Three and One

Published on Tuesday January 19th, 2010

When my mother asked for a new sweater to replace one she’d lost, this wasn’t what either of us imagined. The sweater that went missing was a patchwork of pictorial intarsia and textural panels in earthy colors. I wasn’t going to try to recreate that, but it was difficult to work out an alternative that suited my vision and my mother’s. She’d mention a feature of one or another of my sweaters that she liked, but bringing them together was a challenge. So I did what any sensible knitter would do: I spread out my Elizabeth Zimmermann library and together we pored over the many wonderful designs involving colorwork. Three & One caught her fancy, and I could see ways to add the waist shaping and shawl collar Mum had requested, so we were off to the races. We chose the yarn: Cascade Eco Wool for the base and Cascade Rustic for the accent colors. Ten months later, the sweater is finished.


At some point (well into the knitting, mind you) it occurred to me that I was trying to make a fitted cardigan by stranding a bulky wool with an Aran-weight wool/linen blend. How was this sweater not going to be Michelin-Man bulky and far too warm? But my parents are active folk; when they are not working on their new house they are usually to be found outside doing all the chores that come with living in the woods. And the chilly damp of the Pacific Northwest guarantees this sweater can stand in for a jacket in fall and spring as well as winter.

I thought I’d give it a test run yesterday just to make sure. I had a little vacation in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the weather was unexpectedly fair, so we took the dog for a special outing to the Sandy River delta, where she can run full tilt for as long as her mighty heart and skinny legs desire (which is a very long time… owners of other energetic dogs always thank us for bringing “the rabbit”). There is often strong wind at the delta, and yesterday was no exception. My fingers were quickly raw and I wished I’d worn a warmer hat, but the Three & One was perfectly cozy. (It was even cozier after the walk when we retired to Bakery Bar for coffee and fried egg sandwiches on homemade biscuits. The day was warm enough for sitting outside in the sun, and there was no wind in town.)



It wasn’t until I saw these photos that I realized all was not quite right. Look again… I’ll bet you can spot it, if you haven’t already.


Yeah. I don’t know how I did it, but I sewed all the buttons on half an inch low, and as a result the pattern doesn’t match up across the fronts. I’m sure Mum would wear the sweater and love it anyway, the way Dad wears his gansey with the too-tight hem (my first bout with the tubular cast on wasn’t a resounding victory), but this is not something I can live with. Snip, snip, snip. Off came the buttons and their backing buttons, and up they all moved. Problem solved.


45 Comments to “Three and One”

  1. Nancy Comment Says:

    What a wonderful sweater! This is one of EZ’s I haven’t looked at seriously enough. Bet your Mum will absolutely love this!

  2. Patti Comment Says:

    Wow. That is just gorgeous. I’m glad it was an easy fix. No ripping involved.

  3. Daphne Comment Says:

    Another winner – it’s beautiful!

  4. Seanna Lea Comment Says:

    This is a gorgeous sweater. Do you think this sweater is a good project for a relative colorwork novice? I’ve done a couple of little hats.

  5. Kristyn Comment Says:

    The sweater is beautiful. What a lucky mama you have.

  6. Niki Comment Says:

    That is a spectacular sweater! You should be so proud of your beautiful work. That is truly an heirloom in-the-making. I can’t stop admiring it!

  7. Thérèse Comment Says:

    What a great sweater! I love Three-and-One: so simple, but effective. Love what you did at the waist.

  8. connie Comment Says:

    That is one beautiful sweater, Sarah! I can’t believe it’s in bulky yarn; it doesn’t seem that bulky in the photos. Lucky Mom πŸ™‚

  9. materfamilias Comment Says:

    Your colour choices are wonderful — and the sweater itself is gorgeous and practical all at the same time. I’m sure your mother will be thrilled with it!

  10. knithoundbrooklyn Comment Says:

    I admire your knitterly ability. This one looks seriously challenging. And it’s beautiful.

  11. Amanda Comment Says:

    That. Is. So. Beautiful. Bravo!

  12. Binnie Comment Says:

    How beautiful! I’m continually inspired by your will to figure knitterly things out. Combined with your aesthetic sense, your knitties always seem to turn out beautifully.

  13. whitney Comment Says:

    Such a gorgeous sweater! I hadn’t even noticed this sweater in my EZ books, but I will definitely give it another look.

  14. Walden Comment Says:

    The sweater looks great! Love the color choices, it all goes so well together.

  15. Trish Comment Says:

    Beautiful – loving your color combination! I didn’t know Eco-Wool had those colors….hmmmm…you’ve got me thinking.

