Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cafe au Lait

Guys!  I knit a super long lace and cable cardigan out of fingering weight yarn.  If you don't know knit speak, let me translate this for you:  I rule.
That is, me and the rest of the knitters making their own Cafe au Lait sweaters, by Kirsten Singer of Klever Knits, in the Holla Knits Knitalong 2015.




The truth is that it wasn't near as time consuming as it appears.  Fingering weight lace moves fast and the pattern is enjoyable, so you tend to want to reach one more cable... one more repeat.. etc.  I also made mine a few repeats longer (4, I think) because I knew I would probably be stretching it width-wise when blocking.  It appears to be about as long as one of the samples, but I have a feeling I may be taller than the model, so I wanted to be sure.

This is pretty much the perfect kind of sweater for my climate.  I could use it year round in a cold movie theatre and most of the winter outside.  I like the batwing, too.  It makes wearing layers easy.

It also makes me think of my mom.  I wore her little watch pendant yesterday because she was on my mind.

The details, in case you care:  I used size US 5 needles with Knit Picks Palette yarn in the Comfrey color.  This is my first time to work with Palette yarn, though I always admire the color options in the Knit Picks catalog.  I enjoyed working with it.  It has a bit of a halo to begin with, but I feel like it will withstand wear really well.


Though I blocked my swatch and chose my size accordingly (I got 3 less stitches per 4" which meant I would want to knit down one size for a better fit.), I still felt insecure about how tiny the thing looked on the needles, so I spot blocked the lower half of the back. It stretched out nicely.  I let it dry overnight, then continued knitting, a little more confident.  I wanted at least 7 inches of positive ease.

Even though the size seemed fine for me,  I followed Allyson's suggestion to knit the front pieces one size larger, in width, so that my sweater would button comfortably in front without any pulling.  I doubt I'll wear it buttoned, but I liked the option.  In the photo above, it doesn't look super flattering buttoned, but some of that is the angle it was taken at, and some is the fact that I'm wearing baggy cords that were almost falling off of me and I had to keep hitching up all day.  Just being honest.  So ignore it if you're worried that you too will, suddenly, become pear shaped if you make this sweater.  :)

So I made the fronts a size medium, making sure to lengthen them the way I did the back.   Remember, I was already knitting the smallest size, expecting it to come out closer to the medium size.  So I knit my fronts using the medium directions, knowing they would probably be wider than the size medium.



Buttoned, and laying flat it measures about 38" at bust.  Slightly open, like most of us will wear it, it is 40-42".  That's a good 6-8" of positive ease.  It's also a really flexible knit, that's why it's hard for me to pinpoint the exact measurements.  It can so easily stretch any which-a-way.  I think I could have blocked it more aggressively for length or width if I'd wanted to.

The finishing wasn't bad at all.  It is so much easier to sew seams when there is an obvious stitch pattern to help me line the pieces up straight.  Sewing on the buttons, however, took me about as long as the knitting.  It's always this way.  I will say that I'm getting pretty good at the button sewing thing.  There was no blood or weird knots to be found.  I did it all in one episode of Rectify.   Basically, I was relieved to be finished and disturbed by the show i was watching, all at the same time.

These aren't the best photos, but I'm using a different camera, trying to figure out all of the settings in bright, afternoon sun.  I'm pleased to say that it wasn't even uncomfortable to wear this sweater out.


I'd hoped it would get a little wear before the temperature rises.  I miss having my daughter around to take quick photos for me.  I can tell her what I want and she just "gets it."  Whereas my son, bless his heart, was more interested in telling me about a video game.   He did contribute the photo of the sky through our tree, though.


So, what would I like to make next of Kirsten's patterns?  Axial was on my wish list, but I want to make it really oversized (like the blue sample) with City Tweed, so I'll wait on that til next winter.  I'm thinking either Summer Vanilla or Tungsten Tank needs to happen soon, maybe for the Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL?  I could wear those like crazy.

English Roses has an easy fit that I like and I'm thinking Staggered Cardigan, would look cute, maybe even a little cropped.

I also have this idea that I want to use Elemental Lines, and some other Holla Knits At Home collection patterns, plus a few I've pinned on Pinterest to spruce up our camper.  I want all seventies colors like my kitchen, when I was growing up- avocado, yellow, orange, brown...


No, I am not done with purple yet.  There will be shawls, there will be mitts, there will be a scarf, and there will be another sweater.  Then I will move on to another color.

My other posts on Cafe Au Lait:  Thinking of my mom,  half of a front, and seaming seems to take forever.

34 comments:

  1. You totally rule! This cardigan looks amazing and makes my fingers itch - I want to order new yarn and cast on a new project right away. Daughters seem to be great photographers all over, mine is my go to photographer too ;-)

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  2. It's gorgeous! I am wearing mine today, too. I want to knit another in a linen/cotton/something blend to be more summer-friendly. I just love this design!

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  3. It turned out just perfect, and I love your buttons!

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  4. Oh wow! This one is getting queued! I love your buttons. :)

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  5. So lovely, Michelle! What a great color, and such a versatile cardigan.

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  6. I'm beyond impressed ... even though you say that knitting this beauty in fingering weight didn't take long, I can only imagine how proud you must feel. Gorgeous sweater!

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  7. Wow this is lovely! I've never used fingering weight before and I think it would take me an eternity to make so you DEFINITELY rule!! I'm planning on making a fingering weight shawl soon tho so I can see what it's like. I would love to make a cardi as nice as yours one day...

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  8. Jennifer TownsendMarch 25, 2015 at 2:00 PM

    Beautiful! I love it. Just beautiful!

