Wednesday, June 28, 2017

K'done: Laurel cardigan

I really hope layering cardigans never go out of style.

Pattern: Laurel Cardigan, by Amy Christoffers
Yarn: Jojoland Splatter Dash, in Ginger
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

Well, if they do, I guess at that point I'll just look like I belong in a different time period. There are worse things in life.

When I first saw this pattern, I knew I wanted to make myself one, and my mind immediately leapt to this yarn that I had in my stash, but I hesitated. As written, this sweater is meant to have a LOT of positive ease - in the sample shots, there's a lot of fabric swirling around the model/designer. Even though I have and wear and frankly love sweaters with big swirly fronts, I'm pretty sure I don't want sweaters that are just sort of big all over, which can lend a sort of infantilizing little-girl-wearing-her-mother's-clothing vibe.

So, I thought I might try it in a slightly trimmed down version. First up, my gauge was 20 sts to 4", instead of the 19 called for in the pattern. With that, I figured I'd work the S, and it should work out about right. (I suppose I could have gone the other way, with a gauge of 18 sts to 4", and worked the XS.) I also figured I'd run into a yarn supply problem - I had 1100 yards (5 skeins) to work with, and the pattern listed the smallest size requiring a few yards shy of that. So to improve my odds of completion, I shortened the sleeves too, by 2", to eliminate the overlong/folded over cuffs.

With the exception of the cable panel, the whole thing is worked in moss stitch - the kind that isn't seed stitch - and this lends the piece a delightfully nubbly texture, giving the impression of a particularly comfy, squishy cardigan. I found that my sleeve pieces seemed to sort of bias a bit off the needles - or maybe that was a trick of the eye, since everything worked out just fine when I seamed them, but it did require that I pay a bit more attention when measuring length as I made progress. The side-to-side construction of the sleeves and top half of the cardigan's body also made it challenging to sort of measure off against myself, as I didn't have a good sense of where the underarms were supposed to hit. Initially I assumed that the underarms of the sweater should hit my actual underarm, but this made no sense - I don't have particularly long arms, yet armpit to wrist on me is roughly 18", so my 16" sweater sleeve looked short, but the pattern is written to have overlong arms at 18"? I trusted the logic of my adjustments rather than what the measuring tape was telling me, and it worked out in the end.

The top pieces of the sweater are joined using a three needle bind off, and I did it to have the seam facing outward, since it seemed to my eyes that that's what was done on the sample piece, and since the cable panels travel in opposite directions, I wanted a clear visual separation at the point where they met. I had to sort of futz my picking up of stitches for the peplum/bottom portion of the body, since I'd slipped all my selvedge stitches - I like doing this whenever I need to seam pieces, and honestly I like it for picking up too, it just messes up the pick up rate. My futzing involved figuring how many stitches I was able to pick up from the available loops, determining how many more I needed to match up with the pattern, figuring the rate of insertion for the extra stitches, and then putting them in with yarnovers, which I then twisted on the return row to close them up. This seems to have worked well, and I'll have to keep this strategy in mind for future use - which is why I've put it here. In the past, I've just picked up extra loops, but this makes the fabric pieces join up a bit differently.

Ultimately, I didn't have enough yarn to finish the sweater as written, even with my shortening of the sleeves. The pattern has you work 6" from the front edges for the collar/pseudo button band, and my sweater only has 3", at which point I panicked about how much yarn was left for the applied i-cord edging, so I just launched into that. In the end, I have about 4 g of yarn left over - I suspect it's not quite enough to have done one extra row, never mind an additional 3". When I tug the fronts gently towards each other, they meet, and if I tug a bit more firmly I can make them overlap a bit, but if there were buttons it probably wouldn't look nice if I buttoned the fronts closed. Since the sweater isn't meant to close, it's totally fine. In fact, one nice thing about the smaller collar is I don't end up with lots of fabric bunching up or folded over around my neck.

Tech specs: Chinese waitress CO, double chain BO on bottom hem, applied i-cord edging on fronts and collar.