Actually there is nothing in this pattern you have to do in the way we are suggesting. If you want a plain knit high neckline, or a wide boat-neck, you can just cast on your numbers and knit a few rows in stocking stitch (which will roll nicely) or in 1×1 or 2×2 rib or even in reverse stocking stitch or moss. You choose. The advantage to making a provisional cast-on is that you can knit the main body of the garment and then decide how you want your neckline to look afterwards. It’s quick and easy and gives you extra flexibility. We thoroughly recommend. There are a number of tutorials, and lots of methods. We like the crochet chain technique, and these are all good, easy-to-follow explanations: from Stitch Diva, from Knitpicks, from Woolly Wormhead (scroll down). Doing the Twist! Don’t. When joining to work in the round, line your stitches up carefully on the needle and run your fingers along them all to straighten them out. It’s surprising how easy it is to twist them, especially with a provisional cast-on, and if you do, you’ll have to tink back and start again. There are no easy tips to avoid this, just don’t do it. Put a stitch marker in at the beginning so you can see where you start and end a round, and if you can, try to always stop and start there. Once you have a rhythm going, that’s be easy. Short Row Back Neckline Shaping The back of our necks is longer than the front. But you knew that, didn’t you? If you’re making a wide neckline, or this kind of detail doesn’t bother you, or you have a selection of sumptuous scarves to wrap around your throat, feel free to ignore this part. Short rows are a way of getting extra fabric into a garment without disturbing the pattern. They are most often used in the heels of socks and to create bust shaping. We used them here to make a bit more room on the upper back of the neck. There are two methods, choose which you like best, or do neither. Don’t do both. 1. Bo’s short row neck shaping method: Bo crocheted a chain for the provisional cast on, then starting at the centre back, cast on the back stitches and half the shoulder stitches. Knit back and forth in pattern. Next row, picked up 4 more shoulder stitches, then the same on the other side. Next row, picked up 4 more shoulder stitches, then on the other side. ( I needed 12 shoulder stitches) Next row, picked up 8 front stitches, then on the other side. Next row, picked up 16 front stitches, and connected up to the other end on the knitting, continue in the round. At the same time: Increase at the back (and later at the front) on all rows. OR 2. Brenda’s Short Row back neckline Make a crochet chain according to the stitch count you’ve arrived at from making your swatches, and add a few more. Knit one row, placing markers at the junction between front, back and sides, and at the beginning. I started knitting at the left front. So on R1 on after knitting the back and before knitting the last shoulder, turn the work and purl the back before turning a second time to knit it again and then the second shoulder. I did this twice, giving me about an extra 1” – 1.5” in the back. (There are more details of Bo’s beautiful Capelet in her soon-to-be-published version we’ll be calling Figaro’s Winter Wedding. Watch this space!) Section Three: Continuing in Pattern – A Few Tips! 1. If you’re doing ribbing at the shoulders, make it over an odd number of stitches so that you have the same stitch, either a purl or a knit at each end, for symmetry. 2. Increase in every single row at either side of the smocking section until it’s wide enough to reach the ends of your shoulders. That is an increase of 4 sts in every row. Accommodate your staggered smocking cables in your increased width when there are enough sts plus one. 3. When it’s wide enough, and you’ve tried on for fit, and showed your amazing half-finished cape to your friends and lovers, settle on a stitch count for your front and back that will give you a nice, even set of smocking cables. You might want to add an odd increase or so to give you a multiple of sixes plus one extra stitch at each side. That works. Using our example in the picture at the top, (in RYC Tweed on 7mms) the stitch count when reaching the end of my UK size 14 shoulders is: (9 + 92) x 2 = 202 4. If you have got here, you’re a rocking genius catwalk knitter! Give yourself a big a treat, a long walk on a deserted beach, a lovely meal with friends, a big triple chocolate cherry ice cream sundae. 5. Let us know. You will have exciting improvements, technical fixes, suggestions that we’ve not considered and maybe have never heard of. Feel free to add your insights and additions below. We love hearing from you. Section Four: Enjoying the Body Stop increasing, and stay in pattern and just keep going until it’s long enough. While you’re doing that, feel free to play these lovely videos from the fellow who is our muse and inspiration for this lovely cape. We’ll be back with some ideas for the cables or the no-cables in that deep hem…. shortly. There’s an open free-to-join Knit-Along here. Please do come and join us. Section Five: The Hem When you’ve tried on, shown your lover, friends, knitting group, and you all agree that it’s long enough, it’s time to start your hem. Please note that the gauge of your plain and everyday stocking stitch is going to be different to the gauge of your smocking, so you might want to prepare yourself for a wee bit of trial and error here. If you want a flouncy ruffle of a hem, just stop the cabling when