Knit the Minimalist Cardigan

Kathleen's finished Minimalist Cardigan

I knit the Minimalist Cardigan by Ruthie Nussbaum in the spring and summer of 2010. I wore it a few times, and then spilled some coffee on it. I put it in the washing machine on hand wash with cold water, I thought, and when I pulled it out, it was well and truly felted. I checked the machine settings and saw with dismay that it was set on delicate, not hand wash; I guess there was just enough agitation on that setting to make the fibers in my Cascade Venezia want to cling to each other in terror.

Seriously, I've never seen something felt so well, even if it wasn't intended. It was really beautiful after it came out of the washer, even if it went from a size 48-inch bust to a size 35-inch bust. The moss stitch was still visible, just really, really tightened up.

After my initial horror, I thought the Minimalist would be a great layer for my 89-year-old gramma, since it basically turned into a boiled-wool jacket. I threw it into the dryer and hoped for the best. Gramma loved it and wore it until the day she died.

Three years later, and Minimalist Cardigan knitting pattern is still a fashionable and versatile as ever, and we're offering it as a kit. You'll get enough Tahki Stacy Charles Zara (one of my favorite yarns, and it's washable!) to make up to a 48.5-inch.

Here are the things I love about the sweater:

  • The drape of the moss stitch. It hangs beautifully, even after lots of worrying on my part. The worrying happened because moss stitch tends to bias (I found out) during the knitting progress, but it magically straightens itself out when it's blocked (like so many other glitches do!).
  • The stockinette bands. This detail really makes the sweater for me. It's beautiful and I love how it rolls in a bit; it makes the perfect edging. Some people in the knit-along didn't care for the rolling so they added a different stitch pattern to the edge. Some did a slip stitch at the edge and one person even did a cable all the way up both fronts. I decided to compensate for the rolling by adding another inch to each edge, so I added 5 stitches.
  • The yarn. I choose Cascade Venezia, which is a silk/merino blend. The silk really lightens up the yarn, making it perfect for spring and fall pieces, and even for summer evenings at the beach! I love the color, too. I'd been wanting to knit something in cream and this seemed like a good candidate. And it was! The cream is such a nice neutral; it works with black, brown, gray, red—virtually any color, really. My gramma wore lots of bright colors, and the sweater looked good with everything.

What I would change if I did this sweater again:

  • Make the fronts wider. I found myself tugging at the fronts to bring them together. That's part of the "minimalist" aspect of this pattern—no buttons, zipper, etc., but it bugged me a little. I tried a shawl pin, which worked really well, and I also just bit the bullet and got used to the larger opening at the front. If you want to add some width, just add stitches to the stockinette portion of the fronts. It really does roll in quite a bit so you can add a couple of inches with no problem.
  • Do the Kitchener stitch to connect the stockinette bands together at the back neck. I strongly dislike doing the Kitchener stitch; I seem to always mess it up and have to do it several times, stretching out the yarn. So I ended up using the three-needle bind-off instead. It's okay, but there is a little bulk at the back. I just need to practice the Kitchener (also known as grafting) so I can be as good as my friend Terry, who just whips out her needle and yarn, starts grafting, and keeps visiting all the while. Maybe she'll trade me a latte for a lesson!

Revisiting this experience makes me want to knit the Minimalist Cardigan again. I think I'll make it in burgundy this time, and hand wash it just to be extra safe! Order your kit today, before they're all gone!


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