FO: DROPS Design 88-4 Cardigan

DROPS Design 88-4 Cardigan

Pattern: DROPS Design Cardigan 88-4 (Ravelry link here), 37″ size

Yarn: Queensland Kathmandu DK Tweed

Needles: US 3 for the cabled ribbing, US 6 for the stockinette portions

I made many, many modifications to this sweater. As knitting patterns go, DROPS and Phildar both seem to have an unhealthy obsession with bound off decreases and sewn-on edgings. Perhaps a more experienced knitter out there could help me understand why these techniques are better than ssk/k2tog decreases and picked up stitches. This pattern calls for bound off decreases at the neckline, the sleeve cap and the armholes. The first time around, I did as I was told. If my camera lens hadn’t broken in the process, I would present you pictures of the neckline’s ugliness with those stair-stepped decreases. I reworked the neck several times before I decided to rip the stockinette parts of the sweater and redo with ssk/k2tog decreases, as you can see from my previous post. Isn’t that much cleaner?

DROPS Design 88-4 Cardigan

As for the neckline itself, I ended up picking up 138 stitches and knitting a garter stitch band, which is what I thought the pattern called for when I started. It is always so hard to see details in DROPS photos, the price, I suppose, of a free pattern. It turns out that the pattern calls for a curled reverse stockinette band. In general, I find reverse stockinette bands look a bit sloppy and I thought a garter stitch band would both look cleaner and match the garter stitch button bands.

DROPS Design 88-4 Cardigan

I also ripped the sleeves because they were way too wide, in spite of my gauge being dead on. Because I reduced the width from almost 15″ to 12″, I had to knit a long sleeve cap in order for the sleeve to fit in the armhole without puckering. Not to fear, good old Pythagoras and some algebra came to my rescue and the sleeve went in perfectly.

While I absolutely love this sweater (and the yarn), there are a few things that I find a bit dissatisfying. First, I knit the 37.5″ size for a 35″ chest and no matter how many times I blocked this sweater to size, the cardigan puckers at the buttons. If I were to do it again, I would simply use more buttons. I think any ribbed sweater would pucker with only four small buttons. Secondly, the first button is not placed until 4″ up. As a result, the bottom looks a bit funny when buttoned up, as you can see in the picture above.

I also think I would consider making the 37.5″ size for the cabled ribbing and switch to the 33″ size for the top. I think the top is a bit too wide for me. When I put it on, I make an extra effort to pull the sleeve seams up to my actual shoulder line. They’ll stay there without a problem but I wouldn’t have to think about it if the shoulders were an inch or two narrower. You can see what I mean in this picture if you’ll forgive me for looking like such a goober.

DROPS Design 88-4 Cardigan

While I love the cabled ribbing, I would likely only drop down to a US 5 needle next time around. The pattern calls for the ribbing to be knit on 3s while the rest of the sweater is done on 6s. Frankly, the ribbed pattern shrinks up so much that I doubt the needle difference would be a problem. On the contrary, I imagine it would make the sweater easier to block. Unblocked and unstretched, the cardigan measured 22″ around at the waist. There’s really no question about blocking – 22″ is not meant to stretch that much when the garment is held closed with a mere four buttons.

There’s another finished sweater waiting to be blogged but it’s black and you know what that’s like for pictures. Maybe when Aaron’s off from work next week I’ll get some worth saving.

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31 comments so far

  1. Kellie on

    Your sweater looks great! Don’t you love the Kathmandu DK? Thanks for all your notes on this pattern too – I’ve eyed the pattern a few times, but those small pictures and non-extensive directions make me a little wary of the Drops patterns.

  2. whitknits on

    It’s beautiful! I absolutely love that green. I think your mods worked out really nicely.

  3. Bertha on

    Wow, that came out super fantastic!

  4. schrodinger on

    It looks wonderful, despite the decrease/increase issue – good to know though since I’m about to start a Phildar pattern. Maybe it’s a European thing?

  5. nikki on

    I think its lovely. I applaud your thoughtfulness in your mods, too. :)

  6. Theresa on

    That looks great. And tweed hides all manner of things, but I’m glad you did the SSK and K2tog decreases – much better.

  7. Chris on

    It looks great, niggling details notwithstanding!

  8. jenna on

    Beautiful beautiful beautiful!!

  9. stacey on

    that is beautiful! the color and fit look great. free patterns are quite a toss up – you never know how good they’ll be – plus, all the DROPS ones are translated, so maybe something got lost in the translation?

  10. borcherts on

    Oh that is beautiful! I love it so much!

  11. Beth on

    I love that green yarn! Your sweater is beautiful even though you don’t love it 100%. It looks great on you!

  12. Kristy on

    It really looks great! It looks like you did some extensive work to make the sweater what you wanted it to be. Good for you!

  13. Stephanie on

    Wow, I think it’s gorgeous, and it looks like it fits you beautifully now. Excellent math!

  14. Laura on

    Lovely! I especially like the proportion of the cables to the whole sleeve length. As for Drops/Phildar’s peculiar ways, I noticed that when I translated a Phildar pattern for someone. Lots of unnecessary sewing steps. It is as though these companies don’t trust the knitter’s ability to do anything beyond the most basic steps. I suspect it also keeps instructions relatively short and sweet.

    Many French knitting patterns still call for knitting socks flat and seaming them…

  15. liz K on

    Interesting notes on the DROPS patterns, since I haven’t yet used one. I try to remember to read through a pattern completely before I cast on, but with the translations, it sounds like it is essential.

    Great sweater — the color is just fantastic.

  16. femiknitter on

    Nice work–it looks wonderful, and Kathmandu Tweed is one of my new favorite yarns. I know what you mean with Drops patterns–they often look great but are severely flawed. Your mods seem to work very well.

  17. Sue on

    I really really like that cardigan, and the garter stitch band looks great too.

  18. Stella on

    Love it. I’m particularly impressed with the way you figured out the sleeve cap modifications — looks like you got away without a single pucker. I also love how that little purl ridge hits just above the widest point of the bust. Looks so cute!!

  19. tiennie on

    I think it looks beautiful on you! Fantastic job! Beautiful photos.

  20. tiennie on

    Oh, and totally ungooberish!

  21. Karma on

    Hey, pretty lady! I’ve always thought this was a cute design and I’m so glad to see it in a lighter color with more detailed photos. Your yarn choice is lovely!

  22. Erin on

    I totally agree with you about the neck and armhole decreases. I do not understand wanting to bind off decreases, it just looks ugly! The sweater turned out fabulous!

  23. Pat on

    Beautiful tweedy cardigan – despite (or because of) all your problems and wonderful modifications. I love the cabley bottom – the gorgeous yarn – all of it!

  24. nubiancraftster on

    wow wonderful job. Love the color!

  25. gleek on

    it looks fantastic!! and it fits you nicely.. the whole package, so to speak :)

  26. nova on

    Fabulous! I love it, you did a great job and it’s very flattering on you!! Yay! for happy knits!

  27. Christine on

    Oh Elinor, that sweater is absolutely beautiful!

  28. Mintyfresh on

    It looks really great, Elinor! The puckering is so minor, don’t worry about it.

  29. Christy / Not Hip on

    Looks great! (I had starred this post and forgot to come back to comment earlier.) It makes me remember how I really need more cardigans.

  30. Emily on


  31. A cardigan for my mum | BY ELIN on

    [...] from that, I found Elinor’s notes on this pattern very helpful. Like her, I found the sleeves much too big, and modified them [...]

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