For a few months now, I have been riffing off the same idea (which really is one of my favourite activities as a designer). I’ve knit four Carbeth jumpers and two cardigans (for the tale of woe involving number 5 see here) . . . but Carbeth’s interesting gauge-related ratios and simple geometric shaping weren’t quite done with me quite yet.

The weather has been very cold, and I’ve been very busy. I felt the need to knit something that was simultaneously undemanding and really really cosy. So I made this.

This definitely fit the bill! This sweater is tunic-length and oversized (worn here with around 10 inches of positive ease).

But despite being big and warm and slouchy, this garment still has structure.

. . . created by the strong lines of yarnovers and centred double decreases worked in panels along each sleeve, as well as on the front and back.

I think there is something really satisfying about a simple lace pattern worked at a larger gauges.

I look at this motif and think of swans or geese, rising high in the sky. I find the appearance of these inverted, open ‘V’s singularly pleasing, and on the sleeves particularly so.

What I was after with this garment was pure cosiness – I wanted a thick jumper with a haze or halo. To achieve the fabric I was after, I marled up a really robust and rather rustic yarn (soon to be available in our shop) with my current favourite jam – Fyberspates Cumulus .

I was amazed by how a single strand of Cumulus (which is composed of 74% suri Alpaca and 26% silk) transformed not only the surface but the general feel of the rustic yarn: there’s no crazy mohair fuzziness about the fabric, but just something soft and cloudy.

Though the openwork panels make the knitting (as well as the pattern-writing) of this design a little more complex, I would still say that this sweater – just like the Carbeth cardigan and jumper – is a garment that could be accomplished by any beginner knitter.

I was very happy that my swan-buddy obliged me once more with an appearance at the loch when we took these photos. I’ve probably not mentioned it before, but I’ve “known” this swan and his mate for a while: they nest in view of our steading, and we and other neighbours watch heart-in-mouth every spring for their cygnets to appear (one year the nest was plundered by a local fox).

These swans take their morning constitutional at the same time that I do and are, like me, real creatures of habit. The experience of “knowing” these swans – like the other birds and animals with whom I share my rural home – often feels like a gift to me.

When I hear the swans’ wings overhead as I’m taking Bruce out early in the morning, these lines from Mary Oliver frequently spring to mind:

“Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air,
an armful of white blossoms,
a perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings: a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
biting the air with its black beak?”

Mary Oliver, Swan (2010)

So I’ll get on and write a swan dance pattern now.

87 thoughts on “Carbeth swan dance

  1. Every time you show off a new version of Carbeth it is my favourite. It’s so much fun to see what you can do with a single starting point. Thank you for sharing the Swan poem. To feel connected to a landscape to a wonderful thing and I’ve noticed that when I read about the love other people share for their home landscapes I am able to see new things and fall in love with my own landscape even more (a wonderful side effect of the WHW Club :)

    Quite a while ago you had a post about modelling your own knitting patterns. I didn’t respond on the original post but the topic has been on my mind off and on ever since I read it. The more I reflect on it the more I find that I like to see you in your designs. In fact, I noticed that most of my favourite designers for both knitting and sewing patterns model their designs themselves and I think that appeals to me so much because it lets me feel a little more connected. I can see you as a person and I can trust that you would not release a pattern that you would not make and wear yourself.

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  2. Happy Easter for you all there in the beautiful Scotland!

    I would like to buy same yarn with my MTC membership and have to order it today :-) Since I live in Germany the shipping is rather expensive for me and I would like to order today the yarn for Carbeth Swan Dance and the Observatory together. I don’t have any clue how much yarn I have to order for the Carbeth Swan Dance. Could you give me please an indication how much yarn I have to order for this sweater in a big size (XL)? I would like the same colors as yours :-) … so beautiful.

    So sorry for disturbing you today. I was waiting for another yarn (with beads and sequins to combine with cumulus) but hope to get an answer.

    Thank you very much! Inke

    >

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  3. Beautiful sweater!