  16. Krista M Comment Says:

    Wow! Great work! I love the colors and the style!

  17. meg Comment Says:

    What a beautiful sweater! I would have a hard time giving it to my mom, that is for sure!

  18. mick Comment Says:

    This is such a beautiful sweater. I love the waist shaping and shawl collar mods. Stunning!

  19. Beth Comment Says:

    I’ve been in a knitterly rut lately and you have inspired me!! Wow, what a beautiful, beautiful sweater!

  20. Julie Comment Says:

    wow, it’s so, so gorgeous!! I love the idea of the stranded cardi done in a more fitted style, it looks fantastic and really flattering. Great job!!!

  21. Wendolene Comment Says:

    Ingenious! Your mother’s sweater looks wonderfully cozy and stylish, perfect for blustery climes!

  22. Sarah Comment Says:

    What a beautiful piece – lovely motif

  23. Joansie Comment Says:

    The sweater is gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous!!!

  24. kgmama Comment Says:

    That is just beautiful!

  25. heather Comment Says:

    It turned out lovely! Great work. And a sweater that stands up to the winds at the Sandy River Delta is a snuggly sweater indeed. It sounds perfect for PNW weather.

  26. GItte Comment Says:

    It is so beutifull. Your details has made it absolutely fantastic. I have now ordred the book. I must try it.

    Right now I am knitting a Marianne Isager sweater – “Summer in Tokyo” in fair isle. I hope it wont take 10 month – but if it does it is Okey πŸ˜‰ because I am also knitting a lot of other things…….

  27. Mom Comment Says:

    Sarah dearest, it is a work of art!! “Thank you” is completely insufficient for all your creativity and the immeasurable hours you’ve put into it. I will treasure it always, because it is beautiful, but especially because it comes from you. I’ll try to keep it out of brambles, stone walls, and other trouble – safe, so you can wear it, too, when you wish!
    All love and XOX,
    A lucky Mom indeed!

  28. Kristen Comment Says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely! The red at the top, middle and sleeve caps is an especially inspired touch. And you know, I honestly couldn’t see the half inch off the buttons were sitting until you mentioned it. It just looks gorgeous!

    How did you ultimately manage the waist shaping? It really changes the pattern for the better!

  29. MsCleaver Comment Says:

    It’s lovely – I love the collar and the colors!

  30. Sandy Comment Says:

    I add to the applause and once again compliment you on your great work! Lucky Mommy!

  31. Christina Comment Says:

    You did an absolutely beautiful job! Love the colors and the collar variation! Inspiring!

  32. Philippa Comment Says:

    It is beautiful sweater! The colours are lovely and the shaping and collar look fantastic. I am sure you will be very proud when you see your mum wearing it and realise how happy she is in it. Most inspiring.

  33. Emily Comment Says:

    Darn it! Now I have another sweater to add to my “to knit” list! It’s gorgeous! I love it!

  34. Lisa Comment Says:

    It’s gorgeous! Nothing short of perfection from you, as usual!

  35. the Lady Comment Says:

    Awesome sweater, and I hope this year is going better for you than the last. Funny thing, it seems as if 2009 was a difficult year for many many people, myself included. I’ve had the best 25 last days in comparison, so I hope you are too!

  36. balzac Comment Says:

    Really incredible! You are so talented!

  37. Denise Comment Says:

    You’re a bigger person than I am. I don’t think I could have parted with such a gorgeous sweater. I mean I love my mum and everything but….

  38. Crafty Goodness – one hundred hats Pingback Says:

    […] ** Hello gorgeous hand-knit sweater! […]

  39. elly Comment Says:

    it’s lovely

  40. katie m. Comment Says:

    This is lovely!

  41. April Comment Says:

    I really love this sweater! just amazing. I hope to be that good one day!

  42. mamie Comment Says:

    i am quite literally breathless and a little bit speechless in the face of the beauty of that sweater. it is such a beautiful piece of knitting, and i say it every time, but you are an exquisite knitter. EZ would be so happy to know how much of her influence still lives and breathes today. if i had need for anything that warm, it would be on my needles. i just love it, sarah. πŸ™‚ a

  43. Debby Comment Says:

    It’s exquisite, and I’m sure your mother just adores it!

  44. Rebecca Comment Says:

    Sarah, this is just stunning! I’m always in awe of your skill!

  45. Alex Comment Says:

    WOW, Sarah, what a gorgeous sweater.
    I only discovered it today, as well as your sweet news… must have been on the moon meanwhile… πŸ˜‰
    All the best for the few weeks to go!