A couple of Stitches Wests ago I bought a Strickwear Merging Colors cardigan kit. The pattern is called Ode to Joy. Every time I picked this cardigan up to work on it, my brain played “Ode to Joy,” up to the point where I figured Beethoven’s heirs would be filthy rich if I had to pay royalties on what songs play in my head. Don’t know the tune? I’m so sure that you do know it that I’m going to link to a non-classical version of it. Here’s Beaker, singing it Muppet-style. I’ll wait while you listen.

Now that you’re done listening, here’s the cardigan:

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Pattern: Strickwear Merging Colors Ode to Joy Short Jacket by Candace Eisner Strick
Yarn: Strickwear Merging Colors (100% wool) in Rose Garden (pinks/purples). Finished cardigan weighs 475 grams, which works out to 1600 yards used
Size: small, with modifications
Needles: US size 3 for body and size 2 for buttonbands
Started 9/6/2010 and finished 3/26/2012

The kit contains the pattern and 8 colors of yarn in shades of pink and purple. The graduating color change is done by switching out strands of yarn every x number (exact number changes depending on what section you’re on) of rows. You work with 3 strands of color 1 (pink) for x rows, then switch to 2 strands of color 1 and 1 strand of color 2 (different shade of pink) for the x rows, switching out a strand every x number of rows until you have 3 strands of color 8 (light purple). Winding all these hanks was tedious; it’s thin yarn with lots of yardage and it wants to cling to itself. I wound the hanks as needed instead of all at once and pinned the color numbers to the balls so I could keep the colors straight.

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The yarn’s clinginess had one great advantage: easy spit-splicing. After I made my gauge swatch I realized there would be some 350 ends to weave in at the end and decided to spit-splice instead of leaving tails. At the first color change I completed the row with all three strands of color 1, ripped back 15 stitches, measured that length, then broke the yarn and spliced the next color in. The color changed right when I hit the end of the row and I used that measurement of 15 stitches to place the splice on subsequent rows. Look, ma, no tails! Well… a few. Probably about 30 left at the end and easy to weave in, again because the yarn is clingy.

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The jacket body is constructed with mitered squares, partial squares, and rectangles that you join as you go because you pick up and knit from certain edges. The shoulder and side seams use a three needle bind-off so there’s minimal sewing at the end. Really, the only sewing is the sleeve seams. The instructions have you work the squares exactly the same, which puts the decreases on the inside on some squares and on the outside on others. I wanted my decrease rows to all be on the inside so I made that change as I knit. It’s a subtle difference but looked different enough to me that I cared enough to do something about it.

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To make a better fit on me, I made each side panel 8 rows (4 ridges) shorter. I made the body in about 3 weeks, then the jacket sat under the coffee table for over a year before I started to tinker with the sleeves. Several folks on Ravelry mentioned the sleeves were too full so I worked double decreases at 2 points at the armpit every 2 rows 5 times to reduce the fulness before proceeding with the color changes, which I then made every 6 rows instead of every 4, making longer sleeves. One strand of the yarn doesn’t stand up to a lot of abrasion so instead of using it to sew the sleeve seams I took a crochet hook and chained one selvedge stitch with the stitch opposite it down the entire length of the sleeve. This looks almost the same as the decreases in the squares/rectangles and I didn’t have to attempt lining up garter stitch doing mattress stitch, something I’m not particularly good at.

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The last big change was to make it 5 inches longer than the pattern indicated. It’s supposed to end just below the mitered squares. I had to add 66 more rows and didn’t have enough of each color remaining to accomplish 3 rows of each color combination so I winged it, working a few more rows of some combinations than others, making sure I had enough of colors 3, 2, and 1 at the end to finish the bottom border and the front bands the same. I like how it turned out and get compliments in public.

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I never know what to do with my arms when I’m being photographed like this.

In a way I’m disappointed when I look at it on Ravelry, simply because mine looks like everyone else’s. It’s a kit, for Pete’s sake, of course everyone’s is going to look relatively the same. I felt the same about the sushi wallet. I guess I’m not cut out for kits although I do have several others in the stash that I still plan to make.

The pullover for my mom is going slowly. Lots of knitting, lots of ripping, several design changes and I finally knitted the front, the armhole, and halfway across the back before I realized I cast on 25 too many stitches this time around when proceeding to the back from the armhole. I weighed the remaining yarn before I ripped back and I am 100% certain I need at least half a skein more to finish this. So I went yarn shopping. The problem: the skeins I have are labeled “Early Grey,” a color that doesn’t seem to exist. “Earl Grey” is everywhere and is considerably lighter. I suspect “Early Grey” was a one-off, an “Earl Grey” run that ended up too bright. Don’t get me wrong: it’s lovely. I just can’t get any more of it. Bad cell phone picture, but here’s the “Early Grey” knitted up with the two new skeins of “Earl Grey” sitting palely in cakes to the right.

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I’m going to leave the front as is and will blend the new color into the back and sleeves, which meant I had to buy two skeins of the new shade so I could blend it properly. If the result makes the back look too different I will have to rip the whole thing out and start over. Ugh.

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