A flattering, fancy-ribbed, a-line, cotton sweater


by Beverly Nash

Obsessed With Knitting 

I have noticed that ribbed sweaters are flattering and comfortable to wear. Bandersnatch may be the ultimate in flattery and comfort. It flares sweetly at the bottom edge for the modesty of the belly, yet the stretchy ribs form themselves to body contours without any tightness. The beaded rib pattern adds a touch of fanciness to a simple design, and the cotton blend yarn is extra comfortable. No special edgings are needed because the ribs form their own non-curling and non-binding edges.  It looks good on everyone who wears it.


Bandersnatch is my attempt at a wearable design with fit and construction conventions mimicking ready-to-wear. I have become more aware lately of fit in hand knitted designs and more interested in solving fitting problems that I have encountered. Sometimes, for example, hand knitting patterns give too much leeway and gape at the neckline or fall off the shoulders even though the chest width is correct. I am learning to compare my own fit requirements more closely to those of the knitting pattern.


This sweater presents few chances for a poor fit because of the flexibility of its ribbed fabric. Although it is sized to fit a  range of sizes, precise matching of body measurements is not needed. You will note that the finished sweater measurement is taken with the fabric unstretched and is smaller than the corresponding body measurement. This is not negative ease, but a function of the sweater’s stretchiness. Just pick your usual size. Trust me, it will fit.  


A note on the sweater’s name: I often name my knitting projects for the audio book I listened to as it knit it. When I made this sweater I was listening, not to Alice in Wonderland, but to The Frumious Bandersnatch by Ed McBain, a police detective crime novel.


SIZE S [M, L, 1X, 2X] (shown in size 1X)



Chest: 31 [35, 39, 43, 47] inches (with ribs relaxed)

Length: 25 [26, 26.5, 26.5, 27.5] inches (from top of collar)

Note on length: The material specified will shrink approximately 9% in length after machine washing and drying. The measurements given are before shrinking.




Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere [85% cotton, 15% cashmere; 103yd/95m per 50g skein]; Color: Off White; 11 [13, 16, 18, 21] skeins

Note on materials: 100% cotton yarn will likely be too heavy for this design. Any cotton/wool or cotton/synthetic blend should work well. Also note, this yarn is DK weight, lighter than worsted.


1 set US #5/3.75mm straight (or 24 inch circular needle)

1 16 inch US #4/3.5mm circular needle or 1set US #4/3.5mm dpns.

St markers (optional)

4 st holders


Note: these are the needle sizes I used. Check your gauge (below). You may need to use a smaller or larger needle to get gauge.



20 sts/ 28 rows = 4 inches in St st




Beaded Rib Stitch

(multiple of 5 plus 2)

Row 1: *p2, (k1, p1, k1) rep from * end p2

Row 2: *k2, p3, rep from * end k2


Plain Rib Stitch

(multiple of 4)

*k2, p2, rep from *


Short Rows (optional for back neck)


Note: Pattern st count does not include selvedge. Add 1 selvedge st on each edge if desired. This extra st can be sl or k at the beginning of each row and k at the end of each row.




Using US #5/3.75mm needles CO 121 [137, 152, 167, 186] sts. Work 12 [20, 20, 20, 22] sts at each side in plain rib; work middle 87 [97, 112, 127, 142] sts in beaded rib. Use markers to separate the side and middle sts if desired.


On 1st row dec 1 st at each edge (inside selvedge stitches) using SSK for first dec and k2tog for opposite edge. All decs should fall into plain rib section. Continue with decs as established, making all decs on a right side row. Dec 1st each edge next and every following 7th [7th, 7th, 5th, 5th] row 11 [11, 13, 14, 17] times.


97 [113, 124, 137, 150] sts remain.

Work even until 13 [13.5, 13.5, 13.5, 14] inches from cast on edge.


Raglan shaping

BO 5 [8, 6, 5, 4] sts at beg of next 2 rows. All rem sts should be beaded rib.


Forming decs as before, dec 1 [1, 1, 2, 2] sts at each edge every 3rd [alt, alt, alt, alt] row 20 [25, 32, 2, 10] times, then 0 [0, 0, 1, 1] st every alt row 0 [0, 0, 37, 26] times.  47 [47, 48, 49, 50] st rem. Work even if needed until 9 [9.5, 10, 10, 10.5] inches from BO row. Place rem st on holder.


Note: The front and back of this pattern are the same length. You might want to add several short rows to the upper back area to accommodate the back of the neck. (see URL above for short row instructions.) The larger sizes especially, from size L up, might need this modification. Typically, you will want to add between ½ and 2 inches, or 4 to 14 short rows. Keep the short rows in the beaded rib pattern.



Work the same as back, omitting any reference to short rows. Because of the sideways stretch of the ribs, short rowing for a large bust should not be needed.


Sleeves  (make 2)

CO 32 [44, 44, 48, 50] sts. Work in plain rib.

Increase 1 st each side every 5th [5th, 5th, 5th, 5th] row 18 [19, 19, 19, 20] times. 68 [82, 82, 86, 90] sts remain. Work even until 17 [17, 17.5, 17.5, 18] in from CO row.


Raglan shaping

BO 5 [8, 6, 5, 4] sts at beg of next 2 rows.


Dec 1 [1, 1, 1, 1]st each side every 3rd [alt, alt, alt, alt] row 15 [27, 29, 32, 35] times. For size S only, continue with 2 decs each side every alt row 4 more times.

Work even if needed until 9[9.5, 10, 10, 10.5] inches from BO row.

All sizes: 12 sts remain. Place remaining stitches on holder.



Sew each sleeve to back and front pieces. Sew underarm seams. Work in loose ends.



Place the 4 sets of reserved stitches onto US #4/3.5mm 16 inch circular or dpns. Working in plain rib stitch, join on first row. Fudge factor: Increase or decrease sts to make a multiple of 4 for rib pattern. Work in pattern for 2.5 inches for size XS, and for 3 inches for all other sizes. BO loosely in rib. Work in loose ends.


Measurements of Pieces

Length of front and back from lower CO edge to first raglan BO: 13 [13.5, 13.5, 13.5, 14] inches

Width of front and back at lower edge: 17.5 [21.5, 24, 26.5, 29] inches

Width of front and back at underarm: 15.5 [17.5, 21.5, 23.5] inches

Length of front and back from first raglan BO to neck edge: 9 [9.5, 10, 10, 10.5] inches

Width of neck edge: all sizes 7.5 inches


Length of sleeve from CO edge to first raglan BO: 17 [17, 17.5, 17.5, 18] inches

Width of lower (cuff) edge: 5 [7, 7, 8, 8] inches

Width of sleeve at underarm: 11 [13.5, 13.5, 14, 14.5] inches

Length of sleeve from first raglan BO to top (neck) edge: 9 [9.5, 10, 10, 10.5]

Width of top (neck) edge: all sizes 2 inches