Marjorie Martin’s Lakka cardigan is every bobble lover’s dream! The circular yoke cardigan is worked sideways starting from the right front and finishing at the left front. The ingenuity of the garment makes it hard to believe that Marjorie has designed only a handful of garments thus far. She shared with us the long process from the initial idea to the beautiful cardigan seen on the pages of our issue 8. Here’s what Marjorie told us.
What inspired you to design Lakka?
I find it very interesting to trace the history of a design. What was the very first idea? How did the design take shape after that? A project often needs a long maturation time as the inspiration always comes from multiple sources and the path to a finished design is everything but linear. Lakka was at the back of my mind in its primitive form for about 3 years before I sent my submission to Laine.
Back then I was gathering clothes for my soon-to-be-born child, and I found the cutest little cardigan that had belonged to his father 33 years earlier and had been knitted by his great-grandmother. It was a short-row cardigan worked sideways in simple garter stitch, and I had never seen that kind of a construction before. After making some research I found a few similar patterns, picked up my needles and knitted three of those cardigans in a row. I kept thinking, “Why not create a pattern for adults as well, using this construction?” The proportions wouldn’t be exactly the same but everything could be calculated. I knew I would use stockinette stitch instead of garter stitch and also that this particular construction made it possible to adorn the yoke by using a cable stitch all around the shoulders. Then, I pushed this idea to the back of my mind and forgot about it.
At this stage Lakka was miles away from an actual design, because all I had were just my ideas about the techniques and constructions I would use. To make it a full-fledged design I needed to combine my ideas about the structure and its possibilities with my imagination to find the soul of the garment. Last year, when I saw the mood board for the Laine submission call, I immediately decided that this was the inspirational push I had been looking for. It made me travel through the silent and poetic landscapes of Northern Scandinavia. The mood board gave me the idea to propose something delicate, drawing inspiration from nature. My first idea was to incorporate little lilies of the valley blossoming through the snow in the spring. I had to find a cable stitch pattern to create little crown-like shapes running from left to right and right to left all around the yoke. Finally I found the perfect elegant vintage stitch pattern with bobbles and cables called Nosegay. Originally the design was meant to be called Bouquet, but as I was knitting the sample the bobbles reminded me more of little berries than flowers, and that’s how Bouquet became Lakka (Finnish for ‘cloudberry’).
How similar is the finished design to your original idea?
Even if you’ve done all the calculations and made sure everything works in theory, it still always feels like magic when you start knitting. It was a pure joy to knit the sample because it turned out more beautiful than I could have possibly imagined! Before I picked up my needles to knit the actual sample, I made a lot of swatches and I did all the maths for all the sizes twice! I chose to make the cardigan quite loose with lots of positive ease to make it extra comfy. Originally I had envisioned that the sleeves wouldn’t be as wide, but in the end I love the balloon sleeves!
What did you learn when designing Lakka?
Lakka was my third sweater pattern ever, so it really taught me a lot about designing and writing a pattern. Before this experience everything that goes on behind the scenes of a pattern-editing process for a magazine publication was a total mystery for me. It was a long journey with lots of different phases but I was never alone so I never freaked out! The most enriching part for me was to work together as a team. At first, I had to write the very first draft of the pattern following the Laine Style sheet. For that step, I was constantly in contact with Sini giving me advice. Then the pattern was tech edited by Heli Rajavaara so I exchanged a lot of messages with her. Rewriting the pattern was the most interesting and challenging part of the process. And last but not least, there was the testing part organised and overseen by Tiia. 16 experienced knitters from all around the word volunteered for testing the pattern and they were the best, active and caring group of testers ever. It was such a relief to see that the different sizes fit the testers well and that they were happy with their finished knits. After that I sent out the very last draft of the pattern and my job was done at this point. All in all, what I really learnt is to work together as a team and I’ve enjoyed this aspect of the collaboration so much. It feels hard to work alone again with my self-published patterns!
What does this particular design tell about you as a designer?
Lakka is a great example of how I always try to combine an exciting process to a lovely end product. What I try to do as a designer is to create a nice finished object that is comfortable and easy to wear. However, I also want to go through the entire process, making sure that the knitting itself will be a pleasant experience. For Lakka, because of its unusual construction, every part (back, front, sleeves) are knitted at the same time. It’s intrinsically repetitive, so I tried to ensure that each row is different from the others. On some rows you just have some short rows in stockinette. On another row you have bobbles but no short rows. On the row after that you have cables and short rows, and so on. I like to pay attention to every last detail, and for Lakka, I tried to cover the tracks on how it’s done by having no seams to sew thanks to the provisional cast-on.
What's your favourite thing about Lakka?
I love the texture and the effect of the bobbles, it’s nice to look but also to feel and touch.
How about choosing yarn, what kind of a yarn would you recommend when choosing yarn for Lakka?
Any toothy yarn that gives you the correct gauge would be good, but I think non-superwash wool is great for Lakka because of the stitch definition in the cables and bobbles. I would recommend a light yarn with fluffiness, either one strand of DK weight yarn or a fingering held together with a lace weight mohair to add some texture.
Find the pattern for Lakka in Laine Magazine issue 8. For stockists please visit https://lainemagazine.com/stockists/.