Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Perfect Summer Cardigan

Sometimes I can envision the perfect article of clothing in my mind. I know exactly what I want, down to the tiniest detail. Finding said article of clothing in stores, though, is very rare. I'm often disappointed when I go looking. So this time, I did the only thing I could do that would assure my happiness - made it myself.

This started with two things: a lovely crocheted lace stitch pattern (as seen in the Short and Sweet bolero in the Debbie Stoller book Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker) and an idea of the perfect summer cardigan. I wanted something that was lacey and girly and pretty, had long sleeves and was long enough to land just below the waist band on my jeans, was made from a fibre that wasn't warm like wool, was the perfect summer neutral (wearable with as many as possible of my pretty coloured tank tops), and buttoned up. Yep, asking a helluva lot!

So, tackling the issues one by one:

1. Lacy, girly and pretty - I really wanted to use the stitch pattern from Short and Sweet. Well, after looking at all of the finished versions on Ravelry, I decided to just try adapting the pattern to what I wanted, rather than just using the lace pattern. Why mess with a great starting point? The information was there, I just had to use it.

2. Adapt a pattern for a short sleeved bolero into a long sleeved full length cardigan - doable. It took some swatching, some sketching and a bit of math, but I managed.

3. Summer fibre is a bit tough. I love natural fibres, and wanted something lighter weight than the worsted weight mercerized cotton used in the sample sweater. And it had to come from the stash. After some digging, I found I had 1500 yards of a dk weight (listed as worsted, but after knitting a swatch when I first got it I found I only got DK gauge from it, could not get worsted gauge to save my life) 100% bamboo with a chained construction. It's a bit shiney, but not annoyingly so (no "bling" nastiness), and feels cool and slinky against the skin. Cool is good for summer wear.

4. The perfect summer neutral - hmm. I had the same yarn and yardage in both black and taupe. After pulling apart my collection of tank tops, I decided to go with the taupe. It looks great with teal, blue, pink, coral, burgundy, beige, white, black, and some greens. Not so good with red and a few other colours, but still that gave a lot of wearing options. Taupe it is.

5. Buttons and button bands. I dug through my small collection of buttons, and found that (this is why I stash stuff!) I had buttons that looked great with the yarn, in an appropriate size, and more than enough (I've got enough left to use for another cardigan). And the button bands were easy - do 2ch instead of 2sc, with 6sc between each button hole.

So, with all of my options covered, I got to work. In about three weeks of not terribly dedicated work, I had a pretty finished cardigan. I blocked severely (having first practiced with a swatch of the pattern lace stitch) and was able to get my desired dimensions without any issues, and used slightly less than 1400 yards!

I'm very very happy with the finished product, and have received some nice compliments. Of course, those were from when I wore it into the local yarn store, but still, it was nice to get them. And I like the shape and look of this cardi so much that I will make another soon - possibly right away. In the black bamboo, most likely. Then maybe in russet wool/silk/cotton blend, for fall wear.

And if I'm not completely sick of it by that point, in a wool blend for winter wear, in red or teal. Or one in red and one in teal. And why not olive green, too? Because when you find the perfect article of clothing, you get it in every possible colour that you like, and love it, love it, love it. And I love this cardigan.


Dorothy said...

oooh, pretty! Looks like a peacock. :o)

Caroline M said...

Doesn't it look good? I should certainly make another because it looks like a very wearable item.

Suna said...

What a great job you did. Other people might want to make one too, hint hint. What's that Etsy store for, anyway--selling patterns, that's what!

Anonymous said...

Another hit Rebecca. You never cease to amaze me. Just beautiful. Keep those artistic hands busy.


jc123 said...

This is an absolutely gorgeous pattern. I do the same thing when I shop and I really wanted to find my mother in law a beatiful summer cardigan because I know the temps at her work are all over the place in the summer. I have searched everywhere and even for ridiculous amounts of money I can't find what I need. Any chance you would be willing to post the pattern? I know it's been a while, but I will certainly scour your blog to see if it exists already. Thank you!