Last week, holding my breath, I finally sent the tiny Sólbein Cardigan off to Texas to see who it would fit, and whether they would like it — either or both of my two littlest nieces. Friday afternoon, I got a text message from their mom saying it had been waiting for them when they got home from school and they couldn’t wait to try it on. When I saw the photos, my heart popped right out of my chest. It fits Miss M (above) perfectly, and she’ll likely still be able to wear it in the fall. Miss T (below) probably has a full year or more to outgrow it. And omg the cuteness of these two — I can’t even. Fortunately they’re good at sharing, since they apparently both love it and have been trading off since it arrived, as evidenced by the additional pics that came on Sunday. (There are a couple more on Ravelry.)
Their mom just found out she’s pregnant and expecting in October, and dropped a not-subtle hint that she’d love something for the baby in this same goldenrod yarn. Not having any idea how big the Sólbein would be (and assuming more like the pre-teen size of their older sister), I bought 5 skeins of the MC and only used about 1.25, so there’s plenty left over for matching projects. But I’ll keep any further details on that to myself for the moment …
The only changes I made were to leave off the colorwork at the hem and cuffs, and to do the button bands in garter stitch (on US6) instead of ribbing. I had used an incredibly soft merino for the middle yellow and felt it was not going to have enough heft as a ribbed button band. Garter has that added density, and I think in this case it also contributes to the little-girl looks of it. The bone buttons came from Fringe Supply Co., and the ribbon (a gift) came from Fancy Tiger Crafts.
It’s not my very best work, if I’m honest. You can see my colorwork is a little bit bunchy, especially in the 3-color rows, and this was my first time sewing ribbon onto a button band — despite having sworn I would how many times? My whipstitching is, um, inelegant (although I kind of like that about it) and the act of lashing the ribbon onto the knitted fabric caused the bands to lengthen a bit. It’s all fine — it’s full of love! — and the imperfections just make it less precious. I’m definitely not worried about anyone wearing it and messing it up!
I just hope they can wear it. I opted not to do any math ahead of time and just let fate determine the outcome, and it came out smaller than I’d imagined. I was secretly hoping it would fit either the 11- or 8 year-old in the group and be handed down from there. But in the end, I’m concerned it may be a hair too small for the youngest, two 5-year-olds. After finishing, it clocks in at about a 24″ circumference at the chest, 11″ sleeves, and 15″ from shoulder to hem. Which is sort of a 4-5 range?
Time to send it off and see! With fingers firmly crossed.
While there are still people knitting — some of whom have started in on a next sweater — today marks the close of the official Fringe and Friends Steekalong coverage. But please do keep knitting! And I’ll keep tuning in to the #fringeandfriendssteekalong feed, where there is so much splendor to behold.
Thanks so much to everyone who participated or cheered participants along. It’s always such a joy join in with knitters stretching skills and sharing insights and making beautiful garments, and that’s never been more true than with all the steekers in this crowd. And thanks especially to Mary Jane Mucklestone for the amazing pattern and for joining in with so much great advice and cheerleading along the way!
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—
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.
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.
The thing that surprised me most is what happens if you boost the contrast and knit light colors for the yoke on a much darker field, it looks like fireworks to me! And what I love about that is not only what a different look it gives the garment, but that it’s another form of light flashing across the shoulders.
After knitting the body of this Carbeth Cardigan last month, I finally got to knit the yoke over just a few evenings at the end of last week, before finally casting on my kid-sized Sólbein for the #fringeandfriendssteekalong yesterday, on a sunny January Sunday.
The Sólbein is kid-sized by virtue of simply knitting the smallest size with worsted-weight yarn (details here) on size US8 needles, and it looks like it may be coming out even smaller than I anticipated. My plan is to finish the yoke chart, block and measure it, and see where the math puts me. I’ve been thinking it will go to whichever niece it winds up fitting, but it might actually be too small for the two smallest of them (they’re 5). I won’t know till I block it, which I expect to be able to do in the next couple of days, so the recipient is still TBD for now! But I’m loving how it’s knitting up.
The Carbeth fabric is so seductive — the black OUR Yarn bulky held together with Shibui Pebble — and every day that’s cool enough for a sweater, I find myself wishing for this one. My plan here is to knit the bands and collar before the sleeves, then see how it looks with a little bit fuller sleeve. And I think I might not do the I-cord buttonholes. For those of you who’ve knitted this and worn it awhile, how are those holding up — have they stretched out or anything? I may do vertical bands for it instead.
Both of these cardigans are relatively quick projects and I wish I could knit them sequentially, but instead it’s a race to see which will get done while there’s still hope of appropriate weather. And actually, it’s a three-legged race.
Meanwhile, no change in the status of the cowl-dickey-question-mark thing I also started last month, but I’m eager to figure it out. And then I’m still mulling what’s on the horizon. I have lots of thoughts and ideas about the sweaters I’m unable to wear and what to do about it, but not ready to put anything in writing just yet …
While there aren’t people taking really major liberties with the Sólbein Cardigan (which 99% of the #fringeandfriendssteekalong participants are knitting), there are numerous smaller modifications happening that illustrate all of the freedoms and flexibilities that excite me so much about knitting, so I wanted to point you to some of them. These are the sorts of design detail tweaks you can consider for just about any sweater you might knit:
MIDDLE LEFT: Short rows. Several knitters have added short rows between the neckband and start of the colorwork, so the back neck will sit higher. @caitmariejohnson shared her notes on how she did it (swipe to the third image in the linked post) as did @knitterbree.
It’s hard to believe we’re only halfway through the official timeframe, given how many finished sweaters there are. But again, the fact that so many people have completed sweaters in under three weeks tells you there’s still plenty of time to join in! And remember, you don’t have to be finished to be eligible for prizes. The details on all that are in the kick-off post.
I’m casting on this weekend! Happy Friday, everyone—