If you saw my last blog post, you know how much I love cozy cardigans. And while you can find tons of styles in stores, there is something very satisfying about making one yourself, especially when it’s as versatile and warm as the one pictured above.
When I finished this cardigan, shortly after my son was born, I immediately started on another one, this time in an oatmeal shade with brown flecks running through it. But I only got a few rows in before putting it down because life with a newborn is pretty busy, to say the least! I found it a few weeks ago and decided to start working on it again, about the same time that I pulled out the original sweater.
Enter my first problem, and my first tip, one that all knitters will tell you to follow – when you start a project, ALWAYS buy enough yarn (your pattern will tell you how much you need) to complete it. I did not, and I fully blame a bad case of baby brain. In any case, I found myself looking for another ball of yarn to finish the cardigan and wouldn’t you know – can’t find the yarn in Canada anymore (thanks for nothing, Michaels!).
I ended up finding the yarn, Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool, online at LoveKnitting.com and despite coming from the United States, it was pretty close to the same price as I would have paid in Canada, so that was fortunate. (With that in mind, I bought yarn for a third one, this time in a creamy beige.) I am waiting for it to arrive, and when it does, I’ll post a quick update on what I thought of LoveKnitting.com.
Despite the fact that the yarn originally used for this pattern isn’t as easily available as I would have liked, it’s still a great one to try. You can substitute the Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool for a good quality Aran weight yarn. Just be sure to check between the two types of yarn (the Fisherman’s Wool and the yarn you choose) because you will need to adjust the number of balls of yarn required accordingly. The Lion Brand pattern calls for only two balls of wool, but that’s because the Fisherman’s Wool balls are quite large and most other brands will be smaller.
This is a great project to try if you’re new to knitting because it’s so simple and, depending on the yarn you choose, relatively inexpensive. So even if it doesn’t work out, you won’t have spent too much on it.
Here is the link to the pattern:
And now, a few of my tips and tricks:
- Buy all your yarn at once. This is to ensure that all of the yarn is from the same dye lot, which is important because even subtle differences in yarn colours can be noticeable in the finished product. (Here’s hoping there isn’t too much difference with my partially completed sweater.) You can find the dye lot listed on the packaging. If the numbers match, you’re good to go!
- Do a test square before you start the project, especially if it’s your first time using circular knitting needles. They take some getting used to, but once you do, they are actually pretty awesome. (I love them more than regular needles after knitting several baby blankets as practice.) A test square is also important for determining the proper tension (literally, how tightly wound your stitches are). This is important because your tension will determine the size of your piece relative to the pattern – too tight and the piece will be to small; too loose and it will be bigger. Tension can take some practice, so if you’re new to knitting, I definitely recommend a bit of practice before diving right in.
- Be patient. Don’t fret about mistakes or dropping stitches. Like I said before, even if it doesn’t totally work out, you won’t have spent a fortune on your supplies. Dropping stitches is very common and if you catch it early, you can always work back a bit to try and pick it up. (Or, if you’re using a marled style of yarn like I was, the subtle colour differences mean you might be able to sew up the tiny hole caused by the dropped stitch without it being noticeable. But don’t tell my mother I suggested that!)
- Buy a set of needle covers. They are the funny looking rubber pieces that fit over the end of your needles (as shown in my pictures above) to keep your stitches from falling off when you set the project down. I especially recommend it if you have children who expect you to drop everything at a moments notice. Including knitting. Very handy and saves a lot of stress. You can ask in any knitting or crafting store about these and if you describe them as I have above, the staff should know what you’re looking for.
- Use a good tape measure when determining the length indicated by your pattern. A ruler isn’t going to cut it. ?
- And finally, watch your stitches carefully when sewing up the sides to make the armholes. If you don’t, your stitches may be noticeable in the finished project. I like to check mine from the right side every once in a while to make sure it looks good.
The great thing about this project is that you can pick it up and put it down so easily. It’s been an incredibly busy few weeks, but in just picking up my knitting needles and doing a row or two here and there, I’ve been able to make a surprising amount of progress. And because the pattern is so simple (literally, once the ribbing section at the beginning is done and you’re comfortable with knitting, you could practically knit it with your eyes closed), it’s a great project to do while watching Netflix!
Though I love the great sweaters and cardigans that are on the market right now, I really love that I can make a beautiful one myself, and you can too!
One more thing…..I would love to hear your thoughts on how I should complete my latest sweater. While I love the traditional knitted front, there is something equally beautiful and unique about the purled side. I’d love to hear from you about which way I should chose to finish it. Leave me a comment below and help my make my choice! And if you decide to try this project out, I’d love to help if you have questions and to see the finished project – just leave a comment below.
Enjoy the pretty things in life,