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Pearl's Cardigan Crochet-Along, Part 3: Let's Get Started!

I’m so excited to share this week’s blog with you because I want to share with you how to customize this pattern to your size--not necessarily one of the sizes written in the pattern. This cardigan is a formula-based top-down construction that I developed over the last few years and one I turn to every time I want to make myself a sweater without following a pattern or writing one first. One of my favorite benefits of this style of sweater is that you can use any stitch pattern and all the increases are worked in only one row, which means you are not increasing in the stitch pattern. I think that is fantastic for a relaxing project or a beginner project.

Because the sweater is a top-down construction, we always begin with the neck. When determining the size, my theory is to work the neck at 50% of the circumference of the bust, and work triple increases in the first row of stitches (working 3 sts in each stitch across or around). The widest point of the yoke should be 3 times the size of the neck (or 1.5 times the bust). For the yoke, you simply work even in your choses stitch pattern for the length of the yoke. Separating the front(s), sleeves and back are easy too: divide the stitches into 6 even parts. One part each for each sleeve, 2 parts for the back, and 2 parts for a solid front or one part each for a separated right and left front (cardigan). Based on ease, insert the appropriate number of chains in the underarm for your comfort (usually 1 - 3” of chains). For a stretchier underarm, use foundation stitches instead of chains.

For Pearl’s Cardigan, I came up with a variation of my original formula pattern template. Because I wanted the look of 3 strands of pearls around the top of the yoke, I increased the size of the “pearls” for each of the rows, then on the following row (when the regular stitch pattern begins) I worked a double increase (instead of a triple increase in the original pattern template). This combination of increases gave the same desired width at the end of the yoke.

When separating for the fronts, sleeves and back, I still used my original theory of splitting into 6 parts.

Some people will find this conceptual information important, while others may prefer the line-by-line instructions in the pattern. Either way, I hope you feel welcome and encouraged to join me in making Pearl’s Cardigan.

Since I have the original 36” bust sweater and find it to be a little too snug on me, I decided to make the 40” bust sweater for the crochet-along. I ordered 10 balls of Microspun in Coffee (instead of the 9 balls required in the pattern) because I knew I would be making some extra swatches for the blog posts and showing some modifications in the following weeks.

Last week, I began the size 40” cardigan in Cleveland, Ohio when I was taping the next season of Knitting Daily TV (season 600) which will begin airing in January 2011. This photo is of me starting the neck of my cardigan while in the green room, waiting to go on set:

Kristin in the Green Room at KGTV

Have you worked sideways clusters before? That is what I used for the “pearls” in the first few rows of the yoke. They are pretty simple to crochet: similar to a cluster at the beginning of a row that uses a set of chains for the first stitch, you work 3 stitches together (like a decrease), BUT the only difference is that you work this entire cluster into the SIDE of the single crochet just made. Normally, we work our stitches into the top “v” of the stitches in the row below, but in this instance, we work into the side of the single crochet just made - in the same row. The stitch will appear horizontal when you complete the next sc. The small “pearls” on row 2 are double crochet based, the medium “pearls” on row 4 are treble crochet based, and the large “pearls” on row 6 are double treble crochet based. On row 8, the double increases are worked so the number of ch5 spaces are doubled (this completes increases for the rest of the yoke and sweater). Rows 9 - 10 are repeated until you reach the length of your yoke. Don’t be afraid to try on the sweater and adjust the length of the yoke for your body. I put mine on the dressform and pulled the fabric taut with straight pins to make sure it looked like the right length.

Yoke Front
Yoke Side

Yoke Back

Join me next week when we will talk about separating for front(s), sleeves and back and begin discussing the many types of modifications to consider. Happy crocheting!!

How far are you in your  sweater? Share a link to your blog or Flickr account -- or post your photos in our Ravelry group!

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