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Dear Kay,

Triumph! A finished new sweater!

Time for some tips ’n’ tricks—this is a knitting website, so buckle up! Here are things I noticed along the way, to help everybody thinking about making Cecelia Campochiaro’s Spectra Sweater.

First thing: I love this sweater. I wove in the final ends and immediately put it on over my PJs.

I have had it on for two days straight and I may never take it off.

The Isager Tvinni doubled makes a lovely DK-weight fabric, lofty and airy with the perfect bit of warmth. The yarn reminds me a bit of Shetland wool, one of my favorites.

Size up! I wanted my Spectra to be a very loose layer. I craved a tunic, a ponchoesque schmatta, a slanket with little narrow flipper sleeves. To that end, I made the fourth size, which is one size larger than my usual. And by accident (don’t ask) I added ten rows to each side, which added four extra inches of ease to the circumference. Whoops! Excellent! Total ease for me: 27 gigantic inches (68 cm).

And I made my sleeves at least 6 inches (15 cm) longer. Result: comfort garment.

Before you start, really and truly read the pattern. All the way through. Make a doodle, underline stuff, do whatever you can to understand the way this thing is knitted. I’ve never done a sweater like this before—you cast on in the middle of the front and back, then knit to the cuffs. I would have spent less time doublechecking my counts had I taken a bit more time on the front end.

Get your counting game set. This project is screaming for a clicky counter thingie, a pencil, a sticky note.

The rhythm of it all is clear by the time you finish the first quarter. I didn’t even write down counts for the second half.

Marl as you like. This pattern will accommodate your marling wishes—knock yourself out making it your own. I ditched the sleeve stripes. I mostly followed the pattern’s marl sequences for the center stripes on front and back. My colors: 46s, 8s, 12s, 22s, 4s.

However: I did a major alteration by making the big side panels and sleeves marled using two colors, 22s and 46s, rather than doubling a single color as specified. (That’s the CM microswatch.)

Shoulder/sleeve seams? Bigger needle. Three-needle bind-off here. To pick up and knit (the first part of doing three-needle bind-off), I used a size 3 (3.25mm) needle rather than the size 0 (2mm) called for in the pattern. I don’t own a size 0 circular and probably most of you don’t either. I bound off using the size 6 (4mm) as specified. The result is that the three-needle bind-off looks a bit more decorative—little holes on either side of the bind-off. Be sure to bind off loosely—you want the seam to lie flat and not draw up at all. I think my right sleeve is a bit snugger than my left. But I have learned to love this and by love I mean I would never, ever, wever undo all that seaming to adjust it.

Love this.

Side seams? Sew them so they’re visible. Due to the way this is knitted, the side seams on Spectra are actually bound-off edges, chunkier than a typical stockinette edge. My go-to mattress stitch would result in a chunky, puffy seam.

So I did a sort of made-up semi-reverse-mattress-stitch seam: put the wrong sides together, work on the right sides as you sew up the seam, pairing up the stitches as you go. The result?

A seam that I like a lot, dimensional and tidy.

Sleeve seams? Mattress stitch. Once you’ve done the side seams, you arrive at the underside of the sleeves, where all of a sudden, you’ve got a regular stockinette edging.

That’s the sleeve at the top, the body below.

Shift here to good old mattress stitch—it’s perfect for the underside of sleeve that you want to be smooth.

The neckline. Definitely take your time on this and get your stitch count correct and spread evenly around the neckhole.

It’s a clever bit of finishing, with a structural purpose of snugging up the neckline.

One sweater with three different seams. I feel like freakin’ Patty Lyons or something. I’m off to admire myself for the rest of the day wearing what is already my favorite sweater of 2022 and it’s not even 2022 yet.



RSVP here to join us for a Marlalong & Swarfalong Zoom Party on Friday, Saturday 14 at 5 p.m. Eastern with Cecelia Campochiaro.


  • Your sweater looks great! For my money, there’s no better combo than cozy pajamas and a nice sweater. That’s the one reason to embrace the switch back to Standard Time from Daylight Savings time – earlier jammie time!
    Happy Solstice!

    • First off thanks fir all the details! What colors did you actually marl?

  • Great tips and a beautiful sweater! Patty Lyons will be gobsmacked!

    • Oh my, I really like your sweater AND your tips. Also, just realizing I need to look at sweater patterns through my new pajama sweater lens… I was not aware…dawning on me on the shortest day of year (aka longest pj day).

  • Great tipsand a beautiful sweater! Patty Lyons willbe gobsmacked!!

  • Thanks for the blow by blow! Your sweater looks great. I really like that v-neck.

  • This looks great on you! The color, the vee neckline, the fit!

  • Ann, thanks for the great tips. This sweater is next on my queue, right after I finish the Color Explosion Throw. I especially love that main color marl of yours.

    • I love your sweater. Your color choices look great together and most importantly on you. Thanks for the tips. I’d like to make this sweater, and your tips will come in handy.

  • I love your color combos! Beautiful sweater!

    • Next time she knits something cleverly, Patty Lyons may say she feels like freakin’ Ann Shayne.

  • Your sweater is beautiful, looks really good on you. Yes a nice comfy Jammie sweater.

  • Gorgeous! Thanks for the tips!

  • I love this sweater and definitely see it in my future! I may print out these tips now and keep them with my Field Guide so I don’t forget find myself trying to reinvent the wheel!

    • That is a great idea!

  • Holy wow, what a cool sweater! The colors, marl combinations and seams are so good. Such beautiful photos!

