Sweater inventory, part 2: The cardigans

Sweater inventory, part 2: The cardigans

Oh look, some color! I presently own 6 cardigans — 4 knitted by me, 1 knitted by Meg, 1 ancient storebought — and have 2 more in the making. Two shades of purple and one blue, two shades of camel, plus mushroom, black and natural. But no grey cardigan? Yep, still no grey cardigan.

If you had asked me, I would have said I had more than 6 cardigans in the closet. I think the cardigan sweater is one of mankind’s greatest inventions and a true wardrobe hero. They’re also useful where a woolly pullover is often out of the question but a wool layer that slips on and off is defensible.

Again, each of these is linked to the corresponding full-length FO post, so if you want further details on any of them, just give it a click—


Purple Trillium cardigan (March 2014) — 100% wool, worsted weight
My sweater from the Tag Team Sweater Project, so it will always be near and dear to my heart. This is Michele Wang’s Trillium pattern, and I absolutely love this sweater in so many ways. I love how light yet warm it is (it’s Shelter); I have never had a cardigan that sat so well around my shoulders; the shape of it is just great. But I will always and forever wish it were grey and therefore more versatile.

Black cardigan (Sept 2016) — Wool/alpaca/linen blend, worsted weight
I’ve gone back and forth a thousand times about the length of this cardigan. There are days (or outfits) where the cropped length is perfect, and days where I wish it were longer. I think the only solution is to literally have it both ways! It’s a simple Improv sweater, fully documented here, and I love the fabric of it more than I can say (it’s Purl Soho’s Linen Quill, held double). It’ll be the first sweater I reach for when the humidity leaves us alone.

Camel Channel cardigan (March 2017) — 100% baby camel, worsted weight
This modified version of Jared Flood’s Channel Cardigan pattern was easily one of my most pleasant knitting experiences — from the baby camel yarn to the rhythmic stitch pattern, it was just truly delightful. And I love having this sweater on me, although I do wish I had gone with the lighter shade of camel. It’s a slightly difficult color to pair with things, not as truly neutral as you might imagine. I also blocked it at the end of last season and inadvertently lengthened it in the process, so I need to do it again before sweater weather gets here, when I’ll be very eager to put it on.

Vanilla cardigan (Dec 2017) — Merino/cashmere/silk blend, aran weight
I love this yarn (Arranmore) so much I made three sweaters out of it last year, and you can’t go wrong with a big cozy ivory cardigan. This one’s a definite closet workhorse. It’s another super-simple Improv, spelled out in full detail here.

Mushroom Amanda shawl-collar (Meg-made, 2014) — Wool/nylon blend, aran weight
Meg’s modified Amanda cardigan, which she gave me at the start of the year and I look forward to wearing this season. This mushroomy grey isn’t a color I would have chosen for myself but I like it and think it should be simple enough to incorporate into my wardrobe. And I’ll no doubt have it on nonstop at home on cold nights, too.


Camel cable cardigan (J.Crew c.2007) — Wool/nylon blend, sport weight
This is one of my all-time favorite sweaters, from the shape and fit to the absolutely perfect shade of “camel.” The camel Channel above is literally camel-colored, as it’s spun from 100% undyed baby camel fiber, but it’s a little more pinkish-brownish and less neutral than this dyed color we call camel. I knitted the other one as an understudy, basically, so I would be able to let this one go once it gets too ratty, but I don’t think I can do that without actually making a perfect replica. Meanwhile, I need to replace the leather buttons that have been destroyed over the years by cleaners.


Blue Bellows shawl-collar (begun in early 2018) — 100% wool, bulky weight
I set this one aside this spring when it still needed a fair bit of finishing but wouldn’t get worn for months. I was right about everything I said at the time — really excited to finish it up and figure out how to wear it.

Purple lopi (2016/17) — 100% Icelandic wool, worsted weight
I know, not a cardigan! Not yet. My plan is to steek it into a V-neck cardigan, for fun and because that will at least triple its chances of being worn in TN.


While the overall woolliness of these is undeniable, it’s not quite so much of a concern as it is with the pullovers (coming tomorrow), since they are inherently vented, and easy to slip on and off. Still, my impulse to knit a grey cardigan in non-100%-wool yarn was a good one, albeit abandoned. Formulating a Plan B on that is in order.


PREVIOUSLY in Sweater Inventory: Part 1, vests and other sleeveless

17 thoughts on “Sweater inventory, part 2: The cardigans

  1. I’m definitely a cardigan fan. They allow you to warm up or cool off easily, and unfortunately for most of us, thermostat control becomes an inevitable issue after a certain age. I especially love cropped sweaters. I’m a petite 5’1″, and my daughter/model is 5’2″, and we both find cropped sweaters flattering to our small frames.

  2. Such a beautiful collection! The idea of exactly replacing an old garment is so difficult…. So elusive, and seems like you can never get it EXACTLY right without just buying 2 garments at a time. But the ones we love and become old standbys can be so hard to predict at the time of purchasing!! I often wonder if it is even worth trying to create a backup, or if it would be the better thing to try and adapt to whatever replacement we have on hand. A very sad and serious type of moving on. Funny how emotional clothing can be.

    • This one is actually super simple to assess and replicate. You’re right that it would never be exactly the same — especially since I wouldn’t use a yarn with nylon in it. So I think I can actually improve on it!

  3. I’m a huge cardigan fan too, but still love the look and feel of an “Irish” styled pullover on cold winter days………and boy do I love to knit those!!!

  4. I share your love for cardigans. You have a nice color range here, but yes indeed, you need a grey one. It is such a great neutral.
    They truly are the one item in my wardrobe I don’t give away or recycle, they get worn to the bitter end. I love lightweight cardigans for spring, medium weight for fall, bulky ones for winter and non-wool ones for summer, there is always a reason to wear cardigans. I hate jackets, give me cardigans any time, you can dress them up or down so easily. Alas my favorite cashmere ones have been devoured my moths!

  5. I also love cardigans for the ability to just pull on over any outfit, however I do love a nice cozy pullover that feels like wearing PJs but looks significantly more presentable if it’s a handknit sweater, or one of my many thrifted, XL-sized cashmere sweaters.
    Also agree that J.Crew makes THE most perfect shade of camel!

  6. I seem to have amassed several cardigans in various shades of blue, and am wondering why I haven’t bothered with black, red, green, camel, or pink?

    And how did I knit five blue cardis and not realize that I was knitting FIVE BLUE cardis?

  7. These are all so lovely!
    I find it really interesting that you, it seems like, if you were given the chance, would change little details about almost all of them. That’s something I truly love about making, that everything we create sparks an idea for something new – we’re somehow never finished. And that we are ever evolving as makers as we go along and learn.

  8. I have a funny cardigan story. My sister and I rarely get time when it is just us two, but last year we made a flying trip to see my dad, driving down and back in one day. So we were chatting about our knitting, of course and I said “ I think there are so many cute cardi patterns now. i always used to think they were for old ladies, but I seem to really like them now.” She looked me straight in the eye and said “because you are an old lady now” Can you imagine? She’s only 2 years behind me! But I thought about it and she is right, I am. But I still think that the patterns are cuter now. 😉

  9. cover the buttons with aluminum foil before cleaning the sweater. limits exposure to chemicals and abrasion during the cleaning process.

  10. Pingback: Sweater inventory, part 3: The pullovers | Fringe Association

  11. Pingback: Sweater inventory, part 3: The pullovers - Fringe Association

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