My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


How Does One Design an Aran?

Yesterday Megan asked:

I have a vision of a cute cabled cami in my head that I would love to make but am kind of afraid of the cables–how do you account for the loss of width to a garment when you add cables? is there a rough guideline or is it just a guessing game? Swatching seems like it might help but I would end up having to swatch the entire width of the shirt several times, right?

Yup, you do have to swatch. But not as extensively as you think. Here’s what I did for Liam. It’s relatively painless.

I had the idea for an aran in my head. I did a rough sketch of the basic design.


Then I charted each of the cables. And then I knitted a swatch of each of them. I decided to use double moss stitch for my “filler” in between the cables, so I did a swatch of that.

Then, I measured each of my swatches. I noted the width of each of the cables plus two stitches of reverse stockinette stitch on each side of the cable. Then I measured my stitches per inch gauge on my double moss stitch. I added together the width of the three cables I used, and subtracted it from the total width I wanted for the garment. That resulting number was divided by four, as there are four moss stitch panels. The resulting number is the width in inches of each of the double moss panels. Multiply that by stitches per inch for double moss.

Presto, chango, you’ve got your aran design. Here are my numbers:


And for the ribbing, I deducted 10% from the total body stitches.

Oh, and here’s my progress on Liam. I apologize for the sucky photo.


I went to Knit Happens last night and hung out with the girls. When I got there, Kristine was out on an errand and Axel was in residence.

Do you think he was missing his mommy?


Every time someone walked past the door, Axel checked it out.


A good time was had by all, as per usual. Shelley is making great progress on a toe-up sock!


As usual, jocularity and hilarity ensued. Carol and I admired some new books. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lucy Sez


Mommy came home muttering “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” Can any of you tell me why?


  1. wow, wendy! i just love that knittin’ math. its really starting to “click” with me. and i attribute that to your brilliant tutorials. i finally get it. that was pure magic. thanks a bunch for the explanation. and liam looks great! you mapped it out perfectly!

  2. Good Morning – looks like a caught you early. I’m guessing that your mutter was associated with purchasing yarn at your new favorite dive. I admit I’ve been vicariously enjoying your shopping, as I too have a serious yarn collection. Larger than my life span, I believe, but then I don’t use it up as fast as you can.

  3. Butt Basket! Butt Basket

  4. Just because you can buy yarn, doesn’t mean you should?
    But it’s so much fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. “Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you should”

    … in my little world, this phrase applies only to clothes. Preggers, over/under weight, age appropriateness — the past few years of fashion has not been kind to my eyes. I think I’ve lost a retina or two when I’ve seen inappropriate clothing.

  6. (I don’t think this typically applies to knitters, who seem to have a little more fashion know-how). I really don’t think this is why you were muttering the phrase, but had to say it anyway.

  7. It’s an inside joke I put in the blog entry for the benefit of the Knit Happens gang. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Butt bag! Not to mention several insults to the fine mathematician Moebius.

    It was great to get a chance to meet and knit with y’all this week and last to liven up my otherwise dull business trip. If you’re ever in the Ogden, UT area, make sure to drop by The Needlepoint Joint on a Thursday night — there’s a great gorup of knitters there who will be happy to return the favor.

  9. I’d better not see any butt baskets on my next Knit Happens field trip! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. wrightnour says:

    You bought…um, books? Yarn? What happened to that Bad Ass attitude thing? Oh honey, you are SO worthy!

  11. I think I got it now…The Design of a Sweater. You know it really dosen’t seem as hard as I thought…yea right until I try it! No really…I will give it a go..some day soon! Thanks teacher (With hand raised)..can I go to the little girls room now? ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Wendy, any word on when any of your patterns will be available on sale? I still am dreaming about your tank tops…and although I hate to admit it…summer days are growing shorter. Thanks for your reply

  13. You are such an incredibly generous teacher. It’s a pleasure to read and learn from your blog.

    Suggestion: A Wendy Knitting book made up of your blog entries and patterns. Just a suggestion – I learn so much from you.

    Love to Lucy!

  14. You’re such a math wiz! Liam’s lookin’ great!

  15. what a cute dog!! do you think Lucy waits and paces for your return?

  16. It sure would take a lot of yarn to make a butt basket that is representative of mine!

    Thanks for the cable math lesson…one less stupid question to ask you in the future! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” has now replaced the refrain of “Gloria” in my head. Is this better, I’m not sure?

    Poor Little Axel, just waiting and waiting. He’s too cute!

  18. Excellent tutorial!

  19. Excuse me…butt baskets??

  20. Just because you can knit it, doesn’t mean you should.

    This, for me, applies to knitted belly tops, anything with an empire waist (sob! Klaralund) or anything that’s off the shoulder.

    knitting therapist

  21. So how many books did you buy, eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m with Peg, too — a Wendy Knits book would rule. You could always do it in PDF format and let people download it, so there’s no production stuffs on your end, and there are services out there that can help control downloads. If nothing else, it’d be more fun money for yarn. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should?

  23. Axel looks so cute. My dog does the same thing when I leave work to pick up lunch or even just go to the restroom. It’s so sad, but so darn cute!

    Liam is coming along splendidly!!

  24. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should…

    have children?

    allow said children to run wild in the yarn shop?

    That’s what I was referring to the last time I muttered that phrase. And I love children–I’ve spent ten years working as a nanny and I still want my own–but you have to wonder sometimes…

    Thank you for the cable lesson–I was wondering the same thing myself, but was too shy to ask.

  25. It’s nice to see great minds think alike. My Aran/gansey designs go thru the identical design process.

  26. Just because your butt fits in the basket doesn’t mean you should put it there!

    What a funny visual… I hope that’s what happened. Hee hee.

  27. Ann Marie says:

    I. Want. Axel.

  28. Thank you for this post! You have inspired me to design my very first sweater. (eventually)