Earlier this year I started my “Behind the Design” blog series where I write about the behind-the-scenes of some of my most popular patterns. My second installment in this series is my Ramona sweater! I thought Ramona would be a great one to feature right now because I have recently updated the original Ramona Cardigan to include more sizes and I also just published my brand new Ramona Pullover! So let’s dive right in, shall we?
CONCEPT & DESIGN
The Ramona cardigan was originally published in October of 2013. It’s knit with Quince & Co Osprey yarn which is an aran/bulky-weight.
My idea for Ramona was a bit more spontaneous than most of my designs. I was working one day at KnitWit Yarn Shop and had been putting some yarn away when I was totally inspired by some Quince & Co Osprey yarn, in particular, the gray heathers. As I was admiring it, I thought to myself “ok I really need a cozy little gray cardigan made out of this.” I had been wanting a cropped neutral cardigan that I could layer with, so why not just make it for myself? I bought a bunch of skeins in Kumlien’s Gull and sketched and swatched that night. Here’s my actual first simple sketch (it’s amazing what I can find when I do a deep dive into my hard drive!)
This was definitely not my typical design process – most ideas are sketched months in advance of actually getting started, and many ideas need time to ‘marinate’ in my brain a little bit. But Ramona was a good lesson in “strike when the iron is hot.” If I’m super inspired with an idea, don’t overthink – just go for it.
Ramona is all about simplicity. I wanted the hem detail to be the thing that really “popped” on the garment. When I was swatching with Osprey, I fell in love with how the broken rib stitch looked – it could give a simple garment some great visual interest but it would also provide for a very flat bottom border. That was important because in a cropped, bulky-weight garment, I didn’t want the hem to cinch in at all and broken rib is a great way to have a nice, straight edging.
I was inspired to swatch broken rib because it was actually a stitch pattern I have listed on a typewriter-typed handout from my grandmother’s old knitting supplies!
At some point my Mom had given me a bunch of my grandmother’s old knitting books and handouts and in one of them was this sheet of paper, which was from her local yarn shop in the Bronx, NY back then (that’s where my family is from and where I was born). We estimated that maybe it’s from the early 1960’s? It has no pictures – just random stitch patterns listed. The broken rib one is the one with the check mark (not placed by me)! I did a slight variation of it with Ramona, but this was where the inspiration came from.
My Mom told me that she remembers going into the shop in the ’60s when she was a teenager and in the back there was always these super talented women who would help you, or, if you want a particular design they would just design it for you! They would send you off with a little bit of instruction and tell you to come back when you finished that section. How cool! So that’s probably what these hand-outs were for – bits of their instructions they would send knitters off with. So glad I have this piece of paper as a memory of my grandmother and mother’s knitting days from back then (and if you want to learn a bit more about my grandmother and her history in the garment industry in New York, I wrote this blog post a couple of years ago about her).
So back to the stitch pattern…I decided that the broken rib detail could also be something that brought the whole garment together. So you’ll also find it along each side (which also creates a bit of a ‘faux seam’ look), and I used it at each of the raglan lines in the yoke.
When writing the pattern, one of my first thoughts was “I don’t think anyone is going to want to knit this”, haha. I really didn’t think it would generate much interest because of its simplicity. But this was another lesson I learned back then – simple is sometimes just what people are looking for. And Ramona’s popularity taught me the benefits of staying true to my own aesthetic and my own knitting preference. I love simplicity – knitting for me is all about relaxation (well, when I’m not ripping out!), unwinding at the end of the day and taking pleasure in the process of just making something with my hands. And with Ramona, I learned that lots of other knitters like this type of simple, mindful knitting experience too.
One other great thing that came from the simplicity of Ramona was that it started to become a lot of knitter’s first sweater patterns! That made me SO happy. Because I know how intimidating it can be to embark on your first garment. So many yarn shops have offered this sweater as a “knit your first sweater” class and it’s been a joy to see so many finished photos from these classes over the years.
Like so many of my designs, the name of this sweater was inspired by music. “Ramona” is a beautiful song by my favorite band Guster and it was on my playlist when I was working on the layout for this pattern and it just seemed perfect. The song has this simple, pretty melody to it and it just seemed like a great inspiration for a sweater that also had a beautiful simplicity to it. Click below to give the song a listen!
NOW THERE’S A PULLOVER!
