Handspun Cardigan: Buttonband Blues

The Ravellenics have long ago packed up and I am still working on my cardigan.  I feel pretty good that I got as much of it done as I did. This magnum opus of a sweater is on track to go to Rhinebeck in October. It has not been without problems though. Luckily I am in the mood to sort them out rather than act a child and throw it in the corner with my pout face on. Sometimes it is all about timing.


I cast on my sweater and was happily knitting away on it when I realized that I hadn't incorporated the cable pattern that I took weeks to pick out and modify! Only 7 rows in, I ripped back and started again. 

Things went smoothly from there and the body of the sweater zoomed along despite the need for cable needles every other row. Once I got to the bottom welt though, everything came to a screeching halt. The Estonian Braid that is included in the pattern confused me because I need to see things done rather than read them, that's how I learn. So I hopped onto YouTube and watched a few videos. I swatched my braid to make sure I had it understood before I took off with my grippy yarn. Nailed it.

See how the Estonian Braid makes it look like my stitches are now going horizontal rather than vertical? Sorcery! 

See how the Estonian Braid makes it look like my stitches are now going horizontal rather than vertical? Sorcery! 

I was excited to move on to the slip stiched band, the reason I started this pattern, but quickly noted that the stitches of the Estonian Braid were so large that it was distracting. I consulted friends and they convinced me to pull it back out and knit it in a smaller needle size. Much better. I didn't mind redoing it. It is fun to knit....and it makes you look like a wizard. 

The slip stitch pattern finished quickly but I soon realized that it wasn't what I was hoping for. Perhaps I didn't knit it correctly or maybe my fuzzy and grippy handspun didn't reflect the same geometric beauty as the commercially knit sweaters did on the project pages. No one else had this problem that I found, so I lean toward the idea that it was probably me. Regardless, I decided that maybe it wasn't the best pattern for my yarn anyway and started to look for other patterns to knit my welt and (non)buttonband with. 

I swatched a double seed stitch, a 3x2 rib, a cabled rib, a smocked pattern, a diagonal rib, and a garter stitch band. I wanted to be able to see it in my yarn, in my color and lay it next to my sweater and decide. I didn't want to just pick something that I thought would work. If I could spend a month spinning the yarn for this sweater then I could swatch a few ideas for bands. 

I settled on the double seed stitch band and decided to knit it with the yarn held double to give it substance. My swatch was great, but floppy. If there is one thing I don't like on my cardigans it is a floppy buttonband. I also went down two needle sizes to keep the pattern from growing too much larger than the stockinette fabric above it. 

When I had finished, I ran to the bedroom to try it on in the full length mirror. I was disappointed. The band looked great but it flared out away from my round bum. I documented my problem for my friend and then ran downstairs to my wool lair to hand wash it, spin it out in the washing machine and block it. Being such a light and airy yarn, I had no misgivings about blocking it on my dress form. A worsted weight yarn may hold too much water and drag down the sweater, but my whole sweater was light as a feather. 

I opened up my adjustable dress form two at least 2 inches wider than my measurements because that was the ease I wanted for my finished cardigan. I don't want it to fit snugly to my body. I want this to be a bigger, cuddlier cardigan that I don't have to worry about my mom tummy showing. I laid the cardigan over the form and started pinning in the front. Not only will this allow the fabric to open up to what I was hoping for, but it will also be easier to pick up stitches for the (non)buttonband. 

When it was dry, it fit like a dream. the flaring welt laid down and covered my bum nicely. The cardigan wrapped around me gently and promised to be a cozy partner for winter. Now if I can only finish the sleeves......