POW: Aileron Shawl Cardigan

I was recently spring-cleaning my closet and took to organizing my handknitted sweaters. I discovered a couple of things. First, my love of deep maroon/purple is clear as a bell—at least half my sweaters fall into that hue, with little to no blue or green. And of the 20+ sweaters in my collection, I’ve knit just 2 cardigans.

I tend to shy away from cardigans. I have a fuller bust and tops with buttons always pull and gap across the chest. Yes, I recognize that I’m in complete control of the fit of my sweaters as I knit them, but still I lean towards pullovers so I won’t have a buttonband playing peek-a-boo with my undergarments.

The irony of my story is this: my most favorite handknitted sweater, the one I wear almost every day, is a cardigan. When it’s not on my body, it’s usually lying on the rocking chair near my bed. I slip it on when I wake and stay in it until my coffee is finished and the kids are out the door on the bus to school. It’s not just any cardigan, though—it’s a shawl cardigan. Shawl cardigans don’t have buttonbands; instead they have extra fabric that drapes in the front body. The extra fabric is often enough to wrap around yourself when you want to snuggle into it, or it can be pinned to the opposite shoulder with a shawl pin.

Aileron Shawl Cardigan

Knowing the comfort and ease-of-wear a shawl cardigan can provide, I was thrilled to see Courtney Spainhower’s Aileron Shawl Cardigan from Family-Friendly Knits. On top of great things it already has going for it (simply being a shawl cardigan), it also has interesting design details and clever construction. The body is knit flat from side-to-side with waste yarn worked in for afterthought sleeves.

When the body is complete, waste yarn is removed, sleeve stitches picked up, and a sleeve cap is worked with no-wrap short-rows. The end result is stylish, yet comfortable, and it’s definitely getting added to my must-knit list. You can find the individual pattern download for Aileron Shawl Cardigan in the Interweave store.

Pattern Details

Finished Size

About 14.5 (15, 15.5, 16, 16.5, 17, 17.5)” (37 [38, 39.5, 40.5, 42, 43, 44.5] cm) across back.

To fit about 32 (34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44)” (81.5 [86.5, 91.5, 96.5, 101.5, 106.5, 112] cm) bust circumference.

Cardigan shown measures 15″ (38 cm).


Fingering (#1 Super Fine). Shown Here: Malabrigo Yarn Sock (100% superwash merino wool; 440 yd [402 m]/1.oz [100 g]): #801 Botticelli red, 4 (4, 4, 5, 5,5, 5) skeins.


Size U.S. 5 (3.75 mm): 32″ (80 cm) circular (cir) and set of 4 or 5 double-pointed (dpn). Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.


Markers (m); removable marker; cable needle (cn); waste yarn; tapestry needle.


28 sts and 43 rows = 4″ (10 cm) in St st.

-Kerry Bogert
Editorial Director, Books

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