FO: Liv cardigan in ‘Shinjuku’

Suzie Blackman
Sunday, 13 January 2019

A new FO was recently released from the needles and has already become a wardrobe staple. Meet Liv:

Liv cardigan knitted in It's a Stitch Up Dynamite DK in 'Shinjuku'

I knitted two sweaters in 2018 not because I needed sweaters, but because I loved the patterns. But what I actually need is cardigans. I love ‘throw on’ cardigans, and their ability to keep my impossibly chilly arms warm without my body overheating, to be taken off without the annoyance of having to go over the head, and to go equally nicely over dresses or t-shirts.

I enlisted the help of the ever knowledgeable Anna of Wild & Woolly to find me the right pattern. I didn’t really know what I wanted but I had a list of things I didn’t want: a round neck, cropped sleeves, cables, seaming, anything finer than DK. I left with not just one pattern but a whole collection of classic, wearable designs: Madder Anthology 2 by Carrie Bostick Hoge. “Containing 17 soothing and meditative projects, this anthology will provide knitters with patterns that will create the perfect staples for every wardrobe” – perfect. I picked ‘Liv‘ – a top down raglan with curved hem, draped front and deep garter stitch edge bands.

Liv cardigan in progress

This is a beautiful design with exactly the level of intellectual demand I was looking for (not very much) but a little bit of added interest with some elegant short rows. If you like the look of Liv, a word of warning: The print version of the pattern, for such a simple construction, has some shocking ambiguities (I’m being kind, it’s downright incorrect). I found Shuyler’s project notes on Ravelry invaluable in deciphering what on earth I was supposed to be doing. It’s quite likely that the designer has fixed these problems in recent updates of the digital version.

The pattern calls for a worsted weight alpaca, merino and bamboo blend yarn, which I imagine would have a lot of drape, and a tendency for the stitches to elongate after washing. I conclude that this is the reason why I could not for the life of me get gauge with any yarn weight or needle combination in pure wool. I even tried holding two yarns together. The closest I could get was with DK yarn on 5mm needles, which is a bit of a maverick option for an even-tensioned knitter like me, but the blocked swatch looked great looked good so I went with it.

As for the yarn choice, you may have already guessed it is It’s a Stitch Up Dynamite DK in ‘Shinjuku’. All the garments from the book are shown in tasteful neutrals, but with such simplicity of design, I think they’re ideal for all-out crazy colour.

It's a Stitch Up Dynamite DK in 'Shinjuku' knitted sample

After dying a number of batches of this yarn for Yarnporium, I had a few ends-of-batch and a few ‘misfit’ skeins that were darker than intended. I threw them all in and for the most part I didn’t alternate skeins (shocking, huh?), save for the sleeves where I worked helical stripes for maybe 20 rows over the transitions, and I was careful to get the sleeves to match. The bottom 1/3 of the sleeves is what I would say is theĀ classic ‘Shinjuku’ shade, the front band is more pink and the body is darker.

Liv cardigan

I wear a UK 12 or 14 and I chose the 37″ size, over the smaller one because my gauge was a wee fraction smaller than specified. I lengthened the armscye by maybe 1.5cm (1/2″), the body by 4cm (1 1/2″) and the arms by at least 10cm (4″). I think I only did 4 or 5 decreases over the entire length of the arms because the sleeves came out incredibly tight (no, this was not a small diameter magic loop problem, my tension was exactly the same as the body, though these days I do have significant biceps due to my toddler lifting unintentional workouts).

This was a pretty economical knit at just 4.2 skeins including my mods. Loose gauge DK creates a surprisingly stable and cost fabric and I would definitely try this again. The nice thing about Bluefaced Leicester is that it retains its spring and doesn’t ‘grow’ in the wash in the same way that extra fine merino can, so (for me at least) what you knit is what you get in terms of tension.

This is a really lovely piece and definitely worth persevering with the pattern. It is snug to wear and goes with everything, exactly as intended.

The author

Suzie Blackman

The dyer, designer, photographer, creative technologist and maker-of-things behind It's a Stitch Up. She lives in East London in a home filled with colour, fluff and house plants.

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