Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Circular Shawl Cardi

After a short diversion into cooking I'm back to my knitting again. Last year one of the designs I had published by Knitting Magazine was a circular shawl cardigan.

This design was an interesting challenge because it is quite difficult to knit a circular shawl with sleeves and still get it to fit the body quite well. I wanted to avoid the problem of 'turtle back' as some people call it, when there is too much fabric across the shoulders and back neck area.

The cardigan starts at the centre of the star motif in the middle of the back and grows outwards. On my first attempt at making this design I started with an eight pointed star and decided I would cast off for the armholes when the measurement between the one point and another point 2 sections away equalled the required back shoulder width.

After casting on the armhole stitches again I worked in short rows from shoulder around the bottom to shoulder again so I didn't add any more hight to the back neck area. Once I had worked the short rows to being the inequivalent of the shoulder slope stitches back into work I continued over all the stitches for the ribbed edge band.

I then picked up stitches around the armhole and knitted the sleeves. As you can see from the photos I had nearly finished the cardigan when I decided I should put it on my tailor's dummy to see what it would look like.

The length was quite good but I didn't like the way the star pattern sat across the shoulders, I felt the sleeves were much too deep and there was quite a lot of fabric at the back neck, so I undid the whole thing and started again. This time I used a seven point star pattern and the shoulder width was take between 2 point of the star. The rest of the construction was the same as the first version.

The second version is the one show in the pictures at the top and was the pattern published in the magazine. I was happier with this version although I was aware that there are still problems with the construction. Sizing is based on shoulder width rather than bust size but because of the way the garment is constructed after the armholes are made the wider a person's shoulders are the longer the cardigan will be, so someone who is quite short but broad shouldered may find the cardigan trailing on the ground.

I decided to knit the garment again but this time in a thicker yarn, the original was in DK Alpaca so I used an Aran Alpaca, to see if the cardigan would be a better length for larger sizes. I also decided to knit the cardigan in my size (about size 16) rather than the model's size (about 8 to 10). I knitted the whole garment and tried it on. It was OK but I didn't like the way it fitted the body. The cardigan felt like it was falling off my shoulders. Although some people would not mind this I didn't feel happy with the fit so decided to undo it to the start of the armhole cast off.

When I started unpicking I realised that I had made a pattern mistake further in than the armhole cast off so undid the cardigan to the point where the mistake was. This also gave me more time to think about the construction again. I decided that the measurement needed between the points for the start of the armhole needs to be narrower that back shoulder width. I also decided to cast on all the stitches again but instead of working short rows as I did in the previous garments I decided to continue knitting around the whole circle but to decrease each side of the back neck section to create some shaping across the centre back neck area while still adding more length to the rest of the garment as it comes around to the front.

These last 2 pictures show the re-worked cardigan so far. I am still decreasing across the back neck section until I am down to the number of stitches I want for the back neck width. This is created a nice shallow diagonal line, similar to a shoulder slope line, on the back and creating more fabric to come around to the fronts before the rib band is finished. At the moment the idea seems to be working OK. I'll update when I have finished the main body piece.

The finished cake

I did finish my cake a week ago on Monday in time for when the family came to visit. Here is the finished item.

I did a chocolate butter cream filing and finished the top with melted chocolate and sugar butterflies as you can see. Not necessarily the most artistic finish but the family did seem to enjoy eating it even if the sponges were a little overcooked.

I will need to get smaller cake tins if I ever use this method again but it was interesting to try...

Now back to knitting as I know what I'm doing most of the time!