I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered The Replacements
OK, the title of this post is a lie, I haven’t just discovered The Replacements, it actually turns out that I’ve just gotten into replacing things. (And I like to periodically rediscover Art Brut.)
One of my favourite cardigans was a green and blue fair isle number from Valley Girl (it’s like an Australian Forever 21) that I bought about 10 years ago. It dutifully saw me through numerous winters, which is unusual for a cheap garment, but finally I noticed some holes developing, plus it had stretched out a little, so I decided to retire it. I knew I would miss it though, so before I donated it, I vowed to replicate it.
I originally intended to use a vintage pattern, but my patterns were on the boat, so I didn’t see them for a couple of months. I searched Ravelry for a good base cardigan instead and settled on Walnuss. It’s a slightly different style to the original cardigan, but I’ve never made a contiguous cardigan with saddle shoulders before. There are pleats on the front that run down the side as well, which I figured would help with the fit — I can do an FBA on a sewn garment no worries, but I’ve never made a similar adjustment while knitting.
The yarn I used is Wool of the Andes by Knit Picks in a sport weight. Upon reflection, I think that this weight may have been a bit thick considering all of the fair isle, but it has made the cardigan super-warm, which definitely saved me when I was wandering around Central Park the other day. I matched the colours as closely as I could to my original cardigan, and I think I did an okay job. I have done a double take when looking at it in my wardrobe, which I think counts as a win.
So! The fair isle! I can be a bit cocky about mashing up patterns and techniques so I didn’t see a problem with just adding fair isle in. I didn’t chart the pattern, I just copied it from the original cardigan, fudging it where I needed to and ripping back if necessary. But you know what else I didn’t do? I did do a swatch, but I didn’t do a swatch in fair isle. The first iteration of the cardigan, before I picked up stitches to commence the sleeves, was way too tight, because the fair isle isn’t as flexible as plain stockinette. Whoops. I don’t mind ripping projects back — I took this one back to the shoulders — but it does upset Neil (“All that work!”). I redid the body with some extra stitches around the bust and it has improved greatly.
I finished the button band with some grosgrain ribbon, using Lladybird’s tutorial. I did adjust my technique slightly though and instead of folding the ribbon underneath itself at the top and the bottom of the band to prevent fraying, I melted the edge using a lighter instead (that’s a link to the first tutorial I found on Google, I actually learned about it when making Lolita-inspired clothes). This prevents fraying and is less bulky, but only works if you’re using nylon or polyester ribbon. I splurged on the buttons, I picked them up from M&J Trimmings.
I’m pretty happy with the finished result. The contiguous method is definitely fun, but as Kay The Sewing (and Knitting) Lawyer explains, the garment lacks the structure to hold itself up in places. I’ve opted not to do anything about it straight away — I did try the crochet chain idea, but didn’t quite get the tension right, so I might mull it over a little more first. I figured there’s no rush. I also think if I were to make this pattern again, and I think I would, I would make it without the pleats and do shortrows for a bust adjustment instead. I like the uneven hem of this cardigan, but I don’t think I would need two.