As I’ve discussed before, knitting and scissors don’t mix. Also, me and sewing machines don’t mix either.
Out of a class or around thirty boys and girls at school, I was the only one who consistently failed my sewing machine “driving test”. Mainly because I thought that sewing up and down the lines on a piece of paper torn from an exercise book was a complete waste of time, and I wanted to make proper stuff.
So mixing knitting, scissors, me, and a sewing machine is just asking for trouble (as you’ll see from the video below…)
We start this tale with a beautiful knitting pattern – the Hearts and Flowers cardigan from Interweave Knits – which I decided to knit for my little niece Chloe. Because I’m lazy, I decided to make it using a couple of balls of cream sock yarn and a ball of self-striping yarn, rather than the recommended multiple colours. This meant that I only had about 8 ends t0 sew in, rather than approximately a milli0n.
The first hitch came after I’d knitted about 3 inches of the body. I’m quite a tight knitter, and – because, as we’ve established, I’m also lazy – I hardly ever bother to measure my tension (gauge). In my opinion, swatching is for wimps with too much time on their hands. But after a few inches of intensive fairisle, it became apparent that the cardigan was coming out several sizes too small. Cue unravelling and swearing.
By the time I made it out to Canada, I had knitted the body and the sleeves, and even bought some cute buttons to match:
You’ll notice that this lacks one of the fundamental requirements for a cardigan, namely an opening up the front. It needed steeking – something that I’ve only tried once before, and it didn’t really go so well. You can just see the position of the front steek in the picture above, where the pattern looks a bit funny in the middle.
As I was out in Toronto at the time, I persuaded my sister Lucy to get out her sewing machine and thread it all up for me. After a fortifying drink, I had a go at sewing and cutting steeks for the front and the two sleeves. Lucy suggested I practice first on a bit of sheeting, but in my opinion, practice runs (like swatching) are for wimps, so I just got stuck in.
Using the sewing machine was a bit tricky, but I got the hang of it in the end – especially once I’d figured out how to go in a straight line and follow the channels in the knitting. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to those ‘driving’ lessons at school…
Here’s a little video we made of cutting one of the sleeve steeks – complete with high-octane action shots and full-on panicking:
I managed not to balls it up completely, sewing in the sleeves and getting started on knitting the button bands without too much trauma – though I probably misplaced the sleeves a bit.
The next hitch came from Chloe herself. When I attempted to get her to try it on, she ran away screaming “NO! NO! NO! NO!”. Not a good sign. I also had to fly home before I’d completely finished it, which was irritating. Maybe she’ll have forgotten she hates it by the time it arrives back there in the post…
And there was a final kick in the pants waiting for me when I got back to London. I discovered that the buttons were too big for the buttonholes, so I picked up some cute little pink flowery ones in Liberty’s.
Here’s the finished article (prior to button attachment but after a brutal steam pressing):
And for you knitting nerds, here’s a close-up of the inside:
I’m really proud of this – it’s one of the most complex things I’ve knitted. I just hope that it fits and Chloe likes it! And doesn’t grow out of it too fast…