Betty Draper’s cardigan

Those who know me well have for some time been listening (I hope) to me babbling about some yarn called Betty Draper’s blues, and wanting to make myself a cardigan with it. At the beginning of January the yarn arrived; 5 skeins of yummie Madelinetosh Pashmina, in the Betty Draper’s Blues colorway! The yarn is sooo squishy and soft, that I had trouble waiting to cast on the cardigan. I had told myself I had to finish my Bottom of the Sea cardigan first, and to my own astonishment I actually kept that promise, even though the yarn kept lying there, calling me! While waiting to cast on I could spend a little time and effort finding the perfect pattern, though. I wanted to make a 1950’s style cardigan, as Betty Draper’s wardrobe in Mad Men is so amazing. I didn’t really find any episodes where she was wearing anything I wanted to make though, so I just searched on Ravelry for a pattern instead.

I found this: “A Cosy Cardigan” from a 1953 newspaper! It has just the shape and feel which I was looking for, and the stitch pattern (although hard to see on the picture) looked very interesting, too. And, a true vintage pattern makes it even more perfect!


(image from http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/18379102)

Though only available in one size, it is exactly my size; and, the fabric seems pretty stretchy as well. The only not-so-great thing about this pattern: it is knitted flat in 7 (!!) different pieces (2x front, back, 2x sleeves, 2x button bands) and then sewn together. I HATE that kind of assembling, I have never really been good at making neat seams in knitting.. So, I have decided to try to transform it to containing as few seams as possible. So far it works really good, as I have cast on at the bottom edge and working the back and both front pieces as one piece, doing the increasing at both sides of stitch markers noting the “side seam”. It is hard to make the stitch pattern come out perfectly (it is something I learned from my grandma; the stitch pattern always has to look as though the whole garment is made in one piece!), but then again, that hasn’t been accounted for in the original pattern either.

It will get more interesting when I get to the armhole shaping and shoulder shaping (because yes – there is some shoulder shaping!), and I hope that a three needle bind off on the very top of the shoulder will look great. I am also thinking about doing seamless set-in sleeves; I have never done it before, but they look so neat, and I don’t think it will pose a problem – except for the stitch pattern getting turned upside down! We’ll see what my solution for that will be later.

So far, I love the stitch pattern, actually even from both sides. Though the right side is the most interesting!

One very clever detail which I do want to mention explicitly: There is some waist shaping going on, but entirely without influencing the stitch pattern! The fabric is simply made a bit more dense and thus less in width, by going down a needle size for one pattern repeat. I love that idea!