The Ola Placket Pullover (Plus the Twined Cast-On!)

Ola Placket PulloverI've long been a fan of Lucinda Guy's designs, especially her patterns for children, and I've just finished looking at an advance copy of her new book of grown-up designs, Northern Knits; it's fabulous!

Lucinda focuses on the diversity of knitting in the northern European countries of the Shetland Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Each of these countries has a rich heritage of unique knitted art— Fair Isle sweaters, Shetland lace shawls, Icelandic Lopi sweaters, Norwegian black-and-white Selbu mittens, and Swedish twined knitted mittens.

There are so many excellent patterns in this book, it was hard to choose just one on which to focus, but I finally did it (such a hard job I have!). The design I kept coming back to was the Ola Placket Pullover. It truly is a mix of old and new and I love the casual, robust beauty of the sweater.

Lucinda was inspired by simple, embroidered white linen work shirts and shifts that she saw in the Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum) in Stockholm, Sweden. The beautiful garments were embroidered with hearts, stylized flowers, and birds at the neckline and sleeves.Ola Sleeve detail

About the project, Lucinda says, "The shortish and loose-fitting Ola sweater is a knitted version of those embroidered shirts. Using pure two-strand white Swedish wool, both the sleeves and the main body are knitted in the round, then embellished with simple cross-stitches and French knots. The three-quarter-length sleeves begin with a lovely red and white twined knitted cast-on. This sweater is ideal for layering."

Indeed! I love to wear long-sleeved tee-shirts, and this pullover is perfect over those tees. I can see myself wearing Ola a bunch! It would look great with jeans, chords, black pants, and even ski pants! I really like the modern look that the cropped design gives this sweater, don't you? (And if you don't, Lucinda shows you how to lengthen the pullover, too.)

The placket detail is done with simple embroidery stitches and the drawstring is made up of three strands of yarn that you braid—that red and white yarn is so cute (and eye-catching) braided together!

One of the most interesting details of this sweater is the Twined Cast-On, which makes the contrasting red bead on the sleeve cuff. This is a unique technique, and one that I thought you might like to learn! So here goes:

Leaving long tails for braiding later, make a slipknot with 2 strands of A and 1 strand of B, and place the slipknot on the needle; the slipknot does not count as a CO st. Hold B in your left hand and the needle and 2 strands of A in your right hand (Figure 1).
Figure 1
         Loop B around the left thumb. Slip the needle tip underneath both strands of the loop, between the loop and the web of your thumb (and not into the loop itself yet). Next, insert the right needle tip down into the thumb loop from top to bottom (Figure 2) and rotate the needle so its tip is pointing upward again—the thumb loop now forms a figure-eight, with the thumb and needle in separate compartments of the eight (Figure 3).
Figure 2                                     Figure 3
Wrap one strand of A around the needle as if to knit. Insert the needle tip up into the thumb loop from bottom to top (Figure 4; this will undo the twist of the figure-eight), drop the B loop from the left thumb, and tighten the new st.*Loop B around left thumb again, slip needle tip underneath both strands of the loop, then insert it down into the thumb loop from top to bottom.

Rotate the needle so its tip is pointing upward again, bring the strand of A farthest from the needle tip over the previous strand of A used, and wrap it around the needle as if to knit.

Insert the needle tip up into the thumb loop from bottom to top, drop the B loop from the left thumb, and tighten the new st; rep from * until the required number of sts are CO, alternating strands of A and bringing each strand over the one used before. Break off B.

Drop the slipknot from the needle before joining in the rnd but do not untie it yet. 

Figure 4

This pattern also offers gives a nice variety of sizing, from 35¾" bust to 51" bust. And it's designed for sport weight yarn, so if you need it to be bigger than 51", you can use a DK weight yarn—just be sure to swatch and check your gauge with the schematic to make sure you don't make the sweater too big! I'll probably do this to get about a 53" bust so I can wear Ola over a couple of layers. After looking at the pattern and the schematic, I think I'll do size 47" with DK yarn and that'll give me the roominess I want. (But I'll have to swatch to make sure that's correct, you know!)

So reserve yourself a copy of Northern Knits! I know it's one of those books you'll take from the shelf again and again.


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