Well, the hot and humid days of summertime are fast approaching. And that means it’s time to reach for the sunblock, sandals, shorts, sunglasses and a nice long-sleeved sweater. Huh?? Yes, thanks to relentlessly over-air-conditioned stores and restaurants, it’s necessary to have an informal wrap or cardigan handy throughout the summer. A cardigan is a bit less versatile than a wrap, but I’m looking for an excuse to knit a sweater!
It’s not actually on the needles yet but I wanted to get a picture up while there’s still sunlight … I will be casting on this afternoon for a top-down seed stitch cardigan. I’m using Laura Chau’s free pattern because it’s a very basic set of guidelines and this will accomodate 1) the fact that I haven’t done this before and 2) the fact that I’ve got lots of modifications in mind!
When I first started knitting I bought a skein of Patons Grace mercerized cotton yarn for practice swatches and just loved the way it showed the stitch patterns. It drapes nicely too. Later, I bought 12 skeins with the vague idea of making a sweater but I really didn’t have any specific pattern in mind. The design challenge has been to find a pattern that’s suitable for the yarn and also suitable for my skill level!
I selected a mix of colors because I originally wanted to include a mosaic pattern. Unfortunately, the variegated yarn is too similar to the solid green for that so I’ve decided to do stripes. In the pattern, the front edging of the cardigan is included right in the knitting instructions (extra stitches at the ends of the rows). When I made my first swatch, I didn’t like the way this looked with stripes. I experimented with several edging ideas (all new learning, yay!) and ultimately decided to pick up stitches for a small garter stitch border up the front of the sweater when I’m finished.
The instructions for planning a top-down sweater in Vogue Knitting were very helpful. First, I needed to adjust the pattern for gauge. This yarn is finer than worsted weight and I’m using US #5 needles. After getting gauge over seed stitch, I modified the stitch counts in the pattern to the best of my understanding and then looked over the instructions in Vogue for a sanity-check. The book advises that the back of the neck should have three times the number of stitches as are set aside for each sleeve so this helped me determine how to distribute my extra cast-on stitches. I also wanted to do some neck-shaping and the book offers instructions for that as well. Another excellent sanity-check: I dug up a beloved old cardigan that fits well and took some measurements. Yes, the 36-38″ size option is the right choice. And if I have the gauge right then the adjustments seem to be on target as well.
I’m having a summertime feeling … the one where you’re standing at the end of the diving board, a little excited but also a little hesitant … time to dive in!