Sunday, November 18, 2012

Windsor Cardi, button bands, and knit one below

I just finished the Windsor Cardi from Knitscene Summer 2011 and I'm extremely happy with it. I love its quasi vintage look with its quasi steampunk buttons. The yarn is Valley Yarns Northfield, which is one of my favorite DK weight yarns.
I made 3/4 length sleeves and I knit them flat and tapered them. The pattern calls for straight sleeves, relying on the lace and ribbing to contract at the lower section for shaping, but I think that would result in sleeves that are just too loose at the forearms, and I like fitted sleeves. I used needles one size smaller in the midsection to give the body a tiny bit of shaping, but I don't know that it mattered much.

I've been on the search for the holy grail of button bands for quite a while. I like button bands to be sturdy in order to prevent button band "gaposis" in fitted cardigans. Here are some of the things I've tried:

  • Knitting a separate double knit band and sewing it on -- It can be almost too thick and it's a pain to sew it on, even though I don't mind sweater seams.
  • Sewing a ribbon backing on the underside -- It's way too much work and I don't like the look and the band does not stretch.
  • Using a linen stitch -- This is okay, but I don't love the stitch pattern on a button band.
  • Using a needle size of a much finer gauge -- This is my favorite method for worsted weight yarns because you can achieve a pretty dense fabric that way.
  • Using an attached I-cord and leaving gaps for the button holes -- I love this method, but it does not look good on all sweater styles. Sometimes you just need a ribbed band.
For this sweater, I tried a swatch with a very small needle size, but with the DK yarn, it's just not thick enough. So, I decided to try using the knit-one-below technique. I made the 2x2 ribbing with K1b and P1b stitches. The stitches are slightly wider and shorter, but you get a fabric that is squishy and is about 50% thicker. I'm pretty happy with this method. My front button bands don't have very much of that strained pulled look that I hate. I used the same technique for the neck band. I ended up do the neckband first and the front bands go the full length.

I buried my button holes in the purl stitches. I've also been on the quest for the perfect sturdy button holes. These are almost there. They look pretty good and are extremely sturdy. Here's a close-up of the button bands. You can see that the ribbing has more separation between the knit stitches and the purl stitches look slightly different. The thickness is not obvious from the photo though. Another thing I like about this band is that knit stitches at the bottom do not scrunch up and curl under like they do with the normal ribbing.


Anonymous said...

Love this color on you Betty! I took a class once with Nancy Marchant who advocates the slipped stitch method of brioche stitch instead of knit one below. I wonder if you had tried it and whether one or the other would flow better when used for making button bands. (Never having ever made button bands myself, I'm just mentioning it as a thought. Have no idea whether it would even matter.)

juicyknits said...

Love the red of this cardi.

Maryse said...

This is a really beautiful cardi! I bet it gets a lot of wear! Happy New Year 2013!