Ruth and Ruthie
Ruth was my mother’s mother. She was a beautiful Bavarian woman, dignified and aristocratic, with refined tastes. She spent her childhood in the elegant environs of Nuremburg, Germany, the only child of wealthy parents. WWII changed many things about her life and her lifestyle. The years following saw her in love, the wife of a rancher in Wyoming, and just a handful of years more saw her a widow struggling to raise her three children in a somewhat inhospitable clime. But she did not lose her appreciation of fine and beautiful things, and that appreciation and recognition were gifts she passed to her children. Like most women of her generation, my Oma crocheted and knit. Many photos from her youth feature gorgeous and skillfully-wrought knits, and in her later years, when she was no longer able to handle her needles or hook, she was still inspired by luxurious yarns and fibers, beautiful colorways and the craftsmanship of knitting.
For our first Monday’s child, in honor of that love of beauty and elegance, I’m resurrecting my very first knitting pattern; a bolero jacket. Inspired by a photo from a Norwegian knitting magazine, I designed and knitted the jacket for myself out of Joann’s Sensations Licorice in a beautiful red colorway, and I wore it twice. The second time, my Aunt Marge told me my Oma would love it, so I slipped it off and gave it to her to take to Oma with my love. At that time, Oma was wheelchair-bound due to advanced MS and was often chilly. Sweaters either were too bulky and got bunched in the chair behind her or were too light to keep her warm. She loved the jacket and was delighted that I had learned to knit. She asked for another in shades of blue and green to compliment the other half of her wardrobe, and I knitted it for my Knitting Olympics project in 2006. My Oma passed away two days after Christmas in 2007 and the original red wool jacket was not found among her things, but my Knitting Olympics version in blues and greens was returned to me. Wearing it is like getting a hug from Oma. In her honor, I’ve named the bolero jacket Ruth. The modification for a shrug is Ruthie
This pattern is in a loose size medium. It measures 15.5″ across the shoulders and will fit a 36″ bust over another layer. Rather than write the pattern in several sizes (which seemed beyond my grasp for my first pattern) I’m leaving the math up to you. I’m not being spiteful, though, I promise. Because this is a large-gauge knit that keeps the math to a minimum, adjusting the pattern to fit you perfectly rather than relying on imperfect averages is the best solution.
I recommend starting with the sleeves, making sure they fit the way you like. I like my sleeves with plenty of room and length. Start with a swatch of 36 stitches and see how close that comes to fitting around your arm at the widest point. If you can increase or decrease by a multiple of four, that’s your best bet. Simply cast on that number more or less and follow the increase patterns as written. If you can’t, I would recommend rounding down to the nearest multiple of four for your cast on, then increasing by the difference evenly across the first stockinette row. Then you can continue to work the increases as written. In other words, if you think you want to decrease 5 stitches, cast on 8 fewer than the pattern calls for and increase 3 stitches in the first stockinette row. This is necessary to keep the 2×2 ribbing at the cuff consistent. I doubt you’ll find the sleeve to short, but if it is either too long or two short, adjust the length after the last increase row.
You don’t need to follow the rule of four for body adjustments. If you have a 40 inch bust, 4″ more than the pattern as written, increase 2″ worth of stitches in gauge for the body cast-on number (the other 2″ will be made up for in the ribbing), then follow the instructions as written. I recommend taking it off the needles 2-4 rows after attaching the sleeves and trying it on to be sure of the fit across the back and under the arms. If you’re increasing a large number of stitches, you may have to adjust the under-arm portion as well. This will require binding off more stitches on the sleeves as well as the body. If the back fits, your set. You may have to adjust the point at which you are ready for the ribbing, but probably not too much. Adjustments in the length of the ribbed section will be all that is needed to get a good fit across the chest.
For Ruth, a bolero jacket, use 7 balls (522 yds) Joann’s brand Sensations Licorice yarn. You can substitute 5 balls of Yarn Bee Highland Thistle.
For Ruthie, a shrug, 4 balls are used.
1 pair US 15 straight needles
1 pair US 15 circular needles
Optional: A worsted weight yarn in matching color for sleeve seams.
