Little Black Cardigan

You may remember that I concluded last week’s post by toying with the idea of sewing a black cardigan to match my Moneta dress. In an unprecedented turn of events, I didn’t procrastinate for a decade and immediately made the cardigan in question. It was a very fast sew: about five hours, cutting the fabric included. And that’s with me being an extremely slow seamstress.

I’ve become much more thoughtful than I used to be regarding my pattern buying habits; it’s now very rare for me to buy a pattern as soon as it comes out. But when Jennifer Lauren released her Juniper cardigan pattern, I could see View 1 become such a staple that I bought it at once without hesitation. It seemed like the perfect cropped cardigan, with such a cute shoulder detail (which you can’t really make out in my pictures — thanks black! — but it’s there).

It was my first time sewing one of Jennifer Lauren’s patterns, and probably not the last since I don’t have anything even remotely negative to say about this one: the instructions were great, the fit is great (even the sleeves are long enough for my monkey arms) and the resulting cardigan looks great! I didn’t print the pdf at home. When there’s a copyshop version included, I usually prefer cashing out to get it printed professionally than spending time cutting and taping an inordinate number of A4 pages. So the fact that there is a copyshop version included is great, too!

It’s a fairly easy pattern, but I still dreaded sewing the saddle shoulders a little bit beforehand. Now that I know what there really is to it, I can tell you that there really isn’t anything to fear: if you can sew a normal T-shirt sleeve, you can sew these saddle shoulder sleeves. The notches were a great help to get everything perfectly lined up. Not only at the shoulders, but everywhere you could need them. I like precision, and this pattern didn’t disappoint.

I cut a size 8 and didn’t make any adjustment. I don’t know that it’s a “perfect fit” and as is often the case I see more wrinkles in the pictures than in real life, on a moving body, but I still wouldn’t change anything for a next version. I also followed the instructions to the letter, except that I sewed everything directly on my serger. I only used a sewing machine to topstitch the neckband (with a double needle) and to make the buttonholes.

About the buttonholes, I stupidly placed the highest one too high: I had marked its top, but I mistook that marking for its bottom, and I only realised my error when I had spaced (and sewn) all the other buttonholes accordingly, so I didn’t bother unpicking it. This means that there isn’t any interfacing under this top buttonhole, but it’s clearly not a big deal since I hardly ever wear my cardigans closed.

The fabric is the same I used for this Ondée top, a cotton/lycra jersey from Tia Knight (on their eBay store, which apparently doesn’t exist anymore). I had thought about using a lightweight French terry from my stash, but I preferred trying the pattern with this remnant first. And now that I’ve tried the pattern, I’m not convinced (even a lightweight) French terry would be the best choice for it: there are places such as the junction of the waistband and neckband where it might be too bulky. But I’m not sure either; maybe I’ll try someday.

The buttons are vintage. I bought them at a yard sale two summers ago, still on their card, and I am so glad to have found a use for them as they are so lovely! Vintage buttons are one of those things that I think make handmade clothing even more unique and precious.

I made this cardigan to go with my hard to match Moneta, but I know it’s going to get worn with so many other outfits. A black cropped cardigan was something I felt was missing from my wardrobe and I had been meaning to knit one for a long time, which I actually still intend to do ultimately, but for the meantime I’m quite happy with this one!

 

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Gato Morado Cardigan

The last time Monsieur and I were in Madrid, we came upon the cutest yarn shop, El Gato Negro, during an evening walk. It was closed at the time, but it looked very promising from the outside, so I noted down the address in order to come back the next day while Monsieur spent the day at the Prado.

Man was I right! The shop was chock full from floor to ceiling of a rainbow of yarns! There were mostly synthetic blends in there, but there was also a nice selection of natural fibres, at very affordable prices! There were little samples on display, and the yarn was sold by weight. I spent a shameful amount of time browsing the samples and in the end I chose a 100% wool in this gorgeous purple. There was no label on the skeins and not a lot of information available in the shop, only a small tag with the name of the yarn (“Especial”), its composition (100% wool) and its price (€60/kg – I bought 600g and I used a little under 300g for this cardigan).

