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FO Report: Urban Aran cardigan

As hinted at in my last Urban Aran post, there was one final hurdle before the beloved Urban Aran cardigan could adorn the beloved M. This is the first time I’ve ever attached a zipper to a knitted thing, and I was a little unsure about it. And then I remembered an awesome Grumperina blog post I read years (and years) ago on cardigan zippers! Grumperina, if you happen to see this, I owe you one.

The critical point in that post (for me) was that knitting changes dramatically between wearing and laying flat. M’s Urban Aran is a tight-fitting ribbed sweater, which means the length of the closure is far longer when it’s resting flat than when he’s wearing it. When worn, the body stretches the rib sideways and thus shortens it lengthways (try stretching a swatch and you’ll see it in action). So the first step was to baste the cardigan shut and have M try it on, pulled over his head like a jumper. While he was wearing it (still basted shut), I measured the length of the opening: that was the zipper length I needed.

Zipper acquired, I began tacking it to the still-basted-shut cardigan, using bright contrast thread and generous stitches.

Basted zipper: full-body view

The patient is ready.

To make sure I had the zipper correctly positioned on the relaxed fabric, I stitched some thread to it at the quarter, halfway and three-quarter marks along its length. Then I did the same on the cardigan. I matched up the zipper marks with the cardigan marks and tacked it in place. Then I carefully tacked the rest of the zipper to the cardigan, easing the stitches into the correct proportions by pulling the fabric outwards.

Basted zipper: closeup


I had M try it on one last time to make sure that it was still okay, and then it was into the sewing machine. That’s the scary bit, because it’s the closest you get to irreversible. You can unpick a badly-stitched zipper, even a black one stitched with black thread to a black cardigan, but it’s a hell of a life. Luckily, I didn’t have to face this unnerving outcome. I sewed carefully and slowly, swore a lot, and successfully sewed the zipper in. Then I pulled out all the red tacking thread and the yarn basting it shut, and added some extra securing stitches at the top and bottom of each side of the zipper.

And lo, it was done. Behold the Urban Aran cardigan, completed, out for a stroll!

Back of the Urban Aran cardigan

Urban Aran on the march!

The above photo displays the cables beautifully. That cable pattern runs up the centre back, the centre front, and the top of each sleeve. The zip runs between the two halves (up the axis of symmetry) on the front.

Front shot of modelled Urban Aran cardigan

Urban Aran out and about


This was one of the most satisfying patterns I’ve made for a long time! It was super fun, and the large gauge meant it flew off the needles. I had to do some lengthening to fit it for M, but it’s a pattern with minimal shaping, so it was a very straightforward matter of “just knit until it’s about right”.

Yarn: Berroco Comfort Chunky in Liquorice
Pattern: Patons Urban Aran pullover, available for free download from Yarnspirations
Mods: Using Brooklyn Tweed’s excellent adaptations, I made a cardigan instead of a pullover. Dude’s got style. The zipper on M’s version stops at his collarbone, however, instead of going all the way to the top, because that’s how he rolls.
Rating: VERY cool indeed. Would knit again. (Kind of hoping I’ve got enough Comfort Chunky to make myself a vest&hellip)

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