Monday, August 2, 2010

Big Bow Cardigan

It's always the same lesson, his Appalachian 
childhood and mine: if we can't make it, 
we have to do without; if we can make it,
then we have to accept corners slightly 
out of square and lines almost level.

-Tim Skeen, Kentucky Swami

Another pre-knitting (and before blog) item I wanted to share with you was my Big Bow Cardigan (also known as my No Bow Cardigan). This cardigan graced the cover of the Fall 2009 issue of Interweave Crochet.  I first found this issue at my boss's house towards the end of the summer. Now, this was after my "yarn discovery" so by this point, I was well aware of different yarns and ready to take on a new challenge. Up until last summer, I had only ever crocheted afghans. It never really occurred to me that I could use crochet to make something besides an afghan. So when I saw this pattern, my initial reaction was that it was pretty cute. But could I actually make it? I read through the pattern briefly and realized that it consisted of single crochet worked back and forth from one sleeve to the other. Perfect. 

I went straight to the craft store that evening and bought eight skeins of Patons Wool. I was a bit unaware about yarn weights so I just sort of assumed it would fit the pattern and since I was also on Ravelry by this time, I had scoped out some of the other finished projects and many people also used Patons. 

The pattern, although a little monotonous, worked up quickly. I decided I wanted to modify the pattern to have long sleeves and no bow. I worked on this project diligently for about two weeks. Finally, I was done. I wanted my first crocheted garment to be special. More special than any acrylic afghan I had ever crocheted. Like a real yarn crafter, I would block this piece. I bought some wool wash and filled up the bathroom sink. I followed the directions and after some time, squeezed the water gently from the garment. I rolled it up in a towel, pressed out the excess water and transported it to the other room. As I was laying it out to pin it in place, I noticed that it looked a bit weird. A bit apish, perhaps. I started measuring. It was at this point that I realized that the sleeves were way too long. After the cardigan had dried, I tried it on and sure enough: each sleeve was almost 8" too long! 
This was the halfway point. I really should have already realized something was amiss.

You know that feeling when you've spent countless hours on a piece and suddenly realize that it is practically useless (unless of course you happen to know some bald monkey that could use a wool sweater)? Yeah, I had that feeling. Unfortunately I don't know any monkey's, hairy or bald.  I knew I could rip back the one sleeve that had been finished last but the sleeve that I started with would have to be picked backwards. On top of all this, I would still need to seam the sides. I mean really? Would anyone else like to squeeze some lemon juice in my eye or maybe trip me on my way down the stairs? I couldn't even look at the stupid sweater. At one point I even thought about just throwing it all away. All my hopes for my first crocheted garment were shattered. 

I fixed the easy sleeve and then let the project sit for about a month. Finally, something came over me. I wanted that sweater. I had decided to make it because I had actually wanted it. So I sat down and spent every free moment over the next few days picking the sleeve back one stinking single crochet at a time. After all this, I seamed it up and sewed on the buttons. 

I'm really glad that I pushed on to fix the problems. I love how this turned out. I have been thinking I may still change the buttons before this winter comes but overall, I think my first crochet garment turned out awesome. A couple of things came up in this project:
  • wool stretches
  • single crochet ribbing stretches
  • it is possible to undo a single crochet from the bottom.

Lessons learned. 


  1. Wow, this is an amazing beautiful Cardigan. Really cute. You did a good job. ;o)

    Nice greets from Germany,

  2. Lessons learned, but you ended up with an amazing sweater! I really like it without the bow.

  3. Glad you pushed on to fix the sleeves. I have a knitted sweater that the sleeves are too long. I just roll the cuffs up and wear it anyway. I'm sure it would look better if I took the time to ravel the sleeves back a bit and redo the cuff. (but it's 104 here now and I don't need to sweater now)

  4. That is great that you went back to make your sweater wearable! I have so many old projects lurking about that have problems. I could fix them now but I banished them in annoyance.

  5. It's beautiful. I don't always have the patience to go back and fix mistakes like that. Oh, and I like it better without the bow!

  6. It looks fabulous and you can be even more proud of your accomplishment because you didn't let it win. ;-)

  7. cute! Way better than the silly bow. And you can pull it off better than any monkey. Way to stick it out :)


  8. Your cardigan is wonderful! Kudos to you for persevering and overcoming the challenge of "fixing" something you have spent hours doing in the first place... sometimes you just want to scream, no? It was well worth the tenacity! Great job!

  9. The sweater looks like a million bucks, most definitely worth the tinking at the end! I hadn't looked at that cardi since receiving the magazine but I love your version so much I'm tempted to give it a go!

  10. What a great story!!! Love how it looks on you ~ I'm glad you were able to face what needed to be done - LOL

    I also love the quote at the start of your post. In today's society so many have always had too much of everything.

  11. Nice work!! The sweater looks great! I would not change the buttons - they're classic.

  12. this sweater is gorgeous! good for you for sticking with it and working through the problems. thanks for sharing what you learned, too. very helpful!

  13. i found your blog through icrochet. I've never seen any garments for adults that I've liked until now. How inspiring. Thanks alot


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