Today we take a closer look at Jackdaw, Norah Gaughan’s shawl-collar pullover for BT Men 2. We asked her to talk about the genesis of Jackdaw’s original cable motif, which really sets this sweater apart. Here’s Norah: 01_jackdaw The cable pattern for Jackdaw is the result—or should I say, one of the results—of about two years’ worth of experimentation with cabling ribbed stitches. About 20 years ago I spent a good deal of my time and artistic energy developing pattern stitches, mostly cables. I had an agent who toted them around 7th Avenue in New York City, selling the large swatches to designers and manufacturers for commercial use. This was an amazingly productive time for me. I thought of an idea and, while knitting it, often came up with several variations. Every swatch was unique, but I definitely worked in series. I saved some of my favorites because I knew I would want to use them myself, and somehow this one had gone unused for all that time.
While working on these innovative motifs, I found a few structures I favored. One of these is the idea of “stitch sharing.” In an ordinary cable lattice, all of the stitches that cross in one row of cables cross again on the following cable row, weaving in and out. In this variation I call the Jackdaw motif, the lattice overlays a twisted rib fabric. Some of the ribbed stitches take part in the next crossing while others are left to travel straight upward; it's as if the background rib shares some of its stitches with the lattice and then takes them back again. Jackdaw has an additional complication: some of the ribbing is filled with garter stitch, which forms large X’s in the fabric. 04_jackdaw I had a hunch that this pattern would be really nice in Loft. I really like the look of half-twisted rib (where the knit stitches are worked through the back loop on both sides of the work but the purls are worked in the usual manner) in both Loft and Shelter, and the Jackdaw pattern is based in that rib. It also has a subtlety about it that seems to suit itself to menswear. I didn't have to make any changes to the original stitch to employ it in this shawl-collar design. I used the half-twisted rib for the cuffs, hem, and collar to harmonize with the Jackdaw fabric, and the resulting sweater feels like just the right destiny for the stitch pattern I developed so long ago! 03_jackdaw


  • what a beautiful sweater! Could it work for a woman?

    Kitty Martin on

  • Gorgeous pattern! It looks like an interesting knit, and the finished product is handsome and versatile.

    Mary Stock on

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