Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hey Teach! Lace Cardigans - Completed

The live model pics

My Story:
I fell in love with this pattern. The lace, the shaping, and the overall style. I knew this would be a challenging pattern for me. Nothing like bumping up my knitting skill level a notch and learning a new technique or two.

I did some research on Ravelry to see what yarns folks were using. I came across Svetlana's version in a Debbie Bliss Stella version in dark blue. She basically finished hers in 4 days! I knew my LYS carried this yarn (silk/cotton/rayon) and would be perfect for this project.

I casted on my Denim version (Debbie Bliss Stella) and knitted the back piece with some excitement, errors, frogging, and anticipation. I proceeded to knit the left front piece.

I went back to Ravelry to do further research to see how others knitted the lace pattern. I also took note of where they started and stopped their lace pattern.

I decided to start another version, but with an inexpensive yarn. I chose the Lion Brand Cotton Ease yarn for my test cardi called Azalea. Don't get me wrong, I love the Debbie Bliss yarn. In my head, it's an expensive yarn to be making mistakes with. I put my Denim aside to get my Azalea version caught up. I learned a lot with Azalea. The yarn was a bit easier to knit with as the Denim yarn split a bit. When I finished a section with Azalea, I would go back and finish the same section for Denim.

That's my story on how I ended up with two versions of the Hey Teach! cardigan and completed in less than 30 days.

Here's my review...Enjoy!

Name of Pattern:
Hey Teach!

This is a free pattern from Yes, it's free. :)

Here's the link for Hey Teach!

Designed by:
Hélène Rush for

Pattern/Garment Description:
A "baby doll" fit lace cardigan. The sleeves and yoke/bodice are in a lace pattern. Below the bust ribbing is stockinette stitch pattern. Four 3/4 inch buttons finish the front.

Flattering for all shapes - it adds hips to the boyish figure and hides the hips of the pear-shaped.

XS(32.25), S(35.5), M(39), L(43), 1X(46.75), 2X(50.75), 3X(55)

Length: 19.5, 20, 20.5, 21, 21.5, 22, 22.5 inches.

I made a size Small, but lengthened the cardi to 21 inches (see changes below).

Yarns Used:
Here's the yarn information for both projects:

Debbie Bliss Stella (Silk, Rayon, & Cotton) in Denim (medium blue). I used less than 7 balls (~93 yards/ball) or about 650 yards for my version.

Note: the yarn tends to split slightly. Not as bad as some other yarns I have used. I just made sure I formed the stitches cleanly. A few times, I had to tink back a few stitches to catch a splitted stitch. Not a real issue. I love the yarn.

Lion Brand Cotton-Ease (Cotton & Acrylic) in Azalea. I used 3 skeins (207 yards/skein). This yarn was a joy to knit with. I can see why it's a favorite with other knitters.

Both yarns are considered to be worsted weight.

Notions Used:
Buttons: Three 19mm or 3/4" size for each cardi. Both buttons came from G-Street Fabrics. G-Street has the widest selection, especially for unusual colors and textures. I waited for their weekend sales to purchase them.

17 sts/24 rows = 4 inches in St st

My gauge was right on for both yarns.

Knitting Tools Used:
- 40" circular needles: #8 (addi turbo)
- 40" circular needles: #7 (addi turbo) - only used for the Azalea version: ribbing under the bodice
- Three (3) #8 DPNs (for 3-needle bind offs)
- Scrap yarn (stitch holders and lifeline) - used fine mercerized cotton crochet yarn
- Stitch markers
- Tape measure (used frequently!)
- Post-it note sheet
- Frog
- Tink

Techniques I used/Things I learned:
I used a lot of techniques while knitting this cardigan. Techniques that made knitting this project more pleasurable.

I printed this pattern/instructions in a larger font. While on the website/webpage, I press (command and the + key) at the same time to make the font larger (on my Mac). For Windows, press (control and the + key) to get the same results. To make the fonts smaller, press the (command and the - key) for the Mac and for Windows (control and the - key).

I then took the lace chart pattern page and enlarged it on my copy machine. No need to squint while reading the chart symbols/information.

Lifeline: used while knitting the lace pattern. Threaded the yarn through the current stitches while on the needles. Knitted 12 rows, checked the lace pattern, and moved the lifeline to current row.

The front left piece with a lifeline inserted prior to bind off at the side

Stitch markers: I used and placed stitch markers between the lace repeat pattern. This helped me stay on track with lace pattern, especially if I had to stop knitting (e.g. distractions) in the middle and pick up later.

@row 7, I had to move my stitch markers to the right one stitch to maintain the 12-stitch repeat pattern. This is where one pattern finishes and another starts.

Watched the lace pattern develop. Used previous rows to help knit problem areas after BOs and decreases around the armholes and necklines. This was mainly the areas that were outside the repeat pattern (chart).

Used wide post it note for it's straight edge as a reminder of which row I was on or knitted (chart). The removable post-it note is perfect for moving up and down the lace pattern chart. :)

I bound off the shoulders and finished knitting the rest of the cardigan. Then I decided not to seam the shoulders the regular way or mattress stitch. Instead, I used the Kirchner bind off or 3-needle bind off. Yes, I had to undo my original bind offs. It was well worth it. From now on, it's Kirchner bind offs for me. Simple to do and a nice finish in the shoulder seams.

Kirchner or 3-needle bind off

The shoulder seam

My first buttonholes! They came out beautifully, I might add. For the buttonholes, I used the Elizabeth Zimmerman method. From what I read, this produces firm buttonholes. Personally, I can't stand to see sagging/growing buttonholes in a knitted garment. I've seen a lot in RTW hand knitted garments and it just turns me off. My buttons were slightly smaller than 19mm or 3/4 inch. I knitted a 2-stitch buttonhole and found that to be the perfect size for my button.

