Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Counterpane Sweater or "The Beast"

My Beast-The final knitted on band balances the counterpane squares with a nice vertical look

I have just finished a new jacket that I have christened “The Beast”. I designed it using ideas that I teach in my knitting class, “Take The Pain Out Of Counterpane.”
If you are not familiar with counterpane, here is a small history of the counterpane knitting technique.


The Counterpane can be found as far back as the 15th century. The Oxford English Dictionary describes the Counterpane  “The outer covering of a bed generally more or less ornamental, being woven in a raised pattern, quilted, made of patchwork, etc.; a coverlet, a quilt”.

During the middle 19th century “Counterpane” became more specialized. Museum samples show it to be a hand-knitted or crocheted bedspread composed of squares knitted on four double pointed needles, and then sewn together to create a completed bedspread. These knitted covers were generally white, textural (still keeping with the 15th century “raised pattern”) and geometrical masterpieces.

The back shows off one counterpane square beautifully

My Take

I use this traditional technique and create modern items. Up to this point, I have only knitted hats, mitts, and scarfs. It was time for a sweater, especially, as I am teaching the course this summer at the Mid-West Weaving Conference (Emporia, KS) in June. 

A view of the three squares before sewn together. 

The Beast Itself

The sweater is knitted in all garter stitch. This makes for a lot of texture, which I like in a sweater. Yarn is changed every two rows. This sweater is a great “stash buster”. Every yarn came from my very abundant yarn collection. I even had the button.

The yarn that gives the jacket its name is “Hippy” by Katia. Half way through the sweater I just knew I was going to trim some of “Hippy” down when I finished. But I tried it on and absolutely loved the way it worked.  This iss a true statement sweater.


The body of the sweater is three 21 3/8” counterpane squares sewed together. Each square was bound of on three sides with one side left with live stitches. These stitches were put on a piece of waste yarn.

After sewing the three squares together, the live stitches were picked up on a circular needle. Staying with pattern, I knitted a band of about 3.5”. The band is the bottom edge of the sweater.  When finished, I had a large rectangle of 64” x 25”. 

Leaving 9” for the back neck, the sides are brought up to the top and sewn into place.

I finished the piece off with a knitted I-cord button loop and a knitted I-cord edging for the back neck.

This piece fits in nicely with my  “Great American Apparel Diet”. Even though I have given myself leeway to purchase anything to finish a garment, I had everything I needed for this piece. 

Close up view of the stitches and yarn. The squares creates a triangular effect on the arms which contrasts nicely with the vertical look of the band and the square on the back

This photo shows a close up of the knitted I-Cord edging on the back of the neck. It gives stability and a nice finished look.

My next project is to finish a knitted square counterpane scarf that I started three years ago. So this will be the last article from me on this blog for a while. 

I am trying to talk Michael into donating some of his gardening insight for The Journal. After all, it's that time of the year again isn't it.

So until next time, Terri