Ginger Made: Honey Cardigan

Here’s something you don’t see very often around here: a knitted garment! It’s also something else that you don’t see here very often: a made-by-me garment that I hate!

Things went wrong with this sweater from the very beginning. You see, I made the rookie mistake of choosing a pattern because I thought the stitch pattern was really pretty without even considering the fact that this isn’t a style that I like to wear. I don’t like cardigans and I really don’t like fitted sweaters. But when I started knitting this nearly 2.5 years ago (!), I didn’t have as firm of a grasp on my personal style and couldn’t have articulated exactly what I like to wear. That may sound funny, but it’s only very recently that I’ve really felt like I dress the way I like to. I’ve always hated shopping, have lived in big cities since I was 18 where shopping is chaotic and unpleasant, and was always on a tight budget, so I sort of grabbed whatever was cheap and quick instead of thinking about what I feel good wearing. Silly, I know!

The pattern is the Honey Cardigan by Veera Valimaki (Ravelry link here). When I first began knitting, I was really attracted to Veera’s designs. They are lovely, modern designs that are fun to knit and always look so cool. My original plan was to make this in a great gold color, so I bought Quince & Co. Lark in “honey”. But when I swatched for the sweater, I didn’t like how the fabric looked when I knit to gauge, so I discarded that plan (the yarn eventually turned into my Bough hat and Guernsey wrap, so it didn’t go to waste, luckily). I had enough Cascade 220 in “charcoal” to make the sweater (according to Ravelry, I bought this yarn in 2010, yikes!), so I cast on in that, finished all but one sleeve, and then let it sit for two years.

After finishing my Ginger jeans, I started to feel guilty about my stack of unfinished projects, so I pulled out this sweater and decided to finish it. I didn’t like the way the first sleeve looked, so I unraveled it and started over, following the instructions for the sleeve from the Effortless cardigan (here’s my finished sweater). I’d felt that the sleeves were a little short when I made that sweater, so I lengthened them by 1″, but they still feel too short.

At the end of the day, I’m just not into this sweater. I love the way the cables pop out of the reverse stockinette, but otherwise I’m just not feeling it! I don’t like the way the i-cord edging looks, although I suspect I may have screwed it up as it rolls under on the center front edges and out on the hem edges (huh?). And I don’t like that it only buttons at the top. And I don’t like how tight it is at the upper chest. And I really, really don’t like that I had to use such huge buttons. The buttonholes are made by knitting unattached i-cord, and then reattaching, so it forms loops. Buttons that look proportional slip through the loops, even with a substantial yarn shank, so I dug these huge buttons out of my stash (pretty sure I cut them off my thoroughly-trashed peacoat after it bit the dust), and I think they look crafty and cheap. Yuck!

This isn’t a failure of the pattern or even of the (admittedly boring) yarn… I just totally failed to think this through before starting in on it. Luckily, I’ve gotten much better about understanding what I like when it comes to sewing, so I very, very rarely have finished garments that I don’t like. Hopefully I’ll get a little bit smarter about choosing the right knitting projects in the future! But at least I finished this and got it out of my UFO pile, and it will be finding a new home with my mom or sister soon!

Before I go, I need to announce the winner of the Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book giveaway! There were 258 responses, and the winner, chosen by Random.org, was Kristin Bard. Congrats, Kristin! I’m emailing you now. :)

Alright, guys, ‘fess up. What was the last thing you made that you don’t really like? Have you ever been silly enough to make something that’s not your style at all?

 

Ginger Made: Effortless Cardigan, or, the Cozy Grandpa

OH, HEY, LOOK, IT’S SNOWING AGAIN! YAYYYYYY UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH…..  Guys.  Enough with this winter.  ENOUGH.  I’m standing on a two-foot snowbank here, or at least, what I’m hoping is a two-foot snowbank and not a pile of trash covered in snow.  (Fun fact: in NYC, at least in the outer boroughs, garbage trucks are used as snowplows, so it’s been weeks [WEEKS!] since the garbage has been picked up.  Luckily you and your neighbors get to eyeball everyone’s leavings and speculate about their Coke/beer/gallon-jug-of-olive-oil consumption.  Seriously, how do those people down the block have MULTIPLE gallon drums of olive oil in their trash?  Do they drink it instead of morning coffee?)

Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes

If there’s a silver bullet for lousy weather, it’s knitwear!  There’s something so comforting about a hand-knitted sweater, isn’t there?  It’s the perfect antidote for February sadness.  I’m not a very fast knitter, but it’s fun to do during long evenings (and means that all the hours I’ve spent watching Torchwood this winter aren’t a total waste).

Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes

First things first, this squishy Berroco Vintage was a gift from the lovely and talented Stephanie at Makes the Things!  She offered to send me some goodies that she was destashing, and I gratefully snapped them up!  It’s not a color that I would have chosen myself, but I thought it would look great with my ever-present blue jeans.  Now that it’s done, I really like the color!  As an added bonus, it looks nice with my Bough hat!  Thank you SO MUCH, Steph!

Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes

I’d never used Vintage, which is a blend of wool, acrylic, and nylon, and I wasn’t sure how well it would react to blocking (since natural fibers block happily, but man-mades generally don’t), so I wanted to avoid a project with cables or lace.  Hannah Fettig’s Effortless Cardigan is a super popular pattern, but I wasn’t the least bit interested in it until I saw Ping’s oh-so-gorgeous version.  She described her sweater as a “wearable blanket”… ummmmm, yes, please!  I knew immediately after seeing her cardigan that this yarn would become one.

Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes

It’s a top-down raglan cardigan with acres of stockinette, so it was pretty straightforward knitting.  It came together quickly- I knit the majority of it over my Christmas vacation, and finished the rest in spare moments here and there.  It actually blocked nicely, which was a pleasant surprise.  I HATED how it looked when I finished knitting it- the ribbing looked so gross- but everything smoothed out after a serious wet blocking.  I lengthened the body by 1″ and the sleeves by 0.5″, but I wish I’d lengthened the sleeves more.  It’s not the end of the world, though.  Those were the only alterations I made.

Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes

I asked Man Friend if I looked like someone’s grandpa when I was wearing this, and he replied, “A little bit… but, a cozy grandpa”.  I guess I don’t mind looking like a cozy grandpa!

Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes

What are you guys up to lately?  Friends in the Northern Hemisphere, are you busy knitting?  What are the rest of you up to?  I’ve been sewing and sewing and sewing lately, but between secret pattern testing, sewing for a friend, a future Mood Sewing Network project, and a slew of started-but-not-finished projects, I don’t have anything sew-y to show you.  Hopefully I’ll have some finished garments (and some organization in my sewing space) coming up soon!

Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes

Ginger Made: Bough Hat + Guernsey Wrap!

What’s up, party dudes?!  This post is a bit out of the ordinary for me– finished knitted garments, what?!  I haven’t done much knitting in the last couple of years, but when I started taking the subway to work a few months ago, I had an itch to pick it up again!

Bough Hat + Guernsey Wrap-- Ginger Makes

A long time ago, I started up a sweater in Quince & Co.’s Lark in “Honey”.  I didn’t really like how it was turning out, so I frogged it and let it sit.  In my haste to start knitting again, I grabbed this yarn and cast on for Brooklyn Tweed‘s Guernsey Wrap without checking the gauge or anything (bad girl!).  As it turns out, I was knitting at about 20.5 stitches/4″ (instead of the recommended 14 stitches/4″), so my finished width is only 13″ after a serious blocking.  Since it was immediately clear that this would be more of a scarf than a wrap, I added an extra repeat of chart A and chart C for some additional length, making my final scarf 77″ long.  I toyed with the idea of seaming the ends to make a cowl, but it’s nice to be able to wear this as a scarf so I can wrap it tighter or looser depending on my mood (and the weather).  Maybe someday I’ll knit another one to the correct proportions, but I’m not at all disappointed in the outcome with this one.  I was just so excited to start knitting and didn’t want to waste any time with math and calculations!

