Cable Knits From Nordic Lands: Knitting Patterns for Sweaters, Vests, Hats and More

Do you enjoy cable knitting – or do you want to learn how to knit cables? Would you be interested in finding a book that is part cable knitting instruction manual, part knitting stitch dictionary, and part pattern book? And would you be interested in finding cable knitting patterns that feature classic silhouettes suitable for men, women and children? If so, there’s a brand new knitting pattern book I think you’ll be delighted to learn about. It’s called Cable Knits From Nordic Lands, and it’s packed with fantastic information with a focus on cable knitting.


Cable Knits From Nordic Lands by Ivar Asplund, published by Trafalgar Square Books
Cable Knits From Nordic Lands by Ivar Asplund, published by Trafalgar Square Books

What You Need to Know About This Knitting Pattern Book:


Author: Ivar Asplund


Publisher: Trafalgar Square Books


Copyright Date: I’m reviewing the English language translation of this book, which has a copyright date of 2019. The book was originally published in Swedish as Sticka Flätor.


ISBN 13: 978-1570769290


ISBN 10: 157076929X


Book Format: This book is available in Hardcover format, without dust jacket.


Number of Pages: 160

The Best Things About This Book

This is a delightful book, and there are many wonderful things about it. But, In my mind, the one thing that most strongly differentiates this book from others is the author’s writing voice. Here you have an experienced teacher and knitter who is proactive about experimenting and also about sharing the outcome of those experiments. You also have someone who is drawing on the experience of his elders – his grandmother taught him to knit — and sharing that inherited wisdom with you.


As far as I’m concerned, a book filled with insights and instructions that have resulted from two lifetimes’ worth of knitting experience is priceless – and that’s what I’m holding in my hands as I look at Cable Knits From Nordic Lands.


The projects presented in this book are delightful ones: sweaters, vests, hats, and other wearables. They are all classic designs featuring knitted cables. There are designs suitable for men, women and children.


This is a cohesive collection of patterns. The common elements: Each piece features a wearable, appealing silhouette that would easily integrate into the average person’s wardrobe. And each piece features interesting textured details resulting from knitted cables.


This book also doubles as a stitch dictionary. It includes charts for knitting 19 different patterns featuring cables and other textures. These range from ultra-simple to complex – but many of them are on the simple side, which is WONDERFUL if you are a beginning designer – because you’re likely to find these exceptionally easy to incorporate into your own design work.

If you already have an extensive knitting library, you might already have some cable stitch instructions similar to these. I do – but I am still excited about these new additions to my library, because I find the presentation and accompanying insights to be quite inspiring and helpful.


The book includes multiple step-by-step photo tutorials showing you how to do various knitting techniques.

Knitting Projects Included in This Book:

Aperitif Wrist Warmers

If you’re looking for a small cable knitting project to try before you attempt a larger and more significant one, these stylish wrist warmers are worth trying. They’re a great introduction to cable knitting if you’ve never attempted it before. And even if you’re an experienced cable knitter, this is a fantastic pattern to have in your library – because you can never have too many patterns for quick, useful, gift-worthy items like these.

Twist and Turn Scarf

This exquisite scarf is remarkable for being totally reversible, and also for being a unisex design with universal appeal.

Test Tube Cowl

This is a tube-shaped cowl featuring an abundance of eye-catching cables.


To my eyes, the design is lovely, but it looks unfinished. And, since I have a short neck, it looks a little longer than I’d personally like it to be. If I were going to knit this design for myself, I’d leave off one repeat and add a crocheted edging at both the upper and lower edges. I’d have to experiment to see what edging would work best, but I’m thinking a simple one like crab stitch, maybe, or a basic shell stitch edging.


Right about now, I should mention that the author of the book, Ivar, encourages knitters to take liberties with these patterns and make them their own. After having discovered his work in this book, I looked him up online and spent a few enjoyable hours reading his blog. I was impressed by his ability to adapt other designers’ knitting patterns to his own style and interests. I LOVE IT that he has this ability, and that he encourages it in other knitters, too.


It is also a quirk of mine, that I’m rarely able to leave well enough alone – I’ll often take a perfectly good pattern and change it to suit my own tastes, just because I can. To my way of thinking, this is one of the main reasons that knitting is a worthwhile endeavor.


If you share this approach to knitting, I think you’ll find Ivar’s patterns to be wonderfully adaptable. This is, in large part, because his thought process is so clearly evident in the patterns that you can either run with it or modify it easily.


But don’t worry if customizations aren’t your thing. If you just want to knit, without having to make any modifications to your pattern, I think you’ll find most of these patterns to be worthwhile projects exactly as designed.

Squiggles Hat

This hat is graded into 2 sizes – one for children, and the other for adults. It’s an appealing style that would make a fantastic ski hat or everyday hat for people of either gender.

Super Wrist Warmers

These cabled wrist warmers are simple and elegant. They’re businesslike enough to wear to work, and dressy enough to wear out to dinner if you’re dining at a nice restaurant.

Chain and Horseshoe Hat

This intriguing hat incorporates two different cable patterns.

