Warning: lots of detailed information about knitting in this post!
My Krookus is done! And I am pleased with it, although not quite sure what I’m going to wear with it. Pale turtle necks in winter? Delicate cottons with mandarin collars in autumn? It’ll have to be with a blouse with a non intrusive sort of collar, to avoid swamping the lines of the cardigan.
Buttons! Apart from the obvious choices of shades of purple or silver, I had rather cheekily considered green – only if I found just the right shade – buttons. But recalling that this cardigan was meant to indulge my aspirations to elegance, I decided on a conventional – if unadventurous – prettiness. Light purple with some shimmer.
I’m going to blather on a little bit more than usual about this cardigan, because I really want to show how easy it is to make any pattern yours. I get quite a few comments on Ravelry about the stuff I make, and every time someone writes “I wish I could do the same…”, I want to yell, “but you can!”
Really, it’s not difficult. It requires a little bit of planning in the beginning, and of course you have to swatch, but there are so many ways to course correct as you go!
Let’s start with the design. I loved the swirly cables and raglan lines, not the giant belled body and sleeves. And I really did not want the thick hems and button bands. All these things were easily modified: I ignored the hem and button band instructions while knitting, and measured myself to draw out the shape and dimensions of the cardigan I wanted.
Next, the yarn. I wanted to make this in the Silky Merino, which is DK weight, unlike the aran weight in the pattern. So I read up on all the comments on my yarn in Ravelry – everyone said it grew after blocking. Easy solution: knit at a firm gauge and wash and block the swatch before measuring. Once I had the stitches and rows per inch, I referred to the shape I had drawn to find out CO and decrease rates.
One more thing at the planning stage: I cast on 3 extra stitches to make a double knit tube along the button bands, which would be conveniently knitted along with the garment. One less finishing step!
Once this initial planning was over, it was really a very relaxed process. Did I have enough yarn? I looked at similar cardigans I’d made to estimate how much I’d need, and then CO provisionally so that I could increase the length if I had enough yarn left at the end.
The cables are much easier than they look – it is mostly the same column of four stitches that swings in and out to shape the circles. No purls. Since I was using thinner yarn, I made more cable crosses while expanding the circles, mirroring the crosses while reducing. All decisions made while knitting – “this looks too spindly, let’s increase it even more”. In the pattern, there are decreases outside the circles, which have nothing to do with the cable pattern, but shape the garment. Since I wanted a different shape, I ignored them and decreased at the rate I’d calculated. My side cables have three circles while the pattern has four. Another spur of the moment decision, because I wanted stockinette near the underarms.
While working the double knit tubes along the front edges, I saw that they were contracting smaller than the stockinette fabric. So every few rows (‘few’ = ‘whenever I felt like it’) I worked them in plain stockinette. Just below the bust, I stopped working a double knit tube on one side and held the live stitches. Explanation coming up after a few paragraphs.
The sleeves were also cast on provisonally. To reduce the belling, I just cast on the number needed at the point where they would be joined to the body, and this created enough of a bell at the cuff.
Once the body and the sleeves were joined, there were several things going on at the same time: cables on both arms, cable on back, raglan decreases every four rows, short rows at the neck (‘eliminating’ 2 stitches, then 1 stitch, each time).
When the neckline short rows reached the raglan lines, I stopped all shaping and using the stitches of the double knit tube, applied them as i-cord to all the live stitches around the neck. Ripped this out a couple of times, using smaller and smaller needles, to make the i-cord pull in the neck. Finally grafted the i-cord to the held stitches of the double knit tube on the other side. The advantage to this complicated manouvre was that I created i-cord buttonholes while applying it down the front.
Well then, I had my cardigan. Was I completely happy with it? Not quite. The bases of the circles were awful. So I chain-stitched across them to mimic knitting.
After blocking, the neck was still a trifle too big (telling me I should have done the raglan decreases every alternate row for the upper half of the yoke), so I used a tiny crochet hook to slip stitch around the neck, which completely fixed the cleavage flash.
And now I’m happy! It is a most delicious garment, light and warm with all the peculiar dryness of silk, without the rustle and crunch. The colour is elusive; a pinky violet in real life, but yielding only its silver and purple tones to the camera.
Pattern: Krookus by Mari Muinonen
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino in Madre Perla, 750m (825yds)
Needles: 3.5mm for everything, 3mm for i-cord
Mods: Hems and cuffs made with purl turning row, reduced belling of sleeves and body, increased size of cable pattern, changed neckline, icord collar, double knit front edges.