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A Christmas Mystery

So the Christmas knitting is chugging along over here at Chez Knitalot. The largest item on my to-knit list is this big old whack of reverse stockinette:

more reverse-stockinette than you can shake a stick at

What is it, you ask? Well, that's a good question.

Years ago, when I was a new knitter (back when you had to plumb the depths of the internets for new and exciting patterns because there was no such thing as Ravelry) I happened upon this pattern. No idea how I found it. It seems to be a rather obscure typed-up version of an old Bernat pattern buried deep inside a rather obscure website. The only photo provided is the one I've included below, and it's hardly a high quality glossy. At any rate, I fell in love with the grainy vagueness which is the Men's Irish Collar Neck Pullover and, even if the name is not a winner, I vowed to someday knit it.

{cue shaft of sunlight and voices of angels}

Years pass and now we fast-forward to a few weeks ago when I decided that I was going to knit a nice Christmas pullover for the Wee Nephewling (who is now three and not nearly as wee as he used to be).

I don't know if you've ever looked around for a nice lightweight (dk-weight or finer) little boy's pullover that also happens to be awesome. Turns out that they are ridiculously thin on the ground (in fact, the only one that really springs to mind is Twisted Tree). After a bit of frustration I remembered the good old Men's Irish Collar Neck Pullover and decided that it was the Answer To All My Problems. It took me a while to find it back (it doesn't seem to be on Ravelry*) and, for obvious reason, I couldn't remember the name. But find it I did (thanks to an old bookmark folder on my work computer called "wannaknit men") and it was just as lovely in its vagueness as I'd remembered.

Seriously. That's a lot of reverse stockinette, peeps.

So now I find myself faced with the challenge of shrinking down an adult-sized sweater, which has no diagrams and only one rather useless photo. Fun stuff! First I got the desired finished sweater dimensions off of Rae** (mother to the Wee Nephewling), did a bunch of math, and calculated that I could knit size medium to the correct dimensions if I could achieve a gauge of 25 sts to 4" (approximately sport-weight). Then I ordered way more yarn than I'll probably need (10 balls of Knitpicks Stroll Sport in Williamsburg blue) and figured out I can get gauge on US2/3mm needles (which, unfortunately, limits me to one particularly fetching pair of aluminum straights. But that works with the whole retro thing, right?). Then I cast on for the back, started following directions blindly, did a bit of guesswork, and waited for things to unfold like a Christmas Miracle. Or maybe one of those Mystery patterns.

a strapping young sweater.

My first surprise? This interesting armhole construction: you bind off stitches for a couple of rows and then, after you start on the cable straps, you gradually add stitches back in so that it gets wider toward the shoulders. I have to say this is a new one for me. The cable was a pleasant surprise though. I was expecting something more standard issue (since you can't actually see the cables clearly in the photo) but this one is quite fetching.

That's enough for now I think. I hope your holiday knitting is going well!...stay tuned for more adventures in Child-sized Men's Irish Collar Neck Pullover knitting!

*nevermind. I found it.

**who is doing fabric giveaways right now, so if that's your type of thing you may want to scurry on over and enter!


The best part about this color and cable is that it matches the background of your blog. Super cute! And I agree that there are few good non-intarsia patterns for boys that aren't mind-numbingly boring.

ooh, you're totally up to the challenge!! I really like the reverse stockinette and the cabling detail. Looks really great.

I love the color and the cable! It looks really nice.

As a mom of a 2yo boy I agree with you that there is a serious lack of cute patterns for this size/age range.

It is going to be a very sweet sweater for a boy. I like the color and cables!

Thanks a million for the tip on the giveaways! Super fun. As is this sweater. Especially the color you've chosen. I can't wait to see how it works out. I've used many a vintage pattern and they always are something else!

Good luck with the sweater and the rest of the Christmas knitting as well.

wow so lovely .

My mother made that sweater for my husband in 1978. I have the booklet and he still has the sweater!

Wow, I started this sweater many years ago, & got almost all of the back done and it looked very long. I never finished it. Often thought about it and wondered if I should finish it. It would probably look better now as styles have gone slimmer again (thank goodness). It is/was Christopher Sheep Farm Yarn in an Oatmeal colour. It is in an old Bernat book/magazine.