Knitting for the Fall: Coal Cardigan


Awhile ago I wrote about Teva Durham’s cabled riding jacket: it was going to be my second time with the pattern, using the same Beaverslide yarn as the first time.  Well, I gave it a go, and just as I thought, the pattern was still a mess.  I don’t know why I thought it would go better this time around; I suspect knitters are optimists, in the sense that you work on something for a relatively long time and you expect a wonderful product at the end.  So, the long and short of it is that while I still think Teva Durham is a talented designer, she needs to figure out how to write a proper pattern.  The instruction for the riding jacket is a classic example of a pattern that is both under-written and over-written. Why not provide the entire chart for both skirt and bodice?  Why do the cables not match at the shoulder seams?  Why give such a complicated set of instructions for the collar, which can be knitted and attached in a more efficient manner?  And why is said collar so tight that only someone with a bird neck can actually button it up?  In the end, I took the sweater apart — again!! — and it became Véronik Avery’s Coal Cardigan.

Pattern:  From Brooklyn Tweed’s BT FAll 13 collection, the Coal Cardigan by Véronik Avery.

Yarn:  Beaverslide worsted-weight merino yarn, recycled from many previous projects.

Modifications:  I made the smallest size, but the yarn is thicker than Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, so the cardigan ended up quite large on me with a very generous front overlap.  I picked up the sleeves from the shoulders and worked them top-down, with short-row cap shaping.  I have been doing this for years because I hate sewing sleeves on the body.  In this case, the sleeve caps lose some definition that seams would have provided, but I’m OK with that.

Thoughts:  I should have knitted this on circular needles, but side seams do provide structure.  For visual balance, the cardigan should be shorter, but I like the lower hip length for coverage.  It’s a nice casual sweater, and I get to use Grandma’s brooches for closure!

At Same Time (or, the Story of a Bad Knitting Pattern)

Almost 10 years ago, I knitted the cabled riding jacket from Loop-d-Loop by Teva Durham.  She is very talented, though like most designers, she has had quite a few misses to go with some exceptional hits.  I bought the first Loop-d-Loop collection because of the gorgeous riding jacket; it was also one of the few projects in the book that made sense to me as knitwear.  Unfortunately, the directions for the jacket really sucked.

At the time I made the sweater, I had been knitting for 20 years, so I was not a novice;  I can only imagine the nightmare less experienced knitters must have had wading through the multiple “At Same Time” directives.  The written pattern was so bad that I ended up making the bodice cables “travel” by an  increase on one side of a cable followed by decrease on the other side, all because I didn’t understand Teva Durham’s actual directions.  This turned out just fine because it achieved the look of bias effect without actually biasing the bodice.  (And note to designers: if you have more than one At Same Time pattern direction, maybe it is time to include a chart.)  The difficult part of this particular pattern began AFTER row 72;  up to that point, the knitting was pretty straightforward, and while the chart was helpful, I don’t think it was actually necessary.  But, a chart for row 73 and on was absolutely needed, especially since the written directions turned out to be next to useless.  Anyway, I completed the jacket, but frogged it a few months later.  There were multiple problems with the finished product, including a neckline that fits only models with swan-like necks, and arm lengths and shoulder widths meant for aforementioned 6-foot tall models with orangutan arms and full-back shoulders.

A month ago, I started knitting this jacket again, using the same yarn I had frogged 9 years ago.  News flash: the pattern directions still stink!  But, having knitted this once and remembering how painful it was, hindsight has now become foresight 🙂  I am knitting the bodice on the bias, and hoping the “fanning” at the fronts will miraculously disappear once the jacket is put together and blocked.  I am futzing with the decreases at the armholes and sides so that the front and back cables actually match at the shoulder line (and no, I don’t understand why Teva Durham did not make them match to begin with), I am foregoing the bias cuffs on the arms because life, like my arms, is too short, and I am dropping the neckline so that I don’t look like I am being strangled.  Stay tuned.