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.

 

Modification Monday: Gramps Hack

Original Pattern: Gramps and Baa-ble Hat

Knitter Extraordinaire: Rosie (Ravelry ID)

Mods: Using the Gramps sweater pattern as the base, Rosie knitted the sweater in the round with a steek using the colourwork chart from Baa-ble. She also eliminated the shawl cowl and added waist shaping. Details can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: Tin Can Knits was running a wonderful hack-a-thon that encouraged knitters to alter and otherwise ‘hack’ any of their patterns – a little or a lot! Rosie had wanted to put the colourwork chart from the famous baa-ble hat onto a sweater, and the challenge was the perfect opportunity to try her Gramps Hack. Impressively she knitted the sweater in the round and steeked it, and kept the rest of the cardigan details simple so that the charming sheep would be the focus. Rosie also eliminated pockets and elbows patches, which would have likely would have been a bit too much in one sweater when combined with the wonderful stranded design. The resulting sweater is a comfy, cozy, just-right-for-weekends cardigan decorated with the cutest sheep around!

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

This virtual tour of a French butter factory is amazing. Trust me.

Yes, planning for travel can be hard work and a bit of pain. But the happiness is worth it.

Self-care during a season of negativity.

You know those raccoon fur pom poms that are suddenly everywhere? It’s not from a raccoon. Which doesn’t really surprise me, since we have a lot of  raccoons here in Toronto and their fur doesn’t look anything like those pom poms.

I was so happy with this recent review of my poetry collection, Lady Crawford. If you’d like to read some poem samples, see a clip, and generally hear what someone else has to say about the book, check it out!

My Favourite Pins This Week

I love pretty much any panini that has pesto on it, so Starbucks has really got my number. But you can make them at home!! Be still, my pesto-loving heart. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

I’ve made some heart cookies like this with Lila before, but I love this idea – I think it’s time to try again! I previously tried it with rolled fondant icing, which works great; I could try with the royal icing instead. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post can be found here.

I’m a big fan of using nail polish to transform accessories (and I always paint my cheap costume jewelry with clear nail polish when I first get it so they last longer), and these earrings are totally calling my name! The next time I see a pair of cheap studs at H&M or Forever 21, I’m going to do this. Pinterest link is here, and the original DIY post is here.

I love felt, and this beautiful felt anemone flower DIY is right up my street. It looks so elegant. And wouldn’t it be pretty on a hair clip or as a gift topper? Pinterest link is here, and the original DIY post is here.

This cactus pillow is just the epitome of summer decor to me. So fun! So cute! Or maybe on a bed? I just love it. It’s not a free pattern, but it’s thoroughly charming. Pinterest link is here, and the pattern page is here.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Lila has a birthday party to attend, and we are going to do some cookie baking and put together valentines for her classmates. She’s been a little under the weather lately, so hopefully she is feeling up to it! What are you getting up to this weekend? Staying home and keeping cozy, or getting up to all sorts of things?

Stripes and More: Two Skein Knitting Projects

If your stash is anything like mine, you have a lot of fingering weight skeins. They are easy to buy and easy to stash, so it comes as little surprise when you eventually realize you have a whole bunch of lonely, single skeins of fingering weight and sock yarn. I recently found two skeins in my stash that seem to have been secretly going out in the storage drawer, because they look like they are so in love:

On the left, Madeline Tosh Sock in Grenadine, and on the right, Spirit Trail Fiberworks Tayet Fingering in Fog.

Two-skein knitting projects are brilliant for reducing your stash and finally using beautiful skeins that demanded to go home with you but then fell silent when you tried to figure out what to make with them. Once I saw how in love my skeins were, I started looking at two skein knitting patterns and found so many amazing ones that it’s proving impossible to choose!

Shawls

Top Row, Left to Right: Aisling, Metropolitan

Middle Row, Left to Right: Mormorio, Loop

Bottom Row, Left to Right: Sizzle PopEmiliana

I’m utterly smitten with Metropolitan, but I so love the original colour combo that I don’t think I would be happy with my colour choices here. But Aisling, Mormorio, and Loop feel like the strong contenders for me. Or maybe Emiliana?

Cowls

When it comes to two-colour fingering weight cowls, there are lots of good options, but I’ve focused on these 6 that I really love:

 

Top Row, Left to Right: Yarn Tamer, Jujika

Middle Row, Left to Right: Seashore CowlUp North

Bottom Row, Left to Right: Chromatic Cowl, Foolproof

I’m considering Jujika, but I need to swatch to see what the crosses will look like- my yarns might not have enough contrast. I have loved the Seashore Cowl for so long I’m really surprised I haven’t knit it yet, and you guys know how much I love a cowl that keeps my shoulder cozy! All of these are cowls that I think are beautiful, but don’t feel hemmed in by just these examples if they don’t strike your fancy. Add up your total yardage for the two skeins you want to use, and do a Ravelry search based on the yardage. Just because a pattern doesn’t have stripes doesn’t mean you can’t add them in!

Socks

Socks and I have a dodgy history, because I have weird toes and have not spent enough time investigating the wonders of toe up constructions, or found my perfect toe pocket for my wide, snow-shovel type toes. But one day when I find the perfect toe pocket, these socks are all on my radar. Especially Alfrick!

Top Row, Left to Right: Luna Socks, Alfrick

Middle Row, Left to Right: Socks of a Different Stripe, Pixel Stitch Socks

Bottom Row, Left to Right: Carpita, There & Back Again Socks

Do you guys have any fingering weight skeins that could have a lovely relationship together in one of these two skein sock yarn patterns? I’m having a tough time deciding. Some swatching is definitely in order!

Modification Monday: The Choice Cardigan

Original Pattern: The Choice

Knitter Extraordinaire: Timea (Ravelry ID)

Mods: Significantly shortened the length of the cardigan. Details and more photos are on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: Never underestimate the power of a simple modification for big impact. Timea shortened the length of this pretty top-down cabled cardigan, and it makes a huge impact. When looking at knitting patterns, think about what it might look like if you lengthened or shortened it by 6 inches or more. If you love cropped cardigans, look at other patterns and imagine what it would look like at your ideal length. And if you love long tunics, look at typical cardigan patterns and imagine what they would look like at your preferred longer length. Shortening or lengthening a knit can have a big impact not only on how it looks, but how comfortable you feel in it. Knit garments in lengths you love!