Saturday, August 8, 2015
Sugar, spice and a surprise
Last week, I finished crocheting this little cardigan sweater for the GB. The pattern is called Sugar & Spice Cardi, and it comes from Issue 32 of Simply Crochet magazine. This is a magazine published in the UK. It isn't widely available in the US (I think we can buy it at Jo-Ann Fabrics, but I don't often see it there). I've always thought it seemed like a nice magazine, though; I've seen some of their projects on other blogs and on Ravelry. I subscribe to Interweave Crochet, a quarterly magazine, and I like the project ideas in it, but Simply Crochet's projects are particularly cute and creative, with lots of things for children as well as adults.
A couple of months ago, I was visiting one of my favorite blogs, Ladybird Diaries, and saw that Marianne, a very talented and inspiring crocheter, was planning to make a cardigan for her daughter from issue 32 of Simply Crochet. She shared a photo from the magazine and it really caught my eye. I'd been trawling Ravelry for cardigan patterns, to make one for my own daughter. I told Marianne that I'd like to make one too, but had trouble finding the magazine. Next thing I knew, Marianne was mailing a copy of the magazine to me, all the way from Scotland, where she lives. This was such a sweet and generous gesture and I was excited to have a copy of Simply Crochet. I devoured it in one sitting, folding down the corners of pages with projects I want to try - the Sugar & Spice cardi foremost among them (and trust me, they're all really cute).
Marianne has now made several of these cardis and they're adorable. I started working on mine toward the end of June, using DK yarn and a size 7 (4.5mm) hook. The pattern recommends heavier yarn and a larger hook, but I had this idea that it would be daintier if I did it my way. I was wrong; it was misshapen and very tiny, like a weird little bolero jacket, and every time I tried it on the GB, she looked dubious. I was almost finished when I decided to frog the whole thing and try again the right way. I don't frog things very often; it kind of goes against me - all that work for nothing! But this time, it was the best choice. I wanted the cardi to be nice, something the GB would be proud and happy to wear, so I started again with worsted-weight yarn and a J/10 (6mm) hook.
I used a similar color palette for the second attempt, but decided to make the body in a medium gray (the first was made with cream-colored yarn) because I have a lot of it, numerous skeins I've been collecting for future blankets. All of the yarns in both cardi attempts came from my stash; I really enjoy projects that allow me to use up ends and partial skeins of yarns I already have, and something like this cardi, the yoke of which is meant to mimic the look of Fair Isle knitting, is a great ends-user-upper.
It's such a simple and easy pattern and it worked up quickly. I think I made it in four afternoons. I made some minor modifications to the design; I used a large gray plastic button for the cardi's closure instead of the suggested sewn-on ribbon ties, and I made the sleeves and bottom trim in another neutral color instead of picking up a brighter one from the yoke like the magazine showed. I thought this would keep the cardi simple and easy to match with other clothing (plus, I had a lot of that cream color too).
I had been concerned about the sweater seeming too bulky or heavy at first, which is why I tried it in DK yarn, but I don't think my concerns were founded. The worsted-weight yarn worked up smoothly and I think it has a nice drape. I tried to crochet a little more loosely than I usually do. I've realized lately that I don't think about my tension very often anymore, whereas it used to be on my mind constantly when I crocheted. It feels more natural now; you don't know the worries I used to have, and the way my wrist would cramp up. I don't know why I was so tense; there are no crochet police. But it's nice to be past that and feeling easier about the whole thing.
I'm really happy with this little sweater, and I think the GB likes it too. She said it was comfortable and that she looks forward to wearing it to school when it gets cooler outside. I feel particularly good about the way it fits across her shoulders and back. I had some concerns about the round shape of the yoke as it blends into the sleeves; I wondered if it would buckle across her back. It looks slightly bulgy to me but it's not bad at all. I think it will flatten with wear. She's an active little thing and she'll like having the extra wiggle-room.
I love to make things for her to wear. It really makes me happy and this particular project appealed to me as soon as I saw it. I could just picture my little sprite wearing the sweet little cardi in the magazine. It was fun to make (especially once I took the pattern's materials suggestions!) and it's delightful to see her wearing it. Thank you, Marianne. I appreciate your sweet surprise gift so much. You are a kindred spirit and a lovely friend.
Sugar & Spice Cardi (pattern directions for size 5-6) from Simply Crochet magazine:
J/10 (6mm) and (for edgings) I/9 (5.5mm) Clover Amour hooks
I Love This Yarn worsted acrylic: Graybeard, Ivory, Stonewash, Old Rose, Antique Teal, Rosy Cheeks.