Monday, January 23, 2006

The tale of the cardigan

We have a wonderful LYS in town, called Ruhama's. When my friends and I first launched our Scarf business, ScarvesByFriends, one of the first things I did was become a member of Ruhama's Yarn Club (which, for $100, entitled me to 20% off yarn and knitting supplies, sans patterns and sales, for two years). I was given advance notice of their twice-a-year HUGE clearance sales and allowed to shop on a "Members Only" evening. The first time I went to one of these, I was overwhelmed and, since I had no specific pattern in mind, I believe I left empty-handed, despite the wondrous temptations. So I was prepared for the second one last spring. I decided that I needed to make something for my husband. Since he is a professor, and spends many "office hours" in his office, I thought a nice, simple cardigan would be great for him to keep on the back of his chair for chilly mornings and so on.

I searched the web (since I never pay for patterns!) and found a cool website that generates patterns for sweaters, based on your measurements (KnittingFool). It also gives you an estimation of yarn needed, based on which size needle you want to use (I chose 8) and the type of yarn you should get. I printed it all out and headed to Ruhama's, fully armed!

I found, among other things, a TON of closeout wool yarn (Jamieson's Soft Shetland, color: Wilkinson) at about $2 a skein! I chose a wonderful tweedy color that's mainly a grayish purple with some green specks and specks of a few other colors. I dutifully bought what the yardage generator suggested, plus one extra skein--just in case!

It took me until this last fall to actually start the cardigan. But I still had the pattern, and I got going. After finishing the back (one HUGE piece of knitting), I found myself wishing I'd decided to do a pattern instead of straight stockinette stitch. I knit the first half of the front and that went well. I started the second half of the front and the buttonholes gave me some conniptions. I finally decided that I was satisfied, since I realized that once the cardigan is buttoned, no one would see the buttonholes!

So I started on the sleeves... About three-quarters of the way through the first sleeve, I realized that I, most likely, would not have enough yarn to complete this cardigan. My first reaction was to call Ruhama's and ask if they had any of the yarn left. No dice. Thinking that maybe the salesperson just didn't know what I was talking about, I physically went into the store (always bad as I find something else I need). Nope! So I did a web search and found that the reason Ruhama's had this beautiful yarn marked down so much is because the color was discontinued! One place on the web had it, but charged $6.50 a skein, plus shipping, effectively doubling the cost of this cardigan. It just didn't make sense to me.

Deciding I needed a break, I sewed the front and back pieces together (it looked like a vest), had G. try it on (it fit pretty well!), and took some time off to knit some doll clothes for Christmas gifts. (If you're looking for cute patterns, the American Girl one I used is at: MajorKnitter and the Barbie/Bratz ones I used are at: LionBrand Poncho and LionBrand dress )

After a little rest, I dutifully headed back to Ruhama's, wishfully thinking that, if Wilkinson was discontinued, then maybe it was replaced with a color remarkably similar, but differently-named. (nope...) I ended up getting two skeins of Jamieson's soft shetland, color Cedar (which is a tweedy green with some purple flecks in it). The woman at Ruhama's tried to tell me to make skinny stripes of the purple and green through the entire sleeve, but I decided to put just one bold stripe on each arm of the green.

Because I was three-quarters of the way through that first sleeve before I realized I wouldn't have enough yarn to knit the whole sweater, I decided to finish that sleeve just in case it didn't work out well, since I'd be frogging that sleeve anyway and would hate to rip it, knit a new sleeve with the green, and then have to frog the green sleeve, too...

I finished the sleeve this weekend. Big surprise: it doesn't fit. I have no idea how I'd attach it to the *&%# sweater "vest" as there's so much knit material that it would have to be gathered before attaching it, thus making it all girly-looking.

I vowed to never knit a cardigan (or sweater) again. Heck, I may not even knit this cardigan!

But I knew where to go with questions. My trusty knitting friend, ReadingWhileKnitting, offered me suggestions and encouraged me to try something that I threw out there: picking up stitches around the armhole, and knitting the sleeve from the shoulder down. (Brilliant idea! if it doesn't work, I won't have knit the whole freaking sleeve before I know that it won't work out. I can also make it the correct length sleeve for my husband...)

So that brings us to the present day. I "proudly" present my current masterpiece/nightmare--still a work-in-progress.

The cardigan, sans arms :)

One of the WRONG sleeves:

And the sleeve, in progress, with the green stripe:

If you want to see any of them in greater detail, click on the pictures...the yarn really IS very cool! :)


sewingsuzee said...

Oooooohhhh! I thought the stripe was going the other way, for some reason, and was a bit confused about how you'd pull that off!

It looks beautiful! Hope Greg loves it!

Stefaneener said...

He is so incredibly lucky. I hope he appreciates it. Hey, check out for a great short-row tutorial if you want to pick up and knit a cap for a sleeve.


Dar said...

What gorgeous yarns, both of them! I have a sweater that I started in 2001 that I am going to finish this year, really...