Article

A ROWE CARDIGAN FROM BROOKLYN TWEED (THAT MY AUNT MADE!)


Rowe Cardigan by Brooklyn Tweed in Cascade 220 yarn // Closet Case Files

Rowe Cardigan by Brooklyn Tweed in Cascade 220 yarn // Closet Case Files

I am so, so guilty of the cardinal sin committed most frequently against makers, which was asking another maker to make me something. At least it feels a bit like a sin at this point in my life, when approximately everyone I’ve ever met has asked me to sew them something. I want to get Selfish Sewist tattooed on my forehead just to stop that awkward conversation in its tracks (I mean, I might make you something if its Christmas or you’re a cute baby or the love of my life, but that’s about it).

So, it was especially rich that I had the gall to ask my beloved Aunt Carol if she, you know, felt like knitting me something? Granted, this is one of my favourite relatives, the only person in the family I can talk books, cats and yarn with, and I asked at a time when my faith in my own knitting capabilities was very, very low. But lets be real; if asking someone to make you a pair of jeans or a swimsuit is a big deal, asking for a handknit sweater is almost as bold as extending a weekend long stay with a friend into a year of couch squatting.  But, there’s a reason I love Aunt Carol as much as I do. She, unlike me, is not a selfish jerk and is happy to make things for other people. She told me to pick a pattern, and away I fell into the purled rabbit hole that is the Brooklyn Tweed website. I mean, if I was gonna go big, I might as well go all the way to the big top.

Rowe Cardigan by Brooklyn Tweed-7 Rowe Cardigan by Brooklyn Tweed-9

Of course, because I wasn’t knitting the damn thing myself I gravitated toward those 4/5 and 5/5 cabled projects that give me heartburn just looking at them, and sent Auntie Carol a list of possible options, asking her to choose. She told me to pick the one I really wanted and that she’d figure it out.

So of course I chose Rowe. Because I am a monster.

Rowe Cardigan by Brooklyn Tweed-16Rowe Cardigan by Brooklyn Tweed-12

This is the sweater of my dreams. Intricately cabled with a slouchy, oversized fit, it provides cozy long distance auntie hugs 24/7, and covers my butt, making it the ultimate leggings companion. It also caused my aunt more than a little grief. HAVE YOU SEEN THOSE CABLES? This sweater is a beast.

Rowe Cardigan_Cascade 220 in Heathers-2Rowe Cardigan_Cascade 220 in Heathers_back

I’ll spare you  the back and forth all year long, but needless to say this was a challenging project for Aunt Carol (I don’t want to know how many times she had to rip things way, WAY back, or when she reknit the right front because she blocked it with hair shampoo and the wool had a complete temper tantrum). When it finally arrived this March I don’t know if I’ve ever felt the actual, physical weight of love more in my life. I know how much time, energy and handiwork went into making this sweater, and I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that (for once), I was at a loss for words.

Once I got over how beautiful it was and how honoured I was to receive it, I put it on and basically haven’t taken it off since. The sleeves are a little long and need to be rolled, but otherwise its the next thing after Harry I’d grab in a house fire. If it wasn’t the sort of magical garment that will hopefully last long enough to be handed down, I’d probably want to be buried in it. I’m putting that on the record, just in case.

Rowe Cardigan_Cascade 220 in Heathers Rowe Cardigan by Brooklyn Tweed-3

It was knit with Cascade 220 in…. wait for it… Heathers (the colour is #9401 but seems to be out of stock everywhere I looked). It’s the dreamiest sweatshirt grey ever and goes with everything. Here’s what Aunt Carol had to say about its construction:

The whole time I was making the sweater I swore I was going to write a blog post with tips to help knitters with moderate knitting skills read and execute more advanced patterns. I searched the Internet for instructions but couldn’t find any help so it was a a big learning curve for me of trial and error. The most important thing is to read the pattern thoroughly!!  Follow it precisely. Use a counter AND check off the rows on the graph. If you are stuck contact the pattern company –  they usually get back to you in a few hours. Check your pattern every few rows to make sure you didn’t make a mistake and have to rip back a bunch of rows. At any rate I greatly enjoyed the process and the challenge and the satisfaction of completing a sweater for a dear niece!!

Oh man. I’m the luckiest woman alive. Of course, I’m wearing it here with Morgan Jeans. Next month I’ll be wearing it with my swimsuit. You can hold me to that.

And what about you? What’s the best thing anyone has made for you? What’s the thing you’re the proudest to have made for someone else?

  • That is so freaking gorgeous! I am insanely jealous. I have aunts that knit but I don’t know if their skill level is at that point yet…. dang.

