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Introducing True North

January 12th, 2011


Way back in the fall, I knit this sweater with a bit more speed, a bit more urgency, than normal. Colourwork is normally pretty slow for me. I knit continental, and am getting adept with two handed colourwork. But even so, it’s just so much slower than stockinette, or even lace. And yet, the colourwork parts of True North are just involved enough, just big enough, and positioned exactly at what is for me, the most boring areas of a raglan to knit. The colourwork here, far from being a drag, was a welcome challenge.


This is also the first project I’ve ever done involving a steek. Oddly enough, I wasn’t that scared to do the actual cutting. The machine sewing part was the most intimidating. What if it snagged? What if my stitches didn’t hold?

And yet, in the end, everything worked out perfectly.


It’s odd to have a project be done for so very long, and yet put off the sizing and the pattern editing, for almost two months after that final cast off. In this case, I spent most of last weekend, and several days prior, making out the charts for the various sizes.

The blessing and the curse of sizing a pattern like this is that the key shaping area – the raglan yoke – is entirely charted. That makes it necessary to provide full charts for every piece for every size…. a ton of work, and a ton of risk that it’s correct and looks good for all sizes. And yet, charting out the decreases makes it so much more difficult to miscalculate. If my sleeve starts with 50 sts, then my chart has to start with 50 sts.

The other advantage to charts is that I was able to work a little math magic by decreasing slightly more – or less – for certain pieces. This gives a better fit for ALL sizes, and shouldn’t be complicated to knit, as all the decreases are on the charts.

Of course, this meant that the process of sizing the pattern took about 5 times as long as usual. I’m pretty good at sizing raglans, but accounting for the very large chart and the difference in repeats for the two main motifs, made this a welcome challenge last weekend.

Sandra and I share a computer, and unfortunately, we both had quite a bit of computer work to do last weekend. I originally estimated 4 hours, but as the hours passed, I kept asking for just “one hour more”!

Like all work, though, it eventually finished, and I’m happy with the outcome.


My lovely model is a good friend of mine, who probably wishes for some anonymity. You might recognize her from Cloud Chaser too! We did the photoshoot on my birthday last month. It was a miserable day, both inside and out. The day was pretty dark and dreary, and that’s exactly what I felt too. I didn’t want to celebrate at all, but of course, couldn’t help but feel bad that I didn’t want to celebrate.

I remember starting the photoshoot out of a sense of obligation to just get this published and out of the way. One more task off the list. But once we started taking some photos, I remembered why I love this part of the creative process.

See, you at home can’t pick up the sweater and try it on. You can’t feel the fabric under your fingertips, or squish it in your hands. So my job, in the hopes that you’ll like my design and maybe even knit it, is to make the photos as evocative as possible of the finished design.

I don’t know if the photos are the most fun for me, but it’s one of my favorite tasks, especially when the garment looks this great on my volunteer model. I know that the few minutes we spent shooting were the highlight of my dismal birthday this year, because they gave me some hope that life really would return to ‘normal’ eventually.

I hope you like True North. I had a great time designing it, and think it’s one of those projects that’s maybe just enough of a challenge. Thanks also for the great naming suggestions! I need to thank Caroline for coming up with “True North”. I was actually surprised there weren’t already a million of patterns with the same name! I like it for this design because, in addition to the Canadian reference, it’s got a noble and romantic sound to it. I think it fits the style and the emotions behind the design quite perfectly.

More Details (sizing, etc) >
True North on Ravelry >
All Photos >

PDF Pattern – $5

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6 Responses to “Introducing True North”

  1. Miriam Says:

    Amy this is a beautiful design.This may be the one that convinces me to take the plunge and try colorwork.:) Congratulations on another fabulous design

  2. cori w Says:

    amy this sweater is amazing, and what a gorgeous model!

    sorry the last months have been rough, it will get easier with time. i felt the same way after my dad passed. hugs.

  3. Adriene Says:

    Wow, I love it! It’s probably the most stylish shawl-collared raglan I’ve seen in a long time! And ditto on the beauty of a model and the photos. It makes us all want to knit that cardigan all the more!

  4. Myrna Says:

    I’ve been waiting for this one!

  5. théonie Says:

    I love it, I want it, I’ll knit it !

  6. rocketbride Says:

    anonymous, except she’s wearing a necklace with her name on it. 🙂 hi, zeena. it’s aleta.

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