What’s happened to the cardigan?

(sorry about my management of posts this weekend – post on colour coming on Tuesday)

Since I last wrote about a cardigan, I made another EZ yoked sweater. Partly I was waiting for the Knit along knitters to finish their Elizabeth Zimmermann sweaters. I am now waiting for a second batch so I can show what we have all done…

My cardigan is finally finished and I love it so much I have decided to give it it’s own blog post. I will include some better photos once I have the next round up.

You may remember that making a cardigan can be done in pieces or one piece, like my Cyrene jacket. Or it can be made in the round like a jumper and then it is sliced down the middle when all is said and done. I wanted to do it this way but I was pretty scared. The idea of cutting knitting was freaking me out.

Then I hummed and harred about what to do with the yoke – plain, coloured or patterned.

Colourmart Violet Merino and Cashmere

Having done three colourwork versions of the Elizabeth Zimmermann colourful yoke jumper I was keen to try something different.

I saw this wall when I was in London Bridge and I thought – how interesting. One of these end on bricks would be a mistake. A whole series of them creates an interesting pattern. And of course the same is true of knitting. One purl stitch in the middle of a plain jersey of stocking stitch stands out like a sore thumb. But arrange them in a pretty pattern and you can get a stunning effect. It was Aida from Athens that showed me how to do this when she visited London recently.

I was disappointed with my efforts which, compared to the colour work; it all lacked drama. Sue Stoney suggested I get a book of vintage patterns and it was tempting. But three IG people suggested bobbles! Or popcorn stitch if you are American. Brilliant idea. Oh I do love asking for suggestion on the blog and on IG – so exciting and rewarding. I don’t even know most of them and here they are telling me what to knit, and I obey and love it. Happy days.

So I learnt how to do bobles from the internet, and while they are not perfectly made, nor aligned they are big and rumbustious and dramatic and I have such pleasure is seeing them sitting proudly on my jumper. For it is still a jumper until it is made into a cardigan.

Knitting a cardigan

Becoming a cardigan

I read  all I had by Mrs Zimmermann. But she doesn’t have a “chapter on cardis”. She covers button holes, and there is a section on borders in Knitting without tears. There is information on how to cut your knitting apart for an opening. But she didn’t give me enough to confidently tackle it. I found I needed to read the five part steeking series by Kate Davies. 

Kate Davies likes to do a crocheted edge before cutting, then cut, then pick up stitches. She realises that many are scared of a) cutting and b) what happens to the cut edge – will it unravel? I worry about these factors, but not so much. For me the main worry was making the picked up stitches look really neat and deliberate and not wonky and very home made (it is my first cardigan, remember? Maybe it’s ok to look a bit shabby!)

I wondered what stitch to use for the button bands – the tradition seems to be ribbing – either parallel with the hems and neckline, or at right angles to it.  Moss stitch is nice and always appropriate where ribbing is suggested (Helene used it on her yoke sweater to great effect). My Cyrene jacket has moss stitch borders and very pretty they are too. Mrs Zimmermann often promotes garter stitch which is nice and stable and fairly easy to do. She has a section on making mitred edges. I also consulted Karen Templer who explained the difference between the picked up button band as suggested by EZ and the vertical seamed band, where a narrow strip is knitted and then sewn on.

Worrying about how hard it was paralysed my efforts for weeks. And when I wrote my knitting round up I jolted myself to act. I committed to cut!. Along the way I devised a steeking method that suited me far better than the complicated suggestions out there.

Steeking for simpletons and beginners

You will have knitted a column of extra stitches at the CF of your jumper. I included just four. Others say five or seven. I used the lemon yarn to mark the CF. I machine stitched the two middle columns of knitting stitches, just in case, and then picked up 80 per cent of the stitches to create the button band (advised by Zimmermann). In retrospect I would say 70 per cent is sufficient. Also (as you can see) I did not get nice square edges at the top and bottom. This would need more care next time. On the left you will see I have already knitted the button band and on the right I am about to start.

Steeking a cardigan
Picking up the button band either side of the CF

The button holes look a bit messy too. I used the Zimmermann method of decreasing two stitches and then M2 on the next row. I did this every 13th row so the button holes were evenly spaced, putting one at the neck and one at the hem.

Button holes on a Zimmerman cardigan
Making button holes

Once the bands were knitted I cut along the dotted line. The stitches held together OK, helped by the sewing machine stitch. I overstitched the edge and it looks neat. I washed it, and pressed it and it seems to be fine. The second picture shows that the front hem is a bit sloping but it improved when I washed it.I found some buttons in my collection and stitched them on to match the button holes.

