Sometimes it all comes together just right. The magical combination of pattern and yarn. A fabulous fit. This is why I knit.
The only thing better than creating a beautiful knit garment is wearing one. This is my daughter Leah, modelling the cardigan I knit for her. Anyone who knows Leah, would know that this sweater just screams LEAH. It is made for her (both literally and figuratively).
Regular readers will know that I was racing to finish this before Leah flew off to Canada for her second year at university. I had a marathon finishing session, knitting the button bands in the middle of the night. I dropped it into the wash basin just 48 hours before her plane left, worrying all along that it wouldn’t dry in time (or worse, that we wouldn’t be able to photograph it before she left). Here is a very exhausted but happy mom:
The cardigan was designed by Sandi Rosner for the Twist Collective. It is called Peloponnese. I knew the instant I saw it that I would knit it for Leah. Astonishingly, although the pattern was released over a year ago, there is only one other project up on Ravelry. Knitters, you are truly missing out here! Knit this – you won’t be sorry.
The yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Composition Book Grey and Candlewick. This won’t be my last project with either colour; the Candlewick especially. It is absolutely radiant – it glows in the sunshine and looks like burnished gold in low light.
I made a number of modifications from the pattern, which I will outline here. Those of you who are only interested in the pretty, and not in the boring technical details (surely, no one falls into that category!), could easily skim through the next few paragraphs. Here is the pattern photo for comparison’s sake.
1. Long sleeves. I think a long-sleeved cardigan is more useful. I was knitting the second size, so I cast on the sleeves as if for the first size (because the wrist is narrower than the forearm) and then increased at 2″, 4″, 6″ and 8″ and then every inch until the desired 72 stitches, and then continued until the sleeve length was right. (This is always a bit tricky with a yoked sweater; I made Leah try it on so many times and measured it ad nauseum. In the end, it was perfect.)
2. The pattern calls for the mosaic portions of the cardigan (around the yoke) to be knit with a larger needle than the stockinette portions. I used a US number 5 needle for everything – all of the body, the edgings and the yoke. I liked the way it looked. Also, I have knit many times using mosaic pattern stitches and knew that my stitches would not be unduly pulled in – I am pretty good at keeping an even tension in mosaic.
3. Alterations to the yoke. You can see in the pattern photo that there are six rings of mosaics in the yoke (in addition to the edging, which is in garter stitch). If you look carefully, you can see that this is actually three repeats of the pattern. Sandi Rosner has written a beautiful pattern, and the way the yoke is designed is brilliant. I especially like the way the decreases are worked into the yoke. However, I encountered some fit problems here and had to improvise on the pattern.
The pattern calls for a decrease row after each pattern repeat. After I had worked five rows of mosaics (thus two and a half pattern repeats and two yoke decrease rows), I had Leah try it on and realized that (1) the cardigan was stretched too tightly around her shoulders, and (2) the yoke would not be long enough if I followed the pattern exactly. Before continuing, I would like to stress two points. First, this is by no means a problem with the pattern. Recall point 2 above – I did not go up a needle size when I began the mosaic portion – thus it is not surprising that I had a few fit issues. Second, and more important, is that ALL patterns are written to standard sizes. The whole point of hand-knitting a garment is to knit it to fit. You should never just knit blindly to the pattern measurement. If the pattern says to knit the sleeves to 19″ for a size 38, and you are a size 38 but have extra long arms, it would be crazy to knit the sleeves to fit the pattern rather than to fit your body.
To fix this, I ripped back to before the second yoke decreases and knit another half-repeat before decreasing. Thus, Leah’s sweater has 7 rows of mosaic (3.5 repeats) with yoke decreases after the second, fifth and seventh rows of mosaics. This means that the decreases are made in the contrast colour (the Candlewick) the second time.
4. The buttonbands. Unblocked, the fit on this cardigan was tight. I was worried about getting a good fit, but didn’t want to do a hard block on the pattern. I decided instead to add a bit more give by adding 4 rows of garter stich in the main colour to the beginning of the button bands. This adds two garter ridges in grey between the yoke pattern and the buttonband edging. This gave me just enough extra “give” so that the fit is perfect. And, I think it looks fabulous. I really like the effect; I think it makes the yoke pattern “pop” even better.
We really went right to the wire with this project. It was 3pm on Saturday by the time I finished blocking it; Leah and I then hopped in the car and raced out to find buttons. I had wanted to find yellow buttons, but they weren’t to be had. Leah insisted these small grey metal ones would be just right, and she nailed it.
The weather has been pretty miserable this Bank Holiday weekend, but the rain held off just enough that I was able to unpin the cardigan and put it outside for a few hours on Sunday afternoon, enough to ensure the back was dry. (You can see I was also busy washing several of Leah’s other hand knitted garments – and one of Emma’s as well; aren’t my girls lucky?)
Then, I had just enough time to weave in some ends and sew on 11 buttons (yes, 11 buttons!) before the light failed. The weather cooperated and a photo-shoot ensued:
This pattern is beautifully written and detailed. The cardigan looks so intricate and complicated but is quite simple to knit (the mosaic pattern means that you never knit with more than one colour on any row). I love all of the little details that make the pattern special; for example, the edging done in the mosaic pattern but in garter stitch instead of stockinette. This looks so classy!
And this, Dear Readers, is why I knit!