Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Final Reveal: Knitting the Perfect Cardigan

Yea, it's done!  And I love it.  As you may recall, for the past few months, I've been heavily modifying Red Heart's Alica Blue Cardigan to become my perfect cardigan.  And I quite happy with the results (though there were time I seriously doubted what I was doing).

So here's how I did it (tailored to my own measurements).  I was on gauge with the pattern, so I just changed the stitch count and size for my needs:

1.  Knit the right front, back, and left front as one piece up to the underarm.  I also wanted to lengthen the sweater to about 22" overall.

2.  I knit a 5 st garter button band on both edges as I knit the cardigan, rather than going back and adding the button band as the pattern stated.  I made my button holes at every 2 inches along my band.

3.  I needed to accommodate my larger hips, but then decrease the size down to 34" for my chest and shoulders (the smallest size in the pattern was a 36" bust).

I didn't like the 3 x 2 ribbing called for in the pattern.  Instead, I did a tighter 2 x 2 ribbing:  Using a #5 needle, I cast on 5 sts for the right button band, 60 sts for the right front, 122 sts for the back, 60 sts for the left front, and 5 sts for the left button band (total 252 sts).  Keeping the 5st button band in garter st, I knit 2 inches in k2,p2 ribbing for the bottom hem.

When my ribbing was complete, I changed to a #6 needle and began knitting in Stst (again keeping the button band in garter).  For my first row in Stst, I decreased 10 sts across the right front, 22 sts across the back, and 10 sts across the left front (total 210 sts remaining).  I like to knit my ribbing this way with more sts.  It allows more room for my hips, and the ribbing lies flat and doesn't get stretched out.

4.  Continuing in Stst, I did a series of 4 decreases on the front and back to shape the body, then I did one increase for the chest about an inch before I started the underarm shaping.  This body shaping left me with 47 sts for each front (plus the 5 st button band) and 94 sts for the back.

5.  I began the front lace detail at 12 inches from the bottom hem.  I thought I would only be able to do 4 repeats on the lace pattern, but I actually fit all five across each side.  One weird thing: the lace pattern is not symmetrical.  I don't think anyone is going to notice looking at my sweater, but if I were to knit it again, I would try swatching the lace pattern and try to reverse it for the left front side.

6.  For the arm holes, I bound off 5 sts before and after each side marker (total 10 sts for each arm hole).  Then did a series of decreases to shape the armhole:  dec 2, 2, 1, 1, 1.  I think this is slightly different than the pattern instructions, but worked great for me.

7.  I bound off the neckline pretty much as stated in the pattern, then picked up sts to do a 1 x 1 rib for the collar.

8.  I knit the sleeves in the round, CO 55 sts with a #5 dpns and knitted a k1.p1 rib for 18 rounds.  I then switched to #6 dpns and Stst.  On the first round, I decreased 10 sts (45 sts left).  I followed the increases as written in the pattern for a total of 77 by the time I reached the underarm.

When my sleeve measured 16 1/2 inches, I bound off 5sts before my marker and 5 sts after my marker (total 10 sts).  At the beginning of the next 4 rows, I bound off 2 sts (following the same sequence as the body of my sweater).  Then I started doing the decreases to shape the shoulder.  I think there's a typo in the pattern here.  For my shoulders, I knit 1, k2tog, knitted until the last 3 sts, ssk, then k1.  I did this decrease every right side row until I was left with 25 sts and my shoulder was about 7 1/2 inches from where I bound off for the underarm.  Then I bound off 2 sts at the beginning of every row for 6 rows.  Then I bound off the remaining 13 sts for the top of my shoulder.

9.  And, as I tend to do, I scoured esty for some cute vintage buttons to finish off my sweater.

I'm not sure about the white buttons on this sweater, but I do love the cute geometric design on these.

All and all, I LOVE the color and design of this sweater.  It is perfect for me.  And I got it finished before the holidays!!

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