FO: Dahlia Cardigan

I’m proud to say that I have finished up my Dahlia Cardigan. Despite a rocky start, in which I had to redo the back lace panel 3 times, I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I substituted the yarn. It called for a cotton blend in Manos Serena, but I used Mirasol Nuna, which is a blend of wool, bamboo and silk. The result is a fabric that’s soft, has a great sheen and has lots of drape.

Here’s the lace panel being blocked. You can get a sense of the sheen in the yarn. (Some of it is due to the flash). It’s also probably the truest colour representation. It’s a bluish-purple.

This is it all blocked out. Just waiting for it to dry so I can seam and wear it!

And of course, the focal point of the cardigan, the lace back.

This sweater has a very different construction. You begin with the back panel, then pick up along the side edges and start knitting out to make the fronts. The sleeves are afterthought sleeves, made as you would make an afterthought heel. To do so, you knit with waste yarn as wide as you want the opening and then once the project is done, you remove the waste yarn, picking up the stitches on either side and start knitting in the round. It’s a great way to keep the drape and flow of the pattern and still be able to have a sleeve. However, there are pros and cons to everything. It lacks the structure a standard sleeve has at the shoulder. I find it sits a little weird when I wear it, but that could be because I didn’t place them exactly where I’d like. I think I would have made them a bit longer, or higher had I known what I know now.

Even so, I’m still very pleased with the end result. I’ve had to pace myself and not wear it everyday!

You can find the pattern on Ravelry.

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Moving On

You heard right, I’m finally moving on with my Dahlia Cardigan. Truthfully I moved on a week or so ago, I just haven’t shared yet.

Mt Everest from Gokyo Ri

photo by Andrew Purdam 2006

This cardigan has been my Everest.

I spent time prepping for the ascent. I made sure I had the right tools;ensured everything was working as it should; I checked, revised and rechecked before I set off to make sure that it went of without a hitch. I truly had the best of intentions, but much like climbing Everest (I’m assuming here), there are somethings you just can’t predict. This project has been riddled with setbacks: size issues, yarn vomit, exhaustion and straight up frustration. Despite the seeming impossibility of the task,  I carried on with the pattern as my sherpa,  all the while confident that if others have had success with her, I could too.

My persistence has paid off and I’m finally on the move! I’ve finished the back, the right front and I’m about 1/3 of the way through the left front.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait…

Or so they say. I’ve been “waiting” for this cardigan to start coming together as planned. So far though, I’ve had no such luck. Since my last update I’ve finished and frogged yet another panel. In fact, it’s a small miracle that I haven’t tossed this project into the back of my stash and vowed to never think of it again. That’s how much trouble I’ve had with it. But I love the pattern. I can’t wait to see it finished and be able to proudly wear it. That’s what keeps me going. That and knowing that it’s not the projects fault that I’ve hit some road-blocks.

Remember this moment?

I do. It was before I even cast on. Before I was faced with endless problems and frustrations. It was that perfect moment before your knitting dream became a reality, and in this case turned into a bit of a nightmare.

It was definitely long before this:

After I ripped back the first “XL” panel I thought that a combination of 3.25 and 3.75 mm needles would result in the perfect size panel. I was wrong.

So I frogged it back to the end of the first chart, which I knit with 3.25mm and continued on with those needles. About halfway through the second chart I went up to 3.5mm in hopes that it’ll work out to the right size. If you thought my troubles ended here you’d be wrong too.

It’s almost as if I forgot how to knit. I’ve made more mistakes and had to tink back more than I’ve had to do on a project, EVER.

Not to mention that I figured if I just left the ripped out  yarn in a crap pile it would magically stay untangled. Nope. Not a chance. I spent a good 45 min last night untangling, all the while cursing myself for not just winding it when I ripped it all out. It’s things like that, avoidable situation that have really made this project a special one.

But, looking on the bright side, I’m all untangled and the lace is really standing out and looking much better than on the larger needles. I’m truly hoping this time it works, because I’m not sure I can bear knitting this lace panel again.

Dallying on Dahlia

I’d like to be writing this post to say that I’ve made some serious progress on my Dahlia cardigan; that it’s nearly done and I just have a  few more rows on a sleeve. Sadly that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I approached this pattern with more patience and preparedness than I have ever started a project with. I knit not one, not two, but THREE swatches. I even washed and blocked them to make sure I was getting the suggested gauge. I wanted this sweater to come out just right so I wasn’t taking any chances. With gauge spot on I dove into the back lace panel.

Here’s the panel about a third of the way through the second chart. It’s looking great. I happily knit along, bound off the required edges and laid it out. Unblocked it was a whopping two inches larger than the blocked panel should be. I was not impressed. Sore from the major error I let it sit. Hoping that either I misjudged its size or that it would somehow shrink down if I just left it for a while. Sadly that didn’t happen. I had to face hard reality when I finally got a measurement for the span of my back. I’m not nearly as wide as this blocked lace panel would turn out so I finally bit the bullet and ripped it all back.

Last night I was feeling optimistic about the cardigan. I had finally picked up some smaller needles to do the panel and I cast on. I was knitting happily along, almost done the first chart when I noticed that I had gotten sloppy. I’d inadvertently shifted one of the centre columns of YOs two stitches to the right. Crap! At that point I laid it down again. Unable to face the reality of having to rip this back again.

Take-aways from this experience.

1. Even if you do everything right sometimes the knitting gods have something else in mind. I will not use this swatch failure as an excuse to  bypass swatches….

2. Late night knitting might not be as productive as I thought.

Once I fix up this little mishap (luckily its only  a few rows back) I should be off and running again. I promised myself that I won’t think about the possibility that I didn’t go down enough in needle size (or gasp too far!) to make this panel block to about 13″. Promised! Don’t be surprised though if the next update documents that saga.

Wish me luck!