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