Whilst we all should dress to please only ourselves, to bring our hearts joy, and to feel our most authentically us...it sure does feel good when you get some external validation.
So when, within 5 seconds of walking into the supermarket, I got stopped by a stranger and complimented on my Carlisle cardigan, on its first ever outing - well I’m not going to lie, I felt good!
And those compliments are even sweeter when you get to smile and enthusiastically reply 'thank you, I made it!'.
In the family tree that is the knitted garment - cardigans are where my heart truly lies, and the one that I will wear most frequently.
I’ve written about cardigans before, as part of my Knitted Wardrobe series, and the many reasons why I love them the most:
So when I was looking for my next project, I was over the moon when Ethan told me that the Carlisle cardigan from Tara-Lynn Morrison’s Good Night, Day was something I’d be able to make, and was well within my skill-set, which is still very much at beginner level!
I’ve spoken a lot in the past, including in this previous post about the beauty and inclusivity of Morrison's Good Night Day - a collection of simple knitted patterns designed to make knitting accessible for all abilities and sizes.
However, as much as I knew this, I still thought that the Carlisle was too hard for me. I’m still at the stage of learning where I look at any pattern that includes textures or multiple colours and assume it’s far too complicated for me.
I saw the photos of this adorable cardigan, with it’s textured panels and thought NOPE TOO HARD! Turns out this texture is created using a simple garter stitch, which is one of the easiest things!
It doesn’t matter how many times, various people say to me “The thing with knitting is that it’s basically the same two stitches done in slightly different ways” I don’t really believe them. That maybe they’re tricking me or speaking a different numerical language. When they say ‘two stitches’ it's actually code for ‘471 stitches’.
And so, on that nice revelation, that YES! THIS IS FOR ME! I set about making my own Carlisle cardigan!
Having already made the Kingston Sweater from Good Night, Day was a great warm up for this Carlisle cardigan, and the great thing about this set of patterns is that once you've made one of its sweaters or cardigans, you’ll be well set up to make any of them. They all appear to follow the same formulas!
When I read the pattern, everything felt familiar, and it’s true - the pattern for Carlisle was very similar to the Kingston, with the following exceptions:
And, well, that’s about all of the differences. Everything else was the same - knitting top down, the dimensions, the increases, the yarn.
As a result I flew through this project, completing it in a little under two weeks, with the whole thing feeling very effortless thanks to the Kingston being so fresh in my memory.
I really wanted to make this cardigan in a simple neutral yarn, specifically Ao mārama from the Lissy Cole Auaha Haukura collection. My last project was a technicolour dream of red, pink, blue and orange - and whilst I am a huge fan of bright colours and patterns - I like to mix things up when it comes to my style, so that I can dress for wherever my mood takes me - and so for this cardigan I wanted to go the complete opposite - neutral!
Knowing how I wear my cardigans, usually over dresses - which trend to be long, flowing and bohemian inspired - I wanted something soft and romantic. A classic style of knit that would compliment, add richness and depth to my vintage and self-sewn dresses and their folky vintage, cottagecore vibes - especially when worn with tights boots and hats in the winter. Or in this case, a foliage crown - because sometimes it's fun to go a little too far with a theme!
The chunky yarn required for this pattern works so well - it adds such a lovely texture and warmth to the knit, and the size of the yarn really pays-back fast in terms of creative gratification. I’ve said it before, but if you’re learning to knit and want to embark on a sweater or cardigan - you can’t go much wrong with a chunky yarn like Auaha Haukura.
It’s fast, makes your knitting easy to read and helps you learn the ins and outs of the craft as it’s all so immediately visible!
I’m in love with this cardigan. It was a fast and simple knit that I would recommend for any beginner knitter.
As mentioned above, as it’s an open style cardigan, with no buttons, it’s worn almost like a bolero or jacket, and so you don’t have to worry about sizing so much. I made the XL and it fits perfectly.
I love the texture in the body, and the puffy sleeves, which elevates it from being a rather plain knit - especially in this neutral colour. The texturing acts like embellishment and gives it a level of sophistication, interest and depth, making it incredibly easy to wear and a way to bring extra style to your look without having to go to the effort of extra accessories or colours!
I’m really excited about how versatile this piece is and all of the ways I can style it up . It’ll look great over a fun, printed skirt or dress, with a long flowing victorian style dress, or over a shirt, when dressed up. Or just as a great over my dungarees and a striped top or tee at the weekends for running errands out and about.
Besides, when complete strangers compliment you on your garment within seconds, you know you're onto a winner which you have to find ways to wear it again and again and again!
Until next time,
I'm Lou, an Ōtautahi based personal stylist and craft-lover, and this is Never Been Knit - my journey from complete knitting virgin to...well, let's find out together!