Here is a knitted gift, completed this morning. I can show it to you because it is no secret.


Mr B has been party to my knitting of his sweater over the past couple of months and, in fact, played a large part in the design process. He picked out the yarn — which is an undyed Herdwick aran from Fornside farm near Keswick. We bought it at the Wool Clip this October. Both of us love Herdwick sheep. I won’t go on about what a smart and hardy breed the Herdwick is, but these lovely animals are a ubiquitous feature of the Cumbrian landscape and an integral part of our walks in the Lake District fells.


I swatched up several cables for the front panel, from which he selected one design. I had wanted to include cables on the arms, in a similar manner to some recent designs I’ve seen, but he was having none of that. Arm-cables were deemed too fussy. The shaping was very important, because sweaters never usually fit him. Like many men, he actually has a waist — theres a 10 inch difference between his waist and chest measurements — but this (ahem) trapezoid shape is hardly ever reflected in either bought garments or (most) masculine knitwear designs — which tend to assume that all men are rectangular. I based the mathematics and design of the sweater on a combination of EZ and Ann Budd’s instructions for a seamless raglan. It was knit at 4 stitches to the inch in the round from the bottom up. I tapered the sweater to the waist and chest accordingly. It is really an excellent fit.

I am also pleased with the cables, which (to me at least) echo the aesthetic of the masculine torso. Hence the sweater’s name — suggesting how its exterior reflects the interior it contains.



The yarn knitted up lovely. It has a satisfying spring and tremendous solidity — and absolutely no drape at all. To my mind, this is just what’s required in a manly garment. It was, frankly, a bit scratchy to knit with and I imagine even more so to wear. But man fears not the hair shirt. That said, it also has a very high lanolin content, so my hands always felt super-soft after an evening’s knitting.

Man is very pleased with his sweater and sports it smugly. Wearing it, his torso is evidently endowed with magical properties:


Actually, thats just what the winter light did on the bathroom wall a little while ago.

Now it will be blocked and dried and wrapped up in some jolly packaging for a week or so. Merry Christmas, Mr B!

Pattern: Outside In (my own, with help from EZ and Ann Budd)
Yarn: Fornside Herdwick aran. (6 skeins – around 550 grams)
Needles: 5.5 mm & 5mm for rib. (I knit most of it on one 100mm circ)
Gauge: 4 sts to 1 inch.

9 thoughts on “outside in

  1. Great jumper. I take it that there isn’t too much kemp in this particular yarn? I’ve thought about knitting in Herdwick myself, but all the yarn I have come across has been too harsh.


  2. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! And he’ll wear cables! (Sigh. My own man scorns them.) It’s wonderful to hear about local sheep – that just makes the sweater that much more special.


  3. I’m so glad you liked the wool – it’s from our own sheep and is in fact hogg wool so it’s from the first clip when the Herdwicks have softer brown fleece before the grey adult wool comes through. As far as I know you can’t get it anywhere else except handspun. It also makes great bags either knit or crocheted using two strands of yarn or knit singly and felted (3 times in the washing machine).
    If you’d like to visit to see the sheep you’re very welcome.
    It was great to see the jumper you made – you should sell that pattern you could transform knitting for men!


  4. how very nice that he should choose the wool and that it should be from a local critter and that it should fit him perfectly. certainly by now it is a nearly shamanic pelt. may the solstice bring you both a hail of haggis and athol brose and blue face paint!


  5. Just lovely! He’s a very lucky man. My poor DH keeps asking when he’s going to get his sweater …. but he wants it made from my own handspun, so he may be waiting a while.


  6. Wow, what a great sweater! Perfectly manly and yet so aesthetically pleasing! I’m fairl new to your blog, but I’m thouroughly enjoying it and looking forward to reading about more of your work.


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