Reversible Faux Turtle

This chic cowl flares out at the bottom. It’s a unique design that also looks like it would be fun to knit. The design features reversible cables, which means you can wear it with the upper part folded down like a turtleneck, if you want to.


You could also keep knitting and turn this into a poncho, if you’re so inclined.

Triple Triangles Shawl

This simple shawl is one of my favorite patterns in the book. The shawl is comprised of 3 triangles, but it isn’t actually a triangle-shaped shawl. The back of the shawl is horizontal instead of being pointed. The design is really quite clever.

Playful Children’s Poncho

This piece looks a lot like a turtleneck sweater, except it’s open at the sides instead of being seamed. It’s really cute.

Appearances Can Deceive Sweater

I have several favorite patterns from this book – and, out of all of them, this one is the one I am likeliest to knit first.


Why?


It looks easy enough to be viable despite the frequent interruptions that are a daily reality at my place. It also looks interesting enough to be worth finishing; stylish enough to wear now; and classic enough that I’ll still want to wear it 15 years from now, assuming my destructive cat can leave it alone for that long.


It’s a pullover sweater with a tie front neckline and an interesting textured pattern that incorporates both garter stitch and cables. It’s pictured on a female model, but I think the design could safely be considered unisex. The pattern is graded for sizes ranging from 37 inches (105 cm) to 50 inches (127 cm).

Sweater History

This is a timeless, classic Nordic style cable knit sweater. Looking at this design, you’d have no idea whether it was knitted a hundred years ago, or yesterday. The central panel features a spectacular latticework cable, and the surrounding design elements are columns of moss stitch and stockinette stitch. There are 2 different project samples, both of which are pictured on female models, but I could see guys wearing this design just as easily.


The pattern is graded for sizes ranging from 35 1/2 inches (90 cm) to 46 1/2 inches (118 cm).

Crosswise Vest

This unique vest incorporates travelling stitches rather than cables. It features a small, easy-to-memorize pattern repeat. This is another design that I think could be knitted for people of either gender.


The pattern is graded for sizes ranging from 34 3/4 inches (88 cm) to 44 inches (112 cm).

Free and Easy Top

This knitted top is another one of my favorite designs from the book. It’s a versatile design with a graceful silhouette that gently drapes over the body. It would be equally wonderful paired with skirts or jeans, and you could wear it just about anywhere – either for work or for play.


The pattern was loosely inspired by the designs in a book that Ivar’s grandmother had on the topic of knitted Guernsey sweaters. However, this garment has a more feminine, fluid and drapey appearance than the typical vintage Guernsey sweaters I’ve encountered.


The pattern is graded for sizes ranging from 39 1/2 inches (100 cm) to 44 inches (112 cm).

Figure Eights Vest

With this pattern, Ivar has given us a wonderfully contemporary and up-to-date take on the vintage fisherman’s knit vest concept. It’s designed with an ultra-trendy no-sew construction that I think will be broadly appealing to today’s knitters. The patterning on the body of the sweater is also totally current and fashionable. I LOVE this look! It’s pictured on a male model, but I believe the design is suitable for wearing by people of either gender.


The pattern is graded for sizes ranging from 36 1/4 inches (92 cm) to 43 ¼ inches (110 cm).

X & O Cardigan

There must be a zillion different versions of the classic XO cable pattern – but this one manages to stand out from the others because the columns of Xs and Os are so delightfully balanced with other complementary stitches. I like this design so much that I am thinking of knitting one of these to replace a beloved merino wool sweater that has come unraveled in 3 places after about 6 years of constant wear.


To me, part of this sweater’s appeal is its versatility. If you’re female, it would be the perfect complement to feminine dresses on chilly days. You could pair it with a tailored skirt or pair of slacks to wear to work on days when a formal blazer isn’t a requirement. You could also wear it out to dinner or parties. But on days when you’re just out and about, it would also look fantastic with jeans or khakis.


I think this design would also work well into your wardrobe if you’re a guy. The guys I know would be completely comfortable wearing this sweater to the office, the country club, the yacht club, the ski lodge, or the local restaurants for dinner and drinks.


The pattern is graded for sizes ranging from 37 ¾ inches (96 cm) to 44 inches (112 cm).

Wrought Iron Cardigan

This is the spectacular sweater pictured on the front cover of the book. I think the cover picture doesn’t truly do it justice.


The body of the sweater features a bold, graphic design that sort of resembles a wrought iron fence. The sleeves feature eye-catching raised vertical stripes.


In theory, I shouldn’t like this design, because I have a weird personal hangup about sleeves that are dramatically different from the body of a sweater. Ordinarily, I just really don’t care for that; I prefer it when the sleeves and the body of a sweater share the same pattern. But in this case, I think the design manages to work surprisingly well, despite the contrasting patterns used for the body and sleeves of this cardigan.


After careful analysis, I came to the conclusion that the design works so well for 2 reasons. First of all, the design on the sleeves is echoed in the hem of the sweater, which ties the design elements together in a satisfying way. Secondly, the raised areas on the two patterns have some similarities which serve to make the look cohesive.


