It’s taken me a minute (by which I mean several years) to figure out what I really like in a hand knit cardigan. As I recently established, I’m not feeling the open front cardigan. But I’ve also made a handful of more traditional, fitted cardigans like my Audrey in Unst cardigan and my Squared cardigan, and I don’t really enjoy wearing those styles either.
The cardigans I do reach for are relaxed and cozy heavier-weight cardigans with shawl collars. My most-worn cardigans have been my Girl Friday and my Grandpa cardigan. I wear them regularly as a top layer in winter, and throw them on in lieu of a light jacket in spring and fall.
This Little Wave cardigan is very similar in style to those favorite cardigans, and I’m confident that I’ll be wearing this one all the time. I love all the design details on this pattern—the little wave stitch pattern, the pockets, the saddle shoulder, the garter stitch elbow patches. For me, this sweater represents all the best things about being able to make my own clothes. With this piece, I get all of the design details I like about more masculine clothing, but made to fit my body.
The Little Wave pattern is actually written as a unisex pattern, with a separate set of instructions for men and women. I think this is a really smart design move. The men’s and women’s versions aren’t radically different, but are simply adjusted for different bodily proportions and design preferences. So the sleeves and body on the men’s version are longer while the women’s version has some waist shaping, a more shallow yoke, and slightly narrower shoulders. Including two versions results in a fairly long pattern (16 pages), but it’s a great pattern overall. The instructions were clear and easy to follow and the construction of the yoke is clever and results in a great fit.
My measurements (hip 52”, waist 41”, full bust 47”, high bust 41”) mean that my body typically spans about 3 conventional size ranges. Since this is a heavily patterned piece with a new-to-me yoke construction, it took me a bit to figure out how I wanted to modify the pattern to fit me. In the end, I decided to use the 46” size as my base for the body. I added some extra stitches to the garter panels on the sides so the sweater would be 50” at the hips. Then I worked extra decreases and decreased at a faster rate to get down to the correct stitch count for the waist of the 46” size.
The next challenge was decreasing from the 46” size so that I could follow the yoke instructions for the 41.25” size. I did this through a combination of methods—starting the neckline shaping early to work in a few extra sets of decreases, adding a couple of extra decrease rounds early on in the yoke shaping, and binding off a few extra stitches under the arm. The only other change I made was to shorten the sleeves by about 2”. As many people have noted on Ravelry, the sleeves on this are really long, even when you factor in the cuffed sleeves. In the end, I’m happy with how all of my modifications worked out. The sweater still has a casual, relaxed feel but is fitted enough to keep it from looking sloppy.
The yarn is Valley Yarns Northampton in Ocean Heather. Northampton is my go-to worsted right now–it’s equitable in quality to my other favorite, Cascade 220, but with better yardage at a better price. I’ve got a bunch of Northampton in Charcoal that I’m going to use for my first sweater of 2016. As you might have guessed, I’ve got another cozy, relaxed, shawl-collar cardigan style planned: Mari Chiba’s Solitude Jacket. I just have a few lingering 2015 projects to finish up so I can start a new year of knitting off fresh.