Kandinsky coat – part 1

This will be the story of me creating my first commissioned garment. I was asked to design and knit an autumn coat: straight knee-length with a button band and a turtleneck collar and a fair island pattern. In the next post I will go back and tell the story of picking the pattern. Here I will explain the first stages of working on this coat, and I will follow with more posts as a progress, hopefully, towards a successful garment.


As this is my first made to order garment, I have decided to go for a top down raglan, so that we can try the fit as we go and I do not have to wait until I finish and seam all thee parts to know if it fits.

In Russia it is common to add several short rows at the beginning for a better fit, so I am going to do that.

I also have decided to add thee button bands and collar at the end, so that we can twitch the style easily.

Calculating the reglan stitches and increases.

I will now explain how I calculated the stitches and first few rows. We need to know how many stitches to cast on, where the increases will be and how to work short rows.

I am going for 40cm neck line, which is 134 stitches with my swatched gauge. I decided to make the raglan lines 2 stitches, so 134 less 2×4=8 stitches for increase lines is 126. We divide this number by 3 to estimate stitches for front, back and sleeves, which gives us 42 stitches. Each sleeve would then be 42/2=21st. For better fit, sleeves should be 1,5-2cm narrower than this calculation, so with my gauge less 6 stitches each. We have now arrived at the final count for each sleeve – 15 stitches.

We add these 6 stitches to front and back respectively 42+6=48. I now need to account for short rows. I would like the back to be 6 cm longer than the front. That is 22 rows which means that we need 11 stitches less for back and 11 more for the front: the back is now 37 and front is 59. For button band I need 16 stitches less at the front. 59-16=43. As we cannot divide by 2, we will add 1 stitch to the front. Final count for back is 36 stitches, and for each of the front halves is 22.

The total number to cast on is 134-16 for button band = 118 stitches.

Knitting the short rows

To create the back that’s loger than the front, we need to knit back stitches and add one or more sleeve stitches each row. Trying to divide 11 short rows evenly between the 15 stitches for each sleeve. This means that on each side with will add one stitch each row except for 2 stitches in rows 7 and 8, 13 and 14, 19 and 20.

Therefore, we cast on 118 stitches. Starting with wrong side, we purl 22,pm1, p2, pm2, p15, pm3, p2, pm4, p36, pm5, p2, pm6 and 1 (first St of the sleeve for short rows). W&t..

Row 2. K1, pm7 (to separate increases from sleeve stitches for ease of short rows). M1, k2, m1, knit to marker 4, m1, k2, m1, pm8, k1, W&t.

Row 3. Purl to m7, p1, purl the next stitch with wrap, w&t.

Row 7. Purl to m7, p3, purl the next stitch with wrap, p1, w&t.(5 stitches of the sleeve worked)

Continue in this fashion until row 22. Then in row 23 proceed to purling all the stitches, placing last two markers between the sleeve and the front. Row 24 – knit all stitches, increasing as usual.

I can now start the colour work. I will be doing fair isle forth and back (not courageous enough to steek). I knit and purl the first and the last stitches using both strands of yarn. I have tried to center the pattern for each part of the coat, so my brain is now exploding trying to follow that, as well as all the increases, tension etc.

I am using my both hands to hold each colour, and am weaving in all the floats. I have used this video to teach myself how to do it.

Will let you know soon how I am getting on.

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