Finished Object (In a manner of speaking)

This is it. The post you’ve all been waiting for (in my mind). I have finished the cardigan. I have blocked it, sewn a button on it and worn it. After all the drama and stress, it’s done and I actually really like it. Take a looksee for yourselves…

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(Photo by me. Let’s all ignore the double chin, ok? And the grumpy-concentrate-y face. This is about the cardigan, remember?)

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(Photo by Steven for me. Look how the lace cascades down the back in lovely swooshy movements.)

It’s not perfect, but then, it was never going to be, because I was knitting it. Where I picked up stitches for the armholes there are some lumpy unsightly bits, but my arms covers them up. There are a couple of dodgy stitches here and there, but in the grand scheme of an adult sized garment, they are pretty insignificant. There’s the steek, of course, but I think it will felt in quite nicely. The thing that bugs me, because I can see it all the time, is that the sleeves are different lengths.

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(Photo by me. Folded up in all it’s squashy glory.)

I know, I know – that’s such a simple thing! How can I make a cardigan with different length sleeves? Well you see, by sleeve number 2, I got cocky. Hubris, damn you. I thought I knew the lace pattern so I didn’t check the chart. I was wrong. I was 3 rows short on every repeat. There are 9 repeats. That’s 27 rows. The right sleeve just about reaches my thumb knuckle (I like a long sleeve); the left one hangs out way short of my wrist. But I’m not going to undo the entire sleeve and start again. I don’t care that much. Besides, Jenny assures me that it just looks like one sleeve is rucked up. All the time. Defying gravity.

In all honesty, it’s a tiny detail and one I need to stop pointing out to everyone.

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(Photo by me. Teeny tiny button. It’s that small because there’s no buttonhole in the pattern. Just shove it through your knitting. Classy.)

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(Photo by me. Mr Hamster got jealous of the attention Cardigan was getting. Hello Mr Hamster!)

The pattern is great – I thoroughly recommend the Vine Bolero to everyone. It’s great for getting to grips with top-down contiguous cardigans, and if I’d knitted to their measurements it would have been done in a flash! One day I might just need a cropped version with sleeves the same length. The yarn is yummy too. Artesano produce seriously good yarn, and this alpaca DK (I think in a discontinued colour) does not let them down. It has a lovely halo that softens the lace and makes the whole cardi very cuddly.

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(Photo by me. Lace detail. Swoosh! Yum.)

One last thing. Remember that swatch? So far I’ve only had 1 guesser (Hi Louise!) and she so nearly got it. Here’s a shot of my progress…

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Tears before dawn (almost)

Not wishing to sound overdramatic, but something awful happened to me not long ago. Something knitting related. I feel a bit of context is required before I dive, headlong into the drama.

I was recently gifted some beautiful 100% Alpaca yarn (thank you Kirstie) in a subtle dusky pink that is just my colour. There was a whopping 11 balls of the stuff, enough to make a proper garment.

Now I have been knitting for roughly 10 years, and mostly I stick to 1-or-2-ball projects. I have a short attention span, and the thought of casting on too many stitches sends me drifting off to a different project. But I have made two garments in my knitting life. One is a perfectly presentable super chunky cardigan – it’s basically just a few rectangles sewn together with a sparkly button on the front. The other, however, a sleeveless vest, makes me look like a giant walking boob. Literally. Since then I haven’t knitted another garment for fear it just wouldn’t suit me.

So for me, deciding to turn this scrumptious Alpaca into a cardigan was quite a big deal. I found a pattern on Ravelry (of course) and downloaded it from the wonderful Eat.Sleep.Knit (who were very patient with my thicko questions). It’s Emily Johnson’s Vine Bolero. Get ready to drool, it’s lush!

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See? When that lace is blocked it’s going to look stellar!

I had more yarn than I needed so I could make it longer in both the body and the sleeves – great start. My good luck continued, zipping along through the pattern and using an entire day off (ahem, from 8am to 5pm) knitting on the sofa. It’s a top down pattern with contiguous sleeves and less than a week after casting on I had my armhole stitches on waste yarn and I was a full 10cms into the body – I’d even started the waist shaping. I took it into work to show off (as you do, when you work on a knitting magazine) and even had my photo snapped for a competition we are running.

That was when I saw it. A sneaky, pesky, evil little twist in my armhole.

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My stomach fell out of my body through my feet into the centre of the earth where it melted, and I whimpered like a kitten. Somehow, when I had cast on extra stitches for my armhole, I had twisted the work and made it Moebius. Armholes are not meant to be Moebius. Armholes are meant to look like this…

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My work in progress took a tour around the office, desperately seeking a different answer but everyone I showed it to said the same thing.

“You’re going to have to rip it back.”

10cms. On more than 300 stitches, with 6 lace pattern repeats. An entire day’s work. It made me feel sick to even consider ripping it all back and doing it all again. So, desperately, I mentioned the “s” word to one of my colleagues.

“You’d have to reinforce it, and do plenty of research, and it might look rubbish when you’re done. I’d just rip it back, if it were me.”

I did the research, I practiced on my tension square (thank god I did a tension square), I forced my work friends to debate it, at length and by the end of lunch time it was decided. I was going to cut my first steek. I was going to cut up my knitting so that I could untwist that pesky little armhole.

Normally, steeking is a design feature, not an emergency measure. Traditional Fair Isle garments are often steeked because it is easier to work complex colour patterns in the round, where you only work knit stitches. You can then cut your tube of gorgeous knitting to make way for armholes or front openings of cardigans.

All I can say is thank god for Kate Davies and her extensive tutorial, and thank god for gin. The two of them got me through a hairy hour where my knitting went from a twisted mess to this…

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and then to this…

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And breathe!

I’m actually really proud of this little cardigan so far. It helped me learn a new technique, and also taught me to be very careful when creating armholes in top down contiguous sleeve patterns. And I think you will agree that you can barely see the seam. When you consider that it’s under my arm as well, no one will ever know it’s there! Except for the fact that I’ve told you all it’s there.

The cardigan body is now done, and I am working on the first sleeve. With another day off on the horizon, I might just have this beauty finished soon…watch this space 😉