Love At First Sight
While cardigan sweaters have a reputation for being comfortable and cozy, they are not always seen as fashionable. A garment often associated with grandparents, teachers or the venerable Fred Rogers, cardigan patterns come across as ‘safe’ or even reliable, but not necessarily as inspiring. When I sew, I am guided by my inspiration. Love at first sight may not be true of people (who knows?!), but it is certainly true of patterns and fabric!
The Jalie Charlotte Cardigan Pattern defied its frumpy brethren and inspired a yearning in me from the moment I laid eyes on it. Possessing many classic cardigan qualities, like a collar-less jeweled neckline and cuffed long-sleeves, the Charlotte also manages to evoke an elegance and modernity. Meanwhile, the Gustav Klimt Boiled Wool is passion-inducing in its own right, and, when Bonnie decided to put them together, the personal love affair I’d been having with the Charlotte suddenly became epic.
Loving You Is Easy
As per usual, Jalie has done an exemplary job drafting this pattern. They number and confine their coherent instructions to one sheet, which makes for easy and efficient perusal. However, the different pattern lines that denote size are color-coded which – as it turns out – is simultaneously a pro and a con. The different colors make cutting out the pattern a breeze. But, if you’re like Bonnie and trace your patterns, the different colors can be tricky to discern through a thicker tracing paper.
Otherwise, this large-sized cardigan came together very quickly for Bonnie. Using a narrow zigzag stitch, she chose to sew the hip-length, View A version which, as you can see, includes pockets! She also left off the optional front buttons, which, I think, suits the structured quality of this particular boiled wool.
Naturally, this garment wouldn’t be a Bonnie original if it didn’t veer from the written pattern just a little. So, rather than twice folding the sleeve, pocket, and bottom hems as directed, Bonnie used this fabric’s lovely selvedge to finish the garment’s various raw edges. This stroke of genius kept the Charlotte’s hems from becoming too bulky as well as complimented this pattern’s already modern qualities. You could say that this special technique gives the whole garment a nice ‘edgy’ feel!
All Shook Up
While we can all agree that the Klimt Knit Wool is an absolute treat to look at (and to touch!), Bonnie did have to wrestle with it a bit throughout the sewing process. Naturally bulky, it was necessary to consistently grade seams in order to keep everything neat. Additionally, this pattern calls for a fabric with 40% stretch cross-grain, and some mechanical stretch lengthwise. And, while the Klimt is a knit and does have a 25% -30% stretch across the grain, there is very little length-wise stretch. Because of this, Bonnie occasionally struggled to get the fabric to cooperate with the pattern. These various hurdles are to be expected, however. It wouldn’t be an epic love story of there wasn’t a dash of tragic conflict.
A Second Chance At Love
Though I am preferential to the pattern on this particular boiled wool and would personally brave any number of tribulations to have a Charlotte Cardigan made from it, there are other fabrics better suited (in terms of stretch) to the Charlotte pattern. For example, any of our Lana Bollito Rayon/Wool Knit Blends would work wonderfully, as would some of our heavier Soy Terry Knits or pontes.
Handle with Care
We all go to great lengths to preserve hand-made woolen masterpieces, like this Charlotte/Klimt Cardigan. But, wool can be difficult to care for properly. It usually requires dry-cleaning or a combo of hand-washing and air-drying in order to avoid irreparable shrinkage. What’s more, high-quality wool is susceptible to moth-damage or mold if not stored very carefully. So, how do you ensure that your various woolen treasures stand the test of time? Well, we at The Confident Stitch suggest you start by using Eucalan Natural Laundry Detergent.
Rub A Dub Dub
Discovered and developed by Mary Ellen Edgar, this natural soap is comprised primarily of lanolin and eucalyptus. Lanolin, a wool wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals, acts as a natural conditioner, keeping fibers supple and reducing static. Meanwhile, the natural moth-inhibiting qualities present in Eucalyptus help to protect your wool year-round!
Non-toxic and biodegradable, this soap’s no-rinse component makes it ideal for washing wool. Free of optical brighteners, phosphates, synthetic fragrances, and dye, it’s also pH neutral. Mary Ellen earth-consciously packages Eucalan in an easy to recycle, dye free HDPE plastic bottle. And, it’s available in five different mild scents: Eucalyptus, Jasmine, Grapefruit, Lavender, and Natural. This soap also works wonders on delicates, baby clothes, down jackets, and even pets!
My Heart Will Go On
While I desperately love this cardigan, it wasn’t made for me. The Charlotte/Klimt is promised to another and, while I think we share a soul connection, it looks like our love will remain star-crossed.
I’ll move on. I’ll eventually pair this pattern with another knit wool. But there’s nothing like first love, is there? So, don’t repeat my mistakes. Don’t let that special pattern/fabric combination pass you by, and then spend the rest of your life wondering, “What might have been?” Go fight for your love!