Bough Hat + Guernsey Wrap-- Ginger Makes

The yarn was an internet purchase, and I was a little disappointed in the color when it arrived.  That was the main reason I frogged the sweater– I thought the olive-y color looked gross next to my skin tone.  So here I am, two years later, making a hat and scarf to wear right next to my face… go figure!  The only thing I can think of is that maybe it looks better on me now that I’ve started working indoors– I’m much paler than I used to be, and less green! It’s not the most flattering color in the world, but it looks nice with both my grey and my navy coats.  For more inspiration in this color, check out Gail‘s gorgeous sweater here!

Bough Hat + Guernsey Wrap-- Ginger Makes

Guernsey Wrap is a really nice pattern and was a great one for jumping back into knitting.  It’s a charted pattern, but it’s easy to follow.  It looks really lovely and complicated, but the stitch patterns consist of only knit and purl stitches (great for commuter knitting– no pesky cable needles to deal with!).  I didn’t realize it was so simple when I downloaded it, but I’m so glad I did.  It’s really pretty!

Brooklyn Tweed Guernsey Wrap-- Ginger Makes

After I finished the wrap, I wanted a matching hat, so I knit up Brooklyn Tweed‘s gorgeous Bough pattern.  This pattern is so cute and was really fun to make, so much so that I made a second version for my sister in Malabrigo worsted for a Christmas gift (forgot to take a picture of it on her, but it’s really nice in soft, fuzzy Malabrigo!).  I didn’t make any changes to the pattern at all and I really like it (although I might cast on fewer stitches for the ribbing next time around… it’s a tiny bit loose…).  The tree of life pattern is really cool– I’m hoping to make the matching cowl at some point.  I finished off both hats with pompoms made using a large Clover Pom Pom Maker.  I’d never made them before and heard that the pom pom maker was really fast and easy, so I picked one up.  I made huge, fluffy pom poms in just a couple of minutes!  So fun!  I kind of want to make 100 of them and tie them to the pugs!

Bough Hat + Guernsey Wrap-- Ginger Makes

Gah! Look at that bobble! I love it!

Now that I’ve started knitting again, I’m totally hooked!  I’m midway through a sweater and can’t stop thinking about future knitting projects!  What about you?  Knitting anything things days?  Want to learn, but not sure where to start?  If so, I recommend (again!) checking out Gail’s blog– she did a great series walking you through the (FREE!) Miette cardigan pattern from start to finish.

Bough Hat + Guernsey Wrap-- Ginger Makes

Major benefit of a 6.5′ scarf– you can go full ninja on the coldest days!

Ginger Made: Chunky Monkey Vest

Hold the phone… I finally FINISHED something???  I’m seriously in the middle of about five projects right now (sewing ADHD much?!?!), so with a little encouragement from Man Friend (“Um, wouldn’t it be nice to be done with one project?”), I got my act together and finished up this little vest (pardon the terrible picture– it’s been dark and disgusting the last couple of days).

This is the Chunky Monkey Baby/Toddler Vest from The Brown Stitch, and it’s a lovely little knit for the (tiny) men in your life.  It’s FAST– I knitted the thing in about two afternoons (the only holdup was buying and sewing on the buttons), so it makes a perfect last-minute gift.  I used the recommended yarn, Cascade 128 superwash chunky, which is reallly soft as well as machine-washable, so it’s ideal for baby garments.

I’m a bit late with this gift– the baby was actually born in January (oops!), but better late than never, right?  But his family is very near and dear to us– his dad is one of our oldest childhood friends, and I actually introduced this friend to his wife, so we’re extra fond of this little guy and his big brother.  His dad is a big fan of the Chicago Bears, as are Man Friend and I, so I sort of slyly inserted the Bears’ navy and orange into the color scheme.  He’ll be the dressiest little dude on game day!