EDIT (06/06/2017): Here is the yarn in question (colour #61 I’d say)! Hmmm, and apparently it’s supposed to be used for tapestry weaving or embroidery, not knitting… I would totally use it to knit a sweater/cardigan again though!

I knew I wanted to knit a cardigan, but I had no idea which one. Back in Brussels, we went to a yard sale where I found a series of old buttons (I’ve already used some of the black ones on my starry Cardamome), among which were these purple ones I hoped I would be able to use on the same project as my Spanish yarn.

Not long after, Andi Satterlund published the Blaster cardigan. I immediately thought of my purple yarn (and buttons!), but I was not sure it had the correct gauge. I was actually not sure what its gauge/weight was at all, nor which needle size it called for. It looked either sport or DK weight, but I had to knit a gauge to check. I tried 3,5 mm needles first, but the fabric seemed too tight, so I changed to 4 mm ones. These gave a much nicer result… and actually got gauge for the Blaster cardigan! Now if that wasn’t fate…

The only modification I made to the pattern was lengthening the sleeves. I’ve come to realise wool cardigans with 3/4 sleeves are not the most practical for me, so that’s an adjustment I often make. I simply went on knitting and decreasing until I got to the length I wanted. I seem to remember that the number of stitches I got at the very end of my sleeves, pre-eyelets and ribbing, didn’t suit the eyelet pattern and that I decreased two at a time on the last row to adjust for this.

Other than that, I followed the pattern as written. It was my tenth time knitting an Andi Satterlund sweater, so it was smooth sailing.

The yarn was very nice to work with, too. It’s a little bit drier than what I’m used to, but that’s not something negative. I’d say it’s very similar to the touch to Drops Fabel, to give you an idea. And it’s already proven to be quite hard-wearing, judging from the impressive number of times the cardigan has been worn since mid-November. Not to sound like a broken record again, but I do love the finished cardigan! It goes with a lot of my dresses, but it seems like it was made to match my purple Emery, doesn’t it?

PS In case you were wondering, the foxy brooch I am wearing in the pictures was made by Mimolette, using a Mollie Makes freebie from a few years ago!

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Bronze Brynja

brynja1This cardigan is one of my last finished objects, the last FO of 2016 in fact. I was wearing it today when, coming home from work, I realised how long it had been since I published anything on this blog, so I’m glad I’ve finally stopped caring about posting my projects in the order I finish them! Please excuse the crazy hair, I had just been rained on. OK who am I kidding, my hair is always crazy! :-/

brynja3The pattern is Brynja by Linda Lencovic, in PomPom Quarterly, Issue 11 (Winter 2014). FYI, it is now also available as an individual download. It had caught my eye when it first came out, and I immediately thought of it again when, about a year later, the lovely Aïda brought 19 skeins (yes, NINETEEN – no, I haven’t used all of them) of Phildar Sport’Laine (Bronze colourway), a discontinued wool/acrylic blend, at our annual fabric/yarn swap. The yarn slept in my stash for a little over a year, which I guess is not too bad compared to how long some other yarns have been waiting in there. It was very pleasant to knit with, and its only downside is that the 49% of acrylic mean that things can get a little bit sweatier than with my other, 100% natural, sweaters. Sorry if that’s TMI. It does not smell though, probably thanks to the wool content?

brynja4I did not find the instructions for the cardigan completely user friendly, which I’m thinking might have to do with the very limited space they had to fit in the magazine (4 very small pages, schematic included). There were also a couple mistakes in there, which had me unravel quite a few rows (details on my Ravelry). Mistakes/Small lack of clarity aside, it was still an enjoyable knit thanks to the AWESOME cable pattern. I mean, isn’t it gorgeous?

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The buttons were rescued from an old jacket by my mother. Merci Maman!

And so easy to knit and to memorise. Plus, no need for a cable needle. I loved seeing those cables take shape and I love the texture they give the finished cardigan!

brynja5However, when I first finished the cardigan and tried it on, I felt pretty meh about it, if not seriously disappointed. All I could focus on were the very low armholes, which I am not used to. I forced myself to wear the cardigan nevertheless, on a very casual day at work… and I fell in love with it! The low armholes can’t even be seen from the front, only from the back, and they do not bother me at all anymore; I actually like their relaxed feel! They don’t look that good when the cardigan is closed, but I always wear it open, so…

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Pockets! A bit small for the hands but perfect for tissues and chapstick!