Gauge: 11 stitches and 14 rows = 4″
For Ruth and Ruthie
Sleeve (make 2):
Cast on 26 stitches, work 2×2 rib for 4” (14 rows).
Row 1: K
Row 2: P
Row 3: K 2, M1, K to 2 stitches from end, M1, K 2 (28 sts on needle)
Rows 4-8: St st, starting with WS row.
Rows 9 – 14: Repeat rows 3-8 three times more. (36 sts on needle)
Work even in St st until sleeve measures 21” from beginning, ending RS row.
At beginning of next row, BO 3 stitches. P to last three stitches. BO 3 stitches. Put live stitches on holder or waste yarn.
With circular needles, cast on 50 stitches. Starting with a knit row, work in St st for 3 rows, back and forth as though on straight needles.
Row 4: P first 4 stitches. BO 4 stitches. P across row to last 8 stitches. BO 4 stitches. P last 4 stitches.
Row 5: K across first 4 stitches. PM. K across all live stitches on one sleeve. PM. K across back. PM. K across live stitches of second sleeve. PM. K across last 4 stitches.
Row 6: P across row.
Row 7: Begin raglan shaping. K in first two stitches, *K2tog, slip marker, slip 1 purlwise, K 1, PSSO, K across to 2 stitches before next marker*, repeat from * to * to two stitches before last marker. K2tog, slip marker, slip 1 purlwise, K 1, PSSO, K last two stitches. (8 decreases this row.)
Row 8: P across row.
Row 9: K first stitch, *K2tog, slip marker, slip 1 purlwise, K 1, PSSO, K across to 2 stitches before next marker*, repeat from * to * to two stitches before last marker. K2tog, slip marker, slip 1 purlwise, K 1, PSSO. (8 decreases this row.)
On next and all following odd rows, continue raglan shaping as above, except knit first and last two stitches even, making only the ssk decrease after first marker and K2tog decrease before last marker. P all even rows. (6 decreases this and all following decrease rows.)
Work in raglan shaping as established until 22 stitches remain on needle, ending on a K row. (If you’ve made sizing adjustments, add or subtract the number of stitches you altered.)
For Ruthie, the shrug
PM. Pick up 29 stitches down left front, 50 stitches across bottom edge and 29 stitches up right side and join with live stitches already on needle. If you’ve made sizing adjustments, the only thing you really need to know is that you should pick up one stitch for every row down the sides and one stitch for every stitch along the bottom, making any adjustments necessary for there to be a multiple of 4 + 2 (when added to the 22 stitches on the needle, this will make a multiple of four).
Work in the round in K2 P2 ribbing for 2.5 inches. If you feel like removing all markers except the one marking the beginning of your picked-up stitches, feel free. After 2.5″, BO loosely.
For Ruth, the jacket
PM. Pick up 29 stitches down left front, PM, 50 stitches across bottom edge, PM, and 29 stitches up right side, PM and join with live stitches already on needle. If you’ve made sizing adjustments, the only thing you really need to know is that you should pick up one stitch for every row down the sides and one stitch for every stitch along the bottom, making any adjustments necessary for there to be a multiple of 4 + 2 (when added to the 22 stitches on the needle, this will make a multiple of four).
The first row in the round will be a knit row. *As you work, remove the markers from the decrease work, leaving only the four markers you placed while picking up stitches.* In all 22 live stitches along the neck, K1 F&B in each stitch, bringing the number to 44. K 1 in each picked-up stitch down the edge until 4 stitches before marker. K1 F&B in each stitch until marker. K 1 in 50 bottom-edge stitches. K1 F&B in the first 4 stitches after marker, then K 1 in each remaining stitch to first marker. There should be 160 stitches on your needles.
Work in the round in 2×2 ribbing until ribbing measures 11″ long. BO loosely.
Finishing Ruth and Ruthie
Your jacket is almost finished! All there is left to do is sew the sleeve seams and graft the bound-off stitches under the arms. I did not block mine. I’m not sure how you’d go about it, actually. Mine didn’t need it.
Hope you like it. It is my first attempt at writing a pattern, so there may be some conventions I missed. If you have any questions, let me know. I’ll be happy to make any clarifications necessary.