you’re ready and knit. If you want the hem to lie flat, you will need to make a number of decreases across the row following your final cable section. Here goes: – knit down the number of rows from your last CF6 or CB6 until you would normally be cabling again. That will be four or six rows, depending on how tight or loose you’ve been making your smocking. – on the row that you would otherwise be cabling, start your decreases. We decreased by K2tog in between every cable (ie after the first 6 stitches and subsequently after every four stitches) on either side of the front and back, and between every second cable across the centre. – we also decreased by K2tog at either side of the ribbing rows, and knit straight across the ribbing sections. – try it and see if that feels like enough to give you the flatness you are looking for. You might need to knit down a couple of rows to really tell. – you can do more K2togs at either side of what was formerly the ribbing section, in subsequent rows. This will help the sides to lie nice and flat. – we cannot stress enough that the amount of decreasing will depend not just on how ruffly or flat you want your hem, but also on how tightly you knit. We were seeking flat: Knit down until your hem is long enough. This one has 10 rows, but longer is fine, especially if you’re tall. When your Rigoletto is the exact length you need, make a purl row. This will be the ridge of the fold you can see at the tip of the hem. Then knit 10 rows, decreasing with a K2tog approx every 10-12 stitches in the final row. Section Six: Casting off and Making the Hem Either: A – Cast-off loosely, using a larger needle, using your favourite method. My favourite loose cast-off: K1, place Knit stitch back on to the left hand needle, K2 together. Place that stitch back on the left needle, repeat. Do this until you have only one stitch left, then cut yarn and slip end through the remaining loop. Fold up along the purl line you created, and pin in place, making sure the fabric is evenly distributed. Slip stitch in place, using long, loose stitches. Catch inside the back of a decreased pair of K2togthers, and your stitches won’t show on the surface. OR B – Fold up your hem leaving the stitches live. With another needle one size larger (if you’ve been knitting with a 7mm, use an 8mm), cast off and hem at the same time: K1, pick up a loop from the inside of your cape with your left hand needle, again from the underside of a previous k2tog decrease is good. Knit the picked up loop together with the next stitch on your left hand needle, then slip the first K1 over this until you have one stitch on your right hand needle again. Do an ordinary cast-off, or even two, in between each of these [pick up loop + K2together] stitches, to allow some flexibility and ease. If you join too many hem stitches to the body of your garment it’ll become stiff and inflexible. Repeat across your hem, making sure you are picking up your loops from the same row above every time. This can be a little bit tricky to get right. Keep checking that you’re in the right place and be prepared to tink out if it’s too tight. If you can get this to work well for you, it’s an invaluable hemming technique to have in your repertoire. Section Six: The Collar Phew! Congratulations, you’re almost done. Make yourself a plan for where you’re going to wear your beautiful garment. Will it be for winter walks along desolate beaches, or will you be popping in and out of centrally heated shops? If it’s very cold and you’ll put it on and wear it until you come home again, you might want a tall collar or even a roll neck. If you think you’ll get too warm, try thinking of a lower finished collar and wear with a lightweight polo neck sweater underneath, or a turned up shirt collar or a little soft scarf at the neck. How you intend to wear your Rigoletto will depend very much on how you finish it. Here are three options. 1. Simple icord finish, with or without draw-string. This is a very neat finish, and can sit quite low across your collarbones. Carefully remove your provisional cast-on and place the stitches back onto your circular needle. Knit one row, decreasing as frequently or as infrequently as you would like to create either a flat or a slight or very ruffly ruffle, just as you did when making the hem. If you want a drawstring, knit some eyelets in your next row by placing a [YO, K2together] at equally-spaced intervals around your neckline. You’ll need about six eyelets front and back, maybe 12 altogether, or of course more or fewer as you prefer. A draw string can be merely decorative, or can be used to hold the shoulders of your cape closer to your neck in a sudden chill wind, or to help keep it straight and in position on your shoulders. To make a flat, non-ruffly icord finish, decrease by K2tog between every set of body cables, and on either side of the rib shoulders. To make the iCord: Starting on the wrong side, and with new yarn, cast on three new stitches on to your left hand needle. * Knit 2, slip 1, k2tog (knitting the newly cast on stitch with the one from the collar), pass the slipped stitch over the newly knit one, and then place all 3 stitches back on to the left hand needle and repeat from * Simple, hmm? Here’s another version: And here’s a version for a two-stitch iCord: Give it a try. When you get to the end, snip your yarn and thread onto a bodkin. Carefully slip your last three stitches one at a time onto the bodkin and sew loosely across through the opposite