Have you ever wanted to learn how to knit but don’t know where to start? Well, look no further than Cardigang’s knit kits — and me as your handy reviewer.
I’ve been knitting for more than 20 years. My mum and grandma taught me to knit when I wasn’t feeling so great about life. I immediately loved the mix of maths and creativity. I started out making scarfs, and then beanies, and eventually graduated to adult garments (I still have the very first cardigan I made myself). Panama Hat
Knitting is a great skill to have. It not only shows you why handmade garments cost so much (time!), it also allows you to create very specific items that you can’t find in stores — like that time I made a retro Twisties jumper because Poh Ling Yeow wore one on TV!
But when I first started knitting, there were no easy-to-make fun and chunky kits like Cardigang offers. Melbourne duo Cat Bloxsom and Morgan Collins set up Cardigang in 2020 as something to do during COVID lockdowns. They taught themselves how to knit by watching YouTube videos!
The kits are designed for beginners, but they also offer a nice break for more experienced knitters looking for a change of pace. The beauty of the new Cardigang summer range is that all the kits feature bright, chunky cotton yarn, making the garments quick to knit but not so sweltering to wear like thick wool jumpers that end up spending most of the year in the drawer.
I went with the Rosie Vest in ‘Grasshopper’ green ($140). The kit includes all the yarn you need, knitting needles, a needle to sew up your garment, stitch markers, and a tote bag to store your project in.
It’s always good to check your tension before you start a knitting project. You just knit a little 10x10cm square to see how many stitches and rows you need. Every pattern includes a tension guide at the start, it’s to make sure your garment ends up the right size. If your tension is too loose (less stitches than the pattern gauge), then your garment will be too big. If your tension is too tight (more stitches than the pattern gauge), then it will turn out too small. You may need to switch to bigger or smaller knitting needles in order to get the right gauge for a pattern. And you can unravel the test swatch once you’ve got your tension, so don’t worry about wasting yarn here.
Another factor to keep in mind when deciding on which size to knit: cotton doesn’t have the same elasticity as wool. A woollen jumper will hold its shape, whereas cotton tends to stretch with wear and only really springs back after you wash it.
I started knitting the size 10-12 of the Cardigang Rosie Vest, because I was worried the 6-8 wouldn’t fit around my chest, but I quickly realised it was too big for me. So I unravelled it and started again. That’s not such a big deal with chunky knits — you can easily finish these projects in a weekend.
The Cardigang patterns are written in a really easy-to-follow way where you literally tick off each row as you knit, so you don’t lose your place. If you have some experience with old-school knitting patterns like I do, this structure may take a little getting used to — I found myself slipping into my own methods at certain stages of the pattern, but then I’m stubborn like that. The pattern booklet even includes a QR code for step-by-step videos and extra help (I still turn to YouTube for help with patterns even after all these years of knitting).
My favourite part of the Cardigang pattern is the little pep talks dotted throughout. “The back is D.O.N.E! Did someone say wine time?!” Don’t mind if I do!
The back and front pieces of the vest were quick to knit, and even though I hate sewing up garments (I tend to go for in-the-round knitting patterns to avoid that), the chunky cotton made that step much less painful.
Hot tip: leave a long tail when you cast on the front and back pieces, and then you can use those long tails to sew up the sides of your vest. It gives a neater finish.
Next step is picking up the stitches around the armholes and then picking up and knitting the neckline. Then you get to sew on the “bragging rights” tag that comes in the kit, so everyone knows you made it.
The final step, which isn’t actually mentioned in the pattern but is pretty key if you want a decent shape to your finished garment, is blocking. It’s not as tricky as it might sound — you just let your new Rosie Vest take a bath in some cold water with wool wash detergent, then rinse it really well, but don’t ring it. Get a clean towel and roll your vest in it — this will help take out all the excess water. Lay your new vest on a clothes hoist in the shade to dry (trust me, do not dry bright-coloured yarn in the sun, it will fade fast!). Keep in mind that because the yarn is so chunky and the garment is so thick, it can take a couple of days to dry. But it’s well worth the wait!
The Cardigang Rosie Vest is a great option for those new to knitting, but also a nice quick project for more experienced knitters. The cotton is much more versatile for Aussie weather, and the Rosie Vest can be worn on its own or over a shirt or dress, so you’ll get a lot more wear out of it. It’s also a great option for vegans or anyone allergic to wool. The ‘Grasshopper’ green shade is stunning! It’s so vibrant and joyous. The pattern instructions took a little getting used to for me, more because I’m so used to reading old-style patterns. If you haven’t knitted before, I reckon this check-box style would actually be easier to follow. The kits make great gifts, with prices starting at $60 and options for both knitting and crocheting.
Head of Editorial for Business Insider Australia, Lifehacker Australia, Gizmodo Australia and Kotaku Australia
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