I'm a fan of raglan, top-down sweater knitting. You get to try it on as you go, there are no seams, and you don't have to worry about all the pieces fitting together at the end. Awesome! While seamed sweater knitting has it's place, there are just major perks to a seamless knit.
There are a number of top-down baby cardigan patterns, but very few that are completely seamless. Lots have raglan sleeve construction, but then they include an after-thought button band. And, picking up 100 stitches evenly up and down each button band and making sure they line up just isn't my favorite thing. :)
And, that's where I got the idea for the Baby Belle Cardigan.
What if I designed a baby cardigan that was *completely* seamless?
Now, I realize that designing a cardigan with an integral collar and button band isn't an earth shattering idea :), but I also wanted it to look a certain way.
For instance, seamless cardigans can have the propensity to "droop". Plain 'ol garter stitch button bands tend to sag out of shape and limply hang around buttons. No thanks!
I wanted to design a cardigan for my little girl that had a classic silhouette and feminine details. (I imagined puffy pockets. :)) I wanted it to be one of those knits that was simple enough to go with lots of outfits, but special enough that it seemed like an heirloom knit.
So, with a rough image in my mind and a determination to knit-it-all-at-once, the Baby Belle Cardigan gradually came together.
My major break-through on the design came when I discovered the Linen Stitch. Love this stitch! It makes knitting look woven - so cool! It was too rigid (and monotonous :)) for a whole sweater, but it ended up being just perfect for the edging of the cardigan. I loved the subtle texture difference, too, between the sturdy, "woven" band and the soft, stockinette stitch body.
As I started working up the first prototype, I was loving the results. The style was turning out just as cute as I'd hoped, and it was wonderful to have everything coming together at once: collar, button bands, body, and sleeves!
Once the cardigan was finished, it still needed a little flair, so I decided to try my hand at designing those puffy pockets I'd envisioned.
Once again, I was going for a seamless knit here, so I knew I didn't want to knit them separate and then try to seam or whipstitch them on. (From past experiences, it's also insanely difficult to sew a pocket onto the front of a garment and *not* have it look sloppy!) After multiple attempts, I finally discovered a way to successfully knit the pocket while simultaneously knitting it to the front of the cardigan. You initially had to pick up a few sts on the cardigan for the bottom of the pocket, but that was as close to completely seamless as I could get. ;)
With that, I called the cardigan a success and calculated out 5 different baby and toddler sizes, wrote up the pattern, had it test knit, and now I hope *you* enjoy it!
If you've knit the Baby Belle, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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