A (modified) Cardigan for Arwen

I always enjoy looking through knitting magazines. The first trip through, I take a quick look at the patterns to see if there’s anything I like. It’s not unusual for me to find one or two that I find interesting, but sometimes there’s nothing at all that appeals to me. Then I go back through and browse the articles, and on the third pass, slow down and start reading. But one day…

I was delighted to get my Winter 2006 issue of Interweave knits. I started my quick-flip to check out the patterns, and stopped dead. I think I actually forgot to breathe for a minute. Then coveting (or its first cousin*) swept over me. I HAD to knit this sweater! It was Kate Gilbert’s “A Cardigan for Arwen”. The elegant, timeless simplicity of the design left me speechless. Okay, I’ll be honest, I’ve been a Tolkien fan since the late 70’s so the name didn’t hurt any, but that was just an added bonus. I devoured the picture, then turned quickly to the instructions. And then I realized that the Celtic cable pattern was – wonder of wonders – reversible! This fascination was the whipped cream on top.

*I don’t think this qualified as actual covetousness. I didn’t have an overwhelming desire to possess the one in the magazine, or to take one from someone else. I wanted MY OWN. And I was willing to wait for a while to make sure it was going to be perfect.

I remember bouncing into a knitting coworker’s office and waving the magazine around in front of her. “Look at THIS! I’m going to make one!” Julie did look at me a little funny. It’s entirely possible that she had to take the magazine away from me to be able to get a good look at the sweater. She nodded, admired, and talked to me very soothingly for a little while until I could calm down. Well, I had been keeping a cork in it for several days until I could share it with someone who would understand my excitement, so could you blame me?


It did take a while for me to decide on the perfect yarn (KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Sapphire Heather) and agonize over the changes I wanted to make. I know myself well enough to know that the long rows knitting the length of the sleeve and across the body would drive me buggy; I like in-the-round construction. So it would be a raglan sweater. I wanted it a bit longer, which begged for a little shaping, and the hood was definitely going to need to be different. I have long hair, and that hair has to go somewhere when you put a hood up. I decided to make it a full, rounded hood with room for my hair to lie quietly coiled in, without snaking down my back.

Arwen hood

I also thought it would be nice to fasten it closed, but the closure could not be allowed to intrude on the gorgeous cables. So I started looking around, and found the perfect solution – a bronze penannular brooch with a Celtic interlace design (4th from the bottom on this page. I love this site). I’ve always wanted one, and was delighted to find just the right one that was actually affordable! Happy birthday to me.  As a matter of fact, you may have noticed that it is featured on my blog’s banner, along with part of this sweater!  The color ended up a little ‘off’ in the banner.  These pictures are a better representation of the rich blue.

But the important thing was that with all my customizing, it needed to keep the look I fell in love with. If you’d like more information on my modifications, have a look at this pdf document. I think I succeeded. I have pleased myself, at any rate. Every time I slip into this sweater, I feel warm and very, very special.

NOTE: I will add a photo of me wearing the sweater as soon as possible. That means several things have to come together at once: me and the sweater (that one’s not too hard), the camera, the photographer, daylight, no blizzard conditions or 40 mile-an-hour winds. I really want the pictures taken outside, and figure I will probably only get one photo shoot. I’m hoping for tomorrow…

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5 Responses to A (modified) Cardigan for Arwen

  1. Joyce says:

    Ooooohhh!! I want one!!!

    Wow! I’m really impressed. We need to get together for a cup of coffee and you need to wear it so I can see it in person!!

    It was good to see you and your DH yesterday!!

  2. Ginny Graydon says:

    BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL sweater. I had purchased the pattern and was GOOGLING for som hints/help and came across your blog. I SO love raglan rather than set in sleeves. I’ve printed your PDF and hope to use your modifications, THANKS!

  3. Aimee says:

    Has anyone modified this hoodie to be a cardigan?
    I would like to see how you managed it.

    • prairiespinner says:

      Do you mean without a hood? If you’re on Ravelry, look up the pattern, then put the word “collar” in the search box. There are a number of really nice hoodless variations there!

  4. maxxxmagician says:


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