When Anna and I first talked about finding a fisherman cardigan to knit together this fall, I never imagined what it would evolve into. Today I’m thrilled to introduce the group of five amazing women who’ve agreed to knit the Amanda cardigan in the spotlight with us — forming our so-called Panel of Experts — and I’m already in love with this project based on what follows. (Be warned: this post is mammoth so I’ve broken it onto a couple of pages.) To introduce you to the seven of us/them, while also giving you some food for thought with regard to your own Amanda, I’ve asked a few simple questions about the decisions we’ve each made so far. I’ll go first, since that’s my swatch adorning the top of the post, but make sure you click through!
As promised in the big planning post, Kate’s detailed post on how best to swatch for this will be up on Monday! So if you’re at all uncertain about where to start, sit tight, savor this post over the weekend, and we’ll have that for Monday morning.
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Yarn: I’m using natural-colored O-Wool Balance, which is a machine-washable blend of 50% organic wool and 50% organic cotton. I love the fabric this yarn creates — very light and soft and multi-seasonal — but I also intend to wear the hell out of this sweater, so I want it to be easy to wash.
Swatch: I knitted the back chart from the right side over to the center braid because I wanted to see the whole thing — especially since there are no photos of the back of the sweater. And I also did a little ribbing at the top and bottom, wanting to see if it rolls nicely into the stitch pattern. I got gauge on US8s and thought I would probably like the fabric better if I went down to 7s. It turns out I’m really pleased with the diamond panel after washing and drying the swatch. But after the wash, my honeycomb cables are sort of spreading out — they look like I’m doing some trendy drop-stitch thing. I don’t hate the look of it, it’s just not intended. And I haven’t done honeycomb before so I’m not sure if it would be solved by going down a needle size? So I’ll swatch it again on 7s and see what I think.* I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on that. Also, my swatch is only 3 inches of pattern height so I have a general sense of my row gauge (and that it will shrink up about 8-10% in the wash) but will measure it again once I’m 4 inches into the body.
Cast-on: I’m planning to do a tubular cast-on. I like that more substantial edge.
Size/ease: With my big shoulders, it would be easy for this sweater to make me look like a linebacker, so I’m planning to keep it fairly fitted. But I do button my cardigans sometimes and will be layering this, so want a little bit of ease. If I go ahead and knit it at pattern gauge, I’ll probably go with the size 35, which is about a half-inch of ease. If my gauge gets smaller/tighter (going down a needle size), I’ll cast on the 38 knowing it will come out somewhere between the 35 and 38.
Concerns/trepidations: I’m a little concerned about the neck shaping. Based on the pattern and many of the project photos, I think it’s perhaps too sloped (not rounded enough) to lay nicely. So we’ll talk about neck shaping as we get into this whole thing.
Body construction: Haven’t decided yet, but I’ll probably knit this in pieces, as written. I’m toying with knitting the body in one piece but I don’t think I want to knit rows that long in this stitch pattern. Each row would take me an eternity, whereas shorter rows will make me feel like I’m making progress. Plus I like a side seam.
Button bands: I’ve never done them the way this pattern is written so I’m eager to see how that goes. I might put a ribbon backing on it, though.
Other mods: I have long arms, so I’ll need to tamper with the sleeve lengths. And again, I know my sweater is going to get shorter when I wash it (this is why we block our swatches!) so I need to put some extra length in the sleeves and body to account for that. I also think I’m going to do a right-cross center cable in the diamonds on one side, and a left-cross on the other side, so they’re mirrored instead of all twisting the same direction.
*Although this time I’ll do it as Kate recommends in her post about swatching, which will post on Monday!
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Yarn: Imperial Yarn Columbia 2-Ply in the color Natural
Swatch: For my swatch I followed the sleeve chart and started with a US8 needle and then went down to a 7. I got gauge on a 7. The fabric is a little dense but the cables look great. I think this garment will be rain- and wind-proof.
Cast-on: Long-tail, because that’s how I roll.
Size/ease: Choosing a size is always difficult for me. I decided on the 35″ — I hope it’s not too snug.
Concerns/trepidations: I’m knitting this in pieces as written. I usually avoid seamed knits so I’m a little nervous about this. Since it’s seamed, I won’t be able to try it on which also makes me a little uneasy.
