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.

 

71 comments

  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 🙂

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks, Jane! I think we all make mistakes, but those the moments that teach us. I feel like knitting is a lot like golf- there is no perfect game. We just keep inching towards improvement, but sometimes there are setbacks. 😉

  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.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Val,

      Thank you! I’m really happy with how it turned out, even though I feel sheepish for having paid such poor attention to detail on this knit.

      Cheers,

      Julie

  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.

    • Julie   •     Author

      So true, it’s amazing how the learning never seems to end! As for your summer shirt, I have a theory that some patterns give us a mental block, and even though there might be a few hundred lovely knits in ravlery from the same pattern, that doesn’t mean that pattern makes sense to our brain. And of course, I didn’t do myself any favours with this one by putting it down here and there for weeks at a time, and then forgetting about the details!

  4. Jocelyn   •  

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

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks so much, Jocelyn! I hope you are having a lovely weekend!

  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)!

    • Julie   •     Author

      Sometimes they are a totally struggle! If you have been having problems with each sweater, maybe try a tiny baby sweater, so you can work out some of the details first before trying a bigger one. since they are much faster knits, I find baby sweaters helpful if figuring out construction problems on a much smaller scale!

  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!!

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Bonnie,

      It’s worth sharing the bits that don’t work out, but that’s where you learn so much! And I haven’t had those sorts of problems in a long time, just goes to show that you can’t get too complacent. Knitting has a way of showing you who’s boss sometimes! 😉

      Cheers,

      Julie

  7. MJ   •  

    I think the sweater looks great on you. I also really like the yarn so I may need to try it out for my next sweater project.
    I’m not glad you made mistakes but happy to know that I’m not alone in making mistakes through failure to think through all the steps. Now, I’m going to go and fix the mistake I made in my eyelet shawl when I was knitting while tired last night. Oh yes. I did that. And you know what is even more embarrassing? I did the same thing the night before. Talk about not learning from your mistakes. Sheesh.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Haha, it totally happens to us all! Glad I’m not the only one. 😉

      Cheers,

      Julie

  8. 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.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Everyone makes mistakes, for sure! When you do start a sweater, try a baby sweater first- something similar in construction to the sort of adult sweater you would like to make. This way it will teach you a lot without it being a huge investment of time and yarn, and then you’ll be in a great spot to tackle your first adult sweater!

  9. 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.

    Annie

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Annie,

      Yes, try the seams on your Levenwick cardigan! I pinned it down, and took a couple tries at it, but it worked out sooo much better than I could have expected. And now I want to wear it all the time!

      Cheers,

      Julie

  10. 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.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Monica,

      Isn’t that so wryly funny? You know how to do it, you’ve made a bunch of them before, but then you sort of tune out or get distracted and suddenly a normal, easy knit is taking you to task! Ah well. I feel like it was a good reset, and I’m working on a pullover and I’m definitely paying close attention now!

      Cheers,

      Julie

  11. Kat @ felinity knits   •  

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

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks, Kat! I’m loving it, it’s so cozy and comfy. 🙂

  12. 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!

    • Julie   •     Author

      You are absolutely right, Melissa- I’ve seen so many beautiful sweaters and patterns and they are all so tempting, but they just aren’t wardrobe friendly. I wanted a classic cardigan, and I want to knit more of them- ones that feel like wardrobe staples and I can wear all the time, not just a special occasion or only with a certain top or a certain outfit. I definitely want to knit more wardrobe staples this year!

  13. 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 🙂

    • Julie   •     Author

      It’s a very grey sort of green… not a vivid green at all! And then the snow and the tweed flecks would definitely downplay the green, as well. I’m so sad that the snow didn’t last! We had one beautifully snowy weekend, and then that was that. Oh well.

  14. 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. 😉

  15. 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 🙂

  16. 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!

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Sierra,

      we only had snow for that weekend, and then it went away as fast as it came! It’s not been a very snowy winter, which is a shame. I love snow!

      Cheers,

      Julie

  17. 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.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Carolyn,

      I think that it’s one of those thing that when you make it, you know all the flaws and places where mistakes were made, but it doesn’t show if you don’t point them out! I wouldn’t ever tell a non knitter about all the mistakes, but I feel like it’s important to be honest on the blog about when things don’t go smoothly- it happens to us all, right?

      Cheers,

      Julie

  18. Stefanie   •  

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

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Stefanie,

      I think this was the 3rd time we tried to get photos, the first time the sweater had been fixed, but I wanted to do at least a couple ‘before’ photos, and then the next time it was so grey that the photos looked dull and grey and muddy. But the 3rd time was a charm!

      Cheers,

      Julie

  19. 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   •  

      Agreed!

