This post is brought to you courtesy of Brenda Dayne and her podcast, Cast On. Without her, I would never have created this most gorgeous garment.
I remember listening to episode 71 (I really had to search to find the right one!) walking home from the train after work. It was hot, so must have been in late January or sometime in February. Brenda was talking about this pattern, from Rowan 44, and it sounded fantastic. But I'd gotten my copy of Rowan 44 already and I couldn't for the life of me remember it. When I got home, I immediately looked it up and wondered to myself how I could have overlooked it!
Well, there were a couple of reasons - the embroidery (which I'm generally not a fan of, on adult knitwear) and the sleeve length. Of course, someone on Ravelry had already solved both of those issues!
(Special thanks also to Bells who was my yarn mule, collecting the yarn for me from Cassidy's in Canberra, to Margarita, my stylist and photographer and Lee for the lovely location!)
Pattern: Bruegel by Sarah Hatton, from Rowan 44. This is a gorgeous magazine, it's Rowan's 30th anniversary edition, and even if you never knit from it, it's great eye candy! I do plan at least one more garment from it - a 4ply/fingering weight cardigan! Will be waiting a little while for that one! As for the pattern itself, it is excellent. Easy to follow, gorgeous cabling, and a new-to-me technique, smocked ribbing (which is a bit of a pain in the butt to do, but it is SO EFFECTIVE! I love it!).
I also love the collar and the edging on the collar/front pieces - 5 stitches of reverse stocking stitch - which of course curl, to give the appearance of a straight edge - it's hard to describe but is a very neat solution to the stocking stitch curl problem without being clunky like a garter or moss/seed stitch edging can be.
Yarn: Rowan Kid Classic - the called-for yarn for the pattern. I cannot recommend this yarn highly enough. It's a 70/26/4 lambswool/kid mohair/nylon blend, aran/10ply weight, and as light as a feather! Creates a beautiful fabric, warm without being heavy, with a light halo and beautiful stitch definition. Oh, and great yardage for an aran weight - 140m/153yds per 50g. I would absolutely use this yarn again. Oh, and I used just under 10 balls for the cardigan - slightly more than the pattern called for, due to my modifications.
Sticks: 4.5mm for the ribbed smocking, 5mm for everything else. I used KP Options (mostly because I thought metal sticks would be far easier to see with the dark yarn!).
What I learned: Smocked ribbing - basically you knit the ribbing (2x2x2 knit/purl/knit) onto a cable needle or dpn, wrap the yarn around the stitches on the cable needle/dpn twice, then slip the stitches on your right needle. It's fiddly, but very cool! Also, when seaming the smocked ribbing, you can smock the edge ribs from each side edge as you seam, making it appear truly seamless. The pattern doesn't give any instructions on this seaming detail, so I felt pretty darn clever that I worked it out myself!
Oh, and as you already know, I learnt it's important to count correctly when splitting off the collar stitches from the front piece. Sigh...what was that about feeling clever...
Modifications: I omitted the embroidery - for me, the garment has enough lovely features without adding more. And I also omitted the sleeve turn up - in the original pattern, the sleeves end around the elbow, and the smocked ribbing part is turned up. It didn't make sense to me to have an aran weight cardigan with elbow length sleeves, with double thickness around the arm, so I made the stocking stitch portion of the sleeves longer, and I did the smocking on the right side of the sleeve, rather than the wrong side (as you would if you were turning it up).
I'm much happier with this style of sleeve, which is about bracelet length!
Time: As my Tour de France 2009 project - I did all the knitting (well, except the reknitting of the right collar/top of front) during the tour - 4 July - 25 July - but then didn't actually seam it until this week - so finished 25 August 2009.
I just love it! Now if only it would get cold enough again for me to wear it this year!