Alpaca Twill

I first saw Classic Elite Princess about a year ago at Wild & Woolly, and made a decision to buy a sweater’s worth as soon as I spotted some on a sale.

There are the obvious reasons: rich, mouth-watering colors, and incredible softness. But consider this: there are 150 yards in each 50 gram skein, and the yarn knits to 4.5-5 spi. That’s unbelievable yardage! I could knit a sweater with as few as 8 skeins – a warm sweater weighing only 400 grams! It’s hard to beat that.

A long while passed between first seeing the yarn, and then buying the yarn, and finally settling on a sweater pattern.


Somehow this gem never made it big. It’s Alpaca Twill, designed by Norah Gaughan (of the Knitting Nature fame), and appearing in the Fall 2006 issue of Knitter’s Magazine.

Let me tell you, the construction of this sweater coat is so clever. The front pieces overlap just in the middle – function without all the bulk. How did Ms. Gaughan do that? Elaborate shaping! The stunning oversized lapels are knit as a continuation of the sweater fronts! They are then folded and seamed at the back of the neck. Is there anything more clever? No, there is not. The texture is wonderful, of course*.

I don’t intend to mess with the construction. I like the way the two front panels overlap, then come apart at the hip. The big lapels hit the spot, too.

I am, however, choosing to knit this design in a yarn with a different gauge: 3 spi recommended, 4.5 spi achieved. I’m also not following the recommended finished dimensions. For example, a 16.75″ sleeve circumference at the bicep is recommended for my chest size, which isn’t going to happen. Last, I don’t want a long coat, nor do I have enough yarn to knit one. Depending on how much the sleeves eat up, something which hits mid-hip would be perfect.

Much like my Brilliant Retro, I’m following a design rather than a pattern.

*If the idea of knitting an entire sweater in 2×2 rib makes you scream, the Alpaca Twill stitch pattern may not be for you. It’s just a stacked 2×2 rib: k2, p2, ad nauseum.


38 thoughts on “Alpaca Twill

  1. Michelle

    Finally, a good pattern in Knitter’s – by Norah of course! I really like it. I also like Princess, I am using it as trim in another sweater.

  2. Alison

    I like the idea for modifying the length of the coat. Frankly, there are only 2 or 3 people who would look good in a coat that length, and they’re all supermodels, not real people who possess those silly things called HIPS.

    Otherwise, fantastic pattern. Go forth and knit, young Jedi!

  3. Jennifer

    That is a gorgeous knit but I agree with Alison in that not many people could pull it off. I can’t wait to see what you can do with it!

  4. Elena

    That is a great design. I really like the idea of knitted coats. Wanted to make one for a long time, perhaps this could be the one. Looking forward to seeing how yours turn out.

  5. Marlena

    Beautiful design! I stopped buying Knitter’s because I so rarely found anything I wanted to knit (though I did make the Round Trip sweater from one of their issues). Maybe I should start taking peeks at the book store again.

    I adore Princess. Like you, I’m just waiting for a good sale!

  6. Ashley

    I’ll give you two reasons why it never hit it big: 1) I think very few people buy Knitter’s; I’ve looked at 4-5 issues in the store and seen MAYBE one sweater that I’ve wanted to knit. So this sweatercoat probably hasn’t goten the exposure that a pattern in, say, IK would. 2) It would never occur to me to knit a sweatercoat, but it also would never occur to me to shorten it into a sweater. Few of us are as fearless as you when it comes to folloing a design, rather than a pattern!

    One question about proportions: I really like the giant lapels on the sweater coat, but do you think that they work there because they have the length of the sweater to balance them out? I’m wondering if they’d become overpowering if the sweater were shorter.

  7. pennie

    When I first saw the picture of the sweatercoat, I wasn’t exactly loving it. It seemed too much. The giant lapels, the length of the coat and then the model in the pic in such a long skirt. Just too much. It felt like to be able to pull the look off, you’d have to be pretty skinny and very tall. In other words, you yourself would also have to be almost too much! But when you said you’d shorten it too hip-length, that sounded like just what the sweater needed. I know you can make it work. Can wait to see how you do it :).

  8. Kathleen Fivel

    I’ve been toying with the idea of those overlapping fronts on a project myself and am happy to see NG blazing the trail (of course). This may even lead me to check out Knitter’s Magazine. I’m sure you’ll craft a beautiful variation.

  9. Cirilia

    What I love about Princesss is it’s incredible diverse fiber content!

    40% merino wool, 28% rayon, 10% cashmere, 7% angora and 15% nylon

    It makes an incredible, thin, soft fabric with very even stitch definition.