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  9. What an absolutely beautiful FO!!! Love this "fogy" shade of purple!

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  10. This is gorgeous! You've done a terrific job and such detailed notes are great :) you certainly do rule! It will be a long time before I consider trying it out myself :p jenny xx

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  11. I heartily agree about daughters as photographers. They know what their moms are thinking. And I always heartily agree about ordering yarn and casting on. :)

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  12. Oh, I hadn't seen yours finished yet! I think you're on to something with the cotton blend. I would live in it!

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  13. Thanks, Shannnon!

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  14. Thanks, Heather they're not made of local antlers or anything, lol, or alligator hide, but I think I could've sewn anything onto this sweater and it would've looked good. I can't wait to see yours!

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  15. Thank you Julieanne! It's the perfect layering cardigan. The buttons were just cheapies from Joanns.

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  16. Thanks, Jennifer. It is versatile. Our winter is gone, yet I still find i can get away with wearing it and not sweating it up. That's the sign of a knitting win.

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  17. Aw, Evelyn, thank you. It was an easy to follow pattern, but I guess you're right. Being able to stick with any thing and see it through right now is kind of amazing to me.

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  18. Ok, Sabs, I just found you on Flickr, where I got a gigantic eyeful of beautiful sewn garments! Oh my gosh, if you can get such a great fit with needle, thread, and fabric, you are absolutely ready for a fingering weight cardigan. It seems like knitters I know who sew well have an innate understanding of fit and can tell if something will work before getting too far into it. They move quickly to advanced knitting. But, your Miette was fabulous. I love it in a neutral color.

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  19. Thank you, Jennifer!

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  20. Thank you Alina! I think it's a purple that anyone can look good in.

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  21. Thanks, Jenny, but don't wait to try it out. One thing about oversized sweaters is that they don't have any waist shaping and you don't have to worry about a perfect fit. When I first started knitting in the early 2000s, everything was fitted. That made lace and cable patterns more complicated. So I am so loving the boxy sweater trend.

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  22. Absolutely beautiful! I'm really tempted to cast this on, but I sometimes have trouble with these sorts of boxy cardigans falling off my shoulders - do you have any issues with this one? Maybe I could make a modification to avoid that problem. I can't even tell you what a bummer it was to discover this issue after knitting an entire fingering weight sweater (Old Romance by Joji)! I still love it, but it's a bit too fussy for my taste, constantly slipping around - I might just have to go back and add buttons or bring in the neckline somehow...

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  23. I have to be careful not to order too much yarn though. I am spending quite a lot of money on yarn already. It's ok but I don't want to build up a huge stash, so I can only order more when I used up all my ordered yarn and some of my left overs ;-)

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  24. Woollen WildernessMarch 27, 2015 at 1:33 AM

    This is incredibly impressive. Even if the pattern is fun to make, it is still a long cardigan out of lace weight yarn!! Love the colour, I'm sure you'll get a lot of wear out of such a beautiful item of clothing.

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  25. This cardigan is fabulous! I love the color and the reference to your mom. I am the same when sewing buttons, it takes me forever.

    Really, this is an impressive cardigan!

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  26. Aah that is so lovely of you Michelle! I haven't done any sewing for over a year what with having a little one (she's 7 months old now and is taking up nearly all my time) plus I'm going back to work in a few weeks which is why I've been concentrating on knitting. I've been really inspired by people like you - and I will definitely have a try with fingering weight (I'm going to do a laylow once I've finished the Hetty cardi that I'm working on now) Thanks for the vote of confidence :)

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  27. I love all your work, but this one really caught my attention. I ordered some Palette (it was actually delivered the next day) and cast on Saturday and am loving this pattern. I want to make my fronts a size larger like you did - is there any trick to getting shoulders and back neck lined up correctly when combining the two sizes?

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  28. I'm not sure, Alaina. I have very squared shoulders, but I also knit the fronts larger so there's a bit more coverage in front to hold things in place. If I were you, I'd just ask Allyson (sweatshopoflove on ravelry) right in the KAL forum:
    http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/holla-knits/3113366/301-325#307

    She'll have good ideas about modifying it and will get back to you much quicker than I did here. I'd love to see you try this sweater. It would look great on you. And there is a month left to the KAL if you want to work on it with other knitters at the same time.

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  29. Thanks so much! I am pleased with it, but the fact that it moved along so much faster than stockinette really helped me stay motivated. I have another sweater that I love but have had to reknit in fingering weight stockinette, and I am having the hardest time doing it the second time.

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  30. Thanks! It's kind of ridiculous to make something so big and complex-looking, but stall out when it comes to sewing on 7 buttons. :)

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  31. Thank you Pat! I just lined the ends of the sleeves up and sewed together from there. Because it's a cardigan, that extra lace repeat on each side of the front doesn't affect the way it's sewn to the back. It just gives a little extra buttoning room. I encourage you to block your swatch, and even block the first few inches of the back while it's still on the needles, if you need to for confidence. It's a forgiving pattern. I could wear it open if it was a little too small, and it's supposed to be oversized, so there's a lot of room to adjust things. Good luck
    Oh, I just found you on Ravelry. Your Cafe will be so awesome in bright pink! I can't wait to see it. Why don't you consider joining in on the KAL:
    http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/holla-knits/3113366/301-325#307

    It's a great group and there are lots of helpful suggestions. I know of two other knitters finishing up Cafe au Laits right now too. I'm about to launch into a skirt for the KAL.

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  32. It is incredibly beautiful! You TOTALLY rock!

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