Designing a Wrap Cardigan: Oak Grove

Based on the oak leaf from Oak Grove Mitts and a tweedy yarn in beautiful chestnut red I wanted to knit a cardigan, with oak leafs going sideways.

leaf = Mitt Oak Grove by Alana Dakos
yarn = Lang Yarns Donegal, a slightly felted DK single. 100% merino. Thin and thick but sturdy enough.

As I couldn’t find a pattern that was exactly as I wanted it I decided to design my own. Pretty soon I had an idea for a sideways fitted cardigan with leafs at the bottom and at the sleeves.

That’s when I swatched the yarn. To find out its needle size and to have a first look at how the leafs would show up.

The swatch showed me more than I wanted. It showed I didn’t like the reverse stockinette in this yarn. It showed the leaf would have a deplorable big hole at its base. And it showed my intended needle size, 3,5 mm, would give a flimsy thin fabric.

I like the stockinette stitch side much better in this yarn…

But the real problem is that the yarn yields a thin fabric, no matter what needle size. I had a warm winter cardi in mind. A thin cardigan required a whole other approach.
The fabric would be more drapey. The cardigan not as warm. A fitted look would look weird probably, accentuating rolls on my belly or stretching over my bossom. Not to mention how the closing would look: gaping between the buttons and formless button holes.

This yarn was destined to become a whole other kind of cardigan. A more ‘flappy’ cardi. With more ease. Layers perhaps.

The kind of cardi I would wear when meeting my knitter friends at one of the domestic wool parties we organize. Where the room temperature is higher than in my own home and where everybody is wearing something nice.
It took a full day to wrap my head around this new direction, all the while fondling the swatch to remind my hands and eyes of its characteristics.

I spend a day looking at cardigans in Ravelry’s database, cardigans with my gauge.

I really liked Old Town by Carol Sunday, Flaming June by Cheryl Niamath, Geodesic Gardican by Connie Chang Chinchio, and I stared a long time at Koukla by Hilary Smith Callis.
I plan to make all these in the future! (and some others too)

With all patterns I looked at construction, shaping, how they look when not closed and at how I could incorporate the leafs and which direction they would flow. I wouldn’t want them to point down, giving me a depressing Autumn falling leafs cardigan.

All the while I had the swatch nearby. Wearing it on my lapel. Twirling it around my fingers. After some time I found I didn’t dislike the reversed stockinette stitch anymore, as long as I saw it sideways. It has some of that vertical stripey look that I like in the Stockinette Stitch. Showing off its nepps nicely.
Now a sideways cardigan was an option again. That means swirling leafs!

That’s when I went back to an intriguing pattern I stumbled upon earlier, when looking at patterns for linen or silk yarns.
Meet a wrapping cardigan in linen by DROPS. Meant to be a Summer garment.

It’s weird, it’s quirky, it’s layered, the front parts are sideways, it goes well with a nice button on the shoulder or one of my oak leaf shawl pins. And it welcomes drapey fabric.

It looks great on many of the knitters that have made it, they rave about the fit. (Even if some of them are grumpy about DROPS pattern descriptions. These are always boiled down and dense, not very elaborate.)
They make me want to have one and swirl its front flaps around me, sending oak leafs every which way!

So I made a decision. This pattern is getting a try.

Here’s how I set it up, the design:
– “Old Town” cardigan and Carol Sunday’s fun with construction rubbed off on me: I’m planning to do a provisional caston at the Centre Back Seam and work the back panel sideways too.
– Sprinkle some oak leafs here and there, work my way to the front.
– Work it seamless, back to front. Add some crocheted seams afterwards if the cardigan ends up too formless and shapeless.
– Decide on edge/hem: took advice from Techknitter who says that a rolled hem wears very well. It fits this design too.
– Decide on edge stitch: slip every first stitch. I like it that way (and I’m a loose knitter)
– Long sleeves, with a bit of a flare near the wrist. Band of sideways leafs there too. Or leafs flowing up the sleeve (will need some kitchenering)

still to be determined:
– which edge stitch to use in the armhole? Picking up stitches when the first stitch has been slipped gives me ugly big holes.
– waist shaping? by ways of shortrows.
– definitive shape of the front panels.


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