A Labour Of Love

Several months ago I started a black cardigan using Drops Nepal. I chose this Rico Design pattern as I wanted a really plain and simple cardigan. I decided to use Drops Nepal instead of Rico Design Essentials Merino Aran as I’d never knitted with alpaca before and it was a bit cheaper! This was my first attempt at an adult garment and it turned out to be a really big lesson!

Soon after I began my first attempt I realised that knitting the cardigan in fisherman’s rib as the pattern wanted would end up with a much bulkier garment than I was after. So about 20 rows in I took the decision to unravel the project and start again. Little did I know this would be the first unravelling of many in this project!

The first disaster happened when I hurt my hand and ended up in a cast for five weeks.

In A Cast

This massively slowed me down. It also added to my frustration when I had to unravel my second lot of rows, about 40 in total, due to not realising that the Drops yarn was knitting up to a completely different tension compared to the Rico yarn and my cardigan was ending up huge! First lesson learnt, when supplementing yarns, check the tensions between the two and make your corrections to the pattern before you start knitting!

The second lesson I learnt was about casting off cardigan borders. My first attempt was very very tight and made the cardigan curl up at the front which looked hideous and really ruined the shape! After some deliberation I decided I had no choice and unpicked the 270 stitches of the border (a VERY tedious experience), and cast off the border again, this time on needles 2 sizes larger, as advised by Grace Peartree, after my plea to the twitter community for ideas on how to fix the problem. Second lesson learnt, for cardigan borders always cast off with larger needles!!

I blocked out my cardigan and finally it was finished, or so I thought. Que second disaster! On my first outing in the cardigan, after proudly showing it off, I was duly told that it had a hole, GUTTED!! I think it was where there had been a knot in the yarn tying two ends together which I’d just knitted over without taking any additional steps.

I spent a long time on the internet trying to find a resolution to the issue to repair the hole. In the end I decided to carefully unthread one end of the the broken strand of yarn from each stitch it was knitted in, whilst at the same time threading a new strand of yarn in its place. Once I had gone about 3cm from the break, I tied in the end then trying to follow the pattern of the yarn, threaded the yarn into the stitches it had originally broken from. When I was happy with this, I then repeated the first step on the other side, unthreading the broken yarn and threading the other end of the new piece of yarn. I tied the other end of the yarn in and the hole was repaired and the disaster averted. Third lesson learnt, even if it means starting the row again, always cut out a knot and start the row again, rather than knitting over it!!

Overall I’ve been really happy with my cardigan! Despite still needing to attach some buttons (which is why its taken me so long to write this blog post as I was waiting to do this!), I have been wearing my cardigan lots. It’s really warm and soft and the fit is perfect. The only minor issue is that it has started to bobble quite noticeably, but I think that is fairly unavoidable for yarn that is so soft. I’ve also learnt so many lessons through knitting it, I hope it lasts forever!

Black Alpaca Cardigan

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