    I like to imagine that it’s like some sort of yarn equivilient of when comic book heros join forces to form a crime/evil fighting team!

  10. star

    Yes, but… you’re still allergic to it! I’m sorry, I just can’t get past that bit — you are one seriously hardcore knitter. Acres of 2 x 2 ribbing be damned, it’s that angora that’s really the killer. (hmm… Colonel Angora, in the billiard room, with the lead pipe?) Best of luck, you crazy girl!

  11. Max

    I was going to jump in and yell, “Shorter girl, shorter!” but prudence got the better of me and I finished reading your comments. DOH! I like the burgundy-ish color in the pic but that’s just me.

  12. Deborah C.

    Gorgeous pattern, yes! I like the idea of shortening it, as I know very few people who would look good in something that hits in mid-hip. I think this one will go on the “to make” list, but I would use a beautiful pin instead of the self-tie.

  13. Judy

    I see danger in that tie-thingy under the boob for people with non-model proportions – any plans to alter that? I can’t wait to see what you do!

  14. TracyKM

    How do you feel about the fabric you created with your yarn? Do you think it’s going to have enough body to support the sleeve cap; will it feel like a sweater or a coat? Which do you want–that’ll affect how wide the sleeve is (it’s so wide in the pattern because it’s written as a coat). I’m sure you’ve thought of all this 😉 but I know that when I was a new-ish knitter, none of that would have crossed my mind, LOL. Can’t wait to see how it turns out! I’m searching for new ideas for myself…

  15. Meadow

    I like the idea of the sweater coat being shorter. I think the one is the pic looks so heavy and over powering. But I do like the design overall. I look forward to your version of it.

  16. martha

    Knitter’s Magazine? This is encouraging. Great design modifications on your part. If I were to ever take this one on, I’d also make the lapels slightly smaller. They seem to overwhelm the total design. I’m looking forward to watching your progress. Have fun with the math!

  17. Sonya

    Norah Gaughan really does rock the house. There is hardly a design of hers I see in magazines that I do not love. Her book? What can I say – how beautiful is that book?

  18. Eva

    I love this pattern, but it would never work on me as I don’t really have that long, willowy physique. I can’t wait to see your mods!

  19. Lizbon

    Gorgeous shape, I think it will look great in a hip-length, and in a smaller yarn, but oy – that much 2×2 would indeed make me scream. I am shrieking ever so slightly at the very thought. You are a far more patient (and precise) knitter than I.

  20. Loren

    Gorgeous pattern and yarn. Can’t wait to see how this coat evolves. Where did you find that beautiful yarn in that color of green?

  21. Daisy

    That really is a lovely design and the changes you mention will certainly not detract from the merits of the original! Looking forward to seeing the progress!

  22. Angela

    If it were me (which of course it’s not) I might look into whether I could make this coat so that the stitch patterns on fronts and sleeves are mirror images of each other, rather than going in sort-of-the-same direction on all the pieces. If it could be done, it would likely require reversing the stitch pattern on one side.

  23. Ginny

    I really like your pattern choice. All that ribbing might put off some people, but the diagonal lines they create seem to make for a very flattering look. I can’t wait to see your version of it!

  24. domesticshorthair

    That is a gorgeous coat! I like it so much, I’d consider making it if it weren’t for the fact that I don’t have time for a project of that size. I’m interested to see your version of it.

  25. Ryn

    Oh, my gosh! This is such a beautiful pattern, and the yarn you’ve chosen for it seems perfect! I love that colour, and I think it will look fabulous on you, based on picture of you I’ve seen on here. Personally, I love the length, but I have a thing about long coats (I’m 5′ 6″, so I can almost pull them off). Can’t wait to see what you do to it, and how fabulous it will inevitably come out!

    Must find a copy of this pattern. Must knit one for myself. Maybe in dark purple…

  26. x-tina

    I bought Knitter’s after seeing this post last spring. I think the coat is great but I would definitely need to make major modifications:

    -Length; a long coat and being 5 feet tall aren’t a good combo

    -Gauge; I think 3spi would be too heavy for me. I really don’t need the extra “bulk”

    -Sleeves; I’ve read all over the place that Norah prefers tight sleeves and even though I LOVE her designs my arms aren’t exactly toothpicks.

    Would you mind sharing the modifications you made gauge-wise? I’ve made my own modifications to patterns before but never such a large change in gauge.


  27. Sarah

    Freaky coincidence–Team Knit ( just posted about the SAME YARN in the SAME COLOR which was to be used for the SAME SWEATER.

    Too many collisions…brain will explode.

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