Saturday, 4 April 2015

Completed Knit: Marion Cardigan

Allow me to present my favourite finished project ever: my first handknit cardigan!



Despite learning to knit when I was really young, I never really thought of knitting anything other than accessories. Sweaters just seemed so daunting!

After finishing my Pseudo Shibori Scarf though, knit with 3.5 mm needles and kidsilk, I felt like I was ready to tackle my first sweater. Unfortunately, my tendinitis hit just after finishing the scarf, so I didn't knit at all during my grade 12 year. After I graduated, I slowly got back into it, and found that I was okay so long as I didn't knit too much at once. 


I knew that I wanted to make a cardigan, and I've always loved all of Andi Satterlund's patterns, so it wasn't hard to pick out a pattern. I ended up going with the Marion cardigan, because it was mostly stockinette (aka simple), but had enough shaping and cables that I would learn something new and not get bored. 


When I first downloaded the pattern and read through it, I almost gave up then and there. I had no idea what so much of it meant - short rows, cables, picking up and knitting, yarn overs... it was pretty overwhelming!


I ended up just looking up videos on every stitch that I wasn't sure about, and practicing until I felt reasonably comfortable with all the stitches. I'm glad I picked a relatively simple pattern, because it still felt like I had so much to learn!




The yarn I picked is Colour Adventures Sweet Aran, in the colourway Midnight Blues, which I bought from Wool and Wicker in Steveston. It's 100% superwash merino, and comes in lots of colours. The yarn itself is a little pricey, but I didn't need very much so it didn't end up being too expensive overall. I don't know if I would buy it again because since then, I've found cheaper yarn of a similar quality, but it is quite nice to work with, and really comfortable to wear!



I also bought a set of interchangeable needles, which is a great investment if you plan on making lots of sweaters (like I do!). It makes it really easy to change the cable length as needed, and you never have to transfer stitches to holders - instead, you just take off the needles and screw on these little stoppers at the ends of the cables. When I was knitting the upper front and back, I used a 24" cable, then switched to 32" when I connected it all. When I knit the button band, I went up to 40" (or possible 47", can't remember). For the sleeves, I bought a second set of 5 mm tips, and used both circular needles with 24" cables. I tried to use the magic loop method first, but I found it really awkward to use for the short rows at the sleeve cap.

Since the yarn is hand-dyed, it recommends alternating skeins, which I did throughout the body. At first, I didn't know the best way to do this, so I just tied a knot and knit with a new strand every 2 rows. About 10 rows in, I realized that I would have way too many ends to weave in if I kept going like that! Instead, I just kept all three skeins attached and just picked up a new one every two rows, similar to the way I imagine you would do colourwork (although I've never done colourwork, so I can't say for sure). I didn't bother alternating skeins when I knit the sleeves because I wasn't sure of the best way, and I honestly don't notice any difference, so I probably didn't need to have alternated skeins for the rest of it. Oh well! 




Over the summer, the knitting went pretty quickly. I made lots of mistakes and had to frog a lot, but I kept going pretty steadily until I finished the main body of the sweater. In September, though, I pretty much stopped working on it altogether. I did actually find some time to knit, but I couldn't figure out the short row shaping at the shoulder. I knew that I needed a solid chunk of time to sit down and figure out what I kept doing wrong, and I just never seemed to have that time. Instead, I worked on a hat in little bits and pieces, and didn't really touch the sweater until I was home for Christmas break.

Once I figured out the short rows, the sleeves went really quickly, and I finished this within a couple weeks of the start of the winter semester. 




The next part that took me forever was, of all things, buying buttons! I really wanted to go to Rubans Boutons to find them, but when I finally found an afternoon free to go to Rue St. Hubert, it was one of the coldest days in February! I literally just ducked into the first store I saw that sold buttons, and found some that matched surprisingly well. They're nothing all that special, but the colour is a perfect match, and I like the simpler buttons because they keep the focus on the cables.



