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Where are they now? –  Whatever happened to your __________?  Write about the fate of a past knitting project.

When I considered my past knitting projects I came upon an idea: Rather than guess at an ill-fated scarf’s final repose, or the well-loved, but now thread bare gloves, I would take a turn in a slightly different direction – a knitting makeover!

The subject of the makeover is my “Esme Cardigan” which I knit back in 2006 or so.  The knitting stats, as best as I can remember,  are as follows:

Pattern:  Queensland Collection,  “Esme Cardigan“, designed by Jane Ellison

Yarns:  Cascade Yarns “220”, and Stacy Charles “Ritratto” – don’t know the colors anymore

Needles etc. – no clue, but I think it was a 7.

Here is the “before” photo:

It is way too big (especially considering I put in a good half inch seam everywhere in my initial attempt to reduce the size overall.)  Again, like My First Sweater, gauge was off, and somehow I didn’t figure it out until it was too late.  This is something I am much better at now, and this is yet another example of why.

Overall it is slouchy, can’t be worn without buttoning, and gets in the way whenever I do anything other than lounge or walk.  What you can’t see in a photo is the way it pulls back and off my shoulders.  The sleeves are especially ridiculous, and the front edges roll like crazy.  It is a non-functional sloppy cardigan.

Despite all of this I have worn it a lot over the years because the color seems to work well for my wardrobe, and it is very cozy and warm.  So, it was worth my taking the time to do a little “makeover” because I loved it, even with its faults.

Tah dah! The “after” photo:

Here’s what I did:

Changed my concept – I decided to give up on the idea of it being a cardigan.  The size and bell sleeves really only made sense if I mentally re-categorized it as outerwear – a nice wool coat.

Made a lining – By lining the whole thing in a yummy green corduroy, it stabilized the overall fit and gave me an extra layer to make it warmer as a coat.  The lining was tacked in at key points which kept the knitting from slipping and slouching, especially around the shoulders.  You can see it best here in the back view, and more importantly I can feel it when I wear it.

Added a zipper  – I reinforced the front edges  and added a zipper to stabilize the front and make it more practical as a coat.  I wanted to stay warm even if the wind was blowing.

Shortened the sleeves – Because I had added the lining, I was able to “hem” the sleeves up and attach them to the lining on the sleeves.  Yeah!  I can use my hands!

Here I must sing the praises of my new favorite guide-book – The Best Little Dress, by Simon Henry.  The lining was traced off the sweater, and through this book’s guidance, I was able to tweak and adjust the pattern I generated to make it truly fit.  The tracing was great to start, but smooshy knitting and inexperience with drafting patterns made for a whacky, ill-fitting sleeve.  I used the book to understand how a sleeve was constructed from scratch, and then I was able to correct the arm hole (which was really just a measuring issue).  The sleeve block was the hardest, but the explanation in the book was wonderfully easy to follow.  I was able to perfect the sleeve fit and got to a perfectly fitting set in sleeve with just enough ease.  I was very proud of my first effort in pattern drafting, and I would recommend any one of Henry’s books if you have an interest in sewing and learning the art of drafting your own patterns.

So, my old cozy cardi now has a new life as a great wool coat, now all I need is a great pair of gloves and a new hat to go with it!  Knit-Sew-Weave… and down the creative road we go!