Hedge Fence Pullover

Center cable, Hedge Fence Pullover

For as long as I can remember, I have been searching for the perfect cabled pullover. Sometimes, I wonder if this is the real reason I learned to knit. I have very strong opinions about aran-style sweaters. As far as I am concerned, they must

1.) feature symmetrically placed cables;

2.) be heavily cabled, but not be so overwrought so as to include bobbles or a waffle stitch cable;

3.) include some kind of set-in sleeve (no matter how traditional the drop shoulder, I find it sloppy and droopy looking)

4.) not include a mock turtleneck;

5.) not be knit with 10″ of ease;

6.) not make me look 30 lbs heavier.

Is that so much to ask of a sweater? Off the top of my head, Lucy Sweetland’s Lillian and a bobble-less version of Kim Hargreaves’ Demi are the only ones I can think of that come close  – both are in my queue to knit! I have yet to make a sweater that satisfies all of these criteria, but I think this new pattern comes close to meeting my standards.

Front view, Hedge Fence Pullover

Aaron owns and wears more sweaters than anyone I know (knitters included). Unfortunately, it is difficult to find a store-bought sweater to properly fit a very tall, thin man with monkey arms. If something fits in the chest, the arms and body are 4″ too short. If the arms and body are long enough, the body is impossibly wide. Consequently, most of his sweaters are ill-fitting and gigantic. He has been asking for a cabled pullover for years and indeed, I have always wanted to make him something that actually fits. However, I could not find the right pattern. More importantly, I doubted whether he would actually wear what I made him. After all, he has been wearing too-big clothes all his life. Once, when I convinced him to try on a 40″ shirt, he reacted like a cat with tape on its paws. “It’s so tight, I don’t think I could concentrate,” he protested, as he squirmed around in 7″ of positive ease. Sometimes, I wonder if he thinks my clothes fit like spandex. I refused to knit him a sweater as ill-fitting as anything he could buy. But after years of listening to him talk about wanting a handmade cable sweater, last summer, I decided it was time to give it a go. I took some cable patterns from stitch dictionaries and put them together until I found a combination I liked.

Side view, Hedge Fence Pullover

I measured his favorite sweater and found it to have a 46″ chest, 13″ larger than his 33″ chest measurement. We split the difference, and I planned a 39″ size. With still 6″ of ease, I had to aggressively decrease at the armholes to achieve a fitted shoulder width. We are both delighted with the result. I know this pullover will enter Aaron’s winter sweater rotation. And if it doesn’t, there’s always divorce.

Hedge Fence Pullover

Pattern: Hedge Fence Pullover

Yarn: Ram Wools Selkirk (which is really Briggs & Little Regal, don’t ask me why there are two different names for the same yarn) in Brown Heather, 7 skeins

Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)

I am happy to offer the unisex pattern in 12 sizes: 31 (33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 46, 49, 51, 53, 55)”. The garment takes its name from Hedge Fence Shoal, a shallow sandbar on the far west side of Nantucket Sound, just northeast of Martha’s Vineyard. I have been contemplating a series of fisherman-style sweaters and I decided to go with a naming scheme based on the waters I sailed so much as a child.

The pattern is available as a Ravelry download for $8.50.

The body and sleeves of the garment are knit in the round to the armholes, after which point the knitting is done back and forth. The only seaming required is the sewing in of the sleeve cap. The shoulders are joined by a three-needle bind-off, the underarm stitches are grafted together, and stitches are picked up around the neck for the neckline ribbing. The pattern comes with text instructions, a set of body charts for each size, and a set of sleeve charts for each size. None of the cable instructions are written out – they are all charted. In addition, I have included several pages of notes on how to modify the pattern to achieve the best fit for your body while maintaining the integrity of the center cable panel. Fortunately, the side cables are small enough to allow for quite a lot of flexibility in terms of sizing. The only real challenge in modifying the pattern is to ensure the center cable still flows cleanly into the ribbing at the bottom edge and neckline.

Hedge Fence Pullover

More information about the pattern and a detailed schematic can be found on the Hedge Fence Pullover page or on the Ravelry pattern page.

More photos of the finished garment here.