  • English Girl at Home

    Haha I got asked at work today if I’d take on dance costumes for a colleague’s children & had to say sorry I only sew selfishly! Pretty much the only other people I enjoy sewing & knitting for are my Mom & Dad – as they (over) appreciate anything I make them, plus they are just lovely:)

  • Rachael-Lynn

    Because seriously it is like the most freaking amazing sweater ever! Your aunt is amazing! I have this sweater in my queue and it will be made one day. I made Michelle Wang’s for BT Stonecutter and it was an amazingly well written pattern. yes, one must keep up with the charting but so so beautiful! And the color! One can never go wrong with grey! It is the most wonderful color!

    • My problem is I only want sweaters in grey and cream. I gotta branch out!

      So jealous of your Stonecutter… that one is definitely on my hit list now that I’ve learned to cable.

      • Rachael-Lynn

        I only want sweaters in grey!! Is that a problem??

  • Chris Griffin

    I have 3 blankets, two from my grandmother and 1 from her sister. One of the GM-made blankets was to replace my original that I slept with for over 15 yrs. The one made by my greataunt was made before she died, that she gave to my GM and mom for safe keeping, as wedding present. I’m fairly certain I’m supposed to share that snuggliness with my husband…

    Add that my mom made my wedding dress, which was about a year of work, and I’m a fairly spoiled child!!

    I make blankets for people in my life. Family tradition! My brother has two, my best friend has one, and I’m slowly spreading them around my in-laws (they have a shocking lack of blankets, but I’m on it!).

    Your aunt clearly loves you a TON, and if she publishes that piece on knitting, I would LOVE to read it. Those cables are INSANE and AMAZING.

    • Omg, blankets are so overwhelming to me. SO. Much. Knitting. So glad you get wrapped up in that coziness all the time though, even if your husband gets the shaft haha

      • Christine Griffin

        Hehe! No worries, he has his own blanket! I bought teddy bear pirate fleece for a project and it was too thick. He was overjoyed to receive 2.5yrds of blanket (I didn’t even finish the edges). He’s 6’4″, so getting a blanket that covers him head-to-toe is exciting.
        Blankets are great to knit in winter when you’re snuggled up on the couch, you get to cheat and use it!

  • Mary

    That is beautiful. Somehow people who buy everything, often miss the point that it takes time… and that kind of time equals love!
    I recently made a passport holder for a family with four small children, and he teared up on receiving it. Gotta say, that was satisfying.

    • That’s amazing Mary! I’ve given a few handmade gifts to people who just didn’t understand the time that went into it and you’re like “Please react a little more for me please. THIS ISN’T MALL GARBAGE!” You learn who really appreciates it though, and they get spoiled every Christmas 😉

  • Ping Mathre

    This is soooo beautiful!! And it would 100% go with a Bombshell swimsuit.

    Also sidenote: at first I thought this was your finished Snoqualmie and I felt immensely guilty because I haven’t touched mine in weeks despite having lugged it around everywhere in my giant purse.

    • You and me both sister. Someone emailed me this week asking about the KAL and I felt soooo guilty. I just haven’t thad the time or inclination to knit lately…

  • Hélène

    Auntie Carol is an angel and the love that you both share is most precious. Many great memories came to my mind while reading this post thanks to you Heather Lou. Can’t wait to see your pics in Bombshell and Rowe cardigan!

  • So beautiful. What an epic labour of love! I only knit for babies and very close family and if anyone else asks I offer to teach them how to knit. A few people have taken me up on the offer which is fun as then I have friends to talk yarn and knit with. It is nice to make a gift that is truly appreciated. I knit my sister a sweater that she wears with pride and I think it gives me more satisfaction than anything I have made for myself.

    • That’s such a great method Renee! I’ve done the same thing with friends and have hosted a few sewing parties at my place with girlfriends and its soooo fun because I feel like I’m indoctrinating them in my Church of Craft.

  • Wow this so so amazing! You have one awesome Aunt! I grew up receiving hand made clothes and gifts from my mother, Grandmother and Aunts. I hope to continue that tradition with my daughter :)

  • CindyM

    You might owe Auntie Carol her own pair of Morgan jeans…and a swimsuit! 😉

    • Hahahaha. Oh man Cindy, you’re probably right 😉

  • Just amazing. I can’t even fathom the click clicks that would have gone into this. Wow.

    • I try not to think about it because then the guilt becomes oppressive 😉

  • You are a lucky bastard!

    Back when my gran (moms mom) still knitted, I didn’t dare to ask her to knit me a sweater. I did however ask her to knit me a pair of kneehighs. She did. I wore them to bits. Still have the part that covers the leg ( whatever its called) and I hope one day I will be smart enough to knit new foot parts.

    • That’s a rad idea! My friend’s grandma was such a knitting wizard she would just point to pictures in a magazine and get perfect handknit recreations. My jealousy was a physical thing.

