Finished Knit: Harebell Cardigan

Every now and then, you knit something that totally kicks your butt and teaches you all sorts of things that you thought you had already learned. This Harebell cardigan has been my school of hard knocks. And I love it more than you can imagine.

Pattern: Harebell by Amy Christoffers

Yarn: Berocco Tuscan Tweed in ‘Laurel’

Mods: I half-assed a neckline mod, and it came back to bite me in the behind.

Ravelry project page is here.

What I Love: Focusing on the Positive

The yarn. I love the yarn so much. I knit this hat for James in it, and now that I have been wearing my new cardigan regularly for weeks I can tell you that it is warm and cozy and goes with everything and brings me so much joy to wear. It doesn’t pill quickly (hasn’t pilled yet!) and I love the colour. It’s a deep, cool green that works for me. The texture and drape of the knitted fabric is exactly what I wanted. A word to caution to those that run hot or live in warmer climates- it results in a very warm sweater. Which works great for me, because I live in Canada and it is clearly snowing.

So let’s get to the mistakes, shall we? Because I made a bunch of dumb mistakes. Truly embarrassing that someone with as much knitting experience as I have even did all this. Let’s get this shame parade going!

Mistake: I thought I could just wing it.

This pattern attracted me because it was simple, no frills, and looks like the kind of cardigan I needed in my wardrobe. I wanted a wear-with-anything cardigan that was comfy and cozy, and all about the lovely tweed yarn. But crew necks look terrible on me. A combination of being medium-chested and sort-of-short means that crew necks are not my friend. “No problem,” I said to myself. “I’ll just widen it, make it a boat neck, and it’ll be great.” And then I set about making no plan for this whatsoever. I just cast on stitches for a larger size to get a bigger neckline.

The result of my half-assed approach? Fabric puckering on the fronts.  But do you think I noticed it early on? hahahaha, not at all. Because….

Mistake #2: I knit a top down sweater and NEVER tried it on.

Dumb, right? I totally know better. I can’t even begin to describe how ridiculous it is to knit something top down for yourself and never actually try it on to see how things are going.  But that’s exactly what happened. Can I claim baby brain? Sleep deprivation? Temporary insanity?

Mistake #3: I rushed the button band.

I’ve knit many things, but I don’t knit button bands very often. In my rush to finally finish this sweater, I did not carefully plan out my button holes to ensure they were properly spaced. Which wouldn’t be a big deal if I never sewed buttons on it, because that’s when you could really tell that they were not evenly spaced – and as we work our way up towards the neckline, the buttons get further and further apart.  To top it all off? I never wear cardigans buttoned up. I have no idea why I even made buttonholes or bought buttons. Where was my brain during all this knitting?!

What I (re)Learned

Lesson re-learned: When modifying a knit – especially the neckline –  think about how your modification is going to impact the rest of the knit and what you are going to do to fix it. I should have realized that with a wider neckline, the fronts of the sweater wouldn’t sit flat unless I drastically reduced the increase ratio when making increases for the fronts, back, and sleeves. I needed to re-calculate the rate of increases in order to compensate for the wider neckline.

Lesson re-learned: Try. It. On. Make sure that the shoulders, front(s) and back are sitting as they should. Probably should do this before you get to the waist, but definitely make sure you do this again when you get to the waist. And again at the hips. and again when you are thinking of starting the hem.

Lesson re-learned: Get out the removable stitch markers and plan exactly where you are going to be putting those yarn overs for your button holes before you start knitting, and make sure they are evenly spaced throughout the length of the button band. Measure! Triple check this. Don’t wing it on the fly while watching a movie.

You may notice that the fabric in the front doesn’t look like it’s puckering much. That’s because I ‘fixed’ it. I folded over the front raglan seams and sewed it down. I’m amazed that it worked, but it did- you can barely notice it. It doesn’t even add any visual bulk, despite there being a fold of knitted fabric behind that raglan seam.

Something that I did well – I decided to try a sewn bind off, which I have only done once or twice before. Since it’s not usual for me, I actually paid attention. I liked it quite a bit, but wish I had done it on the hem of the sweater, and not just the cuffs and the button band. The funny thing is, I’d be tempted to rip out the button band and try again but that sewn bind off took me so long, I’m loathe to unpick it. That’s the thing with a sewn bind off- it looks wonderful, but if you make a mistake, it is painstaking to undo it.

I think the moral of my knitting story is this- A lot can be forgiven if you love the yarn you are working with. A simple stockinette cardigan really shows off the yarn you used, so if it’s a great yarn that wears beautifully, the odd knitting error here or there won’t be such a big deal. Perfectionists out there are cringing right now, I can feel it through the screen.

