A finished object and the struggles I had with it.
Even though I've been knitting for a quarter of a century, every once in a while, a project comes along that really challenges me. Sometimes it feels like nothing's going right; I get really frustrated, but after all is said and done, these are the things that I end up being the most proud of.
The yarn for this project was sponsored by knitpicks.com. They let me choose the yarn I wanted, and sent it to me free of charge. The only thing that was required of me was to say that it was #sponsored. It’s my very first sponsorship so this was really exciting for me!
The pattern is Tamarack Cardigan for Him by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. This is the second cardigan pattern of his that I've made for my husband. It's another great pattern, and since it uses bulky weight yarn, it went pretty quickly as far as sweaters go.
I subtracted some length out of the body, sleeves, and a little bit from the armholes, because my husband is a short guy. That’s it! Since his first cardigan still fits him well, I measured it and compared it with the schematics for this pattern. That made it really easy to adjust.
1. Tubular Cast-on
I had never done it before. Yes, I know I'm a very experienced knitter, and I'm also still learning. You should never stop learning. I looked up a lot of tutorials for the tubular cast on, and there are so many different ways to do it, it was kind of overwhelming.
I still need to figure out which way is my favorite. (When I do figure out my favorite method, I'll be sure to make a tutorial for you.) But it was totally worth the effort!
2. Moss Stitch
The main stitch pattern for the body and sleeves is the moss stitch, or as some people call it: double seed stitch, or Irish moss. Whatever you want to call it, it's gorgeous and it's also really easy.
There’s a good simple 2x2 ribbing around the edges of the sleeves, hem, and collar. I used a special technique for making it look extra neat. I don’t have a tutorial yet, but all you do is wrap the yarn around the needle clockwise instead of counterclockwise when working the first purl after a knit. Then on the following row that stitch will be twisted on the needle, and you untwist it by simply working it through the back loop. This prevents the weird leggy stitch you can sometimes end up with.
4. Short Rows
Once again, there are a lot of different options when it comes to working short rows, but I think I ended up using the German short row technique. It worked out well and wasn’t hard to keep track of.
5. Tubular Bind-off
I decided to do a tubular bind off around the collar and button bands so that it would match the beautiful edges of the sleeves and hem. I’ve also seen it called the Italian bind off, sewn bind off, or kitchener bind off. I’m pretty sure they’re all the same thing. You rearrange the stitches so that they’re in k1, p1 order and then knit a couple rows of double knitting if you want to, then do a kitchener stitch, but instead of having the knit stitches on one needle and the purls on another, they’re all on the one.
It took so long but it was so worth it! (I thought. more on that later…)
He loved it!
I actually finished the whole thing pretty much without any problems. I got it done, I gave it to him, he loved it, he sent pictures to all of his friends, and he would make them feel it and hold it so they could see how heavy it is, because it feels like a blanket… but as soon as he put it on, I realized that the collar was going to bother me a little bit. It just it wasn't laying down on the neck the way I wanted it to.
To Frog or Not to Frog?
I saw him kind of messing with it and I thought, 'Man, I don't know. Should I frog it and fix it?' And then I convinced myself not to, because normally my perceived mistakes are not that big of a deal, and nobody wants to frog.
Then I started knitting a sweater for myself. I could tell that it really was bothering him, and he finally he finally admitted that it was, so I promised him that I would fix it, but told him he had to wait until I was finished with MY sweater. Then when I was almost finished with it, I ran out of yarn and had to order more.
While I was waiting for that to arrive, I went ahead and did the surgery required on this guy, and let me tell you: frogging a tubular bind off is not an easy task. Oh my gosh, first of all, I had woven in the ends so well that I couldn't tell which was which. I ended up having to just cut it on the edge and frog it from there. I had to take each stitch out individually from the bind off, and then put in a safety line where I wanted to frog it back to.
Then I added more yarn on, and knitted a bunch more rows, and then I bound off again, and it looked a lot better. He was like, "Oh yeah, that's better." Since the button band was now quite a bit wider, I had to move the buttons over, but as soon as I did that, I knew it wasn't going to look right. The buttonholes hadn’t moved and now the buttons were way off-center.
I had him put it on, and I felt so discouraged because it really didn’t look right. The collar was better, but I just knew that I was going to have to frog again.
The Real Problem
I was really contemplating exactly how I wanted to tackle it. At first I was thinking that instead of adding more rows to the whole thing, I would add some more short rows to the upper portion of the collar so that THAT would get wider but not the button band. But then I realized that the real problem was not with how many rows I had knitted, but with the amazing, gorgeous, beautiful, tubular bind off.
As beautiful as it is, it's not as stretchy as the ribbing, and that's why it wouldn't lay properly. Around the back of the neck, where it folds down and hits the shoulders, it needs to be able to stretch out a little, but it was instead riding up.
I researched a ton to find the nicest-looking stretchy bind off and kept coming back to Jenny’s Super Stretchy. It doesn’t have the same look or feel as the tubular, but it sure does work a lot better for this purpose.
I'm happy with how it turned out. When my husband tried it on he instantly was like "oh yeah, oh yeah, that feels a lot better." The new bind off allowed the collar to spread out more on the edge rather than drawing in. Of course I had to take off the buttons AGAIN and sew them on AGAIN, but it was it was all worth it.
Never Stop Learning
Like I said before, after all these years of knitting I'm always learning something new, and this time I learned not to get too stuck on one technique, because every technique has its own set of pros and cons. That's why it's great to have as many options in your tool belt as possible. Different bind off methods, different cast-ons, all that stuff.
Glad it's over
I'm happy to be done with it. I was starting to feel really discouraged because as a monogamous knitter, it felt really weird to be working on one project before finishing another. And then going back to the other project knowing this one still needs some attention. It started to feel like a needy ex-boyfriend that kept calling even though I had gotten married to someone else.
But it was totally worth it to fix it, and I'm glad that I did. And my husband loves me, of course. Who wouldn't love to be married to a knitter? Anyway, it's a great pattern, um, you should knit it. And don't forget to go and check out the yarn!