a new knit cardigan

estimated 4 min read

Over the years, we’ve worked to improve the energy efficiency of our old house. My basement studio was once one of the coldest spaces. It’s now much warmer, however, I still face a unique challenge when I sit at my desk for hours. The solid wood work surface and metal supports underneath tend to retain cool overnight temperatures. This means that if I rest my arms on the desk while I’m working, they end up chilled pretty quickly and then my entire body feels cold.

I have a favourite cardigan I love and have worn for years. I adore almost almost everything about it — the body length, it has pockets, and it’s a Penny neutral colour (tabby browns). However, the sleeves are bracelet length. That leaves quite a bit of arm and wrist open to my desk’s frigid surface.

I thought about knitting fingerless mitts with a long cuff or simple arm warmers but I wasn’t excited by the idea. For most of December, I used my “watercolor washcloth” as a layer of protection. This is what I use instead of a paper towel to clean my brush for years now. It worked well, unless I had just used my paints. The cats enjoyed knocking it off my desk, it became a fun game for them!

wooden desk with part of keyboard and mouse on a worn mouse pad visible. There is a washcloth covered in pants and ink between the bottom of the mouse pad to the edge of the desk. An open tin of watercolors with water brush, a closed notebook with ballpoint pen, and an uneaten cat treat are also visible on the desk.

I knew a better solution was a garment with long sleeves that I could toss on top of everything when I’m cold at my desk. So I decided to work a top-down raglan cardigan. While I prefer set-in sleeves for most sweaters, raglan construction allows for a greater range of motion which makes sense if I’m wearing it over multiple layers.

The next question was yarn choice, I wanted something warm. So, I wound up two skeins of Oink Pigments Helix (discontinued fingering weight blend of alpaca, merino, and silk) in the bruised blueberry colorway (available on other yarns & fiber).

However, I only had two skeins, or 800 yards. Combining the garment oversize I knit and my tension, I knew I was going to play yarn chicken. After the I finished the first ball of yarn I worked the sleeves. This was because having them the correct length was more important to me than the body or hems.

Knit sweater in progress on a black cat napping on his person's lap while a tuxedo cat watches.

It worked out, I had enough yarn to knit the sweater to the correct length, a sweater that was to my minimum length, and enough In the end it was yarn chicken. This small amount is all I had leftover!

Tuxedo cat sitting on a person's lap examining small amount of the yarn held in an open palm. The ball of about 1 inch, it is loosely wound.
Dot is curious how it is yarn chicken? It smells like alpaca and wool!

I’ve worn it almost daily at my desk since I wove in the ends. The sleeves are long enough to provide warmth when I rest my arm on my desk. It’s loose enough that it fits comfortably over anything I’m wearing. I wish it was an inch or two longer, it lands exactly at my hip, but it’s not something I often think about which means it works.

Woman sitting at desk wearing a handknit cardigan in a variegated yarn of deep grape, denim blue-grey, and vibrant blueberry cerulean. The background shown on the monitors is of M33, The Triangulum Galaxy from the Subaru telescope (NAOJ) and image data assembly/processing by Robert Gendler

When I posted the project to instagram, a friend pointed out my sweater matched my desktop wallpaper. The image is of M33, The Triangulum Galaxy. The image was taken from the Subaru telescope (NAOJ) with image data assembly/processing by Robert Gendler.

Haircut is by my trusted partner E; after I started snipping and needed help with the parts that were hard to manage by mirror reverse. He won’t let me go near his hair!

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