    I came across a website today I think you would enjoy. This woman is a tailor and she recreates period clothing from like the medieval and renaissance sort of period I think. I wasn’t sure how else to contact you so I’m messaging you here. I thought it was right up your alley and you’d like to see it. Here is the link: https://katafalk.wordpress.com/

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  4. Love this so much! I made Carbeths for both myself and my daughter- and after seeing this blog post, we both want a “Swan Dance”. Keep posting for when you have the pattern written up.

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  5. LOVE this version of Carbeth the best. I don’t really feel I can carry off a crop version, so this is perfect. This also looks like something an adventurous beginner (like me) could take on. You continue to amaze, educate and inspire. Thank you for the variety in what you share. Blessings to all of you…

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  6. Loving the sweater if it gets to big for you might I put my name on it!!! Honest I think it looks so cosy & warm. You always look so good in your photos. Must wish you, Tom & Bruce happy Easter also your parents xxx 👋👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love my Carbeth, and have worn it everyday since I cast it off last week.

    I love the elegance of the shaping and would love a DK weight version for warmer days.

    The Swan version is beautiful. We often get geese flying over head with their long V shapes and the cacophony of honks.

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  8. Love this version perhaps the best. Chunky lace weight sweaters are a favourite (my own Wheatsheaves was born out of this love), and they’re all the better when soft, fuzzy yarns and pale colours are involved. So pretty and cozy all at once. Stay warm.

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    1. Totally agree. I have been contemplating the cardigan (only contemplating because the stash doesn’t quite do for this gauge, and I am waiting for the next local fiber event …in April. Now I have to have this one, or maybe both. Oh the decisions you have forced upon me!

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  9. A beautiful version of Carbeth. As I was working on my Carbeth cardigan I was thinking about using the same basic construction in a loose gauge with cap sleeves and a narrow neck band, for a summer top.

    Regarding the fifth Carbeth with disastrous button bleeding, that sounds like a perfect candidate for a dip in an indigo vat. Indigo, like pie, fixes everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Gorgeous sweater. Gorgeous to hear about the swans. I love all of it. I think I’m working up the courage to try knitting my first sweater, and I’ll probably choose one of these Carbeths. I love the length of this one, and the beautiful lace.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think this is just a fantastic swan song sweater. You look radiant and amazing as ever. Looks forward to your sweater pattern as I do everything you publish.

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  12. I wrote in my Carbeth Cardigan notes, what a variable sweater this is. With different yarns, lengths- it could be rustic, sleek, sophisticated and a staple garment just knitted as is. And now another addition! Did you have any idea it would be such a hit? I’ve knitted both the cardigan
    and pullover- and not been able to wear either. My wonderful LYS has both on display and I don’t think I’m getting them back. I’m going to miss these late Tuesday nights! Cheers to the end of the WHW club. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Can’t wait for Swan Dance! I’ve worn my Carbeth Original day after day and LOVE it. Cardigan on my list, bought pattern immediately, printed and ready to roll. Got a few Fair Isles to finish and baby gifts—so much to knit—not enough hours in a day and they keep getting shorter!!!
    Thank you for yet another brilliant pattern!

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  14. I can’t believe this is 10” ease on you- it looks fantastic. I am hoping you will have kits for this when you get the yarn in the store. I just ❤️❤️❤️This!!

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  15. Oh Kate, I am totally smitten with the whole Carbeth series. I have been knitting, hats, cowls, scarves and finger-less gloves, for about 10 years. 125 items total last year!! 2018 has been designated The Year of Knitting for ME. I am making my very first sweater, the Carbeth. Thanks so very much. The Carbeth Cardigan is next in line. Yay

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  16. I m very happy for not having enough time to knit, otherwise I would have started the cardigan,
    but now I know what I will queue….

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    1. Exactly my thoughts Monika! I couldn’t wear a short boxy jumper – I want a long, hide-it-all sweater so I cant wait for this pattern!

