I have been holding off showing photos of the cardigan I knit for Leah until it actually arrived in Canada. It is taking forever to get there, however, so here we go. Unfortunately, Leah is not around to model it (thus the need to ship it to Canada), so I have had to model it myself.
I started knitting this cardigan in England when the girls came home for a short break. I knit most of the back piece in Sicily where we had a great holiday (see the photo below of me knitting it on the lawn of the beautiful villa we holidayed in). I knit one front in my hotel in Malaysia, where I had traveled to do some teaching for the business school. I knit part of the other front in Singapore, where I met up with my friend Erun for some fun. I knit the sleeves back home in England. I took it with me to Johannesburg, where I was again doing some teaching for the business school. I did some of the finishing there, knitting the neck and one of the button bands. And then I finished it back home again in England, where I agonized over button bands and general finishing issues. FIVE COUNTRIES, THREE CONTINENTS, ONE CARDIGAN!
I used a pattern from Amy Herzog’s book, Knit to Flatter, with the not very romantic name of Squared Cardigan. I had purchased 4 skeins of Madelinetosh Pashmina in the colour Plunge, but only needed three to make the cardigan! (I used every bit of those three skeins.) I made a few modifications. First, following Amy’s advice in the book on options for bust shaping, I ended up knitting the two front pieces in a size larger than the back. This gives extra room for the bust and belly without making the cardigan too big across the back and shoulders. I think this was a good choice. I won’t really be able to tell until Leah gets to try it on. I am modelling it here, and Leah and I are close in size, but she is broader in the bust and shorter in the waist than I am.
I also changed the neckline. Amy’s pattern has a rolled neck, but I put in three rows of seed stitch instead. Other than these small mods, I knit the pattern as written (how unlike me!).
My biggest problems were with the finishing. I really struggled with the button bands (as documented here). I decided to sew ribbon to the backs of the button bands and then to use plastic snap fasteners; the buttons are for decorative purposes only. I’m not entirely happy with this solution. Doug thinks it would be better with a zipper, and my mom suggested keeping the decorative buttons, but adding hook-and-eye fasteners (instead of the snaps). Both of these solutions would be good, probably better than what I ended up doing; but honestly, I was so tired of being undecided and wishy-washy and just wanted to get the thing finished and put it in the post.
One of the things that makes this cardigan distinctive is the textured pattern on the cuffs and waistband and the way that it curves. I found this to be very fiddly. I think that it looks pretty but I don’t feel it was worth the time and effort. If I made this again, I would just put in ribbing, or better yet, seed stitch.
The yarn is beautiful, but I did feel that there was a big colour difference between some of the skeins; in particular, the back is a noticeably different shade than the fronts and sleeves. I could have fixed this by alternating skeins, but I really didn’t want to do that, especially since I was lugging this thing around the world with me and knitting it on planes and in airports. I also worry that the yarn has too much drape for this cardigan. If I were to knit it again, I would use a yarn with more wool content and less silk. I would also make the neckline higher by an inch or two.
So, the conclusion is mixed. I think it is very pretty; the yarn is lustrous, and the buttons and ribbon are a perfect match. But, I have some niggling issues with the finishing. I think, for me, I will chalk it up as a learning experience. Hopefully, for Leah, it will be a lovely summer dressing option and will get lots of wear.