Saturday, May 7, 2016

FO: Ginny's Cardigan

This project ticked all sorts of good maker boxes. This yarn was the first "fancy yarn" purchase I ever made back in 2012 (by "fancy", I mean made of wool and not available at Joann's, ha ha). I bought this yarn from Craftsy on a big discount because the yarn had been discontinued. I loved this awesome kelly green color and it's subtle color changing. I had no idea what I wanted to make at the time, but I bought 6 skeins ... and they sat. I've toyed with several ideas for using the yarn over the years, but nothing ever stuck. One time I even had a major plan to make a different pattern and I would have needed 2 more skeins, so I went ahead and bought them on Ravelry from another knitter and they were even from the same dye lot. Last September, I finally put two and two together with a pattern I had always wanted to make and set to work. I had to put this down multiple times and for several months at a time since the knitting began so I could work on gifts and things, but I finally finished knitting in March of this year. Then I had the dilemma of buttons, and it sat for another month. This poor sweater just seemed to take forever, therefore I was really glad to have all the components and finish it up last week. So, what did I make? Take a look:
This is Ginny's Cardigan by Mari Chiba from Unofficial Harry Potter Knits that came out several years ago. I was immediately in love with this design and always planned on making it, thus when I finally realized this yarn was the right weight, I jumped right in. The sweater is knit from the bottom-up to the yoke, then the sleeves are knit bottom-up, then all is joined for the yoke and neck. I've never made a sweater before with this construction and it was definitely interesting. From the front, the sweater is really nothing to write home about. The original pattern calls for patch pockets, but once I made them it looked odd with the subtle stripes in the color not matching the body, so I left them off. So, why would I want to make such a seemingly boring sweater? Let me show you:
They're owls! In the lace! Aren't they awesome?! Without question the back is the main event with this pattern. I realize now that I should've been more careful with blocking the back since my owls get smaller at the yoke, but I'm certainly not going to do that any time soon. My hair covers that part anyway, ha ha. Really the construction is very simple once you get used to it. I did some math to combine the large and extra large - the nice thing is you really can do whatever you want to at the sides as long as you keep the lace pattern down the back. The hips are hips are extra large, then I decreased more frequently to get down to the stitch count for the size large at the waist and remained there for the top yoke. Now that it's all done, the yoke area is a smidge big, but it's not a big deal. I wanted this sweater to be bigger than my usual fitted styles anyway so that I could wear it over my clothes easily in the winter. I've noticed that I reach for this style of sweater much more than the cropped styles in cooler weather. The cropped ones are great for a specific outfit, but a simple long sweater like this is perfect to grab as you run out the door just in case you get cold.
Another part of this sweater that is equally amazing in my eyes is the ribbon that I lined the button bands with. Check this stuff out! I went to The Sewing Studio in Maitland a few weeks ago specifically to find buttons for this sweater, and as I was walking through their sale annex I saw this beautiful woven ribbon for half price. The ribbon was the exact width I needed and color matched exactly, which was no small feat considering the time I had picking buttons. I knew it was just meant to be. I always love these fancy ribbons when I see them but then have no idea what to do with them. I used to do the whole "ribbon on your jeans hem" thing back in the 90s, but I certainly would feel ridiculous doing that now, lol. So this is a perfect way to use a beautiful design that I wouldn't typically wear - I get to see it all the time, but others only see it if I want them to.
This was my first time using anything other than petersham ribbon for the button bands, and I had to take an extra precaution. The ribbon is pretty stable, but the back is covered in tiny little nylon-ish loose threads like on the back of a clothing tag or in stranded knitting. I wasn't worried about it on the sweater since it would be encased in the knitted fabric, but I was worried about the threads catching and pulling as I sewed buttonholes on my sewing machine. I had to pull out the tear away stabilizer used for embroidery and this worked like a charm!  I was able to get all the buttonholes lined up too so the ribbon is even pattern matched on each side :)
The buttons were a separate dilemma. I just couldn't decide which way to go: contrasting or matching. At first I wanted matching, but I did not anticipate how difficult it would be to find a button that matched this yarn. So I started entertaining the idea of contrasting but was never happy with those either. Happily I found these simple green buttons at The Sewing Studio that were close enough to look good (and happened to be vastly cheaper than the contrasting ones I was looking at) and I think the matching buttons helps the sweater stay dressier if I want it to while not stealing the show, so to speak.
This yarn deserves some chat as well. It's called Limerick by Wisdom Yarns in the green-blue colorway (which I just realized I never stated earlier, lol). When I bought it I was expecting a more tonal green color, so I was surprised when the blues started showing up in the knitting and that they were SO bluey. Also I had never worked with a yarn this rustic before. The only way I can describe it is that this using yarn is the only time I've ever felt like I was knitting with the hair of an animal. The yarn is loosely spun and very lofty, so it felt like using actual hairs held together. The yarn also had quite a big variation from thick to thin, occasionally getting so thin that I worried for its stability and had to cut that section off before continuing. I even had a few instances where just me keeping tension on the yarn broke it, so I would have to tink back and add the skein back in so I had enough to weave in that broken end. It was pretty temperamental, but I acclimated as I went on. I was expecting the color to be tonal, but I did not anticipate that it would make such defined stripes, nor that it would get so dark and so light. Since all the skeins were in the same dye lot, I just grabbed a new one each time without paying any extra attention, but when I was starting the second sleeve I noticed how much darker that first sleeve is than any of the other parts and I knew I had to go with the darkest remaining skein to make it match. The sleeves aren't an exact match, but they are darker than the body, plus I made sure to begin on that same super teal-y colored stripe at the wrist, so they look close enough to seem deliberate I think. As fate would have it, I ended up with almost all of those extra 2 skeins I bought left over since this sweater took 6.5 skeins. I actually really like this yarn now that I know how to work with it though, so I will be sure to use that yarn for a hat or something in the future.
So there you have it - a new sweater :) I'm so happy to have this completed and be able to wear it - just in time for it to be blazing hot, lol. I really love this though, so I will keep it handy on rainy days and whatnot in case the ac is cranked up too high at work. I love all the little touches and the owl lace on the back and I know this will be a well used piece in my wardrobe. Yay for subtle Harry Potter nerdiness!

Summary: 
Yarn: 6.5 skeins of Wisdom Yarns Limerick in the green/blue colorway (31808) - $29.25
Pattern: Ginny's Cardigan by Mari Chiba from The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits
Notions: fancy woven ribbon - $8.00, 9 buttons - $2.00
Time: On and off for 6 months
Total Cost: $ 39.25

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