Friday, February 26, 2016

Complicated hand-knit cardigan ... phew!

I showed you a bit of this sweater before. It's a pattern called (fittingly I think) "Persistence is Key". Available for download on Ravelry.

It took me a month and two days to knit this, which isn't too bad given that the back requires cabling on Every. Single. Row.

It would have taken a lot longer, but I was able to knit the sleeves on my mid-gauge knitting machine. So they took an hour. For both. This is one of the reasons to love knitting machines. Speed!

The sweater is a top-down "contiguous" design. I made a contiguous cardigan before, and I love it, but... This one has the same issues - mainly sloppy lack of structure, requiring post-market fixes (lines of chain stitch to firm up the fake "seams" at the armscye, and in this case to also shorten the CF above the bust, a fix I also have to apply frequently to sewing patterns).

There is a long saga detailing my views of the actual pattern on my Ravelry project page (this link should work even if you are not a member of the site). Short form: I did not care for the way it was written, which is surprisingly lacking in the kinds of detail that I think are important, given that it's 7 pages of mostly dense text. My criticism may be unfair given the gazillions of ways there are to write a knitting pattern, but I would always like more schematic details, more charts, and more hard info (like stitch counts after every section in which I have to increase or decrease). And I can totally do without stuff like this, which this pattern had in copious amounts:

(WS) sl1 wyif, p1, k2, [p2, k2] repeat to 6 sts. bef. mC, p2, k1, kfb, p1, k1, smC, kfb, p1 [k2, p2] repeat to mB, smB, [k2, p2] 2x, k1, k2tog, [p2, k2] 4x, p2, k2tog, k1, [p2, k2] 2x, smB, [p2, k2] repeat to 6 sts. bef. MC, p2, k1, kfb, p1, k1, smC, kfb, p1, [k2, p2] repeat to end of row, turn.
Say what?

Believe it or not, those are the actual instructions for the first row of the ribbing at the hem in my size. There are different and equally incomprehensible instructions for each of the other sizes. The intended result is dead plain 2x2 ribbing that flows nicely from the existing cables.

I only gave the pattern 3 stars but I love the yarn, which is Briggs & Little "Regal", a staunchly Canadian worsted weight 100% wool yarn. It's positively crunchy, this yarn. There are bits of straw in it, though not as much as I found when machine knitting the lighter weight "Sport" from the same company. It gets a bit softer when washed and it has great stitch definition for the cables of this pattern. It is also very lofty and dried in no time when I washed and blocked the finished sweater. Best of all is that the yarn comes in huge skeins (249m in 113g) and is extremely reasonably priced at $6.99 (CDN). I won 6 skeins of it in a draw at my local store (Wool Tyme, great place) and I have about 1.5 left.

Anyway, I hope the travails of making this will shortly be eclipsed by the happiness of wearing it, which I am doing as I type this. It's chilly in the house and this cardigan is lovely and warm.


  1. I'm staggered by your gorgeous sweater and the talent in knitting it!

  2. I love hand made knits and you make some of the best! I don't knit and those instructions are one reason. Maybe this will be obvious to knitters, but how does the machine knitted sleeve stitches compare to the hand knitted and if they are similar, is that because you are experienced? Do you need to know about knitting to use a machine or is it intuitive? I'd love a machine but think it will just take me forever to pick it up. Thanks

  3. Summer Flies, matching hand knitting tension on a machine can require persistence but it is possible. Machines vary from very simple to quite sophisticated but it isn't difficult to learn how to work with one. As far as the instructions Kay quoted above, they are not something you'd find in most tech edited patterns and shouldn't put you off learning knitting if you wish to do so.
    Your cardigan is beautiful, Kay! The colour suits you very well.

  4. I'd like to know how knitting part by machine and part by hand affects gauge. Do you have to adapt the pattern? I'm keen to acquire a machine to use like you, but not sure about the implications.