Cardigan, Finishing, Knitting, Modifications, Zippers

Stonecutters Saga


Stonecutters Cardigan - revised

There are few things more heartbreaking than working so unbelievably hard on something and really really really  wanting and expecting to love it, only to have it not work out the way you’d imagined.

I am sad. Looking at this sweater on its shelf in my closet makes me sad. Putting it on and lifting my arms to find a bazillion like balls of wadded up alpaca makes…me…sad.  Go get your tissue box and settle in for a crushing tale of woe…

It was star-date late September 2012, and I need a cozy sweater suitable for brisk Fall dog-walking. As I invariably listen to audiobooks during dog walks, no sweater without a suitable iPhone pocket would suffice. One lengthy Ravelry pattern search later, et voila! Amy Christoffer’s Stonecutters Cardigan filled all my boxes with adorable little check marks. Click click click…the pattern is in my library and the yarn acquisition begins…

IT MUST BE FOREST GREEN! – my brain declares with great authority.  A little Interweb searching uncovers the perfect hand dye shade in Misti Alpaca Tonos Worsted, but my LYS says the color’s not available anymore. Back to the web I go, and lo and behold, there is it on a Canadian online retail site. I click all the buttons and enter all the numbers and complete my purchase.

Then, I wait…most impatiently.

Finally, October and the yarn arrive together. I gleefully cast on and start knitting my little heart out. It’s one piece to the armholes, lots of little cables and pattern details, shaping, set-in pockets, etc… fun fun, intricate fun.

Stonecutters Cardigan -in progress

By late November, I had finally made it to the armholes…the upper fronts flew off my needles over one weekend, and I even made some progress on the upper back.  Fall was almost gone, but there were still several months of winter weather left. I could do it!

Early January, and I was halfway through my first sleeve! Hang in there Winter…my sweater is coming…!!!

By the third week of January, I was 3/4 of the way through the second sleeve, but found myself constantly distracted by the crappy job I did on the granite stitch on the sides. So unhappy, in fact, that I ripped back the right side panel and made an attempt to re-work the stitch pattern. The photos below are the right and left sides before ripping. Notice the random, ugly gaps in the granite stitch.

Stonecutters Cardigan - right side   Stonecutters Cardigan - left side

So, I ripped the right side first:

Stonecutters Cardigan - ride side ripped

Scary, right!?!  You better believe it.

I re-worked the right side, but still wasn’t happy with it. I tried using kellyjomo’s instructions to make it look all pretty like hers, but it didn’t work for me. I still couldn’t get it uniform all the way up:

Stonecutters Cardigan - right side reknit 1

I hypothesized that my size had a lot fewer granite stitches up the side – in fact, there are only 5 stitches across at the narrowest point – this might account for why I couldn’t get 3 + 1 stitch pattern to balance symmetrically on each side of the center.

I knew it would bug me no end every time I wore it if I didn’t fix it, so I decided to rip it back AGAIN and do what I did on the sleeve, which is work a single stockinette “seam” in the center:

Stonecutters Cardigan - right side reknit 2

All better! Happily balanced granite stitch on each side of the “seam.”  I then ripped and reknit the left side to match.

On February 10, 2013, I finally finished the first version!

I was very happy with my choice of tubular cast on and bind off for all edges.  You can see how spiffy the top of the collar looks:



I tried about 4 different closures before settling on snap-together jeans buttons I had in my sewing stash. They suited the forest green to a tee. The pattern calls for snap closures, so I didn’t plan ahead for buttonholes. I simply pushed apart the knitting and shoved the tops though. I did consider getting ambitious enough to do Elizabeth Zimmermann’s afterthought buttonholes at some point, just to make it look more finished, but as you’ll see in a bit, that didn’t happen.

IMG_1286  IMG_1289

See all that pulling across the bust and hip? That’s because it finished much much MUCH smaller than the 48” it was supposed to be. I can’t recall if I knit a gauge swatch or not. I suspect I didn’t. Serves me right. If I had, I probably would have gone up a needle size. At any rate, it still looked nice enough and was snug and warm, even if it was a little more on the fitted side than I intended.

I wore it several times, and then in early March I made two after-market revisions that took the sweater from pretty good to Ooo-la-la! (at least temporarily)

Mod One – swapped out buttons for a streamlined zipper…less pulling, smoother closure.

Mod Two – ripped back the collar and band and re-knit them together to eliminate the seam…much cleaner and more professional looking collar. Yay!

I also wet blocked it until it begged for mercy, and thus managed to eek out a couple more inches of ease.  The final result:

Stonecutters Cardigan - revised

Pretty darn good looking sweater after all that fuss!  Unfortunately, I soon discovered that I had made a huge and irreparable mistake.

I wore the sweater a few times a week for two months – it did not wear well. The super soft alpaca yarn was simply not up to withstanding hours of vigorous arm swinging. The poor thing was pilling like a pharmacy. I should have chosen something more springy, with a tighter twist. I was so focused on having the right color, that I didn’t pay enough attention to the quality of the yarn. Every time I wear it, I have to scrape off bazillions of underarm clumps of ugliness.

Oh well, live and learn.  This project is indelibly etched in my brain and I will NOT make the same mistake again.

The end.

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