It took me so long to buy the buttons that I actually started wearing it without buttons for a while! I think it looks good unbuttoned as well, but you can see the cables better when it's buttoned up, so that's probably how I'll wear it most of the time.




I am so proud of this cardigan, but it's definitely far from perfect! First of all, it could be just a little bigger. Despite swatching and measuring my gauge, my gauge when I actually knit this was a little tight, and I never checked it along the way. It's still very wearable and comfortable, but if I want to wear anything bulkier than a camisole or thin t-shirt underneath, it's a little snug. 




Second of all, I really need to work on casting off loosely. The cast-off edges at the bottom edges of the body and the sleeves are tighter than they should be, and this makes the sweater ride up a little. You can see that in the photo below.



Another part that I need to keep looser is the part between the two needles that I knit the sleeve on - I was so worried about it being too loose that I overdid it a little, and ended up with a little bit of a ridge going down my arm where they stitches are way too tight. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who notices, but if you look closely you can see it a little in these pictures. 



Overall, though, I'm really, really happy with this cardigan! I love the colour and really suits my style. I've already almost finished my second sweater - hopefully I'll have it finished while it's still cool enough to wear it!

Ravelry notes are here.


Thanks for reading, and happy Easter!


Cardigan: Me-made (Marion Cardigan)

Camisole: Mom-made (self-drafted)
Skirt: upcycled from an old dress

16 comments:

  1. I found your blog looking at samples of the Jenna cardigan sewn up via the Muse sewing website. You have amazing talent and I adore your hand knit sweater! I only know how to knit wash cloths and it's very slow going. Your sweater is an inspiration and maybe someday I'll work up to it. It looks fabulous and I can see why you so pleased with it!

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    1. Thank you! I used to be the same - I only ever knit simple scarves and hats until I saw so many amazing handknit sweaters on other blogs.

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  2. I love that! The colour of the yarn is beautiful, and it looks like you did a great job knitting it.

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  3. Great job, the fit looks great. Did you block it, when you next wash it you could block it slightly larger if you want. I use grandmas stretchy bind off to get a stretchy result.

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    1. Thank you! I did block it slightly larger (as much as I could without pins), and that helped. I've tried to learn some new bind offs for my next sweater, but I hadn't heard of that one. I'll have to give it a try!

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  4. Gorgeous job, and I actually like it fitted like that. I had to bag knitting over tendonitis, so it's nice to be able to sew too!

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    1. Thanks! I like the fit as well - when I say it could be a little bigger, I'm not talking about very much. And I know how tendinitis can really get in the way of knitting! I'm lucky that I've recovered from mine, but I still have to be careful not to do too much knitting at once so that it doesn't come back.

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  5. Really lovely. I just can not get the knack of knitting. I get out my needles every now and again but only produce a mess.

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    1. Thanks! I guess knitting isn't for everyone - I'm just glad I was able to pick it up again this year, when I didn't have a sewing machine. Have you tried learning from YouTube? It worked well for me (better than books, because you can see exactly what they're doing)!

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  6. Absolutely lovely. You should be proud :) I second the idea of a stretchy bind off- I like"jenny's surprisingly stretchy bnd off", and I also like elizabeth zimmerman's sewn bind off. There are many! Enjoy experimenting. Well done, I know people who are too scared to learn new techniques as you have done!

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    1. Thank you! I will look into those bind-offs. I know that my mom had tried a sewn bind off and been really happy with it, so I might try that one!

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  7. so pretty - there is a lovely depth of colour to that yarn. The buttons are great ;o)

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  8. The colour suits you so well!!! And honestly, you might feel the cardigan is too tight, but it looks just the right size for you. It makes me want to start knitting again :-)

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    1. Thank you! With the camisole I'm wearing, the cardigan fits just fine - I just feel that if I wear anything else underneath it's a little snug. Overall though I'm very happy with the fit!

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