Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kate's Cardigan for Gail

This is a very belated post. I made Kate's Cardigan last spring, but am finally writing about it this spring, after a season of wear and a winter in the basement closet! My apologies to those who think I am a speed knitter--I truly am not!!

I definitely have a soft spot for anything named "Kate," and I don't know why. I wanted to name my second daughter Katherine just so I could call her Kate. (I was overruled by my husband) My fascination with all things "Kate" has nothing to do with "Taming of the Shrew" but may have something to do with Thomas More's beloved daughter. (I am too old to have another daughter, just to use the name. But if my daughter's ever get pregnant, there will be a lot of lobbying on my part for the best girl's name!) I also have a thing for pie crust collars--me, a woman who eschews ruffles and typically wears only unadorned and very simple items of clothing.

So, last year when Knit Circus (Issue #5) came out with the Kate's Cardigan and put the signature sample in my LYS, I had to make the cardigan-- it even had a pie crust collar!!! It was made in lovely green wool, but I wanted the cardigan for summer wear. I selected Queensland Bebe Cotsoy as my yarn of choice, due to the color, the drape, the gauge and the light weight.

The sleeve construction was quite interesting--stitches picked up across the top of the armhole, working short rows to pick up additional stitches along the armhole, then knitting down. Unfortunately, did the body of the sweater in one piece (I hate to sew fronts and backs together) and then had a difficult time doing the short rows. But, fudging a bit it all worked out.
This sideways photo (I don't know how to turn photos once they are uploaded into Blogger) shows a couple of my attempts to make Kate's Cardigan truly "Gail's Cardigan." First, I loved the simple diagonal lace accent up the front. Why not put it also in the middle of the back?? Done! A few more air holes for a summer cardigan, and it give people something to look at in the back--that is, people can think, "Oh, what pretty lace detail down the back of that cardigan" rather than, "Oh, that woman is getting big in the hips."

I also wanted to be sure that the bound off edge of the pie crust collar did not pull in. therefore, while binding off I added stitches so that the bound off edge would continue the minimal ruffle and lie flat. Success.
Third modification--I added I-cord up the button bands. I dislike button holes in ribbing or in stockinette. I don't know why, but they always shout "home-made!!" to me. Therefore, I usually find a way to use I-cord to make hidden button holes. Praise to Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen. Those women know detail.
Fourth modification--I knit the lace edging perpendicularly onto the bottom of the cardigan. I abhor sewing knitted pieces together if there is a way to knit them together. With some fudging, this worked well.

A few weeks ago I dug into my summer clothes bin in the basement and found the cardigan. I took it with me to the Smokey Mountains and didn't wear it--due to the fact that there was unseasonably warmer weather in the mountains than typical! I would have worn the cardigan, had I needed it!! Just looking at the cardigan made me evaluate my choices.

Evaluation one year later:
1) good pattern selection. Love the lace detail on the back.
2) bad yarn selection. Great drape, great color. But the cotsoy pills under the arms and along the side. Ugh!!!
3) "dreaded frontal droop" Meg Swansen's phrase for sweaters that end up being longer in the front than in the back. One problem for this sweater is that the lace border stretches more than the stockinette. When picking up the button bands I should have picked up fewer stitches. now, I think I will do a chain crochet up the inside of the button bands to pull the fronts up.
4) button misplacement. I put a button hole in the bottom lace edging. This pulls in a weird manner. My tummy and hips are too big and the pulling makes them look even bigger. Solution--Weight Watchers.
5) good drape. The cardigan lends itself to a drapey yarn, in my opinion. The waist shaping holds its own and gives the illusion of having a waist when one no longer has one. And the draping is great for summer. Just select a yarn that does not pill.

Meanwhile, my college daughter is home for the summer and the house now feels complete again! My older daughter drops by more often and the cat is in his heaven--sleeping next to her on her bed. Life is good.


kate said...

As a Katherine named Kate (whose father took great delight in sharing a performance of The Taming of The Shrew with her at age 13) may I say I love this post! ;-)

Great sweater, and I especially like your well thought commentary.

Hilde C. said...

The cardigan is beautiful :-)

Pilar said...

Es preciosa Gail, felicidades :)

Anonymous said...

Gail me encanta! Ana, Diana & Alexandra

Joanne said...

Your cardigan turned out beautifully. I did this same sweater for my Mom and she got a lot of compliments. You're going to get compliments, too, I know it!