  • Kelley

    That’s an amazing sweater! I have an almost identical story. My aunt offered to knit me a sweater and I chose BT Trillium. That gift gave me the confidence to knit my first sweater. Cheers to awesome aunts!

  • Antonia

    Oh my. This. Is. Beautiful.
    Wow, you have the best aunt ever!!!

    • I KNOWWWWW! The problem is I’ve unleashed a monster and now everyone in my extended family wants a hand knit sweater, haha.

  • Shell from SewEnSow

    How stunning & what an amazing aunt you have. I’ve bitten off more than I can handle with the BT Birch Bay at the moment, so if Aunt Carol writes that post I need to read it!

  • Lisa

    This is the most beautiful sweater!! I’m with you in the selfish sewing department, so I’m also amazed when people are willing to make things like this for others. This is truly gorgeous. Also, I expect and look forward to the sweater + bathing suit pictures this summer. 😉

  • Susan Buchanan

    Omg I can’t believe it’s Cascade! The heather is beautiful!

    • The colour is EXACTLY what I asked for – I’m so happy with it! (even if my last personal experience with Cascade wasn’t the funnest ever).

  • Nancy Karpen

    It’s truly gorgeous! Definitely beyond my knitting skills.too so you are a very lucky woman to have your aunt knit this for you.

    • I just wish she didn’t live so far away! I would love to hang out with her fluffy cats and knit all day together.

  • Oh Man, that is some serious love and gratitude right there! Your Aunt did an amazing job!

    • Oh that’s so sweet of you Grace! I love that you asked for pattern approval, haha. I’m sure it was beautiful!

  • kalimak

    Heather, you’re a monster. Just kidding. Heather, you know how to pick a knitting challenge! And many knitters love a challenge — your aunt is certainly one of those. And she’s an angel, undisputably. Beautiful, beautiful sweater.

    • Now that I’ve started cabling myself I understand what I really asked of her!

      • kalimak

        Yeah, cabling can be really tough on the wrists. I love cabled knits but when I work on them I really need to pace myself. Plus, all that room for error. It deserves repeating that your aunt is one brilliant and generous lady!

  • GUDE. You need to be remembering Aunt Carol at Christmas, Valentines Day, Mothers Day and her birthday. Forever.

    Taco has received a ton of beautiful things – blankets, booties, etc. My favorite hand made giftsfor me are probably all jewelry made by friends since I don’t really do jewelry very well myself.

  • www.tresbienensemble.com

    Cardinal sin of making…yes. However, I always prefer to knit and/or sew for people I know will TRULY appreciate the work I’m putting into the project. And, who better to understand and appreciate that than another maker? 😀

    • Francesca Amodeo

      this is SO true

  • Oh, such love there. Aunties do make the best sweaters. Back when I didn’t knit, a friend offered to make me a sweater. We went to the swanky shop, I bought the yarn – and that was the last I saw of her for about a year. She made herself that sweater. It looked crappy. It was why I taught myself to knit. It worked out.
    Whatever your Auntie wants that she just won’t bother doing, that’s your gift/s.

  • sallieforrer

    This is so incredibly beautiful, and what a wonderful gift of love from your Aunt! I think I’d sob if someone made me something so beautiful! Definitely an heirloom garment to be passed down. I have a couple un-selfish sewing projects lined up for the next few months that have me inwardly snarling (even the ones for the love of my life). The thought of knitting something for someone else is pretty much unbearable! Although I DO always peruse those BT men’s patterns and think, one day I’ll make Nick something. But that day might have to be when we don’t live in the subtropics and a wooly sweater knitted with cat hair and love would actually see endless wear like this cardigan from your Aunt. Otherwise it might break my heart!

  • K_Line

    I LOVE this story. I LOVE Aunt Carol. This sweater is a work of art.

  • Francesca Amodeo

    omg. your aunt is truly special and definitely loves you BIG time. I wouldn’t knit this for me, let alone anyone else. And I have knitted some complicated stuff….. you had better not ever forget her birthday etc etc ever!!!
    I’ve made clothes and knitted or crocheted stuff for my sisters. I always make a very big deal about it as I am petrified of being taken for granted like my aunty Bi was. The hardest thing I ever did was a silk satin long slip dress. I copied a ruined love of hers complete with hand stitched bias finishings and straps. It was a present for the woman who has everything. It will never happen again – not enough appreciation! The other sister – who doesn’t have everything – gets loads from me as she really appreciates and uses:)..

  • Camilla

    WOW! This is such a lovely story. Your cardigan is amazzzzing and it has inspired me to give it a go!! Wish me luck (cables have never been my strong suit, but if I can get my head around it, it will be worth it) xxx.

  • Noni_knits

    Could you just pm me Aunt Carol’s number – thanks! 😋