I was so excited to discover this pattern because Hilltop Shetland fingering yarn is perfect for knitting this pattern. And now is the perfect time of year to embark on this kitty cardigan. I am inviting you to join me. I will be interpreting this pattern (you can purchase your pattern here.) As I knit, I will be happy to share my advise and offer a little hand holding as we figure this out together. And for those wanting to give this a try, I am offering 20% off discount on Hilltop Shetland Fingering. I have lots of color choices in the farm store right now, just use coupon code SINISTERCAT at check out.
And speaking of color choices, I have assembled some right here. I am trying to choose myself. I have narrowed down the main body color to natural colored Silver Streak (though you could choose Shaela or Black.) And the kitties, I have chosen White (but also Fawn and Dove grey are nice choices too.) My challenge is to choose the background behind the kitties. These are just a few of the many possibilities. But I have narrowed my choice down to Eclipse, Butternut, Northern Lights, Rose Hips, Meadow, Blue Ridge, Prairie Grass, Mystic Sea and Shabby Chic Pink. I am still waiting on needles I ordered, so I have a few days before I get started. I will be posting progress here and on my Facebook Page if you would like to ask questions or comment. So check back often to see the progress…next time we will be casting on!
Some decisions needed to be made before casting on this sweater. First of all…color choice. After much hemming and hawing, I decided on Silver Streak for the main color, Mystic Sea for the yoke background and instead of white, like I had initially intended, I wanted my kitties to have a little more pop, so I opted for Prairie Grass (yellow.) I once befriended a stray cat while I was in college. Actually, our whole 4-plex befriended this yellow cat named Pineapple. So in memory of Pineapple, the kitties will be yellow.
Another decision needed to be made is size and do I want a shaped or straight sweater. I opted for straight as my almost 60 year old body is no longer curving in very much…well that is the truth, no point denying it. The pattern does give nice choices of sizes and lots of measurements to determine which size is best. I always defer to the chest size. Also, one could tweak as one went along. I might do some extra increases for the hip area. So I have chosen size “10” . The next step is to mark all the stitch counts and instructions that relate to size 10 so that you can keep from making an error.
Now I look over the instructions. I like how it goes over the skills needed to complete this project with some how to’s and also links to further instructions. Some of the skills are short rows, color work, button holes and..oh yes..STEEKING! If you are following along with me and have never done a steek…that makes 2 of us. (Yikes!) There is a reference to a tutorial that we will go over together. I feel we should always look for opportunities to learn something new in knitting, and since I have been kniting for over 30 years..I had better put on my big girl pants and dive in. We need to do a steek so we can knit this cardigan in the round.
Our next step before casting on is to do the dreaded gauge swatch. When knitting something you want to fit, it is primo important. I will mention here that your back and forth knitting gauge might be different from your knitting in the round gauge. But for now, I cast on 28 stitches and knitted 38 rows in St st. This was supposed to knit 4 inch square. I am most concerned with width. I can adjust length if I need to while I am knitting. The needle size I used was size 2 (3.0 mm) That size gave me the correct gauge. I will recheck as I knit the sweater to make sure my knitting in the round is to gauge.
Now I am ready to cast on. I cast on 173 sts of the main color on a smaller needle from my gauge needle, and placed my steek markers as well as the start of round marker. I work 8 rounds of k2/p2 rib, with straight St st in between the Steek markers. I change colors to my yoke color and change needles to my gauge needles. I work 6 rounds St st . Then I am ready for the 1st increase. I work the increase round. It is a repeat of a M1 and k4 (beginning and ending each round with a k3. Steek is still St st between the markers). And then knit 6 more rounds. I put a little safety pin marker on the round I increased so I can count the rounds to the next increase without loosing my place. It is also a good idea to recheck your gauge. If you need to adjust your needles..do so now. I had to. Ok..Check back in a bit and we get into short rows.
Increasing for Shoulders and Chest
Most traditional Fair Isle garments are knitted from the bottom up and decreased from the chest to the shoulders. The reason I suspect is because a decrease does not create a slightly raised stitch like increasing with a “make 1” does. So as we commence with the pattern, most if the increases are M1’s . You can see and feel little bumps at each M1. My thought is that once the sweater is washed and blocked, the bumbs will be less noticeable. So make sure you follow the directions for your size. The pattern is pretty straight forward. The exception is the short row shaping.
Make sure you circle the number of stitches that corresponds with your size on your pattern so that you work the correct number of stitches in the short row instructions. It would not be a bad idea to research how to do wrap and turns and how to secure the wraps as you come to them.
So after the short row, continue the increase rounds and straight knit rounds until it is time to finally begin your kitties. Before doing so, do a quick check of your stitch count.
So here is a little preview before next installment..when we begin your SINISTER CATS!
Stranded Knitting, Working the Cats
The first thing you might notice is that the 1st part of the charted pattern involves 3 colors. This is not usual for Fair Isle knitting, when just 2 colors are used on any given row or round. But there can be exceptions. Rules do get broken if there is a nifty design element. involved. Now as charts go..this is an easy one to follow.
Beginning at the top of the first row of cat’s ears, the colors include the outline, the background and the color of the cat. The best way to keep the strands organized is to separate 2 strands and treat then as 1 strand as it relates to the 3rd strand. The 3rd strand is goes above and below the other 2 as if they were 1 strand.
Soon you will have a few rounds done. And after the eyes, you are done with the background color and can then continue knitting with 2 colors. There are different methods you can use in doing colorwork. Some knit with both hands…1 yarn wrapped around fingers of 1 hand, and the other wrapped around fingers of the other hand. This is probably the fastest technique. I am not as quick using that method. I flick yarn with just my right, keeping 1 yarn under to the left, and one yarn draped forward over my work. My right index finger can find both yarns as I need them. The challenge regardless of the methods is the floats. You do not want to have too much tension in the floats or this creates puckering in the knitted fabric. And you do not want your floats too loose, or the fabric is not cohesive. and the loose floats can catch on things. This does take a bit of practice to get even tension. But if you see a bit of puckering. Much is forgiven during blocking.
Now as for long floats…I usually twist the opposing yarn around the long float as I am knitting. I do not like a float longer than 5 stitches because it will catch on things. This pattern will require you to capture some long floats. Look up some methods on YouTube and see what you like best.
Here is how I have the yarn organized as I am doing the color work.
Here is how the steek is shaping up. It will be quite dramatic when it is time to cut it to form the opening to the cardigan.
And here is as far as I am..starting on the 3rd row of kitties. It has been fun so far. Check back again for more progress. Hopefully you might be inspired to make this cardigan too.