My Brynja has now become one of my most worn cardigans (I know I say that about a lot of my knits, but it is true, I do wear most of them on a very regular basis – the majority of them never even see the inside of my wardrobe from about September to June). Its colour goes with a surprising amount of prints and other colours, which I did not see coming. By the way, did you know the name of this colour in French is “caca d’oie”, which means “goose poop”? Oh, the glamour! It’s actually a very accurate description of the colour, much more so than the one chosen by Phildar, isn’t it? But I didn’t think “Goose Poop Brynja” would make as catchy a title! 😉

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A Favourite Cosy Outfit

cosy1Ah, Cardamome! Ah, Armande! I intended to blog about them separately because each deserves its own blog post, but I was wearing them both on a day I came home from work when it was still (sort of) daylight, so I jumped on the occasion to take some pictures, and a shared post will have to do.

cosy3The Cardamome dress is yet another Deer&Doe pattern (yes, I do intend on sewing them all ultimately!). It was my favourite one from the A/W 2015 collection and I immediately knew I wanted to make it in this starry cotton lawn I had in my stash. It took me a little bit more than a year to get to it, but I didn’t change my mind in the meantime. I also knew I wanted to highlight the curve of the bib with some piping of the same colour as the stars, which are not white but off-white/ecru. It turns out off-white piping is not that easy to find! I resorted to buying some extremely pale yellow piping and tea-dyeing it. It did not make it a perfect match, but quite close, and the difference is virtually unnoticeable when you look at the finished dress.

cosy4I think I’ve said before that I had recently realised that a lot of my clothes could benefit from either going up one or two sizes at the shoulders or making a wide shoulder adjustment. On this dress I tried simply cutting a size 40 at the shoulders blending to a 36 armhole-bust-waist-hips. I didn’t change the height of the shoulders, only the width, so I kept the 36 sleeves. They fit, so I guess this must have been the right choice. I didn’t bother cutting a larger size at the hips because the skirt seemed wide enough. The skirt is indeed wide enough, but barely. Close call there!

cosy5I didn’t make buttonholes for the buttons (vintage, from a yard sale last August) but used sew-on snaps on the front placket and simply sewed the buttons through all layers at the cuffs, thinking I’d add snaps later if it bothered me not to be able to open these. It has never bothered me.

This dress features my first collar on a stand and my first sleeve placket, and both went swimmingly thanks to the instructions for the sleeve placket and this well-known tutorial for the collar.

cosy10Note that I always wear the collar closed because I am a dork and I love it that way! When I see pictures of about everyone wearing it at least partially open, I do realise that I am kind of alone on this one, but this won’t stop me from wearing it closed all. the. time. In the same vein, why do some people want to get rid of the smocking at the waist? It’s one of the cutest details of the pattern, you guys! Plus, so comfortable!

cosy6Now about the cardigan. It’s Andi Satterlund’s Armande, a free pattern if you can believe it! Once again perfectly thought out (the seamless pocket method alone makes it worth your while!), this pattern was a pretty quick and definitely enjoyable knit. Especially in Drops Nepal, one of my favourite yarns, in this gorgeous blue (denim blue – uni colour 6314).

cosy7When I bought the yarn (more than two years ago according to Ravelry), I had this sweater in mind, but I thought I would make the smallest size as usual with Andi’s patterns, so I only bought 11 skeins. But when I started on the project, I realised that I wouldn’t want as much negative ease for this pattern as for my usual cropped sweaters, so I went up a size. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, but 11 skeins were definitely not enough unless I intended to wear my sweater with half a sleeve missing. Lucky for me Saki, who had knit a cardigan with the same yarn, was nice enough to pass on to me her remaining skeins. And double lucky for me, they were from the same dye lot since she had bought them at about the same time in the same shop!

cosy8So after a very short pause I could get back to knitting what was to become one of my favourite cardigans. It goes with much more of my wardrobe than I would have thought, and I simply love its colour, its buttons (from Tissus Passion), its shape, its collar, everything! Like most of my cardigans I very rarely wear it closed, but it does look nice both open and closed.

cosy9I wouldn’t have thought when making this cardigan and this dress that I would like them together so much, but I really do! They’re also the perfect outfit to keep you warm when you’re sick like I am at the moment: the high neckline of the dress protects the chest from drafts and the cardigan is just the right warmth. A thermal cami, two pairs of tights, socks and boots complete what I think is an elegant yet cosy get-up.

