Provence Baby Cardigan, Part 5 – finishing

provence baby cardigan finished

Here we are in the home stretch of this project!  and if I say it myself, it is coming out darned cute!  Can’t wait to see how it comes out for anyone else.  Please do share your version of this project in the comments!

Both sleeves are completed; all the major knitting is done, so now it’s time for the dreaded “finishing”.

For some reason, knitters generally don’t love this part.  OK, so it’s not a lot of actual knitting, so that explains it for the process knitters right there.  But for product knitters, I think the lack of love comes from the feeling that maybe you’re not really doing it right.  I mean, when you learned to knit, someone guided your hands very carefully, and maybe closely oversaw your first couple of scarves or Barbie dresses or whatever.  But when it comes to sewing seams or knitting up stitches, many of us were left to flap in the breeze, so to speak, and never really PRACTICED it.  We end up learning by doing, usually on a project, and sometimes with disastrous results.

My opinion is, if you’re happy with the finished product, you’re doing fine.  If you aren’t, then it’s probably time to take a class or read a book, and DEFINITELY do some practicing on something that isn’t going to make you cry if it comes out crappy.

Anyway, here’s what the pattern says:

“Block pieces to measurements.” — well, we are going to skip that bit, because on this item, the only real reason to block is to get the edges flatter to make it easier to seam.  HA!

“Sew shoulder seams.  Set in Sleeves.  Sew side seams.” — double HA!  even triple HA!


Buttonband — OK, I’m all for creativity and making things easy for ourselves, but we can’t skip this part.

Aaaaand, the first thing I notice is a big red flag.  The pattern would have you knitting up 47 sts along each front edge for 3 of the 4 sizes.

WHOA.  They seriously expect you to knit up exactly the same number of sts over 6-1/2, 7, or 7-1/2 inches of fabric?  Not if you expect it to look good.

So, I’m pretty sure there’s something amiss here, and my decision is to come up with my own number.  Admittedly, this is a bit hazardous, what with the change in stitch (seed stitch border knitted onto stockinette fabric) AND the change in needle size (using smaller needles as the pattern recommends, because we certainly learned our lesson on the poochy seed stitch cuffs).

But, the alternative is to try to figure out what they ought to have put in the pattern — which is to say, which size is supposed to have the 47 sts and what numbers were meant for the other two sizes.  Good luck with that.  How a professional designer would come up with these numbers is by making a gauge swatch, probably, but I’m hardly going to start that nonsense at this stage.

Or, you could probably make a pretty good guess from the number for the 4th size, if you have any faith that that is accurate.  I don’t.

I decided instead to engage in informed risk-taking, as they say at DH’s workplace.  And here is my information:

First, it is good to know that the lateral spread of seed stitch (that is, what causes the poochiness) will be somewhat canceled out by the use of the smaller needle size.  So from this, I am probably going to first try knitting up sts in the usual 3-out-of-4 ratio and see what happens.

Second, it is also good to remember that when knitting up stitches, one can always knit up some extras, and then adjust the number as needed with a few evenly-spaced k2togs while working the first row.  It is far better to pick up some extras and decrease them out on the first row, than to have gaps or holes where that band sits on your garment.

Third, the actual number of sts we end up with doesn’t matter a whole lot here, as long as the band sits nicely on the garment — because notice how the three buttons are NOT evenly spaced along the whole band?  They are concentrated towards one end, so we really don’t have to care how many sts are in the rest of it.  As long as we keep the buttonholes evenly spaced, who’s to know?  And it’s seed stitch, not even ribbing, so we don’t have to keep to a specific multiple of sts or anything.  SWEET.

So, with smaller needles, I knitted up sts along the left front, with RS facing, as directed — using the good ol’ mantra of 1, 2, 3, skip, 1, 2, 3, skip — and ended up with 55 sts.

This is close enough to the range that the pattern calls for to give me some confidence.  However, the last thing we want is saggy front bands — so for whatever inspired voodoo reason, I decided to do some decreases anyway.  I worked that first row of seed stitch like this:

{work 6 sts, work 2 sts tog}

Note that this came out just exactly NOT even — I would have needed one more original st (56) to get that last K2tog in.  Oh, well…  so, I ended up with 49 sts in my buttonband.

Granted, in the end, my mostly-reasoned-approach-plus-some-voodoo-thrown-in got me a number that is pretty close to the mystery number of 47 that they like so much, but I think that was just coincidence.

Anyway, I went ahead with the 5 rows of seed — making sure as I progressed to check that my buttonband was indeed lying nicely along my cardigan front — and BO all sts knitwise on the RS, as directed.

