Jaeger Extra Fine Merino in “Peacock”, which I bought…well, quite some time ago, just after it was discontinued. It’s been lurking in my stash for ages, waiting for the perfect pattern to turn up.
I finally settled on the Morning Echo cardigan from Yarn Forward magazine, and started swatching a couple of months ago.
Problem No. 1: I just couldn’t get gauge. Even though the pattern is written for Rowan Calmer DK, the suggested gauge is 26 st, and I couldn’t even get that on 3mm needles (which gave a very stiff fabric that I didn’t like). So I settled on 3.25mm needles for a more drapey fabric, with a gauge of 24 st, and cast on for the next size down. I substituted the yarn-over buttonholes in the pattern for sturdier 3-stitch, one-row buttonholes.
Problem No. 2: My row gauge was also off, meaning if I worked the body shaping as instructed by the pattern the body would have been too long – the design of the cardigan is relatively cropped, and that’s what I wanted. So I missed out one of the decreases and one of the increases, making the shaping more gentle and making the body come out at the right length.
Problem No. 3: From the underarm up, the pattern is written in pieces – two fronts, a back, and sleeves knit flat and seamed. I decided to knit it all in one piece, and knit two sleeves in the round with no problems, increasing every 2.5 inches until I had the right number of stitches. Then I realised that I had no idea how many stitches to hold for the underarms. Fortunately, a friend had a copy of Knitting Without Tears, which soon set me right (8% of the body stitches – which worked out as about 14 stitches)*.
Problem No. 4: Stems from Problem No. 2, namely, my too-large row gauge. The raglan decreases in the original pattern weren’t standard, even decreases (ie, decreasing equally from the body and sleeve every other row). After a lot of maths, I realised that there was no way I could work the decreases as specified in the pattern and not end up with an armhole that was about 8 inches deep! So I gave up on knitting a raglan and returned to Knitting Without Tears. With Elizabeth Zimmerman’s help I converted it to a yoked cardigan.
Problem No. 5: I knit the neckband as instructed in the pattern, and sewed it to the bound-off neckline. I don’t think there was anything wrong with my seaming, but it looked awful. The seam created a ridge between the stocking stitch and the lace pattern where there hadn’t been one anywhere else in the cardigan. In addition, the yoke was too long and the neckline was way too high (halfway up my neck!). So I ripped it back, made the yoke a couple of inches shorter, and knitted on the neckband to the live neck stitches after the last yoke decrease row. On one side I attached the neckband by working P2tog on the wrong side to join the last stitch of the neckband to the body. On the other side I continued working SSK on the right side as I had been doing all along to shape the v-neck. Then I grafted the two ends together (again using Knitting Without Tears – with help from EZ I was able to graft the first bit in garter stitch to match the buttonband, and the second bit in stocking stitch).
Voila, an entirely seamless cardigan!
The buttons were from John Lewis, and I think they finish it off beautifully. I haven’t blocked it yet because I can’t bear to take it off! In an ideal world there are still a couple of changes I would make. I would ensure the graft at the back of the neck was squarely in the middle, because I didn’t measure properly and it’s slightly off-centre. I think I could also have stood to start the yoke decreases a little earlier. But all things considered, I’m immensely pleased with it, and I’ve learnt such a lot about sweater construction while knitting it!
I do have another FO to blog, but I’m just going to go and revel in the glory of having finished this cardigan for a while first!
* Knitting Without Tears is a fabulously educational book and I can’t believe I’ve not read it until now. I promptly ordered my own copy. It’s full of fantastic information about knitwear construction, and there are so many useful little nuggest of wisdom. I think I’ll be using it a lot.