2017 FO 17 : Vanilla cardigan

Finished: Ivory cardigan (free pattern)

This here is a case of a sweater that was begun on a whim, aimed tentatively in a certain direction, took some turns over the course of the knitting, and wound up being exactly what I’ve always wanted.

I cast this on one night after finishing my fisherman sweater, having a couple of skeins left over, not wanting to be done with the yarn, and having been craving this cardigan in this yarn since as far back as my black yoke sweater. (Yep, this is my third sweater in this yarn, Arranmore. True love.) It wasn’t what I was “supposed” to be knitting next, and I thought I might get it out of my system just by knitting a few inches, so I didn’t even put a basting stitch in the raglans. But I was hooked in no time, bought enough yarn to knit it for real, and carried on.

My original sketch was significantly different, pocket-wise, but along the way I ran into this photo and was reminded how much I just really wanted this to be simple, old-school and snuggly. That I have wanted that for ages and can never quite get it. And now that I’m wearing it, I’m so glad I heeded that voice. Between nailing the scale of the pockets and taking time to get the cuffs exactly where I wanted them,* it’s pretty damn perfect. (Still without buttonholes at the moment, but it might stay that way!)

As always with my Improv sweaters, all my notes and counts and measurements are below. I highly recommend copying this one in some nice snuggly yarn — it’s a gem.

Pattern: Improv top-down (free pattern)
Yarn: Arranmore in St. Claire (6.5 skeins)
Buttons: Bone narrow-rim from Fringe Supply Co.

You can scroll through all of my posts on this sweater hereInstagram posts here, and like it at Ravelry if you do!

Finished: Ivory cardigan (free pattern)


4.25 sts and 6.25 rows = 1 inch (measured over 4″ = 15/25) knitted on US7; ribbing and band on US5


22″ back = 94 sts (46 sts/front) = ~44″ chest (9.5″ ease), inc to 46″ hip
14″ upper arm circumference = 60 sts (10 at underarm)
9.5″ yoke/armhole depth (60 rows)
17″ body length (2.5″ hem ribbing)
26.5″ total length
14″ sleeve length (2.25″ cuff ribbing)
9″ cuff circumference
6″ x 6″ pockets (30 sts, 1.5″ ribbing)


— CO 64 sts, divided with markers as follows ( 1 | 4 | 10 | 4 | 26 | 4 | 10 | 4 | 1 )

– Planned on 10 sts cast on at each underarm, and divided the raglan stitches evenly between sections when separating sleeves from body

— Increased at front neck edge every 4th row 11x

— Worked raglan increases as kfb on either side of the 4 raglan stitches

— Increased sleeves at raglans every-other row till 44 sts, then on 4th, 6th, 8th rows (50 sts), then work even

— Increased back/fronts every-other row until 84 back sts

— Separated for sleeves at row 60, cast on 10 per underarm

— Increased body at side seams 2x, at 2″ and 8″; stockinette for 14.5″ then ribbing on US5 for 2.5″

Knitted sleeves flat; decreased on rows 21, 41, 61; on row 81 dec evenly to 42 sts, the ribbing on US5 for 16 rows

Worked patch pockets separately and grafted on

— Picked up sts for garter-stitch button band, worked on US5: 14 sts along the hem ribbing (could have been 12), 56 up the front, 51 along the slope, 2 out of 3 around the cast-on edge, mirror down the other side

— No buttonholes (more on that here), may do aferthought buttonhole; buttons are symbolic in the meantime

*I have the sleeves very slight/unevenly pushed up in the photos of me wearing it. Despite how that hanger photo looks (taken just after wearing them unevenly like that), the sleeves are exactly the same length!


PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Pants and more pants







48 thoughts on “2017 FO 17 : Vanilla cardigan

  1. Oh- in love with this one! And I love when whims turn out to be just the thing we needed or wanted! I’m curious how you like the garter stitch button band? I’ve only done one once, but found it to be too stretchy for my liking.

    • I’ve done it on my last three cardigans and love it! It’s not quite as firm as a vertical/seamed band but vastly less work and nearly as attractive, in my opinion.

  2. I just love this and I know just how you feel about wanting to make this sweater. I didn’ t know I needed one until you described your feelings. Hmm, what a good winter project.

