OK, so let's say you have your aran swatching done. You know the desired final circumference of your cardigan, you've calculated your "field of play", you know exactly how wide your aran stitch panel will be, you've made a decision about whether to add a ribbed border, and you know how many stitches per inch you're achieving in your chosen "filler" stitch (plain old stocking stitch in my case). Now what?
In order to commence the actual knitting, I start with a diagram. I call this THE GRAND PLAN.
Let's look at the lower right hand quadrant first. This will be the left front of the cardigan when worn. Remember that this quadrant will need to work out to 9" in order for the cardigan to come out at a finished circumference of 36". There is a space of 3/4" which will eventually be occupied by the buttonband, then the cable panel consisting of 38 sts, which worked out to 7 1/4" in width, followed by 1" (4 sts) worth of stocking stitch filler.
Now look at the adjoining upper right portion of the diagram. This will be the left back as worn. Everything is the reverse of the front, with the largest cable stitch abutting the centre back. In place of the 3/4" worth of buttonband space, there are 3 sts of stocking stitch.
To all of the above I add one extra knit stitch at the beginning and end of the entire row as a selvedge for picking up the front bands. It will be maintained as a knit st on the RS and a purl st on the WS throughout the cardigan.
To interpret the numbers shown in the diagram:
38 cable panel sts + 4 knit sts = 42 (multiply by 4)
front border sts = 2
centre back filler sts = 6
total for CO = 176!
Next time, the excitement of finally casting on. Part 7 is here.