Maggie Jackson’s Enniscorthy Bolero

Irish knitwear designer Maggie Jackson wrote almost two dozen books of patterns for her lovely garments. It was not until I stumbled on Volume 16, Irish Fashion Knits, that I discovered her ornate and seemingly elaborate designs. Seemingly, because they are deceptively simple. Most are squares and rectangles and many are knitting samplers, containing squares and panels of different stitches. Combined on the same panels, the different stitches blend and contrast and play off one another to produce truly unique garments. The instructions are not always easy, being written as abbreviations, but a little perseverance and they are fairly easy to parse out, section by section.

As I was finishing this year’s Rhinebeck sweater, the Enniscorthy, I realized I hadn’t photographed LAST year’s Rhinebeck sweater, the Enniscorthy Bolero. So, on a foggy, misty Sunday afternoon, off we went to the beach and the newly-restore boardwalk:

01 kat

The Enniscorthy Bolero has an asymmetical closing and a huge, sweeping collar that doubles as a hood. There are miles of moss stitches in this!

02 kat

I also learned how to do a bobble stitch with this. The bolero is knitted in one piece, starting with the left cuff and ending on the right — knitted right across from one arm to the other, stitches cast on and cast off as needed.

03 kat

I couldn’t find  the Maggie Jackson yarns readily available in the U.S., so substituted Rowan’s Summer Tweed. The bolero is knitted in the color “Torrid,” with contrast of “Toast.” Along the final edge of the hood I added two rows of “Mango,” which is the color of the matching sweater I am finishing up.

04 kat

Summer Tweed is 70% silk and 30% cotton. I have read that silk is four times warmer than wool and I believe it. This was extremely warm on a 60-degree day, even with a loose knit that let the breezes through it.

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In the “if I were to do it all over again” department, the one size fits all was a little big on me. Because it is knit end-to-end from the cuffs, this tends to stretch end-to-end, even with the structuring of tubes to prevent stretching. I had to go back and take it up at the shoulder line, folding the fabric and stitching it in additional tubes. This did tuck it up by a few inches on each side. If the arms stretch again, I would be inclined to add two more of these folded tubes, one on each arm.

06 kat

This knitted up fairly quickly (for me), probably about a month’s time. It took just under 9 skeins of Summer Tweed on a size 9 needle and I had I known it needed to be shorted, I probably could have gotten it done in 7 skeins. It was a challenging pattern to decipher, and certainly challenged my knitting skills by making me learn new stitches, so all and all, I would need to say this was a successful project.

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2 Responses to Maggie Jackson’s Enniscorthy Bolero

  1. I really love how different this sweater is. I am a newbie knitter and have been thinking of trying to make something out of stitch samples. I’ll have to see if I can make something like this. So far I have only done scarves, hats and a baby blanket. Your blog is very inspirational (I looked through it earlier). 🙂

    • Thank you for your kind words! I was always a bit of an indifferent knitter (I started off a weaver and a handspinner), but have branched out and taken chances. The Maggie Johnson/MaggiKnits patterns are, as noted, a little difficult to decode but the garments themselves are deceptive. They are not hard at all, and the patterns have GREAT schematics that make them easier to follow visually. And gorgeous photographs. Definitely worth looking into!

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