I sewed the buttons onto the front left button band with a regular sewing needle and sewing thread.

Sewing the side seams. I did not block the pieces. The measurements from my garment pieces actually matched the pattern diagrams/line drawing measurements. I went ahead and sewed the seams. So how did I handle the curled pieces? Easy. Since I'm a sewist, I had my handy pattern weights available to keep the edges flat. Now, some knitters would probably wave their finger at me for using this method. works for me. :)

My flat edges before sewing

My seam disappeared below the lace

Oh no! Where did my side seams go???

Changes I Made to the Pattern:
I decided not to shorten this cardigan and just knit the 20 inch length from the pattern and see what this version looks like.

Since I used a long tail cast on method, I ended up having 5 rows of ribbing at the bottom of the cardigan instead of 4 rows.

I added an additional repeat pattern row (6 rows) between the bodice ribbing and under the armhole. This was to ensure that the ribbing would actually fall below my full bust area and not somewhere along my bustline. This was a last minute change, which worked out well for me.

These changes added an additional inch to the overall length of the cardigan from 20 inches to 21 inches.

I knitted three buttonholes and placed them in the front bodice area above the ribbing instead of going all the way down to the bottom of the cardi. I tend to wear my cardigans open and seldom button below my bust line. No need to show off my non-existent waist line. lol!

What I Like About this Pattern:
I love the design and shape of this cardi. It's very feminine looking. Can be dressed up and dressed down. Personally, this was a very fast knitting project for me. It took me less than a month to knit two of these cardigans at the same time.

I love that this pattern uses worsted weight yarn that's readily available. I enjoyed seeing the different colors and different yarns used for this cardi on Ravelry.

It was a fun project to knit. It kept my attention, even when I was knitting two of these cardis at the same time.

What I Dislike About this Pattern:
Nothing to really dislike about this pattern. I did have a few "aha" moments while in the midst of knitting this project. A lot of what I learned on this version will definitely make my next version go faster.

My Pattern Rating (Beginner, Easy, Intermediate, Hard):
I rate this pattern as an Intermediate. There were a few challenging areas. I have to add, even though I've been knitting garments for a few months, I must have used every technique and experience from my previous projects.

Conclusion/Additional Comments:
There are currently over 1100 of this lace cardi projects on Ravelry including mine.

This has been the most the most rewarding knitting experience I've had so far. Sure, I had to frog 3 inches of the lace on the backside after finding extra YOs that didn't belong. That's where my lifeline yarn came to the rescue. I also had to tink a few rows because I got distracted or tried to rush my knitting.

The rewards out weighed my errors. I used beautiful yarn and beautiful colors for both versions. Knitting with different stitches broke up the monotony of this project. There's 4-5 rows of ribbing (depending on cast-on method), several inches stockinette stitches, 8 rows of ribbing and several inches of lace pattern. Enough combinations to keep the interest going.

I actually spent blocks of quality time on this project. Not once, did I attempt to start another project or go back to one of my WIPs. This cardi kept my attention. That's a sign of a great pattern. I gave this pattern 5 out of 5 stars on Ravelry.

The only difference I can see between the two versions I made, the Denim fits more like a baby doll. This yarn does not grow or stretch at all unlike the Azalea version. I believe having the silk/cotton/rayon mix helps keep the garment's shape intact.

Which one is my favorite? The Denim version, of course. ;)

This is definitely my TNT pattern. I plan on making one or two more. I am now looking for colors where I can wear this cardi through several seasons. Like Spring, Summer, and Fall. Future changes/versions might include knitting 3/4 sleeve lengths in lace and knitting the short sleeves in garter stitch. I would love to try and knit this in the round as one piece as others on Ravelry have done.

Comments for those who plan on tackling this lace cardi:
Need to take the time to watch the lace pattern as you knit. The lace pattern chart is extremely helpful, but you need to watch how the stitches form (YO, K2tog, Ssk, S2KP). This will help you when you knit the side areas after the decreases for the armholes, sleeves, and neckline.

The most challenging pieces for me was knitting the sleeves. I ended up frogging and tinking more on these pieces than the back piece.

When I approached a bind off area (e.g. shoulders and tops of sleeves), I ended up knitting the last row or two. Basically, stopping the lace pattern one or two rows before bind off. These areas tend to have more stress and a YO would stretch out.



I hope this review will help you on your own version of the Hey Teach! cardigan. Give it a try! ;)


Trina said...

Another great review! Some useful comments there about enlarging the charts. And those pattern weights are such a great idea! Now to see the live model pictures... :)

cockles said...

Lovely finished work! I'm knitting the pattern at the moment but am a little confused with the shaping for the armholes. I'm hoping you can help me out...

Shape Armholes:
Note: See “Shaping Note” in Pattern Notes, above.
BO 4[5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] sts at beginning of next 2 rows. 57[63, 69, 75, 81, 87, 95] sts.
Next Row [RS]: K1, k2tog, work in pattern to last 3 sts, ssk, k1.
P 1 row.
Repeat these 2 rows 1[1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4] times more. 53[59, 63, 69, 73, 79, 85] sts.
Continue in pattern until work measures 18.5[19, 19.5, 20, 20.5, 21, 21.5] inches (armhole measures 5.5[6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5] inches), ending with a WS row.

So I bind off 4 stitches... and do i continue with k1, k2 together... where should i be on the lace pattern after doing all that?

Sorry, but am having difficulty understanding the pattern as such.

It will be most helpful if you can share with me what you know.

thanks so much!

my email address is