Buttonhole band — this has the same number-of-sts issue as the buttonband, but we’ve pretty well fixed that already.

Do exactly the same thing, only starting at the lower edge of the right front.  However, we must throw in some buttonholes.

The buttonhole technique they suggest you use — binding off sts, then casting them back on in the next row — is a type that is clunky, to say it nicely.  I used a different kind, of course, but I spaced them the same way they did — which wasn’t exactly straightforward, since they give you a stitch-by-stitch count of where to put them, and we all know by now that following their st count for this buttonhole band is out the window.

We’ll get to the type of buttonhole in a minute, but first we have to know where it’s going to go.  Counting from the top edge, the first buttonhole is 3 sts down, and takes up 2 sts.  The next one is 8 sts down from that, and again takes up 2 sts.  The third is the same.  But since the row that the buttonholes are actually on is worked from the bottom up, and since heaven only knows how many sts YOUR bands have at this point, I suggest you think of it this way:

3 sts + 2 sts + 8 sts + 2 sts + 8 sts + 2 sts = start your lowest buttonhole 25 sts from the end of your band.

OK, so now we know where the first BH is going — what kind of BH should we use?

I did consider a simple YO, K2tog BH which would fit nicely into the 2 sts they gave us per BH, and will probably give you perfectly acceptable results.  Try it, and let us know.

But, that’s not the nicest BH in the world — and while it sometimes is too loosey-goosey at larger gauges, I was concerned it might actually be a little too small at this gauge.  So, I did a variation on this one.

Three-row Buttonhole

The three-row buttonhole works in any pattern stitch, needs no final finishing, and is easy to remember how to make. It is a vertical buttonhole that’s three rows high. The size varies according to the yarn and needles used, but the button size appropriate for the yarn will usually fit the hole.

BUTTONHOLE ROW 1 (RS): Work to desired location of buttonhole. YO twice. Do a left-leaning decrease over next 2 sts (SSK or SKP, depending where you are in your seed stitch) and continue across row.

BUTTONHOLE ROW 2 (WS): Work to location of buttonhole, purl one (first yarn over), drop next stitch (second yarn over) off the needle, and continue across row.

BUTTONHOLE ROW 3 (RS): Work to buttonhole, knit into hole (below the next stitch), drop next stitch, and then continue across the row.

(Full Disclosure:  The only reason I did a “variation” on it was I was trying to do it from memory, and I don’t think I nailed it exactly.  But pretty close.  What I actually did, I think, was only do one YO in Row 1, then simply didn’t drop the [nonexistent] 2nd YO in Row 2.  If your BH’s are coming out too loose with the standard version, try this variant and let me know if that’s what I did.  😉 )

Whew.  OK, so those three rows fit nicely in between the first row of seed stitch, and the final row.  Finish your buttonhole band with a BO in K on the RS, as directed.

DO NOT CUT YOUR YARN.  Because you will just have to join it again RIGHT THERE at the neck edge to start the neck trim.  So instead, when you are down to one st left, take your ball of yarn and pull it through the st and tighten it.  But don’t cut it.  That’s two fewer ends to weave in right there, that is.

All right!  we’re nearly there!  All that is left is the Neck Trim:  where they tell you to knit up sts, knit one row and bind off.

But I don’t think that looks so hot in the picture, and anyway I was getting all fidgety doing things sort of according to the pattern — so take a deep breath and make design change #7:  put a cute little polo collar on this baby!  It’s easy!

I have to admit, I didn’t make any notation as to exactly how many sts I knitted up around the collar — which probably means I kept it close to the 82 sts they call for, or it could just mean that it was pretty late at night.  However, one thing I do know is that we want an odd number, because I’m going to use seed stitch for this collar and of course we want our row to start and end with the same kind of st.

Knit up sufficient sts around the neckline on the RS:  across the buttonhole band, right front, back, left front, and buttonband.  Working in seed stitch, bind off the sts across the top of each of the bands on the first two rows.  Then work about about 7 additional rows, for a total of 9 rows, or more if you want a slightly more substantial collar.  BO knitwise on a RS row, to match the bands.


Well, OK, you need to weave in your ends, naturally.  And sew on some buttons.  (As you can see, I went with plain ones — a little on the large side, perhaps, but easier for a sleep-deprived new mom to cope with.)

But then, DONE!


I just love a happy ending.  🙂

And the cat is out of the bag here, because while my niece is indeed expecting, she’s going to end up with sweater #2 — because this sweater is actually a gift for loyal reader and knitter Sheryl, and her brand-new granddaughter, Kylie Katherine.

I hope she looks (even more) adorable in this!  probably right around Xmas, if I did it right!


provence baby cardigan finished

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