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Topanga Canyon Cardigan

A quick to knit, bell sleeve cardigan, made with gorgeous fabric yarn!

This project was part of a knit-a-long hosted by Knit Collage. This was my first time participating in a knit-a-long, and it was so much fun! All through the process I kept thinking to myself, "Why did I not join in on one of these sooner?!?" I'm sure depending on who hosts the knit-a-long, there will be differences in the process, i.e., how the members connect, patterns, yarns, how techniques are taught, etc., and I will go into detail of how this particular one worked. I think one thing to mention up front is that this pattern was only available exclusively to those who joined the knit-a-long. I think the owner of Knit Collage, Amy Small, mentioned that the pattern will be available to the public in the fall, but for now, it was only available to the members of the knit-a-long group. There were two other patterns to choose from for this Spring knit-a-long, and it was so hard to choose which one to do! But, in the end, I couldn't resist this open front bell sleeve cardi. I'll talk more about the pattern in a minute, but first, I'll talk more about the knit-a-long itself...

I found out about the knit-a-long from Knit Collage's Instagram account. Amy posted about the three patterns that would be available to knit for the knit-a-long, and I knew after seeing those photos that I just had to participate. And again, the cardi is what really drew me in! I was nervous to join because I didn't quite know what to expect, but Amy was so welcoming and made the process so easy! Everyone who signed up was added to a private Facebook group. I loved this because it made it easy to connect with other members of the group, and it was also a way to ask questions, share progress photos, and to get to know one another. I loved how positive everyone was, and if anyone asked a question, so many were so quick to help and encourage. It was so refreshing! We were also encouraged to share our photos through Instagram with the hashtag #knitcollagekal. It was a lot of fun to connect with members there also!

Other than the social media platforms, we also used Teachable. Amy used this to post videos each week on the different techniques and aspects for each pattern. The knit-a-long lasted 6 weeks, and each week we had an "assignment" to get to a certain point in our patterns. The videos posted each week went along with the part of the pattern we were supposed to get done that week. Even though all of the techniques used, (save two), were not new to me, the yarn I used was. It was nice to watch the video each week to see how/if anything would be different using Amy's yarns. I think these videos would have been super helpful if this was my first time knitting a sweater, or really, my first time knitting at all! I would highly encourage anyone who may be intimidated to try to knit a big project, especially a sweater, to join in on Knit Collage's next knit-a-long. The videos were thorough, helpful, and very well done!

Amy and others at Knit Collage were always available on a one-on-one basis for anyone who may have needed extra help. I loved that! I know a lot of members even FaceTimed with Amy, and she was so willing to give help or fix a problem. Talk about wonderful customer service!

The last thing I thought I'd mention about this knit-a-long is that Amy also included a small blog post each week about different subjects. If you follow Amy, or Knit Collage, you'll know that she is so passionate about how and why being creative is so important. Each blog post was so inspiring! I loved this little extra sparkle that was added to the knit-a-long and always looked forward to each new blog post. I would also encourage anyone to listen to her podcast, Collage Creative. She does interviews each week with other companies or individuals who are in the "creative" business. Be it other yarn makers, designers, sewers, florists, etc. She asks them questions, and talks about why they love being creative, and why it's important to them, among other things. It's very inspiring, and I look forward to listening to it any chance I get. I definitely had a great time during this knit-a-long, and it made me want to join in on more!

Even though this particular pattern isn't available to everyone yet, I still want to talk about it just a little bit. It is called the Topanga Canyon Cardigan. It has an open deep-v front, and long bell sleeves. I LOVE the bell sleeves! The construction of this garment was really straight forward and easy to follow. You start by knitting the back panel from the bottom up. There are just two rows of simple ribbing, and only a little shaping at and around the armhole, shoulder, and back neck. The shaping is done using simple decrease stitches and short rows. After the back panel, you knit the two front panels. Again, they are started from the bottom up with the 2 rows of ribbing, and then simple shaping around the armholes and shoulders, and then also at the front edge. The decrease stitches help make that deep-v that I love so much. After those three pieces are finished, you seam them together. At the shoulder edges, a 3 needle bind-off is used, and along the sides, a mattress stitch is used. Next, the sleeves are knit. This is where one new technique I learned came into play. We knit the sleeves using the Magic Loop Method. I've always been scared of this term. If you don't know what this method is, it's where you use a long circular needle in place of double pointed needles to knit a small circumference. I was so nervous to try this out, but the video posted on Teachable was so helpful and so well done. Amy made it so easy! And I actually loved knitting the sleeves this way! I feel like this was a great project to learn this method. Lastly, after the sleeves are done, you knit an i-cord edging around the front panels, and neck edge. This was the other new technique to me. I've always wanted to learn this, and this was also so easy thanks to Amy's video. I love how it completed the garment, and helped the edges lay flat. I really loved this pattern, and it is one I will definitely knit again. I give it 5/5 stars!

Now let's talk about the star of the show...the yarn!! I've admired all of Knit Collage's yarns for many years, and this was my first time using it. It didn't disappoint, and I wish I hadn't waited so long to use it! This particular yarn is the Wildflower yarn. Like all of Knit Collage's yarns, it is handmade in India by a group of women that Amy hired and taught. I love this aspect of the Knit Collage company. Each skein of yarn is made with love. You can read more about these awesome women here.

The Wildflower yarn is made from strips of cotton voile fabric. The fabrics are printed with traditional Indian paisley and flower designs. The fabric is cut into strips and then knotted together to make each skein. I adore the rustic feel this gives the yarn. And I also love that when I needed to start a new skein, I could simply knot the old skein with the new instead of weaving in the ends. The knots in the yarn are sometimes visible on the front side of the piece, but I love the character it adds. And it's also supposed to happen with this yarn! The knots are part of the aesthetic. I personally love it!

Do you see the red, random stripes in my cardigan? Those stripes are the edges of what would have been on the sari that inspired this specific colorway. I chose the color Petal. The majority of the yarn is a very light pink, with deep red and brown flowers. The stripes are a deep red and brown pattern. I love the effect this gives, and it was a fun surprise every time a strip of this burst of color would pop up. I'm also pleasantly surprised and happy with how my stripes abstractly line up with each other. I ended up with two bold stripes on one sleeve, one on the other, and one on the back. They somehow, magically line up in a way that makes me smile...

It was so fun to knit with fabric. It is so soft, and knit up so fast! Because of how lightweight and breathable this cotton fabric yarn is, it is perfect for warmer weather. I can see getting a lot of use out of this during the summer months. I can't wait to knit with this yarn again! 5/5 stars!

This project makes me so happy, and I enjoyed every moment knitting it! I highly recommend the yarn and pattern!

Pattern: Topanga Canyon Cardi by: Knit Collage

Yarn: Wildflower by: Knit Collage in color Petal

Size made: Small

Skeins used: 6

Happy knitting!

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