Project Diary: The Burdock Cardigan

The Burdock Cardigan from November Knits is really a stunner. It has everything that makes a sweater a classic: an interesting and attractive stitch pattern, thoughtful design details such as a finished hem, and a figure-flattering silhouette. And cardigan knitting patterns are so versatile, it’s always a good idea to add one to your wardrobe.

Karen’s beautiful Burdock Cardigan
Back view of Karen’s Burdock

My friend Karen knit the Burdock, and she’s here to share her experience.

Karen’s Burdock Cardigan

My measurements: Bust: 39 inches; Waist: 35 inches; Height: 5 ft. 4 in. I usually wear a size 10/12 blouse or a medium in a T-shirt.

When I saw Maura Kirk’s Burdock Cardigan from the book November Knits, I knew I had to make it.

I liked the finished bottom edge, which I think makes the sweater look very polished (but not too dressy-it would still look great with jeans). I love to make sweaters that I can wear on an everyday basis. I also thought that the berry pattern stitch was intriguing, a nice change from stockinette, but not too complicated.

The first thing I had to decide was what yarn to use. I wanted to go with the recommended Mountain Colors Mountain Goat, but choosing the color was difficult; there were so many beautiful colors I thought would look great in the sweater! I wound up choosing Moose Creek, which is a wonderful mix of dark browns with soft hints of plum, olive, and a dark mallard blue. 

Then I had to decide what size to make. I chose the 37½, because even though I always swatch to get gauge, my knitting tends to loosen as the project progresses. I also think that a sweater fits better with a small bit of negative ease. I was able to obtain gauge with US #6 needles. It is not unusual for me to go down one to two needle sizes from what is recommended, as I tend to be a loose knitter.

I decided to make the sleeves slightly longer, more of a bracelet length rather than a three-quarter sleeve length. So I knit the sleeves 16½ inches to the underarms. I also decided to lengthen the sweater by two inches, because I think a longer look is more flattering on me than a cropped look. I added some minor waist shaping by going down a needle size for about 3½ inches at my waist.

Then I cast on, and the knitting began! I started with a sleeve, as I normally make this my large second swatch. I realized very quickly that these sleeves seemed too big on the lower part of my arm. In reviewing the pattern I saw there were no increases in the arms (which would be tricky with the pattern stitch). I restarted with #5 needles, which I used until approximately my elbow, and then switched back to the #6 needles. This worked well for me, and you really can’t see the change in the stitch size with the different size needles, which I was worried about.

Because I was using a hand-dyed yarn, I alternated skeins every row in the sleeves and every other row in the body, hoping this would blend in any color differences in the skeins, as well as decreasing the risk of pooling. As I was knitting, I grew to appreciate the pattern stitch even more. The yarn has a fairly short color change, and the yarn overs blended the color changes stunningly. Instead of stripes of yarn colors (which you see in stockinette) each “berry” created by the yarn over in the pattern is a different color, which removed the striping effect and became subtle bursts of beautiful colors.

The pattern was very enjoyable to knit, easily memorized, and after working a few rows it was fairly mindless knitting, moving the project along quite quickly. The sleeves were a little fiddly with DPNs because the way the stitch pattern works, you have to move the stitches on the needles every other row. But I soon got in the rhythm of this, too.

Sleeve detail

When combining the arms with the body, and working the raglan decreases, I had to focus a little more on how the designer wanted this accomplished. It’s different than a usual raglan decrease in order to keep the stitch pattern nice. I started assuming how the decreases would go, but quickly had to back up and read the pattern more carefully. When I slowed down and followed the pattern, all proceeded without incident.

I didn’t do the collar extensions as written. I only did one decrease rather than decreasing every other row, as there would be no collar left when you reached the middle back. Later, when I got to the finishing, I realized they probably didn’t want any decreases at all. I was a little nervous about doing the Kitchener stitch for the collar as that stitch and I tend not to get along very well, but it actually wound up working okay. Finishing was very straight forward and I do love how neat and clean the front edges are.

If I were to knit this sweater over again, I would make the raglan length a little longer. The Burdock decreases 12 stitches every other row rather than the usual 8, so the raglan is a little short and a smidge tight under the arms as I wear it. I would have to think carefully about how to accomplish this, because the decreases as written keep the pattern stitch nice, without holes next to the raglan line.

I am very excited about this sweater, and look forward to adding it to my autumn and winter wardrobe. I think the Burdock will look great with jeans and a T-shirt, but it is polished enough that it could easily go with dress pants or a skirt and blouse. Right now, however, it’s summer where I live. I’m tired of winter, and I’m ready to put away my wool sweaters!

—Karen Wohlen

The Burdock is a beautiful sweater that is going to become a staple in Karen’s wardrobe. Do you want to knit the Burdock? You’re in luck because November Knits is on sale; get your copy today and cast-on the Burdock Cardigan!



Post a Comment