Finally, I got some pictures of Cherry so I can do my proper FO write-up!

This picture from our balcony came out the best–don’t I look self-confident/-satisfied?–but I had to crop out the bike rack and bright blue broom from the sides of this photo.

Closer up:

Closest up, here’s one with a great view of the gapey buttonbands:

Pattern: Cherry, by Anna Bell, from My Fashionable Life/Needle and Hook
Size made: Small (32″)
Finished dimensions: more or less as stated
Yarn used: Rowan Calmer in 484 Lucky, 4.5 skeins or about 790 yards. (It’s $6.25 a skein at that link! You’re welcome!)
Needles used: US size 3/3.25 mm Addi Turbos for the ribbing, US size 6/4.0 mm Options needles for the rest
Date started: August 20, 2008
Date finished: September 6, 2008

  • Used an Italian tubular cast-on and tubular bind-off for all ribbed edges.
  • Worked both sleeves at the same time.
  • Cabled without a cable needle
  • Left a 1-stitch garter selvage on all edges to be seamed (i.e. knit the first and last stitch of every row). I have tried other selvages for seaming and just don’t like them.
  • Messed up my gauge somehow, so the sweater is a bit tighter than it was meant to be.
  • Added an extra snap or two.
  • Worked the whole body in one piece, fronts and back together, subtracting 2 sts at each seam, with decreases worked right next to each other for waist shaping, increases worked a stitch apart. This messed with the math for the neck and armhole shaping a bit, but nothing disastrous.

Notes: This really is not the easiest sweater pattern to follow–I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners, for various reasons.

I didn’t find errors in the pattern, but there’s a lot going on: you need to be able to read your knitting in order to keep the little birds pattern lined up (it’s not charted, unfortunately) as you work decreases and increases into it. It will also drive you insane unless you can figure out which row of the pattern you’re on by looking at it–I’d really hate to have to use a row counter to figure that out, because due to the shaping, the beginning of the row keeps shifting around.

You have to not be the kind of person who will get confused or lose track of shaping rows when you see an instruction like “dec 1 st at armhole edge of next 3 rows, then on foll 3 alt rows, and foll 4th row.” There’s a lot implied there–you have to know what “dec” means, which way it should lean and how to work it (k2tog, k3tog, p2tog, etc. are defined in the pattern abbreviations but “dec” is not); you should know that working it a stitch away from the edge will make seaming way easier; you have to know, as you’re working the piece, which side is the armhole edge.

I am apparently not the kind of person who can keep track of such things, because I happily finished the body on a Labor Day trip with Rahul and his parents to the Wisconsin Dells, but when I came home, pinned the shoulders together, and tried it on, I realized I’d misread the instructions for the back neck shaping and that the cardigan now had a deep scoop neck in the back as well as the front. After some anguish, and ridiculous thoughts of perhaps picking up stitches and knitting an inset for the back neck, I frogged it and fixed it.

Also, the sweater requires a ton of finishing work. I kept thinking “nearly there! I’m almost done!” and then remembering each of the little things I would have to do to wrap it all up. Luckily, I’m more of a product knitter than a process knitter, so I usually don’t have trouble with seaming, etc., but the sweater does require:

  • seaming side seams (which I was able to skip, happily)
  • seaming underarm seams
  • seaming fronts to back
  • setting in sleeves (I killed two birds with one stone by leaving long tails on each piece and using them to do all the seaming before weaving them in)
  • picking up and knitting two buttonbands
  • picking up and knitting neckband
  • making twisted cord for waistband (I had to do this twice because I made it too short the first time)
  • sewing on buttons
  • sewing on snaps in between the buttons
  • weaving in a minimum of 17 ends (assuming you have a big cone of yarn and don’t need to weave in any additional ends from the ends of skeins, just the starting and stopping points for the beginnings and ends of pieces)

I really love the finished product, though. It’s elegant, flattering, and so cute and wearable–not the kind of sweater where people will ask in faintly condescending tones, “oh, did you make that yourself?” (Even at the Sheep and Wool festival, no comments from strangers, which seems out of the ordinary for a fiber event.) I went with the pearly gray mother-of-pearl buttons in the end and I’m happy with them. I think it’s a good thing I did (I bought a larger size than I had originally, 5/8″) because I think the buttons would have come undone with a smaller button size (like the little owls).

Rowan Calmer, which is a soft, spongy-velvety, and elastic cotton-acrylic blend, is one of my favorite yarns–no exception on this project. I like the soft lavender color, too, even though I guess it’s been discontinued. The sweater does take up a surprisingly large amount of yarn, probably mainly due to the cables. In style, fit, and needle size, it seems pretty similar to my Green Gable sweater, and I would have guessed that they would take up a similar amount of yarn; but Cherry used almost 800 yards, while Green Gable used under 500.

I have not yet had the chance to find some Oxford Bags to wear this with, but I can report so far that it looks equally fabulous with jeans, brown cords from Steve & Barry’s, or a gray pencil skirt. Lavender + brown is a very pleasing color combination.

The main thing I don’t like about this sweater is that the buttonbands kind of stretch and gape, even over my less-than-generous assets. I think a fair number of other people have had this issue with the sweater (one of those people even sewed the front shut to make it a pullover fauxdigan instead). Perhaps I should have put grosgrain ribbon on the buttonbands? I don’t know if that would have helped. I decided to sew on one extra snap at the bottom because it originally gaped open and revealed my stomach to the world. It could probably do with a snap right where the waistband tie is, too, but so far tying the twisted cord tightly enough has taken care of holding the fronts shut.

Also, I feel a little nervous every time I fasten or undo the buttons and snaps. There are a lot of them and it takes a lot of time and care to undo them properly–I feel like a Victorian lady doing up her shoes with a buttonhook. Most of my clothes can be pulled on over my head, or at least have about half the number of fasteners on the front.

All in all, it’s one of my favorite sweaters so far. I think I probably say that about almost all the sweaters I make, but there’s nothing wrong with that, right?

In other news, our beer has stopped bubbling and I’m totally curious to look inside the big white bucket, but we have to keep the cover on it until it’s time to bottle. And I took photos of a bunch of new handspun yarns I’m very excited about, but I’ll save those for another post.