Body construction: I’m knitting it in pieces, yikes!
Button bands: I haven’t decided on this yet. I think I might just do the button bands as I’m knitting the front pieces of the sweater. Is this a bad idea? Anyone??
Other mods: I love Karen’s idea of mirroring the diamond shape cables so I’m going to make that mod.
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Yarn: The Fibre Company Savannah in Natural
Swatch: I got gauge (astonishingly both stitch and row!) on US7. I knit 3 separate swatches. (More on this in my post here on Monday.)
Cast-on: The good ol’ long-tail.
Size-ease: I’m knitting the 2nd size, the 35″ bust. That is 0″ ease, which I think will be good for the cardigan. (I typically wear cardigans open.)
Concerns/trepidations: About many, many things. (Why does my kid love pistachios, but cry when I try to feed her fruit? Will our dog ever get to a point where he doesn’t need twice-daily insulin shots? Should we look into that safety recall, or after 120K miles are we confident the brakes on our car are probably fine? …) Happily, none of them are Amanda-cardigan related, though!
Body construction: Pieces! Forever and always!!
Button bands: Definitely not as written. I can’t decide whether I am going to knit them as I go, or pick them up. I think I might pick them up because I don’t like the look of loose ribbing and it will be too loose on the 7s if I knit them with the body.
Other mods: I already cast on fewer stitches for the sleeve cuff, but will increase before the cabling to match the pattern. I also plan on doing the yoke in pieces and seaming it all. It isn’t really a mod, but I’m cabling without a cable needle throughout.
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Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca
Swatch: I’ve knit 4 swatches (so far) — mostly because I can’t choose which color I’m going to knit with but also to test all the stitch patterns and work out my gauge issues.
Cast-on: My default CO is long-tail, which creates a nice firm edge that won’t stretch too much over time and wear. Super tempting to put a tubular CO on this sweater though because it looks so lovely.
Size/ease: Medium, which should give me 0 ease except that I’m not quite getting gauge. If my gauge is as off as I think it is, knitting the size M/35″ should give me a 36-37″ sweater with 1-2″ of ease, which would be perfect for me.
Concerns/trepidations: Well, I didn’t exactly get gauge. If I go down a needle size I do get gauge perfectly which is typical for me (I’m a loose knitter) but because I like the fabric I got in the honeycomb stitch with the recommended needle, and because I’d prefer 1-2″ of ease, I’m going with it. Wish me luck.
Body construction: I will knit in pieces and seam. Initially I planned on converting to working in the round, but with my concerns/trepidations over my slightly off gauge, I feel safer working in pieces.
Button bands: I will knit the button bands exactly as written — I love this method!
Other mods: I am a tall girl; I will need to add (at least) 1″ to the length of the body and 2″ to the sleeves.
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Yarn: Fancy Tiger Crafts’ Heirloom Romney. I’m actually going to use a brand new natural dark grey that is still en route to me so I swatched in our light natural. I chose to use Heirloom because it has excellent stitch definition for the cable pattern, but my main reason is its amazing durability. Romney is a longwool that is hardy and will stand the test of time without pilling or getting fuzzy — this is important to me for such an involved sweater.
Swatch: I knit both the honeycomb portion and the diamond pattern on a size US7. (I went down in needle size because I usually knit loose.) I got gauge perfectly with the 7, but I thought the fabric was too thick in this yarn so I went up to a size 8. I like the look and feel of this swatch, but now I have a gauge of 16 sts to 3.5” in honeycomb pattern. I’m basically going to re-write a lot of stuff to make the pattern work for my new gauge. I have a plan for it, but it’s going to get interesting when I get to the raglan shaping. Pray for me.
Cast-on: Long-tail forever!
Size/ease: I want to make a size 33” which would give me 1” of negative ease, but with my gauge and my projected stitch count, I might end up with a size 33.5/34”. I’m going to cut a lot of stitches out — I will be working with about 130 stitches total for the body instead of 200. I want the sweater to be fitted with all the texture going on.
Concerns/trepidations: I have never knit a heavily cabled piece before, so I was a bit scared, but I’m feeling pretty good about the cables just after working this swatch. Now my concern is my playing with gauge and getting it to look and fit right. I knit a lot of sweaters this way though — doing the math to work with my gauge or the fabric I want to create — so I’m pretty good at this by now. We’ll see.
