Knitting Blog: Kimono Jacket

Whew! I just finished the kimono sweater that I started in January. Of course, I finished it just as the weather is getting so warm that I will hardly be able to wear it for months. The weather took pity on me today, though, and brought us a very chilly and windy day. So, instead of moving our sailboat from its winter to its summer home, I wore my new sweater.

One of the dilemmas of knitting for me is choosing a pattern. I collect patterns by the gross, with subscriptions to three knitting magazines and regular purchases of pattern books. Sifting the wheat from the chaff has been a problem for me, though. Over the years, I have probably knit at least as many duds as flattering sweaters for myself. I finally have figured out what looks good on me. It must be pretty closely fitted, and I look best in colorful clothes.

The new sweater is no dud, I am very pleased to announce.

The sweater was designed by Celeste Pinhiero and was the cover sweater for the Fall 2006 issue of Knitter's Magazine. I purchased the yarn from Knitpicks, so the entire project was very reasonably priced, less than $40. I stuck pretty closely to the original color scheme of the design, though I believe that the colors of the Wool of the Andes yarn that I used are more saturated than the alpaca that was used by the designer.

The sweater was knit in two pieces, starting at the bottom of a cuff facing and ending at the center front and back. As a kimono-inspired design, it drapes from the front over to the back, with seams in the center back, on the sides, and along the underside of the arm. Here is one half of the sweater:

After I got well along with the first piece, I discovered that I had made a mistake. The blue balls on a green background have a total of 5 rows. I had forgotten a row on my first set, so the balls at the bottom of the sleeve looked squashed. No problem, though. I know how to graft! So, I cut the yarn at the middle of the offending balls, unraveled one row, and ended up with the bottom of the sleeve and one set of stitches pointing up on one needle, and the rest of the sweater piece as another set of stitches pointing down on a second. I then knit the missing two rows, and used blue and green yarn to graft the two pieces together.

Except: it wasn't that easy. I learned that when you take color work apart, some of the stitches seem to disappear at the places where the colors change. I had to do quite a bit of fudging to get the two pieces grafted together, and it didn't look quite right to me.

Later I had an "aha!" moment. I realized that I needed to take it all apart again, and this time knit the entire five rows of the circles. Then I could graft it all together using just one color, green, to attach the partial sleeve to just one color, green on the other piece. Yes, I did take the sleeve apart into two pieces again, reknitted the circles, and regrafted the two pieces together. It came out so well, I am not sure which sleeve had the error. They look identical.

After the pieces are knit, they have to be blocked before sewing them together. The blocking flattens the knitting and evens out the stitches. I wet block, which means that I wash the pieces, then pin them to shape while damp and let them dry. This process took a technological leap for me several years ago when I bought blocking wires. These are fabulous. I run stainless steel wires through the edges of the pieces, use a tape measure to pull them out to the proper measurement, and pin the wires in place. I end up with nice straight edges and very even blocking.

The two pieces barely fit on my blocking cardboard:

Here is a detail of how the wires look.

After blocking, there were a few more steps. I had to sew the sweater together at the back, sides, and underarms. I had to add a garterstitch edging at the neck and bottom. I had to knit and attach cords to tie the sweater together. And I had to sew in many yarn ends. The downside of colorwork: lots of ends where the colors change.

The finished project, from the back:

And here's the satisfied customer, from the front:

I am mostly a textural knitter, and haven't done a colorwork project in a long time. I will surely do more in the future. The color changes keep things interesting even when using a simple stitch. And I received so many positive comments from others as I worked on the sweater. Everyone else enjoyed watching the colors change, too.


  1. That's gorgeous, Anita! And it really does look lovely on you.


  2. This is just what I have been wanting to see! I fell in love with this
    jacket pattern, bought the yarn and...haven't started on it yet.
    Seeing how wonderful your jacket looks and how nice it looks on
    you is great motivation! I WILL get started on mine. Thanks for the
    wonderful photos and detailed explanations.


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