I recently finished a summer cardigan by Ysolda Teague called “Liesl.” I have always liked Teague’s finished projects; they seem so clean and uncomplicated. I thought “Liesl” (the pattern for which is Old Shale pattern – see Waterman’s Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls, p. 54) would be a nice summer cardigan – not to mention a quick and easy knit.
Yes and no. I was surprised to find some rather vague or missing instructions in a pattern that also had some strong features.
First, Teague’s pattern contains excellent pattern writing examples, including:
- Several pictures of different styles of the sweater worn by different people in different sizes.
- Both line-by-line instructions and graphed instructions.
- In one portion, a partial table-and-column format (with alternately colored lines of text, which made it easier to read/follow) in her line-by-line instructions.
- Key to abbreviations used.
- Key to chart instructions.
- Two “optional” techniques (photographed in closeup) in boxes: making a picot edging and a buttonhole.
- A link to a useful resource for more information, including video tutorials, on many of the techniques used in this pattern.
- An email address to free pattern support.
Given this, I was startled to find omissions of information that should be basic to any pattern:
Teague recommends using: Worsted to Chunky weight yarn. Any yarn with a recommended gauge of 18-14 sts per 10cm / 4″ can be used to give different effects.
- “Different effects” … curious. Ummm, yes, but, more importantly is the effect of the size (diameter relative to weight) of the yarn on the gauge and the finished garment size. This essentially means, of course, that you find yourself needing to do several gauge swatches and quite a bit of adjustment to the pattern depending on the yarn you use.
- Chunky/bulky weight yarns and worsted weight yarns are not substitutable without significant pattern adjustment. Of course you may indeed be able to knit your bulky weight down to 18-20 stitches per 4 in./10 cm, but your finished product will be much different than promised by the pattern. (Just because you might be able to get the same gauge does not mean the yarn is a good substitute for that called for in the pattern.)
Teague noted: Green sample was knit in Artesano Aran in Dawn, red sample in Araucania Nature Cotton in Red 17 and pink / grey sample in Malabrigo Worsted in Pearl.
- Teague failed to give skein/hank weights and yardage/meterage. This means knitters must look up the weights and yardage/meterage of each yarn before calculating substitution compatibility.
- For knitters who are color challenged, it is better to refer to a particular sweater as “the sweater worn by the model on the far left” or number the sweaters.
While Teague provides instructions in various formats (line-by-line instruction, table & column and graph), they are broken up. There is no single page or section of graphs or single page or section of written instructions nor single page or section of table & column instructions. It thus lacks logical continuity; it is choppy to read/follow.
The raglan cardigan is knit top down. When it came to the point where the knitter would need allow for the armpit, Teague writes: The yoke should end level with your armpit, try it on to check the length.
- As there is no schematic on the pattern, the knitter needs to put the live stitches on a length of yarn and try on the sweater to check for the armpit setting. I did that – multiple times.
Teague notes: If the neck edge is too loose it can be stabilised and drawn in slightly by working a single crochet or crab stitch edging around it. This is most likely to be an issue with heavier yarns in the larger sizes because the weight of the garment will cause the neck to stretch out.
- But the weight of the finished sweater will not only stretch out this neck edge; it will lower the position of the armholes. I knit a standard large (perhaps mid-way in the selection of sizes), but I did not want a cropped sweater. Nor was my yarn particularly heavy; I used a worsted weight (50g=92y), Valley Yarn’s 4-ply Goshen (48% Cotton, 46% Modal, 6% Silk at 50g=92y), and my gauge was spot on. Yet the weight of the finished sweater created a deep and very wide neckline and pulled down the armholes. This restricted my arm movement, making me feel a bit like a seal. I stabilized the neck edge and closed it up significantly, but now it looks a little less “summery.” Since wearing the sweater a few more times, the armholes have stretched down farther.
- Yarn stretch is related to multiple factors: fiber, quality of fiber, twist of the spin, and gauge.
I couldn’t decide on sleeve length and ended up knitting several different lengths and trying the sweater with different sleeves. Eventually I decided on a below-the-elbow length and made the sleeves into a bell shape.
My daughter loves the sweater, and I love the color and Old Shale stitch pattern. (I like the buttons a lot too.) I remain very displeased with the lowered positions of the armholes. They bother me; I am conscious of them every time I wear the sweater.
As this was knit from the top down and all in one piece, I may ultimately unravel the whole garment and use the nice yarn for something else. 😦
Here’s the question: Now that I have worked out these kinks, do I knit up another one of these cardigans – perhaps in wool for a colder season? Probably not. It is also questionable whether I would purchase another Teague pattern. That said, I have one more of her patterns, so eventually I will give her pattern design skills another go. 🙂
In the interim, Granddaughter F may find herself with a summer dress out of what used to be my cardigan.
What do you think?
- Should I unravel the whole cardigan and knit up a dress for Granddaughter F?
- Should I unravel the cardigan only up to the armpits, fix their positioning, and knit back down – keeping it for myself?