  • Your sweater is A true work of talent!

  • I want to be delicate in saying this but “schmatta” means rag or tattered clothing and is perjorative in use. It is not said in a positive way, i.e. “oy vey, she’s wearing that schmatta again” or “go change those torn jeans, you’re not leaving the house in those schmattas”.

    If my comment on your sweater was “yes, you’re right, that certainly is a schmatta” you would have reason to be insulted.

  • I’m on the last sleeve and am loving this – already planning a second one. I lengthened sleeves and used mc only. I’m already planning on colors for a second one with a deeper v-neck.

  • Gorgeous! Great job and I’m definitely bookmarking this for “one day”.

  • Beautiful and I appreciate the tips

  • Beautiful sweater, but I am wondering…did you need more yarn than the pattern called for to make your modifications? I want to order the correct amounts, not all of us have immediate access to the MDK warehouse.

    • Hi Pamela! Excellent question. I need to double check my quantities for the gold and bluegreen (the largest mark sections), but I used 1 skein for the brown, dark gray, and lavender. I’m pretty sure it was 3 skeins each of the bluegreen and the gold.

      • Ann, did you double check your quantities. This is only 9 skeins and the original Spectra sweater calls for 12 skeins. It seems like with the extra width, we’d need more yarn. Thanks for all the great tips. I’m so ready to knit this as soon as I finish sweaters for my 2 Grand Kids (fortunately they are small;>).

  • Your colors are fantastic. I appreciate all the tips also – I have just finished the back (HOTH last night!). I agree completely to read instructions all the way through first, maybe a couple times, count rows, count where you are in the shaping, as neck and gusset shaping happens simultaneously. I had to write out rows for both sides of the back, and I’ll probably still need to on the front. I’ve never done this construction before, but I loved it and this has been the fastest half-sweater-finish for me ever – I am pretty stoked. And the marling is just fun and pretty and keeps the project moving. I can’t wait until I am wearing mine also!

    • Ooops… HOTN

  • Good tips. And very tempting!

  • Absolutely beautiful sweater. The oversizing is so great. It looks comfortable.

  • I love it! It’s gorgeous!

  • I love the super sized version of this and would do it as well for me. It looks super cozy which is perfect for this time of year. Brava!

  • Ann, this is really a beautiful sweater, with the very becoming color choices, flowing fit and talent display! Great job and thanks for sharing!! Congratulations on powering through this!

  • Everything smacks gorgeous on your Spectra, Ann. The size, the drape, and those luscious color combos. Wow, I didn’t think I needed another sweater, but am seriously rethinking my knitting plans…

  • It’s gorgeous!!!! I’m in the process of making this sweater – only my second one ever – and finding it a joy! Thanks for these tips on finishing; I know I am going to need them!!!

  • I’m gonna say something big: I didn’t think I liked marling. And I didn’t think I liked the colors you chose. But Ann, I was so, so wrong. Your sweater is lovely perfection! I really do like marling after all! And especially, this big, gorgeously marled sweater!

    • The colors are beautiful. You match your plants!

  • Ann! I love the whole marled sweater. You have some great tips and mods.

  • Thanks Ann, for your tips. This sweater has intrigued me since I first saw it, and it uses a yarn I’ve been wanting to try! It will just be a while to make it to my needles–each field guide release usually jostles my que

  • It’s gorgeous, Ann, and perfect colors for you! Good and inspiring work! As soon as i finish Christmas projects, I’m on it.

  • I LOVE your sweater! I LOVE your colors!

  • Bravo! Patty Lyons will be so tickled 🙂

    I ADORE marling, and this sweater has many cool elements (love those pop-out seams!), but boxy shapes are way not flattering for my body type.

    The hamster wheel in my brain is spinning with thoughts on how to use short rows to create some waist shaping in the side panels. Methinks a new challenge is afoot! (or a-sleeve, as the case may be)

  • This write-up of your lovely jumper abounds with the joy that knitting brings to many of us – reading it made me smile and laugh! Thankyou, enjoy your jumper and a happy Christmas to you and Kay and all the MDK families.

  • Brava Ann! Its wonderful and thanks for these tips.

  • Isn’t this a fun one?!?! Yours looks great!

  • I love your sweater, Ann! And holy wow, 27 inches of ease? It looks great. Thanks for the proof!

  • I love this! Your marls are beautiful, and I absolutely love the sizing and ease. Those extra rows are actually perfect. The seams! Everything about this is a big win IMHO. Kudos Ann!

  • Ann, your Spectra is beautiful! I hope that it gives you comfort, warmth, and joy throughout this holiday season and beyond.

  • It’s gorgeous!!

  • Love your choices, great job. I thought about doing this sweater but when reading through it seemed too complicated for me-my skills. Maybe I’ll take another look at it.

  • Brilliant
    Thank you

  • Well done! Beautiful color combinations. Thanks for the tips. You’ve changed my feelings about this sweater from “meh” to “might try it.” Thanks for the detailed process description.

  • I used size needles for picking up stitches and made a real mess of 3 needle bind off. I just reknit 75 rows of sleeve as the edge looked so stretched out. I love this sweater so much and want the seams to look as good as the rest of it. I am definitely making a second one but going up a size so it fits like yours.

  • I love your sweater Ann and it looks wonderful on you.Thank you for such an interesting letter about your process.
    As an Australian I really don’t know who Patty Lyons is! But I laughed anyway because everything written before cheered me so much it was so lovely to keep the laughter going! Thank you

  • So glad I found this article; it answers a question I posted earlier today.

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