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  17. Superb! It reminds me of the quilt pattern ‘Flying Geese’ that is my all time favourite. Great job. so many patterns, so little time, I need STAFF! Love to all of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Swan Dance is very lovely, and plop, onto my list it goes! I still want to knit the cardigan, too. Soon, relatively speaking, I will have an entire flock of Carbeths! Thank you, Kate and Tom for this post — it really brightens my overcast Port Townsend morning! Oh, and the poem — I have just recently started to become acquainted with Mary Oliver’s poetry, so thanks for that!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Please please consider adding a size 0 (or one size smaller than your usual smallest size) when you write up this pattern. I’m still waiting for a Carbeth version that could flatter my tiny self…the cardi definitely would have interested me but is one size too large in the smallest size. This is a pattern I’d enjoy wearing. You look beautiful in it!

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    1. Kate notes that this sweater is designed to be oversized, not snug-fitting, with AT LEAST four inches of ease. The smallest size should fit as an oversized sweater on anyone with a bust measurement of 32″ or smaller. If you are really tiny (bust measurement 28″ or smaller), you can rewrite the pattern directions. Just compare the first and second sizes and figure out how much smaller to make the first size.

      I am plus-sized so I have become accustomed to resizing pattern directions, I do shake my head when I come across a pattern with a 52″ bust but the upper sleeve circumference is only 14″. I don’t know any women who are built like that.

      Looking forward to seeing Swan Dance as a pattern, nonetheless. Looks so warm and snuggly.

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  20. Oh and the pointed hemline is absolutely charm. Mimicks the other V’s as I’m sure you intended. This is just so perfect for me, shape, color, amount of detail and interest.

    And coziness factor. Also I love rustic wool. It just can’t get much better.

    Ok, I think I’m finished raving now.

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  21. This sweater is perfection. I can’t wait to cast on. I want that exact color and yarn. Hope pattern and yarn will be available soon.

    And the photography, as usual, is excellent! I can see every stitch and the yarn combination is stunning.

    I bet it’s a fairly fast knit too.

    Love this, in case you hadn’t noticed ; )

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Ah! I like this Carbeth incarnation the best of all (which is crazy, because I live so far south I could only wear it about three days a year). In tunic form, in bulky yarn, it looks so squishy, cozy, and *comforting*. I don’t know of any shape or size figure this wouldn’t compliment (and, may I say, you look *marvelous* in it!).

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  23. I love, love, love the Carbeth and all of its incarnations (particularly this gorgeous one in tunic length with lace)! But, I live in the American South, where sweaters in fingering or sport weight are a lot more wearable. For your next round of Carbeth experiments, would you please explore some lighter weight versions? Many, many thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I have always wanted designers and photographers to understand that, while we love the beautiful backgrounds, we REALLY want to see the sweater. Thank you, Tom, for getting that and having Kate stand still with her arms outstretched! Probably not your favorite pictures, but oh, so wonderful for us knitters!

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  25. I can’t wait. I have two Carbeths and I’m working on my first of two Carbeth cardigans. I love these patterns so much I hate to think of letting them go so another Carbeth is just what I want. Swan dance perhaps but I have a feeling I’m going to be knitting Carbeths in one form or another for a long time.
    Thank you.

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  26. It’s lovely to read about how you like to continue experimenting with designs, to see just where the original design concept might lead you. Every one of your Carbeth designs is grand. You’ve given us so many ways to cast on!

    This latest tunic length with its well-placed lace work is bound to be very popular. Using the marled yarns was also brilliant.

    Thank you so much also for the poem. Bravo, dear Kate! xo

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  27. I love the lines of this and the lace
    Is stunning. This is a perfect sweater for me.
    I can’t wait for the pattern to be published.

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  28. Having been a huge admirer of your work for seven years now I love that you’re enjoying working so hard on your designs for us, but I hope you won’t mind me saying that this one isn’t for me. I have to admit to a slight sense of sadness whenever anyone lengthens your beautiful waist enhancing designs (only because they usually do so in order to ‘cover up’ imagined physical faults).

