When my friend Tanz requested a custom sweater months ago, my first thought was her tiny frame would make the process quick.
But then I considered her style. Tanz is quirky and experimental; she can transform pajama pants into couture, and pair patent pink purses with basic graphic tees like they were meant for eachother.
So… since Tanz’s style is ANYTHING but basic, she deserved a sweater with an edge. Long story short: the project suddenly became a little more complicated.
And then the kicker... she asked for a cardigan. I was horrified because: button holes.
Plus, I've never actually made a cardigan before.
While knitting the actual cardigan took no more than a week, hunting for the right pattern, color of yarn and perfect buttons, was a two month affair.
After searching high and low on Ravelry for cardigan patterns, I settled on designer Elizabeth Smith's Ramona Cardigan. This cardigan uses a similar gauge to the perfect yarn I'd found for Tanz... the neon lime-toned Milla Mia Naturally Soft Aran in Emerald Green.
For beginners, gauge is the number of stitches and rows a knitter makes per inch with a particular yarn. Gauge consists of three elements: yarn width, needle size and stitch tension (which varies, depending on the knitter). Most patterns include a recommendation for needle size and yarn weight. For more info on gauge and how to complete a gauge swatch click here.
And... back to Ramona. The pattern itself was really simple, after an initial issue. After the sixth time I casted on, only to end up with the wrong number of stitches five rows in, I needed help. I stopped by my local knitting store, The Knitting Tree, where Annette kindly explained without laughing that KFB means "knit into the front and back of the same stitch" not "knit from back"- which is what I had been doing.
After surviving that initial oops moment, I knit the rest of the pattern without a hitch. Turns out, buttonholes aren’t as scary and I previously thought. The pattern called for a simple yarn over stitch for the buttonholes-- perfect for someone making their first cardigan. I was concerned about buttons fitting through the openings, but--surprise-- yarn stretches! And I was able to find some perfect vintage plastic buttons from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco.
A word of warning: I do not recommend washing and drying a finished piece unless you've tested a swatch. I put the entire cardigan in the washer and dryer... not the best idea!