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Ellen,

      There have been times where I’ve made a lovely sweater but the yarn was not great, and it totally affects whether or not you want to wear it. I’m a big fan of always going for a yarn you really enjoy, so even if you make mistakes, you will still love to wear it!

      Cheers,

      Julie

  20. 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!

    • Julie   •     Author

      haha, gradient button spacing – I love it! Totally intentional, you’re right. 😉

  21. 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!

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks, Susan! I am really happy with how to turned out, despite all my ridiculous errors. I had to keep putting it down to do other project,s so I think part of it was that I was distracted and not focused on it properly. Apparently a stockinette sweater can still kick you in the behind if you are are not paying attention!

      Cheers,

      Julie

  22. 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.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Celeste,

      You are dos right- the snowflakes make it look even tweedier! I wasn’t sure how the sewing of the raglan seam would go, but it worked! I thought about storebought sweaters that you get that often have seams where there is really no need for seams, and somehow they work. Turns out a seam there is no big deal!

      Cheers,

      Julie

  23. 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.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Tahnee,

      Sometimes the more complicated knits are fun to make, but are actually not a style you’d really wear. I wanted a simple cardigan I could wear with anything, and thank goodness i chose a yarn I loved. This sweater is so nice and warm, too! This year I want to make garments that are easy to wear, even if they seem otherwise like a simple knit. AS this one shows, even the simplest knits can throw you for a loop if you aren’t paying attention! 😉

      Cheers,

      Julie

  24. 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.

    • Julie   •     Author

      You are absolutely right, Agnes! Those no-brainers are when I get cocky and think it’s going to be a cake walk and then make all sorts of silly mistakes.

  25. 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!

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Leslie,

      I’m such a slow knitter, and I kept putting this sweater down again to knit the mini stockings for December. But I knew I would finish it eventually!

      Cheers,

      Julie

  26. 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!

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks, Alina! Despite all my silly errors from not paying attention (and putting it down for lengths of time before picking it back up again), I’m really happy with how it turned out. it’s been so cozy to wear, and I love it!

      Cheers,

      Julie

  27. 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).

    • Julie   •     Author

      It’s so true that when we make mistakes on our knits, we are probably the ONLY people who notice them! I’m fine with it, for exactly that reason- I don’t know if anyone would really notice if I didn’t point it out. But I prefer to be honest on the blog, since mistakes happen to all of us!

      xo

      J.

  28. Preeti   •  

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

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi preeti,

      I hadn’t tried it before, but on store bought sweaters so many of them have seams where we knitters wouldn’t normally put seams, and they seem to work out… and it worked! I was so glad, the idea of ripping it all out just seemed to terrible.

      Cheers,

      julie

  29. Zeta   •  

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

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks Zeta! I’m happy with how it turned out, despite it’s flaws. 🙂

  30. 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

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Kayrine,

      so true- the mistake is always at the beginning and not noticed until blocking!

      Cheers,

      Julie

  31. 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. 🙂

    • Julie   •     Author

      I wanted to be honest about the mistakes, even though they aren’t visible just in photos. I think that’s a problem with so many knits we see online and on ravelry – they look perfect in the photos, but in real life aren’t great. This is a great sweater in real life, but I made silly mistakes. They happen to us all, right?

      Cheers,

      Julie

  32. Loulou   •  

    What a great cardigan! It looks terrific on you. Um, and can we talk about the coffee cup cozy? Very cute!

  33. 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.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Hi Tien,

      I love this sweater so much, and was so relieved when I could sew down the raglan seam and take in the extra fabric! Whew. I think mistakes happen to us all= I got distracted, wasn’t thinking it through, and figured since it was stockinette I barely had to think about it. haha, knitting can really show you, right?

      Cheers,

      Julie

  34. 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. 😀

    • Julie   •     Author

      Haha, it’s so true! When a knit goes well, it’s hard to think of anything original to say about it- ‘yarn was lovely, pattern is good, look at my awesome knit!’ But when something goes wrong, there’s so much more to say about why it went wrong, what you should have done differently, what the impact is, etc. And I think it’s more helpful to others when there is something to say about the problems – mistakes teach us so much!

      Cheers,

      Julie

  35. Kessa   •  

    Gosh, it looks SO cozy! Love how you fixed that neckline… I couldn’t tell it was sewn down at all!

    • Julie   •     Author

      I was lucky that it worked! So many knits are seamless these days so it feels really avant garde to sew a seam in, but it worked out great! And you can’t even tell unless you are looking at the inside.

  36. Michele   •  

    Your cardi looks super cozy! The yarn is beautiful. I have definitely knit one of those sweaters where mistakes were plentiful. Yours turned out very nice in the end.

    • Julie   •  

      Thanks so much! I’m wearing it right now, it was so chilly today- perfect for my cozy sweater!

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