Friday, November 10, 2017

My first

This was a long and an interesting journey. I have contemplated crocheting a cardigan for myself for a very long time and I am not sure just how many times I have started one. Every single one has ended up in a frog pond and this was a close call too. There were many issues along the way, I had doubts until the very end.
My main concern all the time was the drape; what if I end up having a very stiff piece of clothing. I did a swatch but as we know, swatches don’t always tell the whole truth and I was afraid that my little crocheted square was a liar, because she was so lovely and soft. But there was not enough of her to be able to be sure. 

Then I was not sure, how I would like the look of the crochet in a large piece… again the little square was fine. 
How do I get straight edges? 
I was making a cardigan, top down, raglan shaping, so the crochet was back and forth… then I wanted to crochet the sleeves in the round. But if I had done so, the outcome would have been different. So, I had to turn every time I came to the beginning of the round, and I was worried of not having enough knowledge to do it neatly.

As a starting point I had this simple and beautiful Dune crochet cardigan pattern by Melissa Thibault, but right away knew I had to make changes as my gauge was off. There is no shaping for the back piece, so I needed to figure out how to make short rows for the back. I wanted to make a longer cardigan, but that would be an easy modification. I love the look of the cardigan without the button band, but I realized soon enough that I needed to add something to stabilize the edge. Now that I have made the first one and with lots of --- should have’s, I am better prepared for the next one. Because there will be the next one at some point. My cardigan ended up not being simple and beautiful like the original, because I had to camouflage all my mistakes...

I loved the learning. I loved hitting all the problems along the way and trying to find solutions to them. I loved having to rip and having to start over. This was a challenge all the way through and I can see so many mistakes there that need to be fixed in the next one, so I cannot stop now.

The yarn I used is Lang Yarns Donegal Merino (190m/50g), tweedy and very soft. I used little over 400 grams, that is little bit over 8 skeins. It is not as much as I would have estimated. I thought that I would use much more. 
A little while ago I found an interesting podcast (all the shownotes)
/videocast (on Youtube) called The Crochet Circle by Fay Dashper-Hughes. There is a section in the podcast where she asks herself questions and finds answers to them and one of the questions was how much more of yarn crochet uses compared to knitting. To my astonishment garter stitch uses more than double (treble) crochet. Of course, simple stockinette in knitting uses the smallest amount. I could not find the episode where she compares knitting and crochet, but it is there somewhere. I enjoy her podcast a lot. She podcasts once a month, every first Friday of the month, but luckily her podcast is one of the longer ones.
The buttons I ended up using are quite heavy and they are almost too big, but in a way, it adds to the roughness of the yarn and the look, so I chose them.
There are the backing buttons there, every single one different. I was quite proud when I thought of adding this little rust color accent to the button band, as it is row of simple crab stitches, but I did it using two colors and that made me feel clever.
I am sure it has been used somewhere and most likely I have seen it, but when I was making it, I did not have any tutorial on hand and sort of made it up.

Then do I like the look of the crochet? I do, I really do. It has this bohemian flare to it which I seem to like a lot. It is not polished and neat, it fits well into my country style living… whatever that is. The drape; it does not drape as nicely as stockinette cardigan would drape, but it is not stiff or hard at all. There is lots of body to the cardigan, and somehow it feels more like a jacket than a soft cardigan. I used 4mm hook and the drape could have been better with bigger hook, but 4mm was as big as I could see myself working with. I love small needles and hooks. If I had used a zipper instead of buttons, this would be lovely and sturdy jacket.

When I finished the cardigan yesterday and put it on, I looked at me in the mirror for a long time and my very first thought was; now, it is too late to rip this. I was so fixed into ripping, trying, making again and again, that I was astonished that there I was, wearing the cardigan and there was no way of going back or fixing any part any more. (Well, there always is, just find the buried ends and pull…)

This was interesting and feels like an accomplishment. Finally, I can tick off the crochet cardigan from my list. It has been there for many years.

Wool with you,

Thank you so much for all your comments lately. And excuse me for the bathroom pictures and the other ones where the color is so off. I am alone at home at the moment and there was no one to take good pictures and I could not wait to show you this. Taking pictures on a dress form is not the same as taking them on a human form.


  1. What a beautiful cardigan, Lene! And I agree it would make a lovely jacket with a zipper, too. Nice work for sure!

  2. Your abilities amaze me; that is a beautiful garment and fits you so well!

  3. It's lovely! Thank you so much for sharing your process!

  4. So beautiful! I love the touch of rust and the buttons are fabulous. Well Done!

  5. Well, huh. I've been a crocheter for just slightly longer than I've been a knitter (which is to say about 44 of my 50 years, so far) and never considered crocheting a sweater until right now. This urge is undoubtedly helped by the fact that yours turned out so charming and that today is our first winterish day in Connecticut (wind chill just above 0ºF), so I want to snuggle under a blanket all weekend and knit/crochet All The Things. The pile of yarn auditioning on my desk is unreasonably large as I struggle to finish my work-for-pay first. (You can tell I'm working very hard right now, can't you? ;-) ) As always, thanks for expanding the "what if?" thoughts in my head, Lene. You may see many imperfections, but what I see is a cozy, whimsical, delightful cardigan.

  6. Not usually a fan of crocheted sweaters, but this one is lovely. The backed buttons are an interesting idea...I'll be keeping that in mind. Always good to see a new post.

  7. A fine piece of work.

  8. What a beautiful sweater. You are a fiber artist for sure.

  9. sandra03:47

    Gorgeous! Good job!

  10. Beautiful work, Lene. We know we can count on that from you. It's always interesting and educational to follow your creative process.

  11. Such a beautiful sweater. It looks so stylish and I wish you many happy hours wearing it!!!

  12. This is a gorgeous sweater.

  13. Anonymous10:57

    Like all your projects, this one turned out brilliantly. You seem to see faults, but to me everything about it is perfect: the texture, the colors, the fit, and as always, your amazing workmanship. (Hmm. There's a word that hasn't been gender-changed yet. I should be saying workwomanship or workpersonship.)

  14. Oh my gosh, it's so beautiful! Wear it in good health.

  15. Amazing cardi - and the story behind it was wonderful. Congratulations on the achievement. (I especially love the way you did the buttons.)

  16. It looks wonderful on you! Love the crab stitch edging in the contrast color. Super work!

  17. Well this turned out absolutely lovely. I'm so glad you enjoyed the process so much. :)