Another personal quirk of mine: I really don’t love partial motifs. The designer of this pattern, Ivar, actually shares this quirk – and he has gone to extreme lengths to help you avoid having any partial motifs in your sweater, no matter which size you decide to knit. To accomplish this, he has created separate charts for each size. It is rare to find this level of attention to detail in knitting patterns, and I really appreciate the care he has taken with grading this design. I sincerely hope other knitters will notice and appreciate it, too.


The pattern is graded for sizes ranging from 35 1/2 inches (90 cm) to 41 ¾ inches (106 cm).

Arrow Sweater

This sweater is sort of like one of those inkblot tests. Everyone sees something different when they look at it. Ivar apparently sees arrowheads, thus the sweater name; but people also see assorted other items like fox heads and tulips when they look at these creative motifs. Whatever you happen to see in the design, it’s an interesting one that is likely to hold your attention as you knit.


The pattern is graded for sizes ranging from 31 ½ inches (80 cm) – a child’s size — to 41 ¾ inches (106 cm).

Harmony Cardigan

If you’re interested in knitting the most spectacular cable knit sweater you can find, the Harmony Cardigan is a fantastic pattern to consider. It’s a raglan style sweater featuring intricate cable patterning all over the body and sleeves. This is a top-down sweater. One of the most remarkable things about it is its nearly seamless construction; you do have to sew sleeve seams, but otherwise, there are patterns in all the places where you’d ordinarily find garment seams. I think this sweater is truly a marvel of knit engineering.


The pattern is graded for 2 sizes ranging from 37 ¾ inches (96 cm) to 44 inches (112 cm).

Other Observations About This Book

The knitting charts all require use of a key that’s provided in the back of the book. To avoid having to do a lot of page flipping, I recommend making a photocopy of the key that you can refer to separately without having to constantly turn to the back of the book.


Detailed schematics are not included.


I think this book is worth buying for the accessory patterns alone. That shawl! That scarf! The accessories are truly exquisite – and sizing issues are less of a worry with these types of items than they are with the sweaters. So, regardless of what size you wear, I think this book is a worthwhile purchase.


Having said that, some knitters will inevitably be disappointed to learn that the sweaters have not all been graded for their sizes. I’ve noted the size ranges for each sweater in my descriptions, so please take this information into account, particularly if you are exceptionally petite or you wear one of the larger plus sizes.


The photographs in this book are hit and miss. For the most part, they are unique, lovely, helpful and interesting. They give you glimpses of both the knitting projects and the Swedish landscape close to where they were originally designed – which is helpful for putting these designs in context. However, some of the photos in the book are less than flawless – for example, there are occasionally some overexposed areas that make it challenging to see every last detail you might like to.


The styling presented in the book is also a little bit hit and miss. Mostly, it is done well – but there are several instances where a garment worn under an exquisite piece detracts from the first impression you get when you view the entire ensemble. Luckily, these pieces were also laid out flat and photographed – so you’ll definitely want to view all the pictures of each garment before deciding whether it is one that would work well into your own wardrobe. In general, I think there are enough pictures that you should be able to get a good idea of whether these projects would be ones you’d want to knit for yourself, even in the cases where the styling might not be exactly to your own tastes.


Overall, this is a wonderful book. If you’re interested in cable knitting, I wouldn’t recommend letting any of these minor details hold you back from buying the book, using it and enjoying it, assuming the projects appeal to you.

Conclusion

I recommend Cable Knits From Nordic Lands to other knitting enthusiasts. In particular, I think this book will be useful to knitters who want to use cable knitting techniques to make classic, approachable sweaters, vests, hats and other wearable items for ladies, gentlemen or children.

Where to Buy This Book:

Find More Books on Cable Knitting

  • Trafalgar Square Books, publisher of Cable Knits From Nordic Lands, has also published many other excellent knitting pattern books. One of my favorites is another reference on the topic of cable knitting. It’s called The Cable Knitter’s Guide. This book is part stitch dictionary, part technique book and part pattern book. One of the highlights is a reference section filled with instructions for different cables you can incorporate into your own knitting pattern designs. The book also includes instructions for how to knit cables, plus a selection of outstanding patterns the author has created for you to knit. This is my go-to reference book for cable knitting, and I highly recommend it.
  • Martin Storey’s Afghan Knits is another fantastic knitting pattern book made available by the same publisher. This is purely a pattern book; knitting patterns are the exclusive focus of the book. It features a mix of cable knitting patterns and colorwork patterns. This is a book you might be interested in buying if you want to knit blankets, afghans, throws or pillows for your home or to give as gifts to others.
  • Click here to find our picks for the best new knitting books in 2019 and 2020.

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About Your Book Reviewer: Amy Solovay is a freelance writer with a background in textile design. She has been crocheting and crafting since childhood, and knitting since she was a teenager. Her work also appears at AmySolovay.com, ArtsWithCrafts.com and Crochet-Books.com. Amy sends out a free knitting and crochet newsletter so interested crafters can easily keep up with her new patterns and tutorials.

This page was last updated on 11-12-2019.

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