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29 comments so far

  1. frillbow on

    This is a beautifully worked design. Knitted with real finesse. Had to laugh about the ‘ease anxiety’ – my husband is convinced that anything less than a 18″ collar round his much smaller neck is choking him! :D

  2. Lori on

    WOW. That is stunning. I agree, it’s the perfect cabled sweater. I love the way the cables flow into the neck ribbing, that’s gorgeous.

  3. nancy on

    Elinor, you really never cease to impress. It’s just beautiful. I’m going to queue it up for Ollie now!

  4. livnletlrn on

    Absolutely perfect. My dh has become an excellent recipient of handknits and I think this could be the one, the next time he’s due for a sweater.

  5. Jocelyn on

    I saw this on Ravelry first, and I thought “how did I miss your announcement on your blog?!” Now I know :-). It’s just gorgeous. I really hope I get to knit it soon.

  6. Yarndude on

    Wow, what a beautifully designed pattern! Congrats.

  7. Christie on

    That is a lovely sweater! WOW!

  8. mai on

    elinor, that is a gorgeous sweater! i can’t believe aaron likes sweaters with so much positive ease! 13″ of ease is crazy to me! he’s so funny :)

  9. Cara on

    I haven’t worked up the courage to knit for my husband yet. I’m convinced he wouldn’t wear it (even though he says he wants things knit by me), and then I’d have to divorce him.

  10. Kirsten on

    Breathtakingly beautiful Elinor!

  11. grumperina on

    That’s a really handsome sweater! I hope Aaron wears it proudly, because it fits him perfectly! the flow of the center cable into ribbing is really the best part.

  12. earthchick on

    Wow, wow, WOW, Elinor. This is SO fantastic!!!!! I am just in awe over it. I will definitely being buying this pattern and making one for the hubs.

  13. Sarah on

    That is truly a spectacular sweater. If only I had a man who wore cables!

  14. rebekah on

    Oh I love it! I’m going to show my husband and see if its one he likes as he is also extremely picky about how a sweater looks.

  15. Eliza on

    that is beautiful! If only my husband would wear cables!! My father would though, and he’s long and skinny like your husband. Gorgeous!

  16. Christy / Not Hip on

    I am beyond impressed

  17. GinkgoKnits on

    A perfect modernized Aran in my book (well, actually to be perfect it would have a v-neck but that’s so picky a detail that I’d hardly expect it for a unisex sweater pattern). I love cabled sweaters but it amazes me how hard it can be to find the right one that fits all the flattering design criteria.

  18. Lisa on

    This sweater takes Aran sweaters to a completely new level. And the fit is perfect. Very flattering. NICE. I am showing this one to my husband.

  19. whitney on

    So, so awesome! You are totally on a roll on the design front! I’m with you on preferring set-in sleeves, despite the tradition of the drop shoulder (hence the set-in sleeves on my gansey this year).

    I wonder if I could get my husband to wear cables?

  20. Danielle on

    Elinor, you continue to amaze me. I’ve loved watching this sweater grow. As soon as I can knock a few things out of my WIP pile, I plan to get cracking on this one!

  21. Daniela on

    This is a lovely pullover! I like the yarn, the cables and the overall design. Unfortunately, my husband refuses to wear any handknits.

  22. Elaine on

    Wow – that looks fantastic, and in such a great colour choice – I’d have to agree with you about the stitch selection (I can’t stand those bobbles). I’m surprised no one has made the Aaron in his Aran joke yet.

  23. Tora on


  24. tribecacsa on

    That is one gorgeous sweater! Congratulations on a beautiful design!!

  25. Lori in Michigan on

    Bravo! Simply bravo!

  26. Carla on

    Beautifully done; I’m so impressed!
    Your husband & sweater obviously belong on the cover of GQ.

  27. lucy on

    Elinor, i totally agree with you on all 6 points. I am thrilled that you achieved a perfect balance of cables and fit, let alone one happy husband! Truly a well thought out design, judging by the flow of the cable panel on all the critical points.

  28. tiennie on

    This is the most perfect sweater!

  29. Linda on

    Tiennie said it ” the most perfect sweater!”

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