Today I finished a cardigan that I knit entirely to match one blouse. Yes, one blouse. Last fall, I bought a lovely short-sleeved silk blouse at one of our favorite antique malls. There’s one booth that is always filled with clothes that fit both Mel and I. They aren’t always our style, but when they are, the odds are in our favor that they’ll fit. It’s really weird. I love that booth.
So I bought this blouse. I don’t really wear much silk, and I don’t really wear big flouncy bows. Yet this blouse is both. With polka dots thrown in to boot. It’s not really that me, but I love it. The polka dots are navy, and I’m pretty sure this blouse is responsible for my navy kick. (Notice that navy is one of my palette colors in my handmade wardrobe challenge.) Only at the time I bought it, when it was already cold out, I didn’t own a navy cardigan to wear with it. Now I do.
The pattern is a modern pattern, Olivette by Sandi Rosner, which is available from Twist Collective. It’s knit in worsted weight, and if I hadn’t put it away for over a month it would have knit up really quickly. It’s knit in one piece from the bottom up to the armholes. The only seaming is setting in the sleeves. I modified the size to have a little bit of negative ease as I didn’t plan to wear it buttoned very often, and wanted it to be fitted when worn over a dress. I find when I wear cardigans that have zero or positive ease with a dress, I look like extra short and squat.
I chose to make a few modifications. Because I wanted a bit more of a vintage feel I knit the bottom ribbing plain instead of in the cabled pattern as written, and I worked 40s style box pleat caps. Having worked some variation of that on my last three sweaters, I’m putting that technique to bed for awhile. I may still work knit shoulder pads for this cardigan, I’m not sure yet. I know the style would probably benefit from it, but I’m always kind of iffy about shoulder pads. And since it’s knit in worsted weight, the seam at the top of the shoulder is already rather pronounced, so I don’t really want to enhance that which a shoulder pad might do. Oh well.
(An odd thing to mention about this blouse… the peter pan collar is tacked down all the way around. I have no idea why! Hence why it’s inside the cardigan and not outside in the photos. I need to bite the bullet and unpick part of it to see what’s going on under there.)
I love the dark navy vintage buttons I used. I got them from Etsy. I always feel vintage buttons add that extra bit of oomph to a new cardigan, don’t you think?
I did a little trick I like to do with cardigans when I have an extra button. I borrowed this idea from a few of my own vintage sweaters. I sewed a spare button onto the inside of the sweater (careful not to let the stitches show through to the public side). Now in a few years if I lose a button, I don’t have to try and (likely unsuccessfully) find it. Nifty!
I would highly recommend this pattern to other knitters. It definitely has a nice vintage feel to it, and produces a cardigan that can be dressed up or down. The lace and cable pattern is easy to work and easy to memorize. I am a constant pattern tweaker and as I went along, sometimes doing my own thing, when I compared what I was doing to the pattern, I was doing the same thing. No kidding! It really was perfect.
And the sizing is generous! She includes bust sizes 37″ to almost 54″. And it was easier to make it a little smaller by omitting a few stitches in the stockinette portions. You could also knit it in DK weight to make it even smaller.
One thing I particularly love about the pattern is that it uses a common vintage technique for button bands, which I’ve worked before, but is rarely found in modern patterns. You knit the bands along with the cardigan, in 1×1 ribbing, slipping the first stitch on each row for a nice selvage (though that part isn’t usually mentioned in vintage patterns, but is definitely the best way to go). This produces a lovely and tailored band that holds its shape well. Unlike bands that are picked up and knit, which is annoying in its own right, you don’t run the risk of the bands flaring or puckering. And unlike bands that are knit as you go in garter stitch, these bands have no tendency to flip to the inside. It’s also less fiddly than another popular vintage technique that involves sewing grosgrain ribbon on the backside to prevent flipping. So really, it’s pretty much the perfect button band technique in my book!
All in all, I’m very happy with this cardigan. It should be a great staple that will be useful in winter, spring and fall. But after three worsted weight sweaters in a row, I’m really ready for some finer yarn! Thank goodness for the knit-along. I got my yarn in the mail yesterday (yay!), so expect my post about swatching tomorrow or over the weekend.
And hey—one day into my challenge and I have my first garment complete. Sure, it was a bit of a coincidence, but no one needs to know that… oh wait… guess I shouldn’t have said that out loud.