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Seeing Red

marymead5The first time I wore my purple Emery dress, I reached for a red cardigan… and realised I didn’t own any ! How was that possible? I could think of so many outfits that could be topped off with a cropped red cardigan! So the colour of the next knitting project in my queue was easily decided.

marymead2The project in question was Andi Satterlund’s Mary Mead cardigan, which she had published earlier that year. She advised in her blog post about the pattern to use a yarn with silk or alpaca in it in order to get the best result with the garter stitch, and the Alpaca yarn by Drops seemed to be the correct weight (as did the BabyAlpaca Silk yarn, but I preferred the colour of the Alpaca one), so that’s what I ordered. I was kind of baffled at how few skeins I needed: five! And I have most of a skein left, so at €2,65 per skein, that was a pretty inexpensive knit; yay Drops, yay cropped sweaters!

I do have one small reservation about this precise yarn, though: it left red marks on the underarms of two dresses! The stains did come off in the wash without applying any special products, but still, I didn’t find this very pleasant!

marymead3Being used to the construction of Andi’s sweaters and seeing that the stitch of this one was quite simple (columns of garter stitch and of very basic lace), I thought I’d be done in a month, a month and a half tops, ha! It took me close to SIX MONTHS! I kept messing up the garter stitch columns, realising twenty or more rows afterwards that I had knit a few stocking stitches instead… So I unravelled and reknit an incalculable number of times both body and sleeves, and completely lost steam on the way.

marymead4But I did end up finishing the cardigan, and those countless times I had to unravel and reknit were completely worth it as it’s now my most worn cardigan! It goes with so many things in my wardrobe, I can’t believe I waited for so long before even thinking of knitting this one!

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A Foxy Twinset

Foxy1Continuing on with catching up with my blogging backlog, here are two Ondée sweaters that together form a twinset! One of them is a collarless short-sleeved one, and the other one is an adaptation of the long-sleeved version, which I changed into a cardigan following Marion’s tutorial. Both are the same size as my other Ondées.

Foxy2Mimolette and I both bought the same fox print cotton jersey knit at the Stoffenspektakel, I’d say two years ago, and this year she had the idea of challenging ourselves to sew that fabric before the end of fall. Thanks to that little challenge, I finally got that adorable print out of my stash, and I went in search of a pattern that would be easy to sew and that would get a lot of wear.

Foxy3Enter Ondée, but with a twist this time since I made a matching short-sleeved top and long-sleeved cardigan. Making the short-sleeved top was a breeze, and the cardigan was not much more difficult: in addition to following Marion’s tutorial, I also interfaced the facings with some knit interfacing and understitched them with a zigzag stitch.

Foxy6My intention was to use the whole length of fox fabric and there was a very small piece left after making the twinset, so I took that as an opportunity to finally try my hand at making some underwear: I used So, Zo’s free pattern and made a pair of panties! I should have made a size bigger or pulled less on the elastic while sewing it because they ended up just the tiniest bit too tight (still wearable), but this will be an easy fix for any future version.

Foxy5I love love love my little fox twinset! I have been wearing it constantly (the fabric is already starting to show signs of wear), and it’s been getting lots of compliments. It was my first time making an Ondée without the collar, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last: it truly is the perfect t-shirt shape for my taste!

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Mimosa Cardigan

Tambourine1Quick, before summer gets here and makes it unbearable to wear this cardigan even for a short photo session!

I haven’t worn it since I finished it two months ago, at first because I hadn’t blocked it yet, and then because even though the weather had not been very warm yet, it was still not cold enough anymore for me to wear such a cardigan. It’s now patiently waiting for its hour of glory on its shelf in the wardrobe, and I’m pretty sure I’ll wear it a lot come fall and winter. I mean, aren’t those circles of nupps adorable?

Tambourine3I don’t think I’ll wear it a lot closed all the way up like this though. I prefer it open; it looks less strict I think.

