Wardrobe Project #1: The Stevie Cardigan

Stevie. When my friend Paula first knitted her Stevie cardigan some two years ago, I was somewhat jealous. Paula had frequently worked on the cardigan at knit night and I had been struck by just how fun it looked. Then Paula started wearing her cardigan and I loved the finished item. I coveted it. It looked put-together but had a certain quirkiness to it too. You could dress it up and dress it down. Paula kept wearing and wearing her cardigan - in fact she began calling it her "go-to cardigan". Aaaghr. Earlier this year I got hold of some Rowan Wool Cotton for a project that didn't pan out for various reasons. I looked around for a pattern that would suit the yarn. And, you guessed it, Paula turned up at knit night wearing her Stevie cardigan. Three months later I finally have my own Stevie cardigan and I absolutely freaking love it.

Fact box:

Yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton DK in French Navy. 10.5 balls. Pattern: Stevie by Sarah Hatton from rowan Studio 24 Needles: 3.25mm & 4mm

StevieStevie is knitted top-down (which I have to admit still really appeals to me even if I know why pieces knitted flat are structurally sounder in many ways). The yoke is the most involved piece of knitting as you have to work some short rows across ribbing and you also increase in a specific matter. Still, it is not more involved than I was able to do it whilst at knit night.

The rest of the cardigan is very, very plain sailing - especially if you have done any other top-down garments. Pure stocking stitch, some waist shaping and then ribbing.

The ease of knitting Stevie meant that I made some - ahem - involuntary modifications. The biggest difference is in my choice of ribbing. I used 1x1 ribbing rather than the 2x2 ribbing prescribed by the pattern. I actually think it looks just as nice.

Other mods: I shortened the body by a few inches (I have a short waist) and lengthened the sleeves (I have monkey arms).

I began knitting this in early June. If I hadn't had other things on my needles - specifically four shawls, a scarf, two cowls and four hats - I might have finished Stevie within a fortnight or so. It is a fast, easy knit and I enjoyed it immensely.

StevieWould I do things differently, though? I would probably add another two inches to the sleeves. Even with the added length they are .. well, "bracelet length" is what I have seen some people call it. I would also move the waist shaping a few inches north.

And I'd also do some rather severe waist shaping.

It has been so long since I last did a top-down cardigan that I forgot a few basic rules: I am very top-heavy and if I knit something that will fit across my bust, I need to adjust the fit around my (much smaller) waist. The cardigan is too big around my waist, alas. If I had more time on my hands, I'd rip back and undo it. Maybe I still will - though it is a tiny cosmetic flaw that few people will notice beside myself.

Some words about the yarn: I had worked with Wool Cotton before but mainly for small projects. I am very, very pleased by how it knitted up and how much I enjoyed using it. The yarn is a 50/50 mix of merino wool and cotton - which makes it a perfect yarn for Scotland as it will take me from spring, through summer and into autumn. The stitch definition is excellent and it feels lovely against my skin. Having seen how Paula's cardigan wears, I am certain this cardigan will last me years as well. I can see Wool Cotton become yet another one of my go-to yarns - I do try to use a many different yarns as I can but there is something to be said for good, reliable workhorse yarns. Stevie

I am also very taken with the deep inkiness of the navy blue.

Buttons. Let us talk briefly about the buttons. I was dithering between a couple of options.

First I ruled out using red buttons although I am a big fan of combining red and navy. Using red buttons would have limited the appeal of the cardigan. I wanted a basic go-to style rather than a bold "here I am" statement.

Then I was looking at some small bronze buttons that I had bought at Woolfest. I liked the matte surface of the buttons and how the red-brown colour played with the navy. Eventually I realised that the buttons would be too small for the cardigan.  I have this silly idea that the size of the button should correspond to the thickness of the yarn used - and the bronze buttons were destined for a 4ply project rather than a DK one.

And then my Other Half dug out these shell buttons. We both liked how the pattern on the buttons called back to the shaping of the yoke. The size was right too - as was the natural colour.

So here we are. The first cardigan in my ongoing project to knit wardrobe staples. It is incredibly comfortable to wear, it works with so many things in my wardrobe and it was a joy to knit.

Don't forget to leave me suggestions for wardrobe staples - I am always on the lookout for more patterns to add to my queue!