Monday, June 5, 2017

FO: Alecia Beth Cardigan

Sweaters are an interesting business. I love making sweaters, and it feels kind of wrong to not have a sweater on my needles as an option to work on, and yet some take me exorbitant amounts of time to make, lol. This is an example of that situation - but I still love it!
This is the Alecia Beth cardigan by Justyna Lorkowska. This pattern first came across my radar when one of my Ravelry friends liked a lovely version by a knitter named Malgosia (gosik is her Ravelry handle and she makes amazing creations). I loved the simple but interesting design. The lines of cables fade diagonally into stockinette stitch, leaving just 3 rows on either side all the way down the front. The pattern looks much more complicated then it is - the cable are technically just one slipped stitch instead of actual cable stitches with a cable needle and whatnot.
The back has the same diagonal fade to stockinette with just 4 rows of cables all the way down that then widen at the hip. Sorry for the crappy coloring, but I lightened the photo to show the neat design. All the ribbing is twisted rib - yeah that was a lot of twisted rib, lol, but I actually kind of enjoy knitting it even though it takes longer. It's more interesting to do. The cable pattern is only 4 rows long, so it's quick to memorize. The only difficulty I had was in remembering which rows to fade out and when - which lead to ripping back a few times. But I got there in the end and I love the result :)
Not to be weird and make you look at my side boob, but I like the diagonal line the fade to stockinette creates. It looks kind of like an angled dart, but it visually pulls the eye inward giving a slimmer illusion at the waist. For this sweater I used Cascade Heritage Sock - a fingering weight yarn that is 75% merino wool and 25% nylon - in the 5623 Navy colorway. When first planning this sweater I bought 3 skeins from Craftsy at a great deal 2 years ago during a sale. I started the sweater a year later, thinking all would be well with my yardage since I got gauge just fine. So I started knitting.
I worked on this over the course of a year because I kept setting it aside to make other projects that were on a timeline (like the Outfit Along, birthday and Christmas gifts, etc), so this project would sit unloved for months at a time. Thinking all was well with my yarn yardage, I decided to make the body to my liking in length. It's technically slightly longer than the pattern lists (first sign of a future problem right there). But I've made other sweaters that turn out just a smidge short and they don't get much wear, so I decided I would rather have the sleeves shorter and the overall length longer. I bound off the body in January and made the button bands and neck band so that I could be sure to use the rest of my yarn on the sleeves and make them the same. I really got cooking on the sleeves in March and completed my first sleeve with no problems. I was skeptical with my yarn I had left, but the yarn was on sale again at Craftsy so I decided to grab another skein. When it came in I thought it looked ok, but I didn't do a side by side daylight comparison of the yarn color. I put it in the stash not even sure if I would need to use it, and I just kept knitting my sleeve. When I was about 4 or 5 inches away from finishing ... I ran out of yarn. "No problem," I thought, grabbing my new skein and winding it up. The problem showed itself about 1" into knitting the new skein. It was much darker than my other yarn. Like it was glaringly obvious to me, especially given that I was knitting stockinette stitch on a sleeve that I would be looking at while I wore then sweater. I knew it would drive me crazy, so I unraveled the neck band and knit with that. When I ran out of that, I unraveled my gauge swatch. I finished the sleeve with a bit of my swatch to spare, but definitely not enough to complete my neckband. Being in a crappy situation no matter what, I decided that it was not so glaringly obvious in the neckband as it was in the sleeve - the texture of the twisted rib helped hide the color difference. So I just knit the neck band and called it good. I'm sure now you'll have to scroll up and see what I'm talking about, lol. And you will. It doesn't jump out at first because it's all still navy blue, but once you know the neckband is darker you see it every time. It's a bummer, but after knitting this for a year I was not about to pull out more of it.
Detail shots! It's so hard to see the design in the modeled photos. The true color of the yarn is best shown in the pictures where I'm wearing the sweater, so it's not as blue as these look. The top left shows the neckband close up, and the top right shows the color difference a bit better. You can also see the neat little cables better in these pics :) The middle left pic is of the shoulder "seam" - I've never made this type of built in sleeve before and I really like it. The bottom left shows how the cables widen at the hip.
The buttons are just cheapy 5/8" plastic ones from Hobby Lobby. I contemplated using fancier buttons, I even posted 3 other options on Instagram to get extra input. Things got complicated with my other choices since this sweater had 15 button holes (!), which I never even realized until I finished the whole thing, lol. I generally don't buy that many buttons of any style (usually my max is about 12 since that's a pretty good amount for most projects). In the end I found these very basic navy ones at Hobby Lobby and I decided to just go with them. They blend in well with the yarn so the cables stand out. I spent a lot of time on the knitting, after all :) 
So I finished this just a few days shy of working on this for 1 year, lol. I love the resulting sweater. Every time I make a fingering weight sweater it just reiterates that this is the gauge of yarn I should be working with all the time. If only they didn't take me so long! I have plenty of sweater quantities of fingering weight yarn (and lots of sweaters planned - one is already in the works!) so I hope I can stay diligent and try to make more of them up. Yay for pretty sweaters!

Yarn: 3.07 skeins of Cascade Heritage in Navy 5623 - $23.00
Pattern: Alecia Beth by Justyna Lorkowska
Notions: 15 navy blue 5/8" buttons - $5.00
Time: 4 days shy of 1 year, lol
Total Cost: $28.00

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