    I am well over forty and not a slim as I’d like but I love the way your shorter and more fitted garments play with proportion to actually create a waist. Although Swan Dance will undoubtedly be one of your most successful patterns please don’t stop doing shorter and more fitted designs, (even though you’ve miraculously already published more than I could knit in a lifetime!) Coinneach is currently on my needles.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. The Carbeth was interesting in shape and design but I did not feel any great love for it as something I would actually wear. THIS Carbeth is amazing! I absolutely love it! The yarn, the design elements, the way it looks on you–all these things make me excited to knit one for myself! You are so talented.

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  30. Love this! I’ve been doing a lot of spinning recently, and this would work great with handspun yarn. Thank you for your beautiful patterns and inspiration! And thanks to Tom for the amazing photography!

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  31. Wow! I liked that original Carbeth but I LOVE this one. They really are 2 completely different sweaters. The best bits are how the yokes lines kind of curve when worn. (When you hold your arms out they are straight.) And the dip in the front (and probably the back too) at the bottom. That make the tunic all the more special.
    Really pretty sweater!!

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  32. Love the sweater, your creativity and the poem. Our far north Michigan lake is still frozen and our trumpeter swans will soon be departing. Although I can hear our geese honking as they fly overhead. I will miss the swans, but will really enjoy knitting this lovely swan sweater. Beautiful, Kate! What a great way to wake up.

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  33. Oh for goodness sake, yet another stonking design Kate! Whilst I love my 2 short Carbeths (cardigan waiting for just the right buttons) I also adore big chunky sweaters for pottering around outside in cold weather. I may have to stop following you (not really!) as I’ve already got loads of your designs on my ‘to do’ list.

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  34. Love this jumper. The original Carbeth would have been a challenge for me shape wise due to being blesssed with a rather large rear end but this is perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Love this one! This is the Carbeth for me! And that marled look is splendid. I’m now very curious about this new yarn your shop will be stocking…

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  36. Oooh I love this sweater. As much as I like the original Carbeth, I can’t really wear a cropped top. Too much tummy to hide :) This fits the bill. And I love the two strands of yarn held together. Kate, you never cease to amaze me.

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  37. How do you manage it? The ideas, the creativity, the act of knitting, the production of yet another gorgeous jumper? I’m retired, knit every day, and am still, after starting Strathendrick almost as soon as it came out, not even at the armholes! But seriously – another one for the To Do List when Carbeth Swan Dance comes out (and when I’m finished Strathendrick). Congratulations!

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  38. Oh I love this! Tunic shapes work better on me than cropped designs and I’m having a slight geese formation obsession having just come back from Iona. Thank you for the Mary Oliver Poem too.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. I love it too Kate! Sadly the original Carbeth jumper would have been too short for my shape, but this version is perfect for me. The co!our of that yarn is just gorgeous too, I hope you tell us which combination of colours you used. Look forward to the pattern being available soon .

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  40. Ooooh, now this, this I know I will knit and wear! I loved the original Carbeth, but it would have been a big experiment for me to wear, so I hesitated to knit it. But this style I adore and wear! Yay for swans!

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  41. Wonderful news that you will write the pattern. Will there be a kit version too?
    Can’t wait. And I can now manage a tubular cast on, thank you for that.

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  42. oh, this is so going in the queue- am really tempted to extend the length to get a short dress rather than a tunic. Love the marl :-)))

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  43. Oh that’s my type of jumper, it’s gorgeous can’t wait for the pattern. I too have some wild birds that I like to think of as my own. We have red kites nesting in our garden, they are very vocal at the moment busy creating their nest in the tree tops. They watch out for my cat to see what he catches,then swoop down and steal it from him!

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  44. What a fantastic sweater, I love the size, shape, thickness and of course the swan chevrons! I am a very basic knitter and hope that you may provide written instructions as I am not very good with charts. Beautiful photos too xx

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  45. Absolutely beautiful and what a lovely name for it. We have just returned from a week in Norfolk and there were lots and lots of swans so if I make this it will have such a lovely meaning to me.

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  46. LIKE, LIKE, LIKE!!!
    I also like adding a wool like Cumulus to more robust yarn, the outcome is warm and cozy.
    I can’t wait to see the announcement of the pattern.
    Give my love to Bruce and the swans <3

    Like

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