How to knit a miniature (Sólbein) cardigan

How to knit a miniature (Sólbein) cardigan

After sharing the latest pic and steeking progress on my mini Sólbein Cardigan on Instagram over the weekend, I’m getting a lot of questions about how I’ve adapted this pattern for child-size, and the specifics of what’s going on. Since it seems like a number of people are considering casting on, I thought I should tell you two key things now instead of waiting until I’m all done with the knitting—

THE SIZE

First, I have made no adjustments to the pattern. It’s a perfect demonstration of how gauge matters: All I’m doing is knitting the pattern as written, following the instructions for the smallest size, but using smaller stitches. The pattern gauge is 3.5 stitches and 4.25 rows per inch on recommended US10.5 needles — aka bulky gauge. I’m knitting with heavy-worsted yarn (chiefly Kelbourne’s Germantown) on size US8 needles, and my blocked gauge is 4.25 stitches and 6.25 rows per inch. Smaller stitches add up to fewer inches, ergo the sweater is way smaller.

I did stop to check the math and make sure I didn’t need to redistribute the sleeve/body stitch counts at all before I separated them. Making sure to count the underarm sts, I divided the stitch counts from the pattern by my stitch gauge to see where it would put me, which turned out to be about 25-26″ chest circumference (once I factor in button bands) and just under 10″ upper sleeve. I then consulted this chart to see where that would put it in the size/age range, and I’m looking at a child size 6. To double-check (especially since some of those numbers and labels are a little odd to me) I also asked a friend to measure one of her daughter’s sweaters, and these measurements seemed fine. So I’ve stuck with the stitch counts from the pattern right through the sleeve separation, and all I need to do differently is knit the body and sleeves to size-appropriate lengths, rather than the lengths given in the pattern.

I’ve made the body 14.5″ long (the yoke came out to 6″, so 8.5″ for the body). I’ll make the sleeves 12″ long, and you can see I’m leaving out the lower colorwork, just knitting contrasting hem and cuffs.

THE STEEK

One thing I did not take into account when shrinking my stitch size is that the pattern contains only 2 sts for the steek — you sew down those two stitches and cut the running thread between them. At my reduced scale, that is a very small target. Sewing along those 2 sts before cutting between them left me with no room for picking up stitches for the button band. I’ll need to pick up into the center of the first knit stitch, rather than beside it, which will leave me with a half stitch of colorwork butting up against the button band. I think it will be fine, if not ideal. But if you’re planning to do this, I would highly recommend giving yourself a couple of extra stitches in the steek, so you have more room to work with.

One side effect of my tenseness when I slid this under the machine to secure that narrow little steek is that I forgot to keep an eye on the tail of my waste yarn. And yep, I managed to sew perfectly along about a two-inch length of it. It’ll be my little hidden secret (my humble spot) once it’s turned under and covered with a pretty ribbon, but ack! I think I might be the only person in the entire #fringeandfriendssteekalong feed who had any trouble with the steek! It was fun anyway, and somehow the sweater is even more darling now that it’s cut open.

The other question I’ve gotten is why did I secure and cut the steek before knitting sleeves. The answer is two-fold: 1) I couldn’t wait to do it! 2) If I screwed it up, I didn’t want to have wasted time knitting sleeves.

What else can I tell you at this stage?

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: Variations on a stranded them

14 thoughts on “How to knit a miniature (Sólbein) cardigan

  1. Looks great! I’m not so much for yellow but every now and then something yellow comes along and makes my heart sing – this is one.

  2. Sweater looks great. And, I think you must have serious math aptitude. My brain starts to shut down just reading multiply, measure, ratio etc. Hats off to you Karen.

    • Well, maybe not so much since your comment made me realize I should have said divided not multiplied! (Fixed it, thank you.) But it really is super simple. If you’ve got 100 sts, for instance, and you’re working at 5 sts per inch, that would be 20 inches of knitting — 100 divided by 5. Don’t let a little math scare you off!

  3. Cant find another way to ask this, sorry!
    What color is the mini porter available in?
    Posting won’t let me select :(

  4. I also did the steek before the sleeves. Excitement was definitely there but the main reason, for me, was to not have the bulk of the sleeves getting in the way of the machine sewing.
    Karen, I needed to pick up in the centre of the first stitch (it was tidier for some reason) resulting in a half stitch of colour work and it is absolutely fine. So yours will be too ; )
    In hind sight and looking toward future steeking projects, I will go with a 3 stitch steek, not 2, and knit the centre one in an alternating colour leaving more wiggle room as well as being easier to find your sewing line.
    All in all, the fringe and friends steekalong has been a fabulous experience. So many beautiful sweaters out there in the world.

  5. This is so darling! Now I’m tempted to try knitting one for my daughter, maybe dying yarn and using the exhaust bath and a iron exhaust bath for the 3 colors…I have a ton of avocado pits in the freezer and she looks so good in dusty pink.

  6. You mentioned using Kelbourne Woolens “Germantown” for this project. I’m thinking of putting your Anna Vest in my queue and love the “Rhododendron” color you used in the Germantown. Not having ever used their yarns and this one in particular, can I assume that your use of it for more than one project is a whole-hearted recommendation of Germantown? Is it a soft fabric once knitted? I had a funny “association” reaction looking it up online; the skeins look like Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted, which I’ve had bad experiences with!

    • Yeah, I love it. It’s super classic, nothing fancy, and it’s interesting working with it and the marigold merino in the same project. I really prefer a little bit sturdier wool (I don’t love the way the merino looks in ribbing, especially) but it’s just soft enough that I don’t think a 5-yr old will even give it a thought.

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