Rhinebeck Sweater: Casting On

After patting myself on the back last week for making so many important decisions, I was finally ready to cast on.  Or so I thought.  Turns out I had a lot more to decide.  Luckily, I got to start with collecting facts…measuring the swatch for gauge!


I prefer to measure with a ruler when I can.  It’s hard edge has less possibility for error than a flexible tape measure.  This is a trick I picked up from Elizabeth Zimmerman.  If EZ says to do it, I do it.  I’ve got 4.75 sts/inch in stockinette and 8 sts/inch for the cable I liked.  Now what to do with those numbers?

Not knowing how the initial neck dimension should be decided, I consulted the numbers from my favorite sweaters.  It ranged from 9.6 inches to 13 inches.  I took this as good news…a range!  I can work with a range…rather than having to make a steadfast decision, I can massage the numbers a bit if need be.

I have no idea what the textbook design method is for incorporating two different gauges, I just took a guess.  I started with the cables, those numbers can’t change. I’m putting my cables at the raglan increases–4 raglan increases means 4 cables.  Each cable section is ~1 in and 8 stitches.  8×4=32 stitches for my cables.   It also means 4 inches of my neckline.  I arbitrarily decided to aim for a 10 in cast on.  10 – 4 = 6 inches I still have to account for.  My stockinette gauge 4.75 x 6 = 28.5.  I made the executive decision to round down, 28 + 32 from the cables = 60 sts.  That’s a nice round number.


I’m especially pleased that I remembered to do a provisional cast on!  The hoodie/neckband decision will wait until later!  Placing the markers in the right spots was a bit trickier.  I needed to decide how to divide for fronts, sleeves and back.  Even with a pattern to follow, this part can take me two tries.  I started with the easy parts…I knew I wanted 5 stitches for the button band (which is really a zipper band in this case).  5 Stitches is ~1 inch and it’s an odd number which is preferable for seed stitch.

The rest of the decision making process is a bit fuzzy.  I just kept working backwards from what I knew I wanted…I wanted the sleeves alone, meaning I put two of the cables on the back and then one on each front.  Each front now has 13 stitches, 5 seed and 8 cable.  The back has 16 sts so far, 8 from each cable.  That leaves 18 stitches unassigned so far.  I like even numbers so I picked 4 stitches for each sleeve.  It was a bit arbitrary, 2 seemed too few and 6 too many.  6 Stitches per sleeve would leave only 6 more stitches for the back.  I thought the back should be larger.  The final breakdown –13 sts in each front, 4 sts in each sleeve and 26 sts for the back.

These numbers disagree with EPS–Elizabeth’s Percentage System.  Another piece of wisdom from EZ–the front and back of a sweater should each be 35%, each sleeve should be 15%.  This isn’t a pullover though, so that changes things…at least in my mind.

So, I place my markers…now it’s time to start increasing.  I decided to do YO increases (because I’m lazy).  I’m justifying it by saying those little holes will provide me some ventilation.  I’m never actually cold enough to wear wool!  I decided I wanted my fronts to increase at the zipper band with M1L/M1R, I didn’t want holes there…so off I went.


Just like that, I’ve run into my first problem!  The YOs before the raglan cable are a different size than the YOs after the raglan cable.  In the first couple rows, I’ve messed around a bit doing shorter YOs selectively.  I think I’ve got it dialed in.  Now it’s just knit along to the sleeve divide!  Fingers crossed that it’s really that easy!  It should be…I think most of the decisions have been made, finally!



  1. chrisknits

    When working with cables there is a rule of thumb. You do not cast on the number you need from the beginning, you increase 1-2 sts depending on the cable width and then work from there. This is due to a splay effect you get from having too many sts on the cast on. A cable will suck in the width of the fabric, so to avoid having that splay you cast on fewer sts and then increase at the point of where your cables will be. If you look back to your swatch you can see where the fabric is bumped up on the garter. If you had done the garter in the smaller st count, then the row before your cables began you would have increased for the st count. It might not be too large of a factor in the neckline, fingers crossed it all works out. https://impeccableknits.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/cable-splay-demystefied/ great explanation of the issue.


    1. FogKnits

      Garter stitch is a wide stitch so I’m not surprised about the pucker in the swatch. I decided before I even finished the garter st bit, that I wasn’t going to have any garter st in my sweater. It certainly magnifies the splay. Hopefully I won’t have that problem.

      The provisional cast is my insurance here. I can still adjust my neckline. I have great confidence that it’s going to work out!

      Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out! I’ve got some time to figure details like these out!


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