A free knitting pattern for a men’s sweater with intarsia details
For some reason, I am living through an intarsia phase right now. After my love socks, I got it into my head to knit a sweater in a similar design. Originally I planned it for pride month, but light tendonitis (healed now, thank god) kept me from finishing it in time.
Now, I actually don’t know why I wanted to knit another intarsia project. My last one already brought me to the brink of insanity. And paradoxically, that’s probably why I continue knitting it, because how hard can it be? It’s like playing a level of Super Mario for the 30th time because you just couldn’t finish that one boss, I guess (read my intarsia knitting guide if you want to brush up your technique a bit).
For this project, I picked a fabulous yak yarn by Pascuali (read everything about yak yarn here). Right now, they are by far and wide my favorite manufacturer of fine wool and they certainly live up to their high standard (and not, I’m not getting paid to say that, lol). I already knit my cable cowl with one of their yarns and will probably add some more to my stash. They are somewhat expensive, but it’s so worth it!
Plotting the chart for this sweater was quite a nightmare. It took ages to fit in the slogan and pictures I had in mind into my pattern. I knitted a couple of test swatches to get a good feeling for the gauge…and missed it. My first attempt was 6 cm (!!) too small. So, I had to frog (let me tell you, frogging intarsia is no fun!).
Despite it being all stockinette stitch, it’s painfully slow to knit. For the “Peace” part, I was working with 17 bobbins at one time. It felt like one sneeze could cause yarn barf of epic dimensions. But I persevered and now look at that beauty.
The backside looks a bit like some macrame wall art and there were altogether 200 ends to weave in. Tidying up all these loose ends took me like 6 hours (+ another 4 hours for the seaming). So, I guess what I’m saying is…if you don’t like sewing, this is not for you.
On the plus side, you get rewarded with a magnificently drapey sweater. Because let’s face it, most of Fair Isle is quite thick and stiff. On top of that, it’s often very warm and I’m not the biggest fan of that either. It’s easier to knit, but if you read my advanced intarsia knitting tips with 10 important tricks for better results, I’m sure you’ll be fine.
Still, the design for this men’s sweater might look simple, but it’s actually nothing but that. At one point (see picture below) I had 25 active bobbins on my needle. Managing all those bobbins was no joke.
Still, in the process of designing this men’s sweater, I adjusted the chart a bit so the extremely difficult sections were a bit easier to knit while still staying true to the design.
Originally, I also planned to add a further small message on the lower back that said “no hate”. I kind of liked the idea that people on the street would get to see a little slogan from behind as well. But I really wasn’t satisfied with the outcome, so I discarded the idea.
Now, that was a lot of negativity and I hope you didn’t understand this as a way to discourage you. I see it rather as a way of grounding me readers. If you like a challenge, if you like to perfect a new skill, then this could be the perfect starting point.
Sure, there is a lot of sewing involved, but I actually enjoy that. I mean, you are still holding yarn and needle in your hands – where is the real difference? For me, it’s part of the process and I’m enjoying it just as much.
Materials you will need:
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- 14 skeins of the Pascuali Yak Mongolia in yellow and one skein each in green, red and black. The total weight of the sweater is 650 grams or around 1350 meters of that DK weight yarn were used (in case you are looking for a cheaper substitute)
- circular knitting needles size 3.00 mm and 3.50 mm (US size 3 & 4). I knit this sweater with the Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina interchangeable needle.
- 2 big stitch holders or cables (for knitting the neck/shoulders)
- A tapestry needle and scissors.
- tape for measuring/sizing
- K = knit
- P = Purl
- KLL = Knit left loop
- KRL = Knit right loop
- SL1 = Slip one stitch
- Mattress stitch
- …and obviously intarsia 🙂
This sweater is knit flat and then seamed together. The neck is not picked up but knitted in one piece. I rather like the way it looks, though nothing speaks against doing a more traditional bind off/pick up stitches neck.
The pattern is a mix between chart and written instructions and I tried to describe each step as closely as possible. That being said, it’s just the pattern for a men’s M with no other sizes available for now. But, as it’s just a basic sweater, it should be fairly easy to scale that up (or down).
Definitely comment below if you want me to develop more sizes (I am not sure how high the interest really is at the moment). If there are enough, I’ll definitely consider expanding this knitting pattern!