I love the length and the fit, which is a miracle considering I never tried it on. While this wasn’t a crowning achievement in the realm of knitting prowess, I knit a cardigan that I love and actually wear regularly.  And really, that’s what I wanted- a comfy sweater I love to wear.



  1. Jane   •  

    I’m glad I’m not along in making more and more spectacular mistakes the more knitting experience I have! Your fix is genius, though, and the sweater looks fabulous 🙂

  2. Val   •  

    I wouldn’t have noticed the button spacing at all if you hadn’t pointed it out! In fact, I love your button choice, they look great against the green. And excellent job sewing down the extra slack in the raglan seam! Like you, I prefer a wider neckline and you totally nailed it with the sewing fix, I’d never have known it was changed after the fact Really, the perfect every day cardigan.

  3. Kelly J. R.   •  

    The cardigan looks great on you! Kudos to you for powering through the problems and finishing the project. It’s so easy to just get fed up and toss something aside. I tried knitting a summer shirt for myself 3x last year and I just couldn’t get it to work. So, I switched patterns and now I have something I love. I’m always amazed by how knitting can continue to challenge me and teach me knew things even though I’ve been doing it for 10 years.

  4. Jocelyn   •  

    Hi Julie,
    Lovely knitting and I am especially happy for Lady Crawford, you clever thing you!

  5. duni   •  

    i have been struggling with every sweater i’ve started in the last year. glad to see i’m not the only one. 🙂
    your sweater came out lovely, though. the color is perfect and your raglan mod worked beautifully. well done (said the non-perfectionist)!

  6. Bonnie   •  

    It looks great! It’s a relief to see that other people make knitting mistakes even though they’re experienced, so thanks for sharing those. The mistakes definitely don’t show. You have a great cardigan!!

  7. MariposaKnits   •  

    I really want to learn to knit a sweater one day, and feel that all of current projects are slowly preparing me, but it looks so intimidating, especially seeing everyone’s gorgeous sweaters that looked like they effortlessly knit! Thanks for sharing, it was good to know everyone makes mistakes in projects, and a great reference of things to keep in mind when I finally work up the courage to attempt one myself.

  8. Annie   •  

    Hi Julie! I love this post so very much. Your sweater looks lovely and comfy and I can identify so much with your mistakes. Thanks for the tip about folding over the raglan seams, I have a Levenwick cardigan where that might be a better fix than ripping back to the yoke.

    Hope you’re having a good week.


  9. Monica   •  

    To start with, the cardigan looks great. I love the colour and how it turned out. And I love that you shared your “lessons learned” for this project. It happens to all of us to fall into these exact pitfalls… I certainly have been a victim…. I just finished a baby cardigan for a friend’s baby, and I’ve knit countless baby cardigans….you would not believe the mistakes I’ve made and the amount of times I had to frog portions because of that…it was really frustrating because like you said, I KNOW BETTER.

  10. Kat @ felinity knits   •  

    The end result is a gorgeous cardi, even if you hit some speed bumps along the way. Jealous!

  11. Melissa   •  

    First, I love the sweater! Finding a basic cardigan is sometimes difficult in the Ravely-sea of beautiful and (sometimes overly ornate) options. We all want *this* sweater in our closets! And second, I always appreciate a good making story–yours is epic and funny, and disappointing, and affirming all at the same time. I am with you: do the sweater math ahead of time and you might get a little closer to the desired finish . . . but darn it, if casting on and just going for it aren’t fun, too. Well done on a beautiful project!

  12. Hanna   •  

    Thank you very much for sharing your knitting story for this sweater – It really does look comfy and cozy and perfect. Something must be really wonky with my computer screen though – It looks grey… maybe it’s just matching the grey West Coast weather. The mist/fog rising from the melting snow is so thick today I can’t even see the trees at the other end of our property 🙂

  13. Tanis   •  

    I’m fascinated with your aversion to crew necks! I feel like we have pretty similar body types and I feel like I can’t wear a boatneck, but now I really want to revisit that, maybe I’ve been wrong all along! I’ve been wanting to knit Michele Wang’s Ondawa for ages and have been put off by the wide neck… I have the yarn in my stash… I’m going to cast on tonight!

    Awesome blog post. It’s nice to know that even the pro’s aren’t always perfect, though you’d never know it by these gorgeous FO shots. Love the coffee cozy cameo too. So cute. 😉

  14. Kat   •  

    It looks great! I usually end up making neckline modifications too-sorry yours didn’t work out perfectly the first time! I’m so glad you were able to fix it instead of having to rip back-I’m always in favor of finding a quick fix! The yarn looks amazing, that’s really the perfect pattern to show it off 🙂

  15. Sierra   •  

    Your cardigan looks amazing! And the lovely snow photos make me jealous, I love hearing how you worked your way around the problems and made everything work for you!