stitch on the other end of your icord, and repeat twice before sewing in the end. This will make an invisible join. Trust me, it will. Here’s how to make a simple iCord cord to thread through your eyelets, if you made eyelets: and another explanation, with cute added hair twirling: If you ever made a cord with a hollowed-out cotton reel as a child, it’s just the same. You can buy decorative versions of those hollowed out reels in most haberdashers now. Handy to keep in your bag for surreptitious iCord creating when there isn’t much room on the bus. Of course you could also made a very nice rope with a crocket hook. 2. High roll or turtle neck This is a very neat finish, and because you’re knitting upwards, you can make it as tall as you wish. And no hem! Pick up the stitches from your provisional cast-on as above, and think about whether you are going to continue the 1×1 rib of your shoulder area, or make a stocking stitch roll. Ribbing will be stretchy, stocking stitch less so. Decrease between every cable set, approximately every 4 stitches in the following row. Take time to check back to your stocking stitch and/or ribbing gauge swatches and make sure that the number of stitches you have left on your needle after decreasing will a) easily go over your head when stretched and b) fit snugly around your neck. Knit in your chosen pattern until your collar is high enough. If you knit it in stocking stitch, it will roll beautifully all on its own, but the roll that shows will be reversed, so you might want to knit half the rows as purls, so your finished roll will show on the outside as stocking stitch. If you knit in ribbing, it will be reversible. Go as high as you wish, and double the height if you would like a turned-down collar. 3. Custom stand-up collar This is a very neat finish, and can sit quite low across your collarbones should you wish. Pick up your stitches as before, and knit your decreases according to the width you want. The example in the photographs here started with a cast-on number of 82 and was decreased at the collar to 54 after the spaced decreases. This one is has 7 rows knit straight after the decreases, followed by a purl row to create the fold of the hem. You will also note that it is knit flat, with a gap in the centre. The provisional stitches were picked up from the middle of the front to do this. You could start and end your collar anywhere, a back-buttoned finish might be useful, or a side opening for an attractive and very fashionable asymetric look. Knit the same number of rows after your purl row to complete the back of your hem. A high collar would look really spiffing. Go for it, if that’s your style. Finish by casting off and sewing down the hem of the collar on the inside, or knit-attaching like you did for the lower hem. Again, pick up your loops from the inside of a K2tog decrease, and they won’t show. Section Seven: Finishing and Applause To block or not to block? Open fabrics, re-used yarn (we love re-used yarn) and machine prepared cone yarns, garments with lots of tink-backs, all improve with wet blocking. Some garments don’t need the full immersion treatment, especially those made with floofy single-ply yarns like this RYC Tweed. If you want to block: – soak in a basin of warm water containing a small dollop of hair or fabric conditioner. You can buy special soaky stuff for this, but we don’t really see the need to add yet another chemical to your vast store cupboard of the stuff. Your choice, though, as always. – squeeze out the water gently in the basin, without lifting. Then lay your wet Rigoletto on a couple of big bath towels, lay another couple of towels on the top and stand on it all over in your bare feet. This will squeeze out lots of the water into the towels. If you have a gentle spin in your washing machine, you could do that instead. – lay the garment flat, pulling it gently into the shape and overall size you want. Lots of tinky areas will magically sproing back and disappear. Your decreases will floof into the distance and hide in the fabric. – leave it, undisturbed, to dry on its own. A big thick garment like this may well take several days. Half-way through, you could lift and turn. This one was placed on a shaped hanger with a hand towel sausage wrapped around the inner neck to finish drying. When dry, model, twirling delightedly in your beautiful urban park, your woodland glade, your concert hall foyer, your local yarn emporium. Persuade someone to take photographs, and upload them to your blog or Facebook page, then tell us all about it. Fabulous. Congratulations. You are fabulous. We’re telling everyone we know! If you send us a link to your finished garment photos, we’ll tweet about you, and probably also show them off on Ravelry. And of course if you get stuck, or need help in any way, just give us a nudge in the comments, and we’ll help, as always. Finally, keep your excited hats on for the release next week of Boknits’ Figaro’s Winter’s Wedding. We’ll be gently pricing that pattern at around £2, as it will have the short-row shaping details and an exciting triple-cable for the lower hem, plus a bonus romantic hair coronet. It’ll be the lead-in to an exciting range of more published patterns from Bo. We can’t wait. — This pattern is free for you to use on this website and you can print a single copy for your own personal use. If you would like to make a donation to support the website and our costs, the suggested donation for this pattern is £2.50. . . Thank you!