The Berroco design studio has been a whirlwind of activity since Cirilia’s last post. The fall 2011 season of photography is under our belts, Cirilia has packed up and said good bye, and her ’way too clean’ desk awaits Amanda’s arrival - or Read more
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Cardigans are enjoying a prolonged reign at the top of our knitting baskets. I came of age in the grunge years where beautiful long haired Kurt Cobain messed with our idea of what a rock star should look like:
It was his cool cardigan that drove me to pick up knitting needles and attempt to make a slouchy black sweater of my own. Today I watch as cardigans beat out all the other patterns we put out in a season time and time again. In 2009, people couldn’t get enough of flyaway shapes that only closed at the top. 2010 was all about cozy draped fronts and grandpa cardigans not unlike the thrift store score sweaters of the 1990s.
They remain one of my favorite items to knit and wear and I thought I’d offer a few tips for successful cardigan knitting.
- First things first: when knitting two cardigan fronts you’ll often run into a direction that says “Knit as Right (or Left) Front, reversing all shaping.” This can throw a lot of knitters off! We don’t do it to be tricky, we usually have to do it to save space. I came across a wonderful answer to this stumper on Bonne Marie Burns’ blog.
- Seaming is easy! Really! It just takes patience and know-how. You should never rush the finishing just because you’re eager to wear the sweater (unless you’re me and you’re finishing a sweater moments before it’s about to be photographed…). While you’re slogging through the boring parts, watch our video tutorials:
- Consider your closures. Do you like the pattern as is, or do you want to change it up? This is an area that can always be improved and personalized, and I am always on a mission to improve the button bands. I’ve finally settled on a favorite buttonhole (the one-row buttonhole) and I’ve been favoring Norah’s standard, the sewn-on ribbed buttonband. It requires a bit of extra work, but the neat look is very, very worth it. Here are some videos that cover closures:
- Buttons! One of the very best parts of a cardigan are the buttons! Buying the perfect buttons, super fun, sewing them on? Not as much fun. I have some tips for that too! My first tip is to pick a button before you finish your sweater. You’ll need to coordinate the size of your buttonholes with the size of your buttons. Seems obvious, but is easily forgotten. Try to pick buttons that aren’t too heavy. They might be gorgeous, but heavy buttons will quickly pull your sweater out of shape. If you’re using a heavy button, use a flat plastic button as a backing button: sandwich the sweater fabric between the two buttons and sew through the buttons. This will keep the strain on the backing button and not the fabric. A row of grosgrain ribbon can also serve as a supportive backing.
- As for sewing the buttons on, debate rages on what to use. Often the yarn you’ve knit with will be too thick to pass through a regular needle eye or a button. Some people suggest using sewing thread, but others feel that this can eventually cut through the yarn. Using yarn to attach the buttons might work but a rough button might eventually cut through the yarn! My favorite compromise is using a sock yarn, or a thin yarn that contains silk, mohair or nylon. These are naturally strong fibers and will stand up to lots of wear. UPDATE: Kathleen left a brilliant suggestion in the comments–she uses embroidery floss!
- Which reminds me! Buy an extra button!! Buy two! And have fun with them! Buttons are a delightful adornment and thoughtful buttons will set your sweater apart from mass produced garments. Use a contrasting thread color to sew them on, or make your own buttons using fabric and inexpensive button cover kits(this is a favorite trick of mine: Americano, Miroux and Double Decker all feature homemade buttons).
That is it for now, I have gone on long enough! If you have any specific cardigan questions, leave them in the comments! Norah and I are headed off to TNNA this week, where the weather is in the 60s! I’ll still be wearing cardigans–lightweight and belted, maybe over a sundress. In January!
I was at the mall this weekend [GAH] and saw a window display that said “It is never too late to pick up a new spring look!” I DISAGREE!! We’re just now getting some truly cold temps, and we’re ALL really excited about it. We’re a winter loving office, I have to say. We’re sharing our favorite teas and casting on last minute winter knits and I thought it would be fun to share a few of my personal winter favorites.
1. New designs from Amy Christoffers! Last week we featured Amy in a table that showed off all the great designs that have been released in our yarns recently. Today, Amy launched another winner! It’s called Larch and I LARVE it! Sorry. She knit it in Tupelo, and amazing new shade of yellow Ultra Alpaca Light. Fun fact, Amy can knit and hula hoop at the same time. Awesome!!
