I’ve gotten several questions about the Inversion Cardigan from our Spring Thaw collection and thought it would be a great topic to chat about today – both the specifics of the garment’s shape as well as the design process.
Inversion is a 2-way garment, meaning it can be worn right side up or upside down, depending on the fit preference of the wearer or the specific wardrobe context. The photos below show the cardigan on the dress form in both styles. The actual shape of the garment pieces couldn’t be simpler, as you’ll see below. I find the garment appealing both conceptually and stylistically, which is oftentimes a rare combination!
I’m always inspired by Japanese garment design and Origami – the Japanese art of paper folding – both of which were obvious influences as I composed this pattern.
When I’m working with a new-to-me shape, or wanting to experiment with a garment idea before committing to the full-size version of the design, I sometimes knit a half-scale model. Think of it as a dress rehearsal for a performance, or the trial meal you make the night before a dinner party to test out a new recipe (am I the only person who does this?). In the photos below you’ll see the original half-scale version on my half-scale dress form.
I knit the miniature with Shelter in Nest. (Generally it’s a better idea to work a half-scale garment in a yarn approximately half the weight as your target working yarn, but I started this little baby on the road and only had Shelter on hand.)
I’ve included a schematic diagram below to illustrate how the cardigan comes together as 2-dimensional shapes – you might be surprised to note that it’s merely two rectangles of differing lengths attached along their sides. The black circles and curved dotted lines indicate the parts of each piece that are joined to form the armholes. The small hash marks indicate areas that are mattress stitched during finishing.
You’ll notice that, though the garment is constructed as two rectangles, my pattern is written for three pieces (A, B and C). I wanted Pieces A and B to be perfect mirror images of each other so that the ribbed band that runs up either side (and the ribbed trims at the base) were perfectly symmetrical as the garment is worn. After completion of each piece, A and B are joined along the Graft Line, then Piece A/B and Piece C are blocked separately, to confirm their exact dimensions, before seaming all pieces together. To finish, ribbed bands are worked around each armhole.
The main portion of the garment fabric is simple stockinette, but the rib-like trim pattern is a motif that I’m presently enamored with. It’s a 2×2 garter rib where all knit columns are slipped every other row. The resulting motif is both firm and squishy and makes a great frame for the cardigan. It also lies completely flat, unlike true ribbing, so as not to distort the shape of the garment in any way while worn. (The half-scale version was trimmed with regular rib, which causes some subtle curves to the shapes as a result.)
Due to the slipped stitches within the garter rib pattern, the row gauge of the fabric is substantially different than the row gauge of the Stockinette areas. To reconcile these differences, the wide front bands of Pieces A and B are knit separately from the Stockinette sections (more rows must be worked to get fabric of the same length). These portions of A and B are seamed with Mattress Stitch during finishing (also shown with hash marks in the schematic above.)
It’s a fun design that very much pleases my grid-loving brain and may offer a nice change of pace from more traditional garment knitting, if that’s what your knitter’s heart is craving. The garment’s versatility gives it a throw-it-on-and-go nature that I value whenever buying or making clothing. For those of you who knit this one, I hope you enjoy it! –Jared