After eleven months of work (alongside a number of smaller projects), my Oregon cardigan is finished! I am well pleased with it.
The Oregon cardigan by Alice Starmore. Photo taken by the Dafter at Aberfoyle Forestry Commission.
If you are interested in steeking and construction techniques, read on. If not, I quite understand and I hope to be back soon with more tales of family life and of course Christmas preparations!
In my last post, I showed you the start of the process of trimming and tacking the steeks down on the wrong side of the garment. Here is the Oregon cardigan, wrong side out, with steeks tacked down:
Steeks all finished (wrong side)
The most challenging aspect of this particular project has turned out (as I had somewhat suspected) to be the buttonbands.
Below I will show you how I have finished other buttonbands with a knitted facing. But I wasn’t confident of making a facing for a curving Vneck. So I am attempting to do as suggested in the pattern, and simply bind off. As you can see, and despite my repeated efforts to bind off with a good tension, the buttonbands curl:
With buttons on, and a clear snap for good measure.
However, I think I have a solution. A few years ago, I made Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Fair Isle Yoke Cardigan. (You can see my Ravelry photos and notes here.) It was pretty snug when I finished it, and the buttonband gapped horribly. So I basted the buttonband together, and wore it for a few months as a pullover instead of a cardigan. It was very interesting how much the cardigan relaxed in that time, and when I undid the basting, the cardigan wasn’t particularly snug, and the buttonbands lay very nicely. As they still do to this day, six years later.
So I am going to see if a few months of behaviour-modification-via-basting works on the Oregon cardigan. I carefully basted the buttonbands closed, with a contrasting piece of wool:
Buttonband basted together.
Basting closer up. The buttons are some old buttons that I have had for a long time.
Because it’s vital that I not clip the wrong strand of yarn when it comes to undoing this basting, I have left unmistakeable ends on the wrong side:
On the inside, long tails that will be helpful when the time comes to undo the basting.
So what you are actually looking at is a sewn-together cardigan. A bit like sewing babies into their Liberty bodices for the winter! But I can easily take this off:
Worn as a pullover – finished for now!
If the buttonbands revert to curling, or if the curling edges above the basted overlap get worse, I will add a facing. It might be easier to do so once the cardigan has relaxed a bit. More about facings in a moment.
Because so many of you have expressed an interest in the technique of steeking, I thought I would show you some of my other cardigans that were constructed with steeks. Here we have the Rona cardigan by Alice Starmore, which I made back in 2001. As you can see, I completely forgot to cross stitch down one of the sleeve steeks!
I think it was precisely because of a curling cast-off on the buttonband that I decided to knit a matching facing. I did this by making a purl row as a fold line, and reduplicating the pattern to match. This requires making matching buttonholes, and sewing the two layers together where the buttonholes are, but it provides a nice, sturdy buttonband.
Rona Cardigan by Alice Starmore, made in 2001. Showing steeks, including the one that I forgot to tack down!
However, I didn’t make facings for the neckband or indeed the cuffs. A friend asked me once, “How can such a thick sweater ever wear out?” Well, this is how:
Cuff worn very thin after 15 years, and much mending.
I still wear this jacket – often over another, lighter, cardigan – and I will be very, very sad when the day finally comes that I have to retire it. I think it will become a cushion…
After I’d made Rona, the next stranded jacket I made was the Rambling Rose cardigan, also by Alice Starmore.
Rambling Rose jacket by Alice Starmore. I made this in about 2008.
This time, I decided to face the neckband, buttonbands, and cuffs. I did so using one of the background colours of wool, rather than reduplicated colourwork:
Rambling Rose jacket, made with facings added to neckband and buttonband. With a double-layer buttonband, I find it best to use buttons with a shank, although you could make a shank with thread as well.
Cuffs with added facing.
I wore this jacket to church today, and it is still going strong. It gives me great pleasure.
Back to the topic of steeks, here is the steek of the Elizabeth Zimmermann Fair Isle cardigan (the one where I basted the buttonband shut until it settled down). It isn’t the best feature of the cardigan! Perhaps my next step as a knitter will be to use ribbon instead of cross stitch to fasten the steeks down? I would be a bit worried in case the ribbon shrank. If anyone has used ribbon facings, I would be interested to hear how it worked for you.
Elizabeth Zimmermann fairisle cardigan.
Regular readers may remember that I made a steeked jacket last year that was faced with fabric, a first for me. You can see the New Leaf cardigan on Ravelry here.
So you can see that steeking is a technique that I find very useful and worth the trouble. I love being able to do colourwork on the right side only, and on a large scale. The only part of making the colourwork cardigans that I don’t enjoy so much is when I finally have to switch to double-pointed needles towards the ends of the sleeves. Maybe it’s because I don’t do a lot of dpn knitting, but I find it far more difficult to keep the stranded knitting even. I go over those sections after I’ve finished, on the right side, tugging and sometimes using a darning needle to straighten out the knitting. I know from experience that it will settle into itself. I don’t generally block my colourwork, unless I really think it needs it.
What is next for my “complicated knitting” project, you ask? Another cardigan. This time a kit that is partly a Christmas present from Michael. It has arrived from Sweden! Can you guess?
Kit to make the Yellow Lace Collar cardigan from AngoraGarnet
The pattern doesn’t contain a photo of the finished garment, so I must direct you here so you can see. I have long been interested in Bohus knits, and it’s exciting that this company has been authorized to continue the Bohus design tradition. I also like their animal welfare policy. This should keep me busy for a while! Perhaps I will finish it by the summertime… hmm… oh well, fortunately I live in a part of the world where I need to wear a sweater of some type nearly every day, so it doesn’t really matter when I finish it.
In the meantime I am enjoying breaking in the Oregon cardigan. I’ll let you know what happens when I undo the basting in a few months’ time!
Take care, and all the best for the coming week.