7 Steps to Knit a Great Cardigan

In 2012 I designed the Road Stripes Cardigan for myself. I took a class with Shirley Paden to learn the basics of designing and decided to have a go at creating a simple and practical cardigan. I was inspired by Golden Wheat of Veera Välimäki, but I didn’t have the yarn for it and wanted to have a longer turtle neck and a more fitted shape. Therefore I started my maths from scratch, using my gauge with Drops Karisma, a superwash DK weight yarn; it is very soft and has a lovely colour range. After having used the cardigan for more than a year now, I would definitely recommend this yarn; it looks great and it’s very warm, has pilled a little bit, as wool does, but it can be shaved off without a problem.

Some technical info:

Gauge using 4 mm metal circular needles: 18 stitches by 25 rows in Stockinette Stitch.

I used about 9.5 skeins of the grey shade 21 and less than 1 skein of the mustard shade 52.

Going back to the making of the cardigan, I had to rip it out a couple of times, recalculate the stitches and when I finally blocked it I realised that it was shorter than expected, so I ripped out the cuffs, and the hem to extended it  by about 10 cm.

I learnt a few good lessons from this worth it to remember whenever I make another cardigan or sweater:

  1. Make a Swatch. This will save you a lot of time. Make a swatch big enough to see how the stitches behave using the same yarn and needles, and of course work the piece in the same way that you will work your garment; that is, if your garment needs to be worked in the round make your swatch in the round too.
  2. Be Patient! Block the piece the same way you will block your garment. In this case I washed it and let it dry flat, without stretching it, as the cardigan won’t need that and doesn’t have any lace in it. Let the swatch rest and dry for a few days.
    When we wet and block a piece it could grow a lot, but it might shrink back when dries. In my case my row gauge changed a lot after drying well, but I didn’t notice that until my cardigan was blocked… road stripes cardi before
  3. Casting on and Placing Markers. When you make an asymmetrical garment make sure you place the stitches and the markers on the right position, it might happen that you end up with the longest part on the other side. Ask me how I know that.  road stripes cardigan DSC_2269
  4. Use Lifelines. This will indeed save you a lot of time in case you have to rip out some parts and are also handy when you have to try your garment. Place one lifeline after every big section, neck, chest, buttonholes, darts, etc.
  5. Try Top-down Garments. Try your garment on the go. Sometimes your garment might look small when you try it, but if you got the right gauge you don’t have to worry, trust your maths, you know sometimes the yarns bloom after blocking them.
  6. Count your Stitches and Rows. These two elements are critical for a successful garment. You might forget about an increase/decrease or even a buttonhole! and realize it after 20 rows… If the pattern doesn’t have a stitch count make your own one, just write the number of row and the stitches that should be per section or in total. It is always better to invest 10 minutes before you start working on it than loose days of work because you didn’t count.
  7. Use the Right Markers. There are lots of markers options, plastic, metal, open, fixed, you can also make yours, but use the right ones for your yarn and needles. Some markers can be misplaced on your needles (especially very thin ones) and you would end up misplacing your key stitches (increases, decreases, yarn overs…) and that could be a drama… stitch-marker-cardigan-20130121_212741knit stitch markers 20140213_171232 You can find these stitch markers at my online shop.

Well, I hope you found useful my learnings and they can help you to improve your garment. Feel free to share them.

I’d love to hear your comments!

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