This week there were lots of Ramona updates! I released a brand new pullover version and also re-published the original cardigan in more sizes. The pullover has the same seamless, top-down construction as the cardigan and I’ve also added multiple options for body shaping (a-line, waist-shaped or no-shaped).
And just like my Alanis ‘Behind the Design’, my favorite part about this series is the gallery! Below are some beautiful examples of finished Ramona Cardigans by some very talented knitters from around the world. Thank you to all these wonderful folks for allowing me to share your photographs.
Sadie from Cumbria, UK
Sadie knit her Ramona in West Yorkshire Spinners Croft Solids. What a beautiful job! And I love her outfit and the whole scenery of this picture. It’s a perfect ‘Ramona’ vibe!
Trisha from Maryland, USA
I fell in love with Trisha’s version as soon as I saw it! She knit it with Plucky Knitter Traveler Aran and I love how she used a variegated for the body and contrasting color semi-solids for all of the trim – such a great idea. Beautiful work Trisha!
Alison from Oakland, California, USA
Alison knit her Ramona in Malabrigo Rios, in the Glitter colorway. I love this button-less version – it makes for a perfect layering piece! And this gorgeous photo was taken by her daughter Nora Nash – beautiful job!
Helen from Hertfordshire, UK
Helen made her Ramona out of Paintbox Yarn’s Simply Aran. I love that blue color on her and it’s the perfect layering piece with her outfit. Like Alison from California, Helen also omitted the buttons and I love that look – great job Helen!
Denise from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Denise knit her Ramona in Cisne by Elegance in this gorgeous red color! The fit is perfect and I love the buttons she chose too. Wonderful job Denise!
Erinn from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Erinn’s Ramona is knit in Quince & Co’s Osprey (the same yarn I used) and in my all-time favorite color Honey!! I love how she shortened the sleeves to be more 3/4″ in length – what a great idea. She mentioned in her Ravelry notes that it was her first adult-sized garment – what a fabulous job for her first!
Erika from Dalarna, Sweden
Erika was one of many folks who knit multiple Ramona’s! She made one for herself and for her sister – and they are both so beautiful! They are both knit in Cascade Yarn’s Eco+. Can we talk about how gorgeous that green ‘Palm’ color is on her!?
Lisa from California, USA
Lisa knit her Ramona in Ístex Léttlopi – I love the texture of this yarn! And I love her creativity of adding contrasting colors for the sleeve cuffs and body trim – those colors together are gorgeous! Beautiful job Lisa!
Kristie from Winnipeg, Canada
Kristie knit her Ramona in Tanis Fiber Arts PureWash Worsted. She made hers just a bit shorter for a more cropped length, which is perfect for wearing with dresses and tunics like she’s doing. Such a beautiful, cheerful color – I absolutely love this!
Sally from Beverly, Massachusetts, USA
Sally knit her Ramona in Ístex Léttlopi (just like Lisa from California!), in the Glacier Blue color. That color is so beautiful on Sally, and the fit of her Ramona is perfect. Lovely job Sally!
Aimee from Sheffield, UK
Aimee’s Ramona is knit in Wool and the Gang Shiny Happy Cotton. I love the short-sleeves and gray contrasting color for the trim – such a great idea and the affect is beautiful. This makes me want to make another Ramona in short-sleeves! It’s also a great idea if you don’t have enough yardage of a particular color. Thanks for the inspiration Aimee!
Mia from South Burlington, Vermont, USA
Mia knit Ramona for her daughter Corrina (featured in the photo) out of The Fibre Company’s Arranmore in the St Claire colorway. I love the shortened sleeves and it looks stunning on her daughter!
Lynda from Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Lynda knit her Ramona in Cascade Yarn’s Eco+ (just like Erika from Sweden!) in the North Sea colorway – such a fantastic color! And what a perfect fit – it’s beautiful on you Lynda!
Jani from Portland, Maine, USA
Jani is actually a friend of mine who I met at KnitWit Yarn Shop here in Portland, Maine! She knit her Ramona in Quince & Co’s Osprey in this pretty ‘Dogwood‘ pink colorway. How beautiful does this look on her!? Great job Jani!!
Cecile from Bend, Oregon, USA
Cecile knit her daughter a Ramona in Imperial Yarn’s Native Twist. I love her daughter’s style and her Ramona fits so perfectly and looks fabulous with that skirt. What a great look!
I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a closer look at Ramona 🙂 If you have any questions about this design, yarn options or sizing questions, feel free to reach out!