Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Home Depot Cardigan, or I am not a designer!

Disclaimer: I am not a designer!
No, I am much better at following directions than at writing them up.  Normally, I find a pattern for my next project somewhere (on Ravelry, in a book or magazine), then find a yarn for it, make a swatch, and if the gauge is the same or close I begin working on it.
However, sometimes, my starting point is a yarn. I had this yarn – Naturelle Chunky 14 ply, 100% pure New Zealand wool – in my stash for a while. I bought it for a winter cardigan that I never made. This year I decided to finally use it for another jacket. 
Cardigan is a staple of my older daughter’s wardrobe. She wears them everywhere and with everything and is constantly looking for a new one. And I try to provide her with a new handmade cardigan as often as I can. So I took this yarn with me to Florida hoping to find a good pattern for it.
There have been so many amazing patterns for big oversized cardigans from chunky yarn on Ravelry! I have a whole board on Pinterest full of them.  Yet, none of them asked for the same gauge (11 st. x 14 rs in 4” on size 7 mm needles) and I either had not enough or too much yarn for all of them.
So, after spending long hours looking for a matching pattern I decided to improvise it myself.
I repeat: I am not a designer! It just happened... One long afternoon that I had to spend in a Home Depot with a designer who worked on our kitchen cabinets I just visualized a cardigan and all of a sudden drew a sketch of a pattern. I call it “A Home Depot Effect”, it happens when you look at lots of different design options and materials for a long time. I don’t know about you, but I feel an urgent need to make something with my hands from scratch.
This is how this project got its name.
My first swatch was just white. And I didn’t like it. Looks like a cheap acrylic yarn. Boring.
Fortunately, I brought a bag of Cascade Kid Seta with me in four different colors (don’t ask me why I had this bag in the first place – it’s a long story). I took two slightly different brown threads of Kid Seta, added them to the white, and – voila! It doesn’t look cheap anymore. Far from it.

From the very beginning I wanted cables on this garment. Cables are my obsession “du jour” and they usually look classy and very British.
The cardigan was finished in a week. Thick yarn and big needles normally lead to quick results but in this case my impatience was my strongest motivator. I couldn’t wait to see the finished garment. And now you can see it as well.

Yes, there are some things that I would change and do differently next time but overall I am rather pleased with the outcome. Basically, I managed to incorporate everything that I wanted (long warm cardigan from chunky wool with cables and pockets) and use up quite a lot of stashed yarn in the process.

I summoned my inner Kim Hargreaves, found a belt, and used it during our photo shoot. If Kim’s books taught me something, it is the importance of a belt for quality pictures. Of course, the cardigan can be worn without a belt.

Since I am thinking about using the same pattern again I decided to write it down. 
Again, DISCLAIMER # 150 – I am not a designer! All the details are on my Ravelry page. All the charts are here (yes, I made charts for the first time in my life and I am really proud of myself!)
Chart A

Chart B

Friday, September 2, 2016

Sunset in Florida, or Pull # 079-T12-173

Some yarns just need to wait till the right project comes up. This yarn was supposed to become a cardigan for my daughter. Yet, it turned out that the cardigan required much more yarn so I made it from a different yarn and put the unfinished project away. I am so glad I did, because this yarn worked remarkably well for this pattern.
The pattern is from the same old Phildar magazine that I took to Florida with me and that turned out to be a treasure trove of unknown and wonderful patterns. The structure of this sweater reminds me of body armor and a corset at the same time. It is short, fitted, but not tight, with wonderful, seemingly unstructured cables.
To me it looks edgy and modern. I could instantly visualize my younger daughter wearing it with high-wasted jeans that are so trendy now. Plus I got the exact gauge with this yarn so the rest was a piece of cake. And I mean it. This pattern is extremely well written and easy to follow. Thank you, Nadege, I wish I knew how to find you and your other designs on the Internet.
The only two things that I changed were ribbing and finishing. I used 1x1 ribs because, to me, they look less hand-made on a finished garment. And I find making borders separately and grafting them to a sweater tiresome so I just picked up stitches and knit the ribbing with smaller needles.
I love everything about this sweater: fit, style, versatility, construction. If my daughter doesn’t like it I will gladly wear it myself. If she does, I’ll make another one. 
It is better to use soft yarn with good stitch definition for this pattern. I really liked working with Nashua Handknits Shenandoah even though at first its color got me a little perplexed. It is something in between bright orangey brown and blue-grey. That is why I named this sweater Sunset in Florida. First, because “pull # 079-T12-173” is non-descriptive. Second, because of its colors.
Finally, I find it really unfair that such wonderful patterns got totally ignored and forgotten by knitting community because Phildar did such a poor job at photographing and marketing them. They look like nothing in the magazine, and there is only one picture of each, which doesn’t help imagining their fit and structure. And I don’t think that the yarn choice complements these garments either.