Here it is on.

Voila Violet cardigan




16 Responses

  1. Ruth

    Bravo for steeking – indeed a terrifying prospect but in this case with a perfect result.
    Except….if you are going to wear the cardi buttoned up why not just knit a jumper?
    Lovely colour too with bobbles added on.

  2. jay

    Beautful bobbly cardi. I remain overawed by your hand knitting speed. The closest I’ve ever got to steeking is zigzagging either side, and cutting with fingers crossed.

  3. Sue

    This looks perfect! I wondered how the moss stitch would go in a band as it has no recovery but it has worked out really well. Congratulations on your first steek, may you do many more!

  4. Kerry

    I am a big fan of the cardi especially one with the buttons done up (sad I know). I really like this cardigan, it has so many qualities that are appealing: the bobbles, the simple taper at the wrist, the moss stitch finish top and bottom and the hand-made look. Knitting in the round EZ style is so much easier than knitting separate elements that then need to be sewn together (sooooo boring) and with steeking you have shown how easily (well, almost!) cardigans can be created. I wonder if you will do a follow up cardigan to consolidate this new learning?

  5. Annieloveslinen

    Well done you! It looks great, now that you have successfully tackled steeking I predict you’ll go from strength to strength. Is there anything you won’t tackle? You are fearless.

  6. ceci

    I can’t decide if my favorite part is the lower hem or the bobbles……the lower hem looks so exactly right, solid but not bulky. And the color is so nice and rich. Bravo!


  7. felicia

    I didn’ t think I would like this, as I don’t particularly like either bobbles or cardigans, but this is very nice. Also good to know you pick up stitches and knit the front bands before cutting. I would have thought the opposite.

  8. Helen

    Maybe wrong place to post but I really enjoyed the post on Saturday about colours for black skin, which seems to have disappeared now. As a mixed race person I know I can wear brights and as I’m moving along the road down to 50 I’m trying to keep colourful rather than going dull and disappearing. I know what you mean when you mentioned bright colours can sometimes be overwhelming in our grey climate, I recently bought a bright orange / reddish corduroy jacket from Boden. It looks great on and gets positive comments but I have to make an effort to wear it out as you really stand out in the crowd!

    • fabrickated

      Sorry Helen – I accidentally published two on one day, so it’s coming tomorrow.I am so keen to hear your feedback. Also a few people have told me I am using the wrong terminology so I want to correct that before I republish it. K xxx

  9. Anne Frances

    Congratulations on the cardigan. I have steeked once (on a child’s cardigan) but still have not quite worked out what to do about neatening the cut ends on the inside. ON one of techknitter’s tutorials she suggests knitting a thin facing in a much thinner yarn either in the same colour or contrasting, but it still seems a bit bulky. Perhaps ribbon or braid sewn on? Still thinking about it.
    I like the colourmart yarn -lovely colour and handsome bobbles – but for me in that state it is a bit too “stringy”. I recently experimented with taking it off the cone into a skein, fastening the skein with four or five pieces of yarn tied round, putting it in a bowl with dishwashing detergent and pouting boiling (yes boiling) water over it. Swirl it around fairly firmly, leave for two or three minutes, pour the water off and pour over another kettleful of boiling water to rinse, then finish rinsing with the hottest water that comes out of the tap. Roll out the water in a towel and hang the skein up on a hook or similar to dangle to dry. When it is dry roll it from the skein into a ball. I was very pleased with the result – a much softer, denser, more “bloom – y” yarn that is isn’t going to shrink any more, I hope. I would NOT do this on anything except Colourmart’s treated yarn.

  10. Maggie

    I know this is off topic, but I wanted to update you about my sweater for the EZyoke Kal. I was nearly done, but when I tried it on it was too short and I knew I would never wear it. So I snipped above the hem and unraveled, put it back onto the needles and am nearly to where I want to turn my hem. So I hope to finish tomorrow while I wait for the heater repair person. I’ll have a photo to Instagram Thursday at the latest.

    To be slightly on topic, I love your cardigan, the color really suits you. Also, now that you have cut your knitting, the sky is the limit to changes you might decide to do after the fact!

    • fabrickated

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience Anne. I have tried getting the colourmart cashmere to bloom using rather hot water and detergent as they suggest, once knitted up. It worked well but not brilliantly. With the merino/cashmere used for this cardigan and the green New Zealand sweater it is a bit stringy. As the green has been washed several times it has softened and bloomed.

  11. Brenda

    Wonderful result! I’m completely impressed with how this worked out and think the sweater is a great color on you. You were brave with the steeking process, and it paid off!

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