Starting An Aran Cable Knit Jumper

Over the last few years the only thing I have knitted is socks and I not even started a pair this year. A while back I found a jumper in a suitcase in the attic that I had knitted about 20 years ago which I had forgotten about. I’m amazed I ever had the patience to knit it. I can’t really remember knitting this but I do remember knitting a long cardigan with a simpler cable pattern.

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Cable Patterned Jumper

I wanted to challenge myself again and earlier this year I bookmarked this site selling vintage Aran patterns and I would keep going back to it. I didn’t get a pattern from this site in the end but I was in John Lewis and picked up this book of patterns, £7.95 for a good selection of Aran styles. 30 patterns in total for men and women. JL did have a single pattern for an aran cable roll neck jumper by Erika Knight but at £2.95 for the one pattern didn’t seem good value when you looked at the prices of the pattern books.


Once I had the pattern it was time to get the yarn. I spent ages on this. I was needing approx. 800gm of yarn.  I didn’t want to spend a fortune but neither did I want to buy too cheap. In my price range the Aran yarns I was looking at would have around 20 – 25% wool with the rest being acrylic. You can by large 400gm balls or Aran for about £11 with 20% wool but in the end after a lot of procrastinating about quality and colour I opted for a recycled yarn from Bergere De France which was £1.95 for 50gms. What swung it was that it was the same company as the pattern book and the fact 50% is recycled ‘other fibres’ with it also having 20% wool and 30% acrylic. Straight after I bought this on-line from Love Knitting I clicked on to a story on the Guardian all about how damaging acrylic fibres are to the environment……

In my planning I had also found a book in my local library all about Aran knitting. It spoke about the history and as gave details of a wide number of cable pattern as well as patterns for jumpers and cardigans.

Both the book and the pattern magazine pointed out home important it was to do a  tension square and the book also advised practicing the cable patterns separately. So I did both, I cheated on the tension square and just did an oblong . I needed to size down my needles by half a size.

The jumper I’m knitting is a bit made up. I’m taking the pattern from one but altering it to have normal sleeves rather than raglan and then instead of just a round neck, adding on a roll neck.

For the design of the cable I’m following this men’s jumper below. It has a honeycomb panel in the middle with a plait either side. It does  have another design at the side but I’m leaving this out and just having moss stitch. For the size the men’s small chest measurements will work for me and I’ll follow the length for the body  from women’s jumper further on in the book.


So far, so good. I’m half way up the front body. I’ve also ordered some more yarn as I’m not sure I’ll have enough. I had ordered 17 balls, 16 = 800gm and then decided on 1 extra but looking at what I have already knitted I’m thinking it’ll take 5 for each of the front and back, one for the roll neck which would only leave 3 for each sleeve. I’ve ordered another 2 and was able to check with Love Knitting that I would receive the same dye lot number.

The men’s jumper in size small requires 16 balls but I now realised that not all 50gm balls are equal. There is a handy chart in my pattern book which tells you which quality of yarn takes what size needles and how many metres are in the ball. My chosen yarn has 85mts where as other 50gm balls could have up to 120mts.

I can get a bit obsessed about how long something is going to take me to make. I do this with sewing and note out what parts will get sewn each evening and when I am likely to finish.  It’s taken me about 10 evenings of knitting for 90 mins to get half way up the front, if I go on  like this I think it’ll take about 2 1/2 months but then it’s already taking up all my free time….( I should be knitting not typing….). I even timed myself knitting a cable row, 12 minutes! 120 stitches. A normal row is taking about 5 minutes. A pattern repeat is 8 rows and I can just about do one repeat an evening.

Back to the pattern repeat, both the plait and the honeycomb are 8 rows with the cabling on row 3 and row 7. Luckily spending a lot of time planning this in my head I realised that having the two patterns working like this would make it much easier. I just need to have one row counter, otherwise I’d be sure to get muddled up.

Sewing seems to have gone out of the window. I do  have a few things ready to start. One being a new striped Renfrew for my daughter. The one I made earlier this year was from scraps and just a bit too short in the body and arms so I’ve bought the same fabric and will now make one that fits. I’ve already sized up the pattern I made but before I can start I need to sort out the tension on the overlocker which is putting me off.

I need to ease off on the manic knitting, I’m not sure it’ll be completed by Christmas but maybe in January. Note to self, if you want to knit a complicated jumper for winter start in July not October.




11 thoughts on “Starting An Aran Cable Knit Jumper

  1. I am so excited by this project, and really in awe. I love the way you have cables and colour going on. And the raspberry shade you have chosen. It will be loads of work but what a wonderful and unique garment you are making. And the old beige one at the top is amazing too. I can’t believe you would not remember making it.

    I bought a ball of acrylic at the weekend (£2.50 for 100gr) to teach my grandson to knit, and it is truly horrible in the hands. I think it might be fine mixed in, especially for longevity and resilience, but this cheap stuff feels like nylon rope.

    • Thanks! Yes lots of work but I am enjoying it, I think I reach the armhole level this evening.
      Good luck with teaching your grandson to knit. I did try with my daughter last year when she was 7 but didn’t really get that far and I’ve been meaning to start again. We had a French knitting dolly and she got on with that really well. We now have to find something to do with the really long strand she produced.

      • I got a knitting dolly too and he can do the stitches on that but it is slow work. With the traditional knitting we are knitting together. I think he is a little too young to do it, but if he asks to do a little it is a nice cuddly thing to work on together.

  2. I’m totally in awe of anyone who can knit complicated Aran patterns! All I can manage is a scarf – although I can do a bit better with crochet, just one ‘needle’ and stitch to fret about, and so easy to pull back and re-do a bit if I’m not happy with it! I recently acquired a puppy, so have been crocheting more than sewing, as it’s a bit easier to pick up and put down as necessary.
    Looking forward to seeing the lovely finished jumper in due course.

    • I can’t crochet, I’ve never tried.
      It’ll be a while before I can show you the finished article!
      When you break down an Aran pattern they are really quite easy. It’s just keeping up with where you are in the pattern and remembering which direction to cable.

  3. You are so thorough and well organised. I enjoyed reading your blog and feel like I must do some knitting soon as a result.
    Good luck. I look forward to seeing the finished item.

  4. I’m really looking forward to seeing this come together. I’m knitting a stockinette jumper right now and I’m starting to get bored with it – even though I deliberately picked a pattern that would require no thinking! I love Bergere patterns -that chunky aran tank on the cover is lovely – I’m going to take a closer look at that book online 🙂

    • It’s a really good pattern book if you are into Aran styles. I’ll never need to buy another one! I’ve just started the neck shaping on the front this afternoon so hopefully not too many evenings left on the front but the thought of starting again with knitting the back……I just need to keep in mind the finished object. I may have a break a and sew a few garments I have planned and then crack on with it.

      • It can be hard to keep the enthusiasm going ..! I haven’t knitted a flat jumper in a while, but if I do, I’d like to try knitting both sleeves at once – on the same needles, using separate balls of wool – it seems like it would be easier to keep on track !

      • What a great tip! I’m going to try this, I may get some longer needles to cope with the width.
        I’ve finished the front and have just completed the rib and stitch increase row on the back, I feel all fired up again. Thanks.

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