  16. Carolyn   •  

    Your sweater is lovely – and the photographs are also. One would never know about your “mistakes” looking at your sweater. It is perfect for you, beautiful color and the buttons are great!!! You know your errors but other people don’t see them.

  17. Stefanie   •  

    That looks so cozy! How fun to take a photo shoot in the snow.

  18. Ellen   •  

    It definitely looks perfect in the photos! I think you made it work! A beautiful finished piece. I think I need to add something like this to my queue. Simple pattern + gorgeous yarn = knitting heaven in my book!

    • Celeste   •  


  19. Laura   •  

    It looks great on you, despite the issues you had! Your fix for the top worked so well, noone would ever be able to tell. Just pretend the buttons were intentional. You’re the pioneer of the next trend… gradient button spacing!

  20. Susan   •  

    Julie, you are so gorgeous. That yarn is the perfect color. Now I want some! 😉 I think your cardigan is a great length, too.

    Good for you persevering to get it right. Thank you for your honesty here. Happy knitting!

  21. Celeste   •  

    This looks so lovely on you! Really great color, which I adore. Why don’t I knit more items in this color for myself?!? And I love how the snow mixes with the light tweed flecks to where you can’t tell which is which.

    I’m very impressed by your sewing among the raglan edge. It looks great and I never would have noticed had you not pointed it out. My compliments.

  22. Tahnee   •  

    Love this, I really need a cardigan like this in my life. You are right of course in saying that a great yarn makes up for a lot. I love how you stuck with this despite everything, and just knew this would be a great piece. I actually think ending up with a garment that you adore and wear all the time is a much bigger achievement than making a complicated piece.

  23. miss agnes   •  

    Great cardigan, and this is clearly one of your colors. Yeah, well, it’s usually when it seems a no- brainer that we make the most mistakes. It’s reassuring in a way to see that even an expert like you can make mistakes. It looks good anyway and really comfy too. And I miss the Canadian snow (but not the cold). Nice to see these snowy pictures.

  24. Leslie   •  

    I’ve been wondering how Harebell turned out! It looks great and you look fantastic in that color. Thank you for sharing the story of the knit. As Miss Agnes said, it is nice to know that we all struggle sometimes with this craft that has ensnared us!

  25. Alina   •  

    This grey shade is perfect! You look absolutely beautiful, the snowflakes are magical and your notes on this project are so useful. Wonderful piece of knitwear that you are going to wear for many years to come!

  26. Renee Anne   •  

    This probably helps: I wouldn’t have noticed things like the button band if you hadn’t pointed it out. It gives it a bit of a visual effect that almost makes you appear taller (which isn’t to say you’re short…I think you’re actually taller than me and I’m average for a female of my age).

  27. Preeti   •  

    That’s such a great hack for when knitting goes wrong!! I love that this cardigan looks so comfy and chic 🙂

  28. Zeta   •  

    I think that, no matter the hiccups, it looks great on you! Good job Julie 😉

  29. Kayrine   •  

    I Love your cardigan !! The wider neck is great and the yarn is amazing. The FO looks sooo comfy and it fits perfectly !
    You’re right to embrace these (very) little imperfections, that’s what makes your handknit cardi so unique !!
    (and that’s what I keep telling myself when I spot a mistake AFTER my knit is done and blocked, and there’s absolutely NO WAY I’m frogging it since the mistake is ALWAYS at its very beginning…)
    Also, I’m not a fan of crew necks either, I, too, like to widen the neck of my sweaters

  30. Lisa   •  

    At least you have the design skills to even attempt to modify. While I’ve designed plenty of socks and small things, doing sweaters is a whole other ball game. Thank you for sharing your imperfections with us, it shows that we are all human and we all make mistakes. 🙂

  31. Tien   •  

    Sewing down the raglan seams was an ingenious fix! I would have never noticed all of the roadblocks that you had because the cardigan looks so wonderful on you. Great color and the tweed adds to the cozy factor. I love that you are so open about the mistakes made and lessons learned from this project. So often, we try to hide them but I believe that these experiences add “character” to our hand knits.

  32. Neulisti   •  

    It really sounds like a learning experience. The cardigan looks lovely on you despite all the hurdles you had to overcome. I loved the long and detailed post. I always find it much easier to write about projects that didn’t go as planned. 😀

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