Friday, January 18, 2008

Jane would be proud

Roughly three months ago, I began the journey towards Elizabeth (the Elizabeth Bennet cabled cardigan from Fitted Knits). I'm pleased to say that as of this morning, Ms. Bennet is now complete!

I started with the clearly stated intention to not feel under time pressure to complete this project. This was a resolution fairly easily followed it turns out. I took a whole month off knitting this sweater while I worked on other small projects. Once I got going again, I tried to stay fairly monogamous so I could finish.

When I first saw this pattern I thought it would be very challenging and wasn't sure I could do it. I purchased yarn and sat it aside for "some day." Now that I'm done with the cardigan, I for the life of me can't figure out what seemed challenging about it. Basic top down sweater with some cables at the peplum and sleeves. Now it was certainly a long project... there are a lot of stitches there (and at fairly small gauge too) ... but nothing too complicated. I found the pattern to be very straight forward (with the exception of one "error" which I talk about below).

I've knit several projects from Fitted Knits now (the book from which this sweater springs) and I've learned that Stephanie and I have way different gauge. For example, she recommends US 6s for this pattern... I used 4s. My gauge has been even further off with other projects. I did learn the importance of swatching with those other projects though so this sweater should be in good shape. The sweater fits ok right now, but should bloom a bit when washing. She's soaking right now. Post wet, I'll do some sweater-on-person photos for you.

Another lesson learned with this sweater... how to really seam. After my last blog post I was appalled to see how terrible my first seam looked. (Nothing like a stark photo to show up flaws, hmm?)

This morning I pulled out my knitting books, found some instructions, and tried, tried again. I'm far more pleased with the results.

This seam (which will be under the arm) has become nearly invisible, blending into the reverse stockinette background of the cables.

The other thing I learned is the impact open cables can have on the flair of a sleeve. Looking at other finished elizabeth's I knew that she had flaired sleeves. Now the book doesn't show this, so I didn't know exactly what it would look like. Just the very idea didn't really appeal to me though. To address this I decided to keep the bottom of the sleeve straight (and left out some increases at the end of the sleeve called for by the pattern). Having made this adjustment, I thought I'd be set. Not so much, after finishing up the first sleeve, there she was, a lovely bell. Foolish me I didn't even take a photo, just ripped it right back out I was so upset.

What I learned was that having an open cable at the end of a sleeve creates a flair. The photo below gives you a sense of this (unless I'm the only one who wouldn't just know this, I thought that showing an image might help others avoid the flair, unless they wanted the bell shape).

This just gives you a sense of what occurs, but keep in mind I've already made my sleeve a bit narrower than the pattern, so the sleeve, if knit as written, would flair even more than this (this is the second sleeve I knit, not the first one with the full effect).

To help address this issue, in addition to decreasing more stitches near the end of the sleeve I also went ahead and did one extra cable at the end (after the end of the chart). That pulled the sleeve back in a little tighter so there's only a hint of flair which I think will dissappear when I block out the sweater after her bath. See...

(there's that lovely seam again too!)

All in all, a pretty nice knit. The fabric is beautiful to look at (the angora/merino blend makes for a very fluffy, soft material). That actually is probably the most impressive part of the knit.. well that and maybe the cables along the sleeves which I love. Of course, angora is fluffy; fluffy means floaty, and I think I'll be leaving a bit of fluff everywhere I go when I wear this sweater. We'll have updates once she's been taken for a trial run.

For now, I'll bask in the joy of knowing she's finished (well except that I'll probably put some invisible snaps in between the pearl buttons to keep the sweater closed really well).

Elizabeth Bennet cabled cardigan by Stephanie Japel from Fitted Knits
10 balls of Cloud 9 from Cascade Yarns (significantly less than called for by the pattern!!)
50% merino wool
50% angora
Color: 114 lavendar
US size 4 (3.5 mm) and US size 2 (2.75 mm) circulars
Pearl style buttons from JoAnn's
cast on October 10, 2007
finished January 18, 2008

On Ravelry here

Modifications: I could find no way to get from the 8 stitches on row 20 of the body cable chart to the 10 stitches on row 21. Given this, I purled into the front and back on the two center stitches in row 20. Right now, the sweater fits me a little tight across the hips (and I've seen that in the photos of others cardigans too) so I think getting a little more yardage into this area was probably a good idea. Doing this meant that the cables on 21 and 31 didn't make sense so I just left them off. The only thing I can think of here is that the pattern intends for you to pull stitches into the cable from the purl filler stitches, but I didn't want to do this because of the fit factor.

The other major changes I did were to the sleeves to reduce the flair. Beginning with row 53 of the sleeve charts, I didn't increase up to 10 stitches, I stayed with 8. That meant that I left out the cabling on rows 53, 65, 69, 81, and 85 (these cables are the same type as I described above... I think they pull more stitches into the cable from the purl fillers, but I just kept the pattern to 8 cable stitches and 4 purl fillers ... my final cables look just like the photos in the book, just a little narrower). I worked to the end of the chart and then for (my new) row 92 followed the established pattern except knit together two of the filler stitches inside the cable chart. Row 93 I included C7R and C7L cables. Row 94 I just followed the established pattern of stitches and then for Row 95 I purled together the two middle stitches of the purl filler (outside the cable section). For my final trim I knit a row, purled three rows, knit a row, and then bound of in purl stitch. My final sleeve trim looks more like the other trim areas of the sweater this way, just a bit narrower. I was very happy with this modification.

If I were going to start again, I'd use the smaller needle for the collar (which is the first thing you knit). You could then switch to the larger needle when you begin with the first trim rows (the purl and knit rows before the yoke).


Rubys & Purls said...

Wow! She looks great! I love this one. I know what you mean about the angora. I love the stuff, but I leave a little bit everywhere I go when I wear it.

You did a great job!

The Kelly Green Rogue said...

wow! I'm so impressed! She looks lovely! great job on the seams!

Kristen said...

Liz, I am so glad I found this post! I am getting ready to cast on this project, and I already have a couple things in common with you: first I did two gauge swatches today and found that both size 6 and 5 needles were not right, so I'm going to try 4s tomorrow. I'm glad I'm not the only one! I also would prefer having straight sleeves rather than flared, so your post will be a great help when I get to that part. I bought the same color yarn, and after seeing how yours turned out, I am really excited about starting this project. Excellent job on this cardigan.


Octopus Knits said...

Woo, hoo! It looks great (nice seaming!), and I look forward to seeing it blocked and modelled! Good thinking with respect to the cable/flair issue : )

Robin said...

I love it - great work! I didn't know that either about the open cable creating a flare, so thanks for the info!

Susan said...

Great job on the seaming! I'm not a big fan of doing it....basically because I'm not good at it. lol. You've motivated me to give it a go and to be more patient with it.


Jenean said...

Wow, girl!!! That looks fantabulous!! Great job :)

The Happy College Knitter said...

Beautiful! That is such a gorgeous sweater from that book, yours looks fantastic! You're right, Jane would be proud :)