Thursday, February 17, 2011

Finished project: Olivette cardigan

Today I finished a cardigan that I knit entirely to match one blouse. Yes, one blouse. Last fall, I bought a lovely short-sleeved silk blouse at one of our favorite antique malls. There's one booth that is always filled with clothes that fit both Mel and I. They aren't always our style, but when they are, the odds are in our favor that they'll fit. It's really weird. I love that booth.

So I bought this blouse. I don't really wear much silk, and I don't really wear big flouncy bows. Yet this blouse is both. With polka dots thrown in to boot. It's not really that me, but I love it. The polka dots are navy, and I'm pretty sure this blouse is responsible for my navy kick. (Notice that navy is one of my palette colors in my handmade wardrobe challenge.) Only at the time I bought it, when it was already cold out, I didn't own a navy cardigan to wear with it. Now I do.

The pattern is a modern pattern, Olivette by Sandi Rosner, which is available from Twist Collective. It's knit in worsted weight, and if I hadn't put it away for over a month it would have knit up really quickly.  It's knit in one piece from the bottom up to the armholes. The only seaming is setting in the sleeves. I  modified the size to have a little bit of negative ease as I didn't plan to wear it buttoned very often, and wanted it to be fitted when worn over a dress. I find when I wear cardigans that have zero or positive ease with a dress, I look like extra short and squat.

I chose to make a few modifications. Because I wanted a bit more of a vintage feel I knit the bottom ribbing plain instead of in the cabled pattern as written, and I worked 40s style box pleat caps. Having worked some variation of that on my last three sweaters, I'm putting that technique to bed for awhile. I may still work knit shoulder pads for this cardigan, I'm not sure yet. I know the style would probably benefit from it, but I'm always kind of iffy about shoulder pads. And since it's knit in worsted weight, the seam at the top of the shoulder is already rather pronounced, so I don't really want to enhance that which a shoulder pad might do. Oh well.

(An odd thing to mention about this blouse... the peter pan collar is tacked down all the way around. I have no idea why! Hence why it's inside the cardigan and not outside in the photos. I need to bite the bullet and unpick part of it to see what's going on under there.)

I love the dark navy vintage buttons I used. I got them from Etsy. I always feel vintage buttons add that extra bit of oomph to a new cardigan, don't you think?

I did a little trick I like to do with cardigans when I have an extra button. I borrowed this idea from a few of my own vintage sweaters. I sewed a spare button onto the inside of the sweater (careful not to let the stitches show through to the public side). Now in a few years if I lose a button, I don't have to try and (likely unsuccessfully) find it. Nifty!

I would highly recommend this pattern to other knitters. It definitely has a nice vintage feel to it, and produces a cardigan that can be dressed up or down. The lace and cable pattern is easy to work and easy to memorize. I am a constant pattern tweaker and as I went along, sometimes doing my own thing, when I compared what I was doing to the pattern, I was doing the same thing. No kidding! It really was perfect.

And the sizing is generous! She includes bust sizes 37" to almost 54". And it was easier to make it a little smaller by omitting a few stitches in the stockinette portions. You could also knit it in DK weight to make it even smaller.

One thing I particularly love about the pattern is that it uses a common vintage technique for button bands, which I've worked before, but is rarely found in modern patterns. You knit the bands along with the cardigan, in 1x1 ribbing, slipping the first stitch on each row for a nice selvage (though that part isn't usually mentioned in vintage patterns, but is definitely the best way to go). This produces a lovely and tailored band that holds its shape well. Unlike bands that are picked up and knit, which is annoying in its own right, you don't run the risk of the bands flaring or puckering. And unlike bands that are knit as you go in garter stitch, these bands have no tendency to flip to the inside. It's also less fiddly than another popular vintage technique that involves sewing grosgrain ribbon on the backside to prevent flipping. So really, it's pretty much the perfect button band technique in my book!

