Another new garment! Braid Hills is one of my favourite designs, and one I really wanted to return to. Some folk found the original pattern a bit tricky for a couple of reasons: I love the design, and really wanted to iron out these issues so that everyone could enjoy knitting and wearing this cardigan! First, the neckline on the original cardigan was quite low. Part of my inspiration was from eighteenth-century bodices, and I designed Braid Hills’ neckline similarly, finishing just above the bustline. This is not a look for everyone, and can also be difficult to pair with layers. Though I loved my original Braid Hills, I certainly found I wasn’t wearing it as much as my other cardigans because it was tricky to match with an outfit. I decided to fix this in the new pattern. While I’ve kept the square neckline and bodice-like feel of the original, I’ve raised the neckline to a much more wearable depth.
The neckline is now more in line with other of my cardigans, such as Deco. I found this change makes the cardigan immediately much easier to wear buttoned, unbuttoned, or partly buttoned.
Which brings me on to the revised pattern’s other significant change. When I was working on the original, I’d just discovered Techknitter’s “tulip” buttonholes technique, and was quite excited by the idea of knitting a cardigan all in one piece, button bands and body together, adding the button holes as you went. A good idea in theory, but the problem was that if a knitter wanted to make even minor changes to the length of the cardigan, this impacted on the position and spacing of the buttonholes. Additionally, many knitters found that the twisted-rib vertically integrated button band of the original cardigan was simply not as sturdy as a horizontal one would have been, and, because of this, that the cardigan tended to gape when buttoned. No one wants a gaping cardigan! So when re-writing the pattern, I reverted to my old favourite of a picked up, horizontally knit button band, lined to make it sturdy, using buttons and snap fasteners rather than holes (which means you can sort out the button spacing issue right at the end, when you are finishing up the cardigan).
Here I’ve used vintage glass buttons, and I paired these with teeny tiny clear snap fasteners – the sort that are sometimes used to attach a slip inside a dress. These fasten surprisingly securely, and are pretty much invisible. I also lined the inside of the button band with some Liberty print bias binding.
Why I’d never thought to use bias binding for this purpose I do not know. It looks just great, and you can make it yourself out of whatever fabric matches your knitting! I found that a binding width of 1.5cm sat really nicely on the button band, giving the whole garment a really lovely finish.
I was so looking forward to working on this design again in Buachaille, because, having swatched with it countless times, I knew that the yarn worked really well with cables. Buachaille is worsted spun — the fibres sit smooth and flat, and textured patterns really pop in the yarn when they are knitted up. I knew that for Braid Hills the stitch definition of the fabric would be amazing.
The new pattern also comes with the same clear, easy to follow layout that I use in my books, and includes a lot of sizing information, which will make it much easier for you if you want to make adjustments, or work between sizes (of which there are 10, covering 31 to 49 inches).
The basic construction of the cardigan remains the same: the body is knitted in one piece to the underarms, where it is separated for fronts and back. The sleeves are picked up around the armscye and worked top down (my favourite construction for set-in sleeves) and fronts and cuffs both feature the same Bavarian twisted-and-travelling stitch pattern, which is rhythmic and fun to work. The end result is a classic, wearable garment, that should see you through the Spring (and indeed Summer, if you live in Scotland)!
The revised Braid Hills pattern is now available on Ravelry, and if you’ve previously purchased it, you will receive the update automatically at some point today (it can take a few hours to filter through the system!) If you would like to knit this design in the recommended yarn (which is, ahem, my own Buachaille) do bear in mind we will be launching kits for this design the weekend of Edinburgh Yarn Fest. Kits include the pattern and a project bag, and represent a significant saving on buying the yarn on its own. The kits will go on sale in the online shop as well as Edinburgh Yarn Fest on March 18th – and we have planned our special newsletter offer that weekend to even things up for those of you who can’t be in Edinburgh.
Happy knitting! Spring is coming!