What are you guys up to?  Did you have good weekends?  I had back-to-back parties Thursday and Friday nights, plus a friend’s concert Saturday night (he put together a band to play all of T. Rex’s Electric Warrior live… it was RAD).  I have one last crazy week at work before we wrap, so I probably won’t have as much time to sew as I’d like, but I’m really excited to dive into my projects next week!  I’m a bit behind on my blogroll lately, so please forgive my lack of commenting.  I’m looking forward to catching up soon!

I’m Baaaaack + Dwarf Fortress Hat

Hi, guys!  Thank you all for your advice and kind words after I posted about feeling exhausted– I took some time for myself and am feeling much more relaxed and rejuvenated now.  I even took a long weekend away!  I went to Utah this past weekend to do a little skiing with the Man Friend, his brother, his best friend, and some old friends of the Family Man Friend (yes, as usual, it was me surrounded by a thundering herd of bros… sigh…).  Dude overdose aside, we had a great time, and enjoyed the heaps and heaps of powder snow that fell from the heavens without ceasing the whole time we were there!

I’m a bit of a newbie when it comes to skiing (learned a couple of years ago?), but the boys are old pros and I HATE to lag behind, so I fall.  A LOT.  Like this:

Wait, I'm supposed to remain upright on the skis at ALL times?

Or like this:

Hooray for helmets!

Wait a minute… after reviewing the photos from the weekend, there isn’t a single one of me actually SKIING!  Don’t worry– there’s a large collection of me collapsed in various sad poses.  Thanks a lot, husbie [SHAKES FIST AT THE SKY]!

Because I’m a good sister-in-law, I made a little gift for my bro-in-law.  His obsession over the last year or so has been a game called Dwarf Fortress.  Don’t ask me to explain what it is or how you play it– I’m not THAT good of a sister-in-law (and I black out when people explain things for longer than, oh, 9 seconds?).  All I know is that there is a little dwarf-y guy that’s a big deal, and b-i-l loves to use it as his avatar for stuff, so I decided to make him a little hat with the design.

Look out, there are dwarves! Right there! On your head!!

It looks a little crummy here, but it’s a bit nicer in person.  I used Cascade 220, my old stand-by, and just did the dwarf design in duplicate stitch.  If anyone wants the pattern, I’d be happy to write it up.

And yes, ladies, he's single. With a motorcycle.

So yeah… a nice and easy, dumb project… it felt good to make something silly!

What are you guys up to this weekend?  Any fun plans or projects?  I finally caught up with my bursting-at-the-seams blogroll today– you guys have been BUSY!  And have been cranking out some cool stuff!  It’s been really fun checking in with everybody to see what you’ve been up to!

Ginger Made: Aidez (seriously, aidez-moi, s’il vous plait!)

I give up.  Here’s my Aidez sweater.  I started this thing last May, and finally finished it at the end of January.  In the land of perpetual darkness, I just couldn’t find the time to take pictures, and I wasn’t that happy with it, so that’s why you’re only seeing it now.  I’m kind of sad, because I loved this pattern when it came out, and it seemed like the perfect thing for me to throw on in the winter, but alas, it’s only so-so.

Maybe if I just casually stretch this thing all the time, it'll fit eventually!

It’s too small, even though I sized up (this is supposed to fit a 36″ bust, which I have…  in my dreams!!) to make sure that this would be nice and slouchy.  The armpits are too snug, which is really annoying.  It’s stretched a little bit since I started wearing it, but the armpit thing is pretty noticeable. Also, the arms run WAY small in this pattern– I had read that they are small, but I ignored this because I have skinny arms (I should probably buy a set of dumb bells before I turn into one of those noodle-armed old ladies that has to call a neighbor to open a jar of pickles for her).  They were SKIN TIGHT.  I can’t imagine how tight these would be if you actually worked out and had a little muscle tone!  Gals, what’s cozier than skin-tight scratchy wool?  AMIRITE???  I made them wearable by un-seaming the sleeves (harder than you would think) and picking up 8 stitches at the underarm.  I knit those 8 stitches into a panel the length of the sleeve and seamed either side of it to the existing sleeve to add some width.  That was time-consuming, but at least now they’re wearable.

