Egyptian Sweater


I finished this sweater during the summer, and it was inspired by a vacation trip that Tony and I were planning to Egypt. I know, I know - Egypt is hot. In fact parts of Egypt are unbelievably hot (Aswan hit 120F while we were there, if you believe the tour guide, whose grasp of Farenheit was tenuous at best). And while Cairo and Alexandria probably get cool enough to wear a sweater, I have no idea what sort of garmet, traditional or otherwise, modern or ancient Egyptians might wear. So, there's nothing authentic here.... it was just inspired by some by ancient egyptian tomb art.... like this:


There's some interesting stuff going on in the sweater. Whether you like it or not, the bottom band of alternating colors "big bamboo" stitch was a bit of a challenge. Because it's part intarsia and part stranded, I knitted that part flat on a long circular needle, and then joined to begin knitting in the round.


The body of the sweater is knitted in "circular smocking stitch" (many of the stitch patterns are from the vogue knitting stitchionary), which has diagonal stranding on the front side of the knitting. There are two bands on the arm ... the lower one is in a "wovan rattan" pattern, and the upper one in diamond brocade. The guage is different for the wovan rattan, so I had to increment one third of the sts before it and decrement them after it.

Because I couldn't figure out how to knit the wovan rattan in the round, I knitted the sleeves flat from the cuff up, and then joined at the top (after the second blue band), and finished knitting in them in the round.


The faire-isle pattern of the yoke is of my own design, and meant to evoke the Egyptian tomb painting. The sleeve stitches are picked up with the body and knitted in the round for the yoke using the Bauhaus style. The neck is a hemmed neck (so doubled).

Because I was using 4 colors at some points, maybe you wouldn't technically call this faire-isle. The yoke is knit stranded, and I could get away with that many colors because it's DK weight yarn (Webs Valley Yarn Northfield, 70% merino, 20% baby alpaca, 10% silk).


Although it's difficult to see in these photos, the "belt" at the bottom also has a lace pattern (lily of the valley) in the center front. The "belt" is actually supposed to represent the wrap the egyptians would have used around their waist, and the "buckle" where it would have been tied.

I like the sweater, but in retrospect I think the lower part, although unusual and interesting, is a little much - it stands out a lot (too much i think), and the belt & buckle look wasn't what I was really going for. If I had it to do over again, I would find a way to tone that down or simplify it a lot.

About the construction, I only have two issues. The first is the ribbing at the cuffs isn't long enough or elastic enough. If I did it over again, I think I might have done a hemmed cuff with this yarn.

At the yoke, because I was twisting the yarn with almost every color change and when there was a streak of too many sts without a color change (like you would do with intarsia, even though I was knitting stranded, because there were so many colors), that caused some tension issues with the yellow transition to the tear-dropped shaped blue elements across the chest. Some of the yellow sts are a little bunched up.

And yes. Of course. Now I can walk like and Egyptian. Ok, ... you have to be of a certain age to get that :P.


steve kadel's picture

magnificent work

we won't just get a cat, nubby nu nu, will manifest a kitten from our love and lint from our hemp socks

we put birds on things

2manyhobbies's picture

Thank you!

purlyman's picture

I love this sweater - the colors are amazing. I love the main color and the others are beautiful with it. It looks a lot like an Egyptian twist on an Icelandic sweater. You've done an amazing job on this project. So in DK weight - how many stitches are there around the body? Must be hundreds!!! Thanks for sharing and describing everything. Congratulations!!


2manyhobbies's picture

Thanks! That's really how I choose the yarn was to match the colors I wanted... although the other colors are the Northfield yarn, I remember now that the yellow is a discontinued merino/silk from Rowan.

I don't have my notes with me, but I think there were 216 sts around on the body for a size 40, with my gauge at about 5.3 sts per inch. I knit really loosely, so I was on size US 4 needles to get that gauge.

And you're right, it's really constructed just like an Icelandic sweater (with the staged decrement rows on the yoke).

Bill's picture

Beautifully done!
...and it looks wonderful on you!

Kerry's picture

What a stunner!

Craig's picture

Another amazing sweater, great work and great colour choices. Love the band detail.

Have been knitting for years. I knit continually then will try another craft, but will return to the needles.

WillyG's picture

Thanks for posting this, Jon! I love how the yoke turned out. I bet it's totally what the Egyptians wear when the temperatures drop below 20 degrees Farenheit. I just have one question... what's the walking reference? ;-)

2manyhobbies's picture

The lowest temperature recorded in Cairo was 36F, so if I can convince one Egyptian to wear my sweater while walking into a freezer case, I think I'll have a good case!

Check out the 80's hair ... really, it was cool then.

mr.cullen's picture

This is a beautiful and wonderful sweater. I love the lively mix of colors and patterns in the yoke. You should be very proud of your work! Keep on knitting and designing!

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Very interesting work as there are a lot of elements that could be used in other projects. I like the way the colors all worked together as well. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

You've an excellent eye for color, and you are obviously a great knitter. I love color knitting but cheat and use variegated yarn. Great sweater!!!

Dwayne's picture

what a very nice sweater really love the colors i am new to knitting and just trying to learn now. how long did this take you are there any good how to knit books or DVD to learn knitting Dwayne


RickeScott's picture

Beautiful design and colors!