orchid/grey cardi details.

Now that the fervor of getting my pictures done for the OAL has subsided, I have a chance to write a bit more about my cardigan.  This is my second knitting project since I started knitting again after a long hiatus.  It's a stash-buster that was inspired by two skeins of silk/merino yarn I bought at Powell's Bookstore a couple years ago when I was knitting a lot of dolly sweaters.

I knew it wasn't really the right weight for doll clothes, but I carried this variagated orchid and rich dark grey yarn all around Powell's because I didn't want to stop touching it and by the time I was ready to check out, I couldn't bear to part with it.

I started some cabled fingerless mitts with the orchid yarn, but frogged them.  Once I started knitting sweaters for myself again, I knew that I wanted to incorporate these yarns into a stripy sweater.  I dug around in my small stash. (Last Christmas, I thought I was probably done with knitting & I had a huge destash and gave two grocery bags full of yarn away to crafty friends.)

I found some lovely oatmeal-grey alpaca and a soft charcoal blue-grey wool/angora blend to go with my two merino/silk yarns.

If this sweater is anything, it's SOFT! And very, very warm. (A little too warm for the 91 degree day it was photographed! However, I did seek it out in an air-conditioned restaurant a few hours later & thoroughly enjoyed wearing it.)

The sweater is a raglan cardigan made from a formula.  The formula turned out really well, except for one thing - the neck is very 'crew' and I normally wear more of a scooped or v-neck shape.  I like to button the middle buttons of a cardigan usually, but that looked weird with such a high neck.  I thought I hated the sweater until I realized that it's actually cute buttoned from the top down to about the middle.

I'm also pleased with the button bands.  I bid on a lot of buttons on ebay and even bought some back-up ones at Joann before I won these lovely Czech glass blue-grey buttons.  I also bought some orchid velvet ribbon when I thought I wanted to do my button bands on the front of the sweater, but after my last one - I decided I liked the ribbon on the inside and velvet wouldn't be right for a lining ribbon. I got some dove grey vintage Petersham ribbon from etsy instead.

I sewed the ribbon on the inside of both plackets.  I knitted button holes in the yarn placket and I machine-sewed button holes in the ribbon, then I used a needle and thread to bind both together.  This is the back and here is the front of the same button hole.

I planned the whole thing more methodically this time and stitched everything onto the sweater by hand. It took a long time, but it was pleasant work and I am very pleased with the outcome.

I used the buttons I had stitched on the other placket as a guide to mark my button holes on the ribbon, then I matched the button holes of the knitted band and the ribbon and sewed the edges together.  For the inner edges, I used my fingers a lot to stretch out each section and easy it in.

This was a very organic fusion of knit fabric and rigid sewing techniques and materials... and I really like the resulting marriage of softness and structure in the band. It was worth the patience.  Here I hold the ribbon taut between two button holes and stitch it down with my other hand.

Once the ribbon was stiched down, it was time to bind the two sets of button holes together.  Here the top hole is finished and the second one is still separated. 

In the end, it created a polished, practically invisible finish on the outer band. I love them because they really stayed buttoned - unlike any cardigans I made before with solely knitted bands.

This is a good thing for me because I always love to wear my cardigans partially buttoned.  Having a messy or ineffective band is a sure way for a sweater to end up in the back of my closet.

One more detail that makes me particularly happy and then I really will desist.  It's the shaping of the sweater, below the bust. It would have been easy to do faux-sideseam shaping, but I decided to try something different, inspired by the Miette.  The Miette has pretty bust darts.  I decided to do something similar, but a bit more subtle underbust shaping.

It's a lot of fun and I think it's an elegant alternative to side shaping.  Both are fine, but the bust shaping just seems a bit more feminine and interesting.  All in all, I love my sweater and look forward to wearing it in the fall. The Outfit-Along was such a great idea - I hope it becomes an annual event. It was a really fun and useful project and seeing the other projects that people have created has been really inspirational.  Thank you, Andi and Lauren!