The great season for knitters is here, the climate we love best: sweater weather.
How sweet is the sound of those two words. Indoor sweaters and outdoor sweaters. Sweaters every day. Sweaters every night. Big sweaters and baby sweaters, and, heaven help us: dog sweaters. Like the Whos of Whoville, we believe that everyone should have a big, bold, beautiful sweater for every occasion.
Knowing that we’d be publishing our ninth Mason-Dixon Knitting Field Guide into the sweet start of sweater weather, we looked for a designer who could deliver the goods: sweaters that would be a delightful adventure to knit, and result in sumptuous garments that we will wear forever, whenever it’s sweater weather.
We asked a designer who is known for her blazing brilliance and spirit of adventure as well as her classic, wearable garments.
Who else but Norah Gaughan.
For more than 30 years, Norah Gaughan has set our minds awhirl. She is a true revolutionary—a genius of construction, a master of cables, and a fearless innovator. The four designs she has given to this Field Guide are an extraordinary chance to play in her world.
Norah Gaughan’s inspiration is revolution, in all its forms. The twists of a tree, the ironwork of the Eiffel Tower, a curl of calligraphy.
Three of these cable motifs are interchangeable, making it possible to mix and match pattern and garment as you like. Freedom to choose—such a Norah Gaughan idea.
Let’s take a peek at the projects of Mason-Dixon Knitting Field Guide No. 9: Revolution.
With its short sleeves, the Calligraphy Cardigan gives us a new way of thinking about the garments we make. Freedom from long sleeves means we can wear this cardigan with a T-shirt, long sleeved or short, or button it up and wear it as is.
The sculptural yoke shows us cable innovator Norah Gaughan playing with circles and curves, creating a yoke that looks as much like a calligraphy doodle as a knitting pattern. The scale is big—a juicy, dimensional design that is probably not like any cable you’ve worked.
(The yarn: Periwinkle Sheep Merino DK)
A tree makes for a beautiful cable design. In designing this classic, body-skimming pullover, Norah was thinking about Boston’s famed Liberty Tree, the location of the first public protest against the British government’s Stamp Act in 1765. The cable’s branches intertwine, then fan out at the edge of the yoke, tipped in bobbles that are not too bobbly. They are just bobbly enough.
(The yarn: Spud and Chloë Sweater)
We had a bit of a time classifying this garment. Is it a cowl? A ruff? A neck napkin? It’s long enough, and stylish enough, that we settled on capelet. Whatever you call it, it’s just the thing to wear under a coat, for warmth without bulk. It’s a versatile addition to any wardrobe, and a gift that is sure to fit.
We proudly present the world’s first yoke sweater that is all yoke and no sweater. The yoke is the fun part of knitting a yoke sweater, especially so in this case, with pairs of cables that undulate instead of twist; they are easy to work but out of the ordinary.
(The yarn: Julie Asselin Hektos)
In this stylish topper, Norah brings us the Industrial Revolution in hat form. It’s delightful how clearly Norah’s cables evoke the lattice girders of the Eiffel Tower; they stand separately at the brim, and join together elegantly at the top. The chart is simplicity itself, and Norah has done the knitter the kindness of shaping the beret from the bottom up, beginning with a cast-on of many stitches (hereby avoiding fiddling with a few twisty stitches at the start).
(The yarn: Jill Draper Windham)
The four yarns here make the most of these juicy cables. And they are interchangeable!
But Wait: There’s More!
Part of the fun of knitting cables is their endless variability. Each one strikes each of us differently. Sometimes we want this garment with that cable, or the cable from one garment shape, but on another style of pullover, or cardigan, or capelet.
Norah thinks about cables all the time. Her mind is a generator of new cable patterns, ranging beyond the familiar realm of traditional motifs. Coordinating with the launch of Field Guide No. 9, Norah is launching another brand-new collection of cabled designs. It’s called Interchange (ability), and it’s delightful. The collection includes four more cables to play with, each very different from the cables in Field Guide No. 9, and applied to four different garments.
But guess what! All the cables in Field Guide No. 9 are interchangeable with the cables in Interchange (ability). It’s a menu of delicious options for both the cable motif and the garment shape that you want to knit.
We could knit from these two collections forever, happily swapping cables and shapes. This is where the fun is. Please join Norah, and us, on this grand adventure, and let’s all have a fantastic season of sweater knitting.
More fun to come! Whee!