All in all, I'm very happy with this cardigan. It should be a great staple that will be useful in winter, spring and fall. But after three worsted weight sweaters in a row, I'm really ready for some finer yarn! Thank goodness for the knit-along. I got my yarn in the mail yesterday (yay!), so expect my post about swatching tomorrow or over the weekend.

And hey—one day into my challenge and I have my first garment complete. Sure, it was a bit of a coincidence, but no one needs to know that... oh wait... guess I shouldn't have said that out loud. ;)


  1. Looks fabulous! I like the cable/lace combination. And I love the blouse! Of course, I own 4 or 5 silk blouses with bows, so I would like it.

  2. You are inspiring me to do more knitting. I have knit lots for other people, but only have one sweater I have knit for myself. My yarn is in the mail...can't wait to get started with the knit-a-long.

  3. It's such a lovely cardigan and goes perfectly with your blouse. Good luck with unpicking the collar!

  4. That's a great cardigan. You'd never know it was a modern pattern. You additions are quite lovely! I need a new navy cardigan too. I wore my last one (vintage) until it had holes in the elbows. Sad.

  5. Looks stunning! Goes so well with your blouse.xx

  6. It is amazing what you can achieve, congratulations!!

  7. Your cardigan looks fabulous with that blouse! I know what you mean about the blouse not being you but liking it anyway, I'm also not a flouncy bows and stuff girl but have quite liked the idea of a blouse like that one for a while, we'll see, no doubt I have suitable fabric!

  8. Lovely cardigan - definitely passes for vintage! And the colour is great - I will have to stalk you on ravelry to find out what the yarn is - Dream in Color maybe?
    And the blouse too - ooh yeah love the blouse!

  9. Wow! I love it! I wish I could knit, well i can knit, i just cant get my brain around turning the stitched i know into a garment!

  10. What is the matter with me? All I could think was, "I love her bakelite bangles" ;)
    I love this whole look on you. Top to table (can't comment on what was going on underneath there as we can't see. You could be wearing a shell suit under there for all I know and I couldn't possibly condone that in any universe).
    The blouse is simply lovely. I love necktie blouses.
    I am very glad you are hosting this knitalong as you clearly know what you're doing!

  11. Thank you everyone!! ♥

    @Sassy Lassies Vintage Life You absolutely should knit more for yourself! And I'm so glad you will be for the knit-along. :)

    @Roobeedoo Very similar feeling yarn to Dream in Color-- it was Squoosh Ultra Worsted. :)

  12. I love your sweater! I'm just learning to knit, but one day I hope to be able to do one, too!
    The blouse is really pretty, and looks perfect with the sweater, I can't balme you for making it just for the blouse!

  13. Love, Love, Love this! Both the blouse and the sweater. The polka dots and bow suit you just fine!

  14. Fabulous , love how you've adapted the pattern.

  15. Wow oh wow! You make such amazing sweaters! I truly admire your skill. BTW: I love your hair in these shots. The back looks really great!

  16. I can't decide if I love the shirt or the sweater more - both are wonderful. Great job on the sweater and I am so looking forward to your knit along :)

  17. Oh, I love the pattern and texture on the cardigan, you did a great job on it. And the fit is just right! Also love the blouse and bow... altogether, it just looks so WB studio late 40's I could actually die. A dream of an ensemble! I wish I could knit so I could follow your knit along for serious. In the meantime, however, I just love seeing what you can do! :)

  18. That sweater is gorgeous!! And it looks fantastic with the blouse! Great job.

  19. Tasha, I just love seeing all of your knitting projects. I can sew my way through just about anything, but alas I never took the time or had the patience to learn proper knitting or crochet. I did take a beginner's knitting class last winter, with high hopes of making my own sweaters from vintage patterns for THIS winter... yeah, didn't happen. I admit that I'm green with envy over your mad knitting skills! Just lovely - the cardigan, your outfit, photos... everything!


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