The Story of Knitting Franziska

When Rowan 56  landed, a few years ago now, I saw lots of lovely knitted garments; and when I’d eliminated the unwearable and impractical, and the ones that would require more work or more finance than I felt was justified I was left with two.


The sweater on the left – Heike – came first – because I knew it would be a quick knit, because I needed some simple knitting to follow a garment with unusual cabling, and because I knew I could use yarn I had already for two of the three colours.

I love the version I knitted, I’ve worn it lots, and it has worn very well.

I knew that Franziska – the garment on the right – would be a much bigger undertaking but I loved it and began to accumulate Felted Tweed DK.

I had to tweak the colour scheme a little, because the main colour – Mineral – is much too yellow for me. I chose Gilt – a lovely light, warm brown shade instead.

I waited patiently until I could pick up a pack in a sales.

There was a knock-on effect on the contrast colours.

I kept Bilberry – the purple shade

Jaffa – the orange shade – had to go, because it was too close to Gilt. I chose Rage – a lovely, rich red that would give me the contrast that I needed instead.

Those were easy decisions; but the decision about the third colour was trickier.

The original Watery – a sea blue – might have worked, but I wasn’t convinced that it was the best choice. I had a darker shade of blue – Maritime – left over from another project, and I thought it might work better. And I saw a shade of green – Pine – that I thought might work rather well.

Unable to make a decision, I put the three possibilities in front of  The Man of the House. He voted for green, and now that I have seen the results I can say that he made the right decision for me.


I made a few small changes to the pattern.

  • I wanted my Fransiska to be not quite so oversized, so that it wouldn’t swamp me. Usually I knit the second size in Rowan patterns, but this time I deducted two pattern repeats from the smallest size.
  • Like most of those who knitted this pattern before me, I decided to knit in the round and pick up stitches to work the sleeves top down.
  • I planned a smaller neck-band. I love the cowl in the picture, but I don’t really have the neck to carry it off and I thought that something smaller and simpler would allow me to wear my finished Fransiska much more.
  • I tweaked the colour-work a little, to avoid working with three colours at the same time. I don’t rule out doing that one day, but I really didn’t think that the effect justified the complication in this pattern.

I had yarn, I had a plan, I just needed to start knitting.

The rounds were long and the bottom band was dull, but once I got into the colour-work I was happy. I hadn’t done any proper, colour-swapping, colour-work for years and I wanted to get back into it.

I tried the fashionable technique of holding one colour in each had but I didn’t like it, so I reverted back to holding the background colour over the index finger of my right hand and the dominant colour over the middle finger. It worked beautifully and I loved watching the pattern emerge.

I thought that progress would be quicker when I hit the simpler top half of the body, but it wasn’t because I didn’t have the same interest in seeing the pattern emerge.

I was anxious for a while about when I should split for the sleeves, but something that I read somewhere made me realise that it was just a question of mathematics.

  • There were 90 stitches at the top of the sleeves – 45 at the front and 45 at the back.
  • My gauge was 25 stitches and 30 rows = 10 cm, and so I needed to pick up five stitches for every 6 rows.
  • The meant that I needed to knit 54 rows after the split, and that made 18cm.

I pressed on, but I forgot something. I didn’t adjust the shoulders to take into account the fact the I had taken out two pattern repeats.It was lucky that the gap for my head to go through was big enough, and as I had been planning a smaller neck it actually worked rather well!

I really do not like knitting 2 x 2 rib, but I got through the sleeves and the neck.

And then I had to acknowledge that the hem was flipping up. I couldn’t leave it, and so I put in a lifeline, I cut the hem off, and I knitted it downwards, using the same size needles but reducing the stitch-count by 20%. Much better.

I did some steaming, paying particular attention to the colour-work band, and then I was finished.

(The colours are warmer than they look; but I got tired of waiting for good light to take a picture.)

I must confess that when I first tried my Fransiska on I wasn’t quite sure that it was me. But as I wore it more it really grew on me, and I came to love the way the heavier colour-work section at the bottom made it hang.

Maybe I could have made the sleeves a size smaller, but they are comfortable; and now I see a picture I realise that the shoulder seam needs a little more pressing

There’s always something!.

I’m calling this a success.

I’m pleased to have got back into knitting colour-work again, and I see more of it in my future.

But I’m knitting something on a rather simpler, smaller scale now.



9 thoughts on “The Story of Knitting Franziska

  1. Beautiful work, Jane. And I love how the story evolved: the colours, the tweaks to the pattern. You now have something utterly unique and it looks lovely 🙂


  2. Lovely, looks nice and warm. I am inexperienced with changing colours unless it is a simple striping pattern. I need to perhaps take a few more risks. Perhaps when I finish my current project – cardigan knitted from one sleeve cuff to the other.


  3. You are quite right to call it a success – it looks fabulous! I love your colour choices and I bet you get heaps of wear out of this one.


  4. I love the colours and your account of how Franziska evolved – you put in such a lot of preparation! But the completed garment is absolutely gorgeous.


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