Hard to believe I started this simple little cardigan all the way back in mid-August. Thanks to my impatience with knitting flat, as this one begins, it mostly sat patiently in the corner for months on end. That is, until I decided to knit the sleeves in order to feel like I was getting somewhere, after which it came together like lightning. Apart from that one little setback, of course. But I’m kicking myself for letting it sit so long — while I impetuously cast on (and frogged) how many other sweaters? — because it’s a real wardrobe workhorse.
As you know if you were subjected to the play-by-play, I loved this pattern — Walpole, by Hannah Fettig for Brooklyn Tweed — from the moment it hit the interwebs. It’s simple and timeless but with really nice details, like the twisted stitch at the edge of any field of stockinette, and the I-cord selvage (which I’ll be applying to everything from now on). But it’s designed for fingering weight yarn, and that was just never going to happen. Then I ran into this fabulous, chunky, light-charcoal tweed at Stitches Midwest, decided instantly that I’d rework Walpole at a chunky gauge, and with a little help from Barry Klein, I cast on a few hours later. I’d never heard of the yarn before, but it’s a merino/cashmere/silk blend, wonderfully light and soft after blocking, and I like that the tweed bits are both black and blue, which makes it super versatile. This cardigan basically goes over of everything in my closet. (Which, you may have noticed, mainly consists of chambray and denim shirts in every proportion. But still!) And it only took about 700 yards of yarn. For anyone interested in the modifications I made, they follow this glamour shot —
M O D I F I C A T I O N S
— Yarn is Queensland Kathmandu Chunky in Charcoal; used exactly 5 balls (710 yards).
— Knit on US10.5 (6.5mm) needles at a gauge of 3.5 stitches and 5 rows per inch in stockinette.
— Aiming for roughly the second size in the pattern, I cast on 142 stitches (36|70|36). I left the twisted rib sections at 2×2 but reduced the number of stitches in the stockinette band along the front to 5 stitches (plus the 3 edge stitches).
— I shortened the length — the better to work as a layering piece and to keep it from being engulfing at this weight. So I made the body 12.5 inches long before joining the sleeves. With my final yoke depth and after blocking, it wound up a little longer than I intended, but I’m still happy with it.
— I did three rounds of waist decreases but sort of wish I hadn’t done any.
— I also changed the shape of the sleeve. I cast on 32 stitches, knit in pattern for 3 inches, then on the next round did a kfb in every fourth stitch (40 sts). Did 4 additional pairs of increases up the sleeve, for 48 stitches at the join. Set aside 4 for the underarms; should probably have been a few more. If I were doing this again, I might also cast on just 28 stitches.
— I knit straight for 1 inch after joining the body and sleeves, then began the yoke decreases. To get the counts the way I wanted when all the decreases were done, I decreased the fronts, sleeves and back at very slightly different rates. Did a total of 40 rows (8 inches, 20 decrease rows) in the decrease section of the yoke. (I’ll put a pic of my chart on Ravelry in case anyone finds it useful or wants to tell me what they would have done differently. Feedback welcome!)
— Because I left the back of the neck wider than the pattern (to accommodate my shoulders), I had to knit each neck extension to 7.5 inches (!) before joining at the back.
— I don’t have any idea how to mattress stitch a bound-off edge to a selvage, so I sort of whipstitched the collar and neck together. Which wound up creating a slight ridge that I’m telling myself mimics the row of twisted stitches it disappears into at each end of the seam.
For the record, I’m about 5’8″, size 6/8 with broad shoulders. Feel free to borrow my mods, but please buy the pattern so Hannah and Brooklyn Tweed get compensated for their beautiful work, and so you’ll have the benefit of all the lovely and refined details therein. And if you’re on Ravelry, I’ll be your best friend if you favorite this one.
p.s. HUGE THANKS to my friend Marion Brenner for snapping these photos of me in the Walpole. If you’re not familiar with Marion’s work or her famous garden, check it out in the February 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living. (It starts on page 126.) I’ll have more to say about Marion — and her knitting — soon.