  3. This is a lot like what I did for the summer of basics with my cardigan I named the Pink Professor. Very basic in shape but the yarn (madelinetosh Vintage I had stashed forever) was so dreamy and wonderful it makes it that piece I throw on all the time. And fortunately for me, pink is a neutral LOL

  4. I just looked up the specs on Arranmore, and now I know why you love that yarn so much! Who wouldn’t? Lovely sweater, and it makes me smile to ‘hear’ how happy you are with it! Enjoy!!!

    • The first yarn I fell head over heels for was called Kathmandu Chunky and it was this same blend and look, only heavier. I love it even more in this aran/heavy-worsted weight. And in this particular case, I’ve knitted it quite densely on 7s. It’s a dream.

  5. It is perfection! Indispensable and beautiful. You have me wanting some Arranmore, bigtime.

    And I have to laugh about the sleeves. If you’d seen my IG post about my Shore Cardigan, you’d know why. A funny coinkydink …

  6. This sweater is perfect for you. I have the problem of more bust increases than rows down for sleeve depth, if I increase every other row. Is it possible to increase more often or is the answer casting on more than 2 stitches for the front at the start? I love my improv sweater but the arm hole depth could be a little less.

    • Do you mean for getting the width you want in the front panels? In a deep V-neck like this, the increases continue beyond the sleeve separation, so you could either start out with increasing every third row and then switch to every fourth — something along those lines — or just keep increasing until you have what you need. But the longer it takes you to get there, the deeper your V will be. So it just depends on your stitch gauge and desired counts and desired V depth. Does that make sense?

  7. The sweater looks perfect, and I like that you were able to adjust it to your liking. Recently, I’ve been seeing covered snaps instead of buttonholes. I haven’t tried it, but it’s an interesting idea.

  8. The sweater is lovely! And I must say, props to the photographer — I’ve never seen a hole in the drywall work so well as a complementary graphic element. I’m serious, that is one beautifully art directed missing slice of wall covering!

    • Hi, I’m the photographer! Selfie situation here. It’s not a hole in the drywall, though, it’s an exposed beam. I work in an old industrial building that’s been only very lightly “renovated,” so we have a lot of old details like this.

      • My compliments to you then! :-) and wow even tho I totally believe you, my eyes are still insisting on seeing that as a recessed area and I can’t convince them otherwise… some kind of weird optical illusion going on! I wonder if it will suddenly flip at some point?

  9. Thank you from the bottom of my pocket lovin heart! That is the perfect sweater! Thanks for all the notes, this time I will give it my all to make an improv. I was so busy drooling over your sweater that I didn’t notice the sleeve length or the gap in the dry wall – it does make for a perfect composition with the pop of yellow and reddish-brown. Well done!

  10. Basting stitch and seaming–genius!! It solves a potential problem with a sweater that I am casting on today. The pattern was written for wool which I can’t wear. It’s seamless and I was quite concerned that the weight of the cotton yarn I am using would cause the sweater to stretch and sag over time. By using this technique, I can have the advantages of both seamed and seamless. THANK YOU!

  11. Seems like a great snuggly basic, especially in that yarn! I think I need to invest in a skein to swatch with! Thanks for sharing

  12. Nice! I hope you let us know what you end up doing for the buttonholes. And how you did the pockets.

  13. Such a great/timeless basic! I was wondering how you keep track of things when doing “at the same time” increases (i.e. neck increases at a different rate than sleeve increases). Do you write out all the rows and what’s happening in each one? Or just read your knitting?

    • I’m not great about taking notes and don’t write out rows or anything. I mostly just pin a stitch marker (http://www.fringesupplyco.com/product/removable-stitch-markers) in the work anywhere I need to remember that I did something. So for instance, I didn’t put one in every raglan increase where it’s just every other row, but where that varied I would put a pin. That way I can always refer back to it until it’s all done and blocked. I only remove the pins at the end when I’m compiling notes for my blog post, so they work as memory joggers! But that way I can see at a glance at any point what I’m done.

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  17. Hi Karen and a very happy New Year from this corner of south west France. I really want to make this vanilla cardigan but don’t like using circular needles, too much weight of wool for arthritic hands. Do you have any pattern advice for using the same weight wool as Arranmore, (just love all the fibre company yarns, especially Acadia), and single pointed needles knitted bottom up? Keep up the truly inspiring blog, it’s my daily fix!!

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  19. Lovely sweater and those pockets are perfect! I would love to hear your process for working them, thanks!

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  23. Do you find the Arranmore yarn holds up for daily wear? Do you get. I hope pilling? I really want to make the ridgeline wrap cardigan by purl soho and I want a good daily-wear yarn.

    Love your blog!


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