2. Hot Toddies! To keep warm and relax, I’ve been concocting all sorts of delicious warm treats. If you need some recipes (and some amazing knitting inspiration) check out my friend Lee Meredith’s Bundle Up! post (scroll to the bottom for recipes). My personal variation is Good Earth Original Tea with a glug of Kraken Black Spiced Rum. Bonus points for gorgeous packaging:
3. My new Nook! After seeing our pattern writer swatch and read at the same time, I knew I had to have an e-reader. I’d been a little wary about them, I tend to be opposed to the increasing number of gadgets we humans tote around, and I really love the experience of reading a book, taking in the cover, the typeface, the paper, everything. That said, I end up watching a LOT of stuff while I knit, and I know my brain is getting mushy because of it. So I picked up a Nook and a fancy cover, downloaded 100 classics for a whopping 6 bucks and I haven’t looked back! I’m tempted to knit a Baobab while I wait for my Jack Spade cover to arrive…
4. Winter movies! My favorites are It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, the Charlie Brown special and a new one, Rare Exports. This is bizarre movie from Finland that I absolutely loved. It was a taut and twisted little fairy tale, not for everyone but right up my alley. A bonus? There was some great knitwear on view (of course)!
5. Go-to recipes. This is a time of year when I do a lot of cooking and baking but I do have a few go-to favorites: Martha Stewart’s Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies and something my hairdresser told me about called BRICKLE. The Brickle is ridiculously addictive and easy to make, a total win-win.
Well, it is time for a tea break here. Maybe something with ginger…
As you may have noticed from my iPAd sketching entry a while back, I am a bit of a gadget girl. The excitement of learning something new propels me through work, and almost invariably opens up new avenues of thought and inspiration. When it comes to discovering the newest tools and destinations on the web, I rely on Cirilia to keep me up to date. So, it went with Pinterst – as the site defines itself: Pin· terest (pĭn’trĭst): n. a social catalog to collect and share things you love …
Participants add links to thinks they love and organize them into themed boards. I find the organization easy and pretty intuitive. While we can’t figure out how it’s possible, Pinterest is so very beautiful, and so, so nice. Cirilia and I are keeping board on things we love , some tangentaly affect our work and some more directly, like Cirilia’s “color” board and my “geeky nice” board. I am finding it very inspiring and uplifting. Time will tell how it affects my work, but I am sure it will.
Looks like I am on a little design jag here. Due to demand, I’ve been dreaming up more sweaters to be knit in the round. At the same time, cables are worming their way back into my brain as well, resulting in two cabled yoked sweaters in magazines this Fall.
From the Holiday issue of Vogue Knitting:
#8 Cable Pullover knit in Berroco Blackstone Tweed. Photograph by Rose Callahan
…and on the cover of the UK magazine Knitting:
I’ve seen this magazine in larger bookstores like Borders, so it is available in the states. It’s Knitting Magazine #81, October 2010. The pullover is knit in Ultra Alpaca.
I am such a firm believer in cable charts and both of these charts make easy work of cabling and decreasing at the same time. One small chart is repeated around each yoke. For me it’s a bit addictive, and I find myself going faster and faster as the number of stitches diminishes and sweater completion looms ever nearer.
As I look at my most recent Ravelry design page, I wonder if I may be a bit addicted to orange these days too!
What does it mean to “knit it old school?” This is a question explored and answered at length in Knitting it Old School, a fantastically fun new book by Stitchy McYarnpants (purveyor of all things kitschy and hilarious) and Caro Sheridan, an omnicraftual maker of highly collectible fabric goods. It’s a truly impressive collection of 43 (FORTY-THREE) knit and crochet patterns, with a few bonus sewing patterns as well. Check out Caro’s snapshots here.
Berroco makes an appearance, not once, not twice, but three times! First up we have Galileo, by Christy Varner. It’s handsome captain’s sweater knit in Pure Merino, with a really cool contrast color shawl collar.
Caro and Stitchy clearly had a blast setting a scene for their science fiction inspired chapter, Sci-Fiber! Norah and I are both big sci-fi nerds, so we were thrilled to see two Berroco sweaters in this chapter. This is the lovely Apocalypta, designed and knit in Seduce by Amy Herzog. (Caro has already made one! So pretty!)
Last but not least is the “twin set” I designed using Lustra, a shiny yarn that I just LOVE. It’s a teensy little jacket with lots of little details. Not for the finishing averse!! But so much fun to make and wear. I caught Miss Pamela Wynne herself wearing Double Decker (sans hat) at Rhinebeck!
I loved contributing this mod cardi to the book, probably because I’ve been mainlining Mad Men for the past 4 years! Little 60s style jackets are looking really good to me right now. What era would you like to revisit with your next knitting project?