Body construction: Oh man. I want to knit it in one piece. I’m changing so much though! I’ll cast it on as one piece and see how it’s going. There may be a lot of frogging. I’m knitting the sleeves in the round no matter what happens.
Button bands: I’m changing so much, maybe I’ll try to knit the button bands as written.
Other mods: I will probably add some short-row shaping to the neck. There’s going to be a lot of trying on as I go with all of these modifications so I’ll see how it’s looking at that point.
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Yarn: Undecided! I have swatched twice. One swatch holding 1 strand worsted (Ella Rae Classic) held with 1 strand lace (Isager Alpaca 1). This created a very dense fabric that will be beyond warm … not particularly required in Tennessee. Second swatch is with Jill Draper Makes Stuff Windham. Since this one is hand-dyed, I would need to alternate skeins throughout entire project. Have to decide the lesser of two evils: a sweater that will be too warm to wear but maybe a few days a year or a process that will be cumbersome.
Swatch: Off the needles, swatch was slightly too small. Since it only needs to be a teensy bit larger, blocking will take care of the growth I need.
Cast-on: I use the long-tail cast on for everything! Will utilize the 2×2 long-tail cast on so the knits will look like knits and the purls will look like purls from the cast-on edge.
Size/ease: Will be making the medium (35″) which is zero ease. I never button up a cardigan so not concerned with the zero ease.
Concerns/trepidations: Only concern is keeping up with you girls!
Body construction: Planning on knitting the pattern as written.
Button bands: I like when the button band is sewn on so will be working this as written as well.
Other mods: None that I know of.
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Yarn: I’m using the Merino Aran I sell in my shop, undyed. It’s a true aran weight, and quite springy and bouncy. The warm ivory color is exactly what I want to wear all winter long :)
Swatch: After much debate, I ended up swatching the sleeve chart because I’m really into symmetry and it’s just such a pretty, balanced swatch. But, I also did a separate swatch with several repeats of the honeycomb pattern so I could properly measure that gauge. My gauge is nearly exact on US 8 needles and the resulting fabric is super squishy and cozy.
Cast-on: Right now my plan is long-tail, but if any of the panelists have a better idea, I could be convinced otherwise!
Size/ease: I’m going to knit the Large (38″) size, which will give me 3″ of ease and have an oversized feel. My idea is that it will be a big, comfy, almost coat-like sweater that I can wear over leggings. I’m also going to make it quite a bit longer, adding several pattern repeats in the body and perhaps one in the arms. (I am 5′ 10″, and I have long arms to match!)
Concerns/trepidations: Ahhh … I’m a little nervous about the neckline shaping. Karen and I had a chat the other day about the way cardigan-type sweaters can lay funny at the front neckline. I’m looking forward to hearing what our experts have to say.
Body construction: Exactly as written.
Button bands: Exactly as written.
Other mods: As of now, my only modification plan is to add pattern repeats in the body and sleeves, for a longer, more “outerwear” feel. This is not a mod, but I did want to mention that I’m using the little wooden cable needles from Fringe Supply for the first time and it is HANDS DOWN the best cabling experience I’ve ever had. They are super easy to maneuver and the little grooves provide just the right amount of resistance to keep them in place whilst knitting. I do believe they’re going to make the whole process really lovely. Oh, and I’m hoping to find some gorgeous tortoiseshell buttons!
Awesome already, right?
NEXT UP! Kate’s expert guidance on swatching for this sweater, coming Monday. Don’t forget there are some special offers on yarn available to you as Fringe readers and knitalongers — see the planning post for details. Under “Yarn suggestions,” you’ll find discounts from Camellia Fiber Co, Sincere Sheep and O-Wool. And if you just got here and have no idea what any of this is about, refer to the aforementioned planning post, but the shortest possible version is we are embarking on a knitalong of the Amanda cardigan, available in the excellent book Essentially Feminine Knits.
For all the posts on this knitalong so far, click here. And wherever you may be talking/posting about this, don’t forget to hashtag it #fringeandfriendsknitalong.
Have a magnificent weekend, everyone — see you right back here on Monday!