Design WIP: Cabled Sweater > The Ribbing of My Discontent

After I found the main and supporting cables I wanted for my Aran cabled sweater design, I swatched a few others individually just to be sure there wasn’t another, better, more flattering cable combination to be made. (Plus, I’m in the briar patch swatching cables.)

The few that made it.

A lot of cables were frogged after the first repeat, and some didn’t even make it that far, but I kept going with several of them. I laid each new cable on my large initial swatch, trying them out like characters in a novel, squinting and turning my head to see how they worked with the others. They were good, and I liked them (otherwise I wouldn’t have given them a full audition), but none of them worked with the story I’m trying to tell. So, I decided to proceed with my first cast.

I was quite pleased to have the main plot worked out and set to work on the beginning, which on a sweater knit from the bottom up, is the ribbing. I went searching for what others had done and was fairly surprised shocked to see that lots of Aran/fisherman/Celtic sweaters (knit in Ireland by Irish knitters) use a plain 1×1 or 2×2 ribbing. That’s like starting a story, “Once upon a time….”


Some didn’t use a ribbing at all, starting the cables right away, which is something I like.

Raw diet, raw edges.

But after considering that option, I decided I needed a ribbing, and that ribbing would have to flow into the main cables.


I swatched a few and found one I liked. Loved, actually. It was part of an all-over cable design that I singled out for stardom. It’s base was 2×2, but it had a little something special that elevated it to interesting.

Another swatch later, I discovered that my darling ribbing, as-is, could not begin the story. It flowed into some of the cables, but not all of them.

Not on my sweater.

See how the center cable up there flows out of the ribbing? But see how the outer two side cables don’t? And those outer side cables are stradling half a cable and half the 1×1 ribbing. What a mess. (That’s not my sweater with all those diamonds and horseshoes. Plus, it has sleeves, which makes it a sweater, and I’m not there yet.)

That’s how my ribbing was acting.

I was going to have to stand on my head to make this work.

After three days and many hours of researching and figuring and charting and recharting, and a few words unbecoming a lady, I started to tell myself that I couldn’t do it. What made this ribbing interesting also made it difficult. It needed special treatment around some of the other cables, but that treatment wouldn’t work with all of the other cables, and why should I keep trying anyway? If no one else, not even authentic Irish cottage knitters, cared about boring or dammed up ribbing, why should I? There’s nothing wrong with, “Once upon a time….” People like, “Once upon a time….”

But then I tried one more idea.

And we all lived happiliy ever after.

The End.


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