The lovely pattern is Tambourine by Julia Farwell-Clay, from Pom Pom Quarterly #12, and the yarn is Drops Karisma (colourway 52), which I can only recommend since it’s already my third time using it. I didn’t like the contiguous button bands of the pattern, so I changed them into ribbing I picked up and knit on afterwards. I explained this in more detail on Ravelry.

Tambourine4I also didn’t feel like sewing the sleeves to the body, so I decided to try and replace them with seamless set-in sleeves. After I had done my calculations, I took a look at these instructions and saw that the sleeves of size M used the same number of stitches, so I simply used those sleeves instead of the Tambourine ones. The sleeves are a little bit snugger than expected (it may have something to do with my gauge tightening when I knit in the round), but they are still perfectly comfortable, so no biggie.

Tambourine5I lengthened the sleeves a little bit, too, because with past knitting projects I often forgot that sleeves tend to creep up when you wear them and ended up with too short sleeves.

Even though I haven’t worn it yet for meteorological reasons, I’m really happy with the outcome. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I can’t wait for fall to arrive so that I can wear it though, because that would be much too ironic seeing as how all I can think about right now is summer!

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Tangerine Cardigan

Orange6I’ve never been a fan of orange, but ever since I finished this dress I’m wearing in the pictures, I had been wanting to knit an orange cardigan to go with it (hoping it would also go with other things in my wardrobe). Knowing how long it usually takes me to translate my ideas into actions, I’m kind of surprised it took me less than a year to make this cardigan a reality. I finished the dress last year in March, and the cardigan this year in February.

Orange5Once again, it’s a Andi Satterlund pattern, the Marion cardigan, and once again it was a pretty fast (it took me exactly one month from start to finish) and easy knit. Seeing as how much I love both their style and construction, this is certainly not the last of her patterns you’ll see here!

Orange1The yarn is Nepal by Drops (colourway: 2920 orange), which I had already used for this project. It’s a lovely yarn, very nice to knit with, and I always machine wash the finished sweaters (on a very delicate cycle, at 20°C) and they still look like new. So this is certainly not the last time you’ll see this yarn here either.

Orange2I had to shorten the cardigan a little bit for the ribbing to sit at my waist (judging from the pictures I think maybe I should have shortened it even more) and I chose to lengthen the sleeves to full length, because it was very cold when I knit it and I couldn’t imagine myself not wanting to wear long sleeves at the time. They seemed long enough at first, but I realised when wearing the cardigan that after I raise my arms they tend to creep up a tad and I sometimes have to readjust them. You can see that on my right arm in some of the pictures, because I had just reached for the shutter button of the camera. And while you’re at it, why don’t you take a look at the cute little cables on the sleeve ribbing? I think they are my favourite detail on this pattern!

Orange3Just like with the skirt I showed you last week, I finished this cardigan so long ago that I do not remember all of the details, so it’s a lucky thing I wrote everything down on Ravelry at the time. But just like with the skirt I showed you last week, I finished this cardigan so long ago that I’ve already had plenty of occasions to wear it and I know that it goes great with a lot of things in my wardrobe!

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The Black Zinnia

BlackZinnia5I’m not one to read those magazine articles that assume that every woman needs certain items of clothing in her wardrobe, such as a little black dress and other nonsense (I’m not one to read any of those magazines, period. Not anymore. You wouldn’t believe how much my self-esteem has improved since I’ve restricted my magazine buying to Burda and other craft related periodicals). It’s kind of ironic that I’m saying that when my last blog post featured what could obviously be described as a [shudder] LBD, but seriously, I lived without a LBD for most of my life and I didn’t feel the need for one like, ever!

BlackZinnia1Anyway, rant over I guess. What I wanted to tell you was that a black cardigan was one of the rare garments I felt I needed. I used to own a store-bought one that you can see here (I don’t know why I’m bothering linking to that picture: everybody knows what a black cardigan looks like, don’t they?), but it died and I’d been missing it sorely ever since.

BlackZinnia3There were a few pieces in my wardrobe, such as the dress you see in the picture I absurdly linked to a few rows above, that I always wanted to wear with a black cardigan. But it’s also so much more appealing to knit colourful yarn that boring black yarn, isn’t it? So each time I started a new knitting project, it didn’t even cross my mind that I could make that black cardigan.

