I have a new finished cardigan! The Ushida Cardigan designed by Whitney Hayward from Making Zine no. 6 Black and White is now snugly wrapped around my shoulders – keeping me warm on a cold and rainy Tennessee day.
This cardigan has all the features – a saddle shoulder (perfect for my broad and rounded shoulders), pockets, a shawl collar – everything I want in a cardigan. It’s knit in pieces and seamed after the first round of blocking, then the shawl collar is added with some extra short rows for shaping (a very nice addition).
My Ushida Cardigan is made from a reclaimed Abercrombie and Fitch sweater. The original sweater had basic cables running along the body, so I knew that cables would work with the dark chocolate brown color of the yarn. After unraveling this extra large sweater, I realized (and this is the case for most machine knit garments) that the worsted weight yarn was actually made from three fingering weight unplied yarns. If the original sweater did not already have a cabled design, I would not have expected this yarn to work so well with cables. Usually, general yarn wisdom states that tightly plied yarns work best with cables – they created the best pop. However, the cable pop on my Ushida Cardigan is 100% fantastic, so this yarn is obviously an exception to that rule.
I started this cardigan the week before Christmas, right after I finished all my major holiday knitting obligations. I was absolutely certain I wanted the finished cardigan in all it’s cabled glory, but I wasn’t really in the right headspace to knit a complex cabled design. The beginning of a new semester and the start of writing my dissertation made it difficult for me to work on this cardigan at length. I would put a few rows in most nights, but there were often stretches of three days, or so, where I wouldn’t knit at all. That’s rather unheard for me. This cardigan required some headspace I didn’t always have. I finished it eventually, after two months and some weeks, which makes this my second longest sweater project of all time (this sweater is for sure the longest wip I’ve ever had).
I had to play yarn chicken. I guestimated that an extra large sweater would yield enough yarn for this cabled giant. Once I unraveled everything, washed my yarn, and weighed 10 yards, I realized I was going to be about 100-200 yards short. To mitigate this, I knit my pocket linings in different yarn (leftover from this sweater). I knew this would be extra important because I wanted to knit my sleeves an inch longer than the pattern called for! My choice to use different yarn for the pockets was affirmed when I used up my very last bit of yarn on the shawl collar. It was an intense moment (and I skipped one repeat of short rows), but it all worked out.
I did some crazy gauge math. My first swatch on the recommended needles was far larger than the recommended pattern gauge. I swatched twice more, on my third swatch I found a needle size that created the same stitch gauge as the pattern, but the row gauge was way off. If I used this new gauge, I would have a much shorter sweater with tiny arm holes. I decided that row gauge was probably the most important number to follow in this cabled design – there was no place to add a small amount of length as the cable repeat was about 40 rows long. So I chose to follow a swatch that produced the same row gauge but with a stitch gauge just a little bigger than the pattern recommendation. Because my stitch gauge was wider than the recommended gauge, I would end up with a much wider cardigan. To mitigate this I did some magic stitch gauge math and identified that if I followed the numbers for the first size, I would most likely create a cardigan that had the width of the fourth size. I learned this kind of genius math stitch witchery when I took Amy Herzog’s Fit to Flatter sweater class at Vogue Knitting Live in Pasadena in 2015. That conference changed my knitting life – mostly because of that class and meeting Susan B. Anderson.
Every time I adjust the gauge for a pattern I feel a little nervous about the results. While my math might be right, will the finished product look like I imagine it? In this case, I was pleased with the results. My math was spot on and I now have a cardigan with just enough positive ease to layer over a long sleeve layer, I’ve even worn it over other handknit pullovers!
This sweater is a dream. I am so please I took the time to knit this delightful cabled cardigan. I think everyone should have a cardigan like the Ushida cardigan in their handknit wardrobe. It’s a true sweater showstopper.