What's that? You want to see photos of the back? Oh, we took them, and somehow they disappeared from the camera/computer, and I was too annoyed to do another photo shoot, so here's a second photo of me awkwardly trying to hold the sweater closed. Yay!

I knit this from the bottom up in one piece, then had to divide it when I got to the armpits.  The seaming actually wasn’t too bad– I generally avoid anything that needs seaming because I find it a bit tedious, but I could deal with this alright.  I used Cascade Eco Wool, which I’m finding too scratchy to wear next to my skin, so I can’t wear this with just a t-shirt underneath (which is how I would actually get use out of it).  I probably won’t get much wear out of this since I only have two long-sleeved t-shirts, and you can only wear a long sleeve tee AND a wool sweater on the coldest of days.  So yeah.  This project gets a “whatever” in my book… it’s not an abject failure, but it’s far from a win, which is sad.  I was really excited about this project!  If it wasn’t so irritating to re-knit something, I might make this again sometime in a larger size with modified sleeves in a softer yarn.  If it wasn’t so irritating.

How do you guys deal with frustrations when you’re making things?  Do you cut out a new size and start from scratch?  Do you try to salvage the project?  Or set it aside?  Give it away?  I’m interested to hear!  Sadly, my Honey cardigan isn’t turning out well, either– it looks way too small!  I can’t decide if I should block what I already have (it’s about halfway done) to see if it grows a ton, or if I should just go ahead and frog it and start over.  :(  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong!  I always swatch, and up until now, everything I’ve made has fit perfectly (even for other people!).  I noticed with the Honey cardigan that my gauge is tighter than it was in my swatch (and I do oversized swatches to make sure they’re pretty accurate!)… what’s going on with that?  UGH!!

Ginger Made: Super Cupcake Hat & Cowl

Hi, friend-os!   It’s a cold day in NYC and we’ve got lots of snow headed our way, so I hope if you, too, are hunkered down in snow that you’ve got lots of fun projects to keep you company (but if you’re in the southern hemisphere and it’s summer, I hate you and I don’t want to hear about sunshine, sundresses, sunscreen, or anything else of the sort!!)!

This is the Super Cupcake pattern by Bonnie Marie Burns.  This set is a gift for a dear family friend who’s going through chemotherapy and the resulting hair loss.  My mother-in-law and I thought our friend might be cheered up a little by a fancy new hat, and we really wanted to pick out something special for her (she’s rather chic!).  We visited the local yarn store in my hometown, Sheep’s Clothing, found a sample of this pattern made up in Rowan Lima, and were immediately hooked!  My original thought was to make a cabled beret in a fun color, but the sample hat was so soft, cozy, and comforting that neither of us could stop touching it and decided that this would make a nice gift.

Man Friend dubbed this pose "adorkable" because he is a bad person. Sadly, this was the best photo.

Rowan Lima is amazing– it’s a blend of baby alpaca, merino, and nylon, so it’s simultaneously soft and strong, and it’s spun in a sort of chain-like pattern that knits up incredibly squishy and light.  I highly recommend it!

The pattern is easy as pie– it’s a super basic Shaker rib pattern that makes for a very warm hat with a thick wrong side.  I wouldn’t have even bothered with a pattern if this wasn’t a gift (OK, and if it wasn’t wrong to steal the designer’s idea without contributing some cash).

Cowls look super weird when you wear them with a t-shirt.

I’d like to think of this as a sort of “good vibes” hat– I’m hoping that our friend feels loved and cheered every time she wears it!  And if you’d like to pass along the good vibes, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.  Thanks, friends!

What are your weekend plans?  Are you going to party hearty or work like busy bees?  I was planning on doing a lot of sewing and knitting, but it’s been a really long week and now I kinda feel like this:

Ennui encapsulated.

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