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Smiling is for the weak.

Enter Zinnia. I don’t know why, but when I was perusing my favourite yarn shop (no link because it recently closed doors and I’ll be sad about it forever 😦 ) to choose some yarn for that project, for once I was drawn to grey and black. The various greys that were available in the shop didn’t really appeal to me, so I chose black.

BlackZinnia6And I am so happy I did! Not only was the black yarn not boring at all to knit (annoying maybe; it was a cat hair magnet! – not so much since I completed it, weirdly!), but I finished this knit two weeks ago and I’ve already worn it so often: it seems like a black cardigan does go with everything. I also like the way the textured stitch looks in black. I was afraid the dark colour would hide it, but it doesn’t and I think it looks great. The yarn is Drops Karisma, a superwash yarn which I’ll definitely use again in the future.

BlackZinnia7I really enjoyed knitting this pattern: the textured stitch kept things interesting yet it was very straightforward to follow. The lace diamonds, too, were a pleasure to knit: I placed markers between each repeat, which I always do when I’m knitting lace, and it made things easy as pie. You can find my Ravelry notes here.

BlackZinnia8When in-between sizes as is often the case with Andi’s patterns, I usually choose knitting a size smaller, which is best with all those close-fitting cropped sweaters I love knitting/wearing, but for this one I preferred going a size bigger since it was supposed to be looser-fitting. And I’m glad with the result: I can comfortably layer one or two long-sleeved tees under it, yet it doesn’t look too loose-fitting either when I’m only wearing one layer of short or 3/4 sleeves.

BlackZinnia9I should be back in not too long with another knit, and then with that skirt I started two months ago. Both are finished and just need to be photographed, alas we all know “just” photographing our sewing projects is even less of a small feat in winter than during the rest of the year!BlackZinnia2

Adelfa Cardigan

Adelfa1Three knitted projects in a row, not a single sewn project in between. What can I say? Three weeks in Spain, far from my sewing machine, followed by the start of school and its unavoidable fatigue… Not the ideal conditions to get back to sewing!

Ah well, at least my beloved knitting needles can go everywhere with me and one row here, one row there, I ended up with a new cardigan!

Adelfa2Most of this cardigan was actually knit in Spain, on a stone bench next to an oleander – adelfa in Spanish. For my last two weeks there I was staying in a village where I didn’t have a lot to do but to knit or read (I’m not complaining here, this is my ideal kind of vacation!), so in those two weeks I finished the body and a sleeve and I knit more than half the second sleeve. Then I came back to Belgium (and to work), and the remaining half sleeve and neckband took me two whole new weeks to knit.

Adelfa4The (free) pattern is Que Sera by Kirsten Kapur and the yarn is Cascade 220, knit with bigger needles to get gauge. I made a few small modifications to the pattern: first, I added three buttonholes to the five of the pattern. I thought they looked a little too far apart in the pictures.

Then I lengthened the sleeves by one pattern repeat (12 rows) and I knit them in the round. I had to adapt the lace pattern a bit for it to work in the round (see my Ravelry notes), but that was really easy. Because of my knitting the sleeves in the round, I was afraid the sleeves would end up too wide for my taste (since there would be no seam allowance to take in account), so I knit them a size smaller than the body. Note that knitting the sleeves in the round also made them much more difficult to block correctly (which is why I’m particularly glad that I lengthened them a touch!). But I was very happy not to have to seam them up afterwards, so there’s that.

Adelfa3Also, when I first tried on the cardigan with the buttons closed, the button bands gaped like you wouldn’t believe. So I had to stabilise them with petersham ribbon. I used a method that is very similar to this one, except that I didn’t interface my petersham and that I took care to make all of my hand stitches virtually invisible because clearly I’m a psychopath. It took me four episodes of Murder, She Wrote (Have I ever told you about my passion for Murder, She Wrote?) to sew on the petersham but come on, look how pretty!Adelfa5So that’s it, I’m delighted with my new cardigan; I love its style and colour (closest to the detail picture of the petersham button bands, by the way) and I’m sure it will look great with a lot of my clothing pieces, existing or to come!

PS I forgot to mention this in my last two posts, but I’m on Instagram now!