Norah’s Knits: Cable Cardigan Tips and Tricks
If you’ve been following our Merle Cardigan KAL, you know that both Ashley and I have been knitting right along with the rest of the Ravelers and we’re both looking forward to wearing our FO’s. Making a Merle for myself was a great reminder of the all the places along the way that might be tricky – that I have a few tips for and opinions about. I posted some of these thoughts in the thread of the KAL, but I thought it would be a good idea to gather them together in one place, for easy reference.
Picking a yarn – Nothing beats the original yarn, Elements, for it’s lightness and subtle metallic appearance, but there are a lot of other yarn choices from the Berroco line up: Fuji, Abode, Blackstone Tweed, Vintage, Remix, Lustra, Captiva, Weekend, Comfort, Ultra Alpaca.
Casting on – I used a long tail cast on, which meant my first row is a WS row. Instead of following the chart exactly, I started with row 2 . If you use the cable cast on, another one of my favorites, you can use the chart as is. Several knitters asked me about using a provisional cast on. I think that’s a great idea, there is no reason not to. When you get to the second half of the collar and you are working the opposite direction, I think you’ll find the pattern stitches are off by 1/2 stitch, but that would not bother me.
Chart hint – The number is at the beg of each row. RS rows are numbered on the right, and you work from right to left. WS rows are numbered on the left and you work from left to right.
Cable hint – My favorite cable needle is a wooden, 4” dpn. I can easily keep it in my hand and it sticks to the yarn just enough. Using a long cn like this might make “hold in back” cable awkward, but I have a trick. If you approach the sts to be held from the side of your work they’ll be held on, it makes the process way easier. I snapped a photo of Ashley putting 3 sts on a cn to be held in back.
Picking up the 2nd portion of the collar – I realized last night that there is no need for a holder after you finish the first portion of the collar. You can keep it on the flexible part of your circular needle while you work on the other end.
Usually, I would go into the larger rounder space when pickup up on the cast on edge (blue arrow). If you want the rib to line up perfectly though, you should go into the more closed in space (yellow arrow). You’ll be picking up into the closed portion of the V of the stitch instead of into the rounder spaces between sts.
The 2 little quirks:
You’ll notice a little inconsitancy in the the transition from row 32 to row 5. The chart doesn’t line up perfectly for the repeat. I purposely decided that this was best since it allows a manageable sized chart to work from and the quirk is not noticeable in the finished garment. You’ll find another slight misalignment when you go from row 64 back to row 37.
Joining a new ball – I experimented this morning and joined two ends by threading one inside the other. I think this is called a Russian join. With this tube construction it worked really well.
A note about the chart symbols –
It’s important to think of the cable crossing symbol as a whole, don’t try to look at just one part of it. For example:
Don’t just look at the lines on one side and try to interpret them. Look at the 6 st symbol as a whole and you’ll see how the long lines and big space show how the cable crossed from left to right. When you get used to the symbols you won’t have to read the key anymore. It sometimes helps to color in the whole symbol for easy reference and to help visualize the symbol as a whole.
Another visual hint – I like to use black (or dark grey) as a fill when the sts are going to be purled.
These charts aren’t universal. They are my made up system, but they are close to symbols used by other folks.
Finishing up – I am about to complete my Fuji Merle. At the bottom edge, I chose to follow the instructions as written, completing the cable panel with the larger needle and the ribbing with a smaller needle – leaving a split between them. If the split doesn’t suit your style, use the smaller needle for both the cable portion and the ribbing and work them in one piece. I think the gauge change in the cable sections will be subtle. Also, although the BO of the model garment looks fine to me, I decided to decrease a few sts across the bottom of the cable section as I was binding off to make it lay flatter.
I love seeing what decisions other knitters are making with the same pattern. Some followed the chart exactly, some skipped the repeats. Some knitter’s like a shorter cardigan, some longer, some are leaving cap sleeves other are making them longer than the 3/4 sleeve called for, and so on. The take away is MAKE IT YOURS.