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Knit the Minimalist Cardigan

Mar 25, 2013

Kathleen's finished Minimalist Cardigan
I knit the Minimalist Cardigan by Ruthie Nussbaum in the spring and summer of 2010. I wore it a few times, and then spilled some coffee on it. I put it in the washing machine on hand wash with cold water, I thought, and when I pulled it out, it was well and truly felted. I checked the machine settings and saw with dismay that it was set on delicate, not hand wash; I guess there was just enough agitation on that setting to make the fibers in my Cascade Venezia want to cling to each other in terror.

Seriously, I've never seen something felt so well, even if it wasn't intended. It was really beautiful after it came out of the washer, even if it went from a size 48-inch bust to a size 35-inch bust. The moss stitch was still visible, just really, really tightened up.

After my initial horror, I thought the Minimalist would be a great layer for my 89-year-old gramma, since it basically turned into a boiled-wool jacket. I threw it into the dryer and hoped for the best. Gramma loved it and wore it until the day she died.

Three years later, and Minimalist Cardigan knitting pattern is still a fashionable and versatile as ever, and we're offering it as a kit. You'll get enough Tahki Stacy Charles Zara (one of my favorite yarns, and it's washable!) to make up to a 48.5-inch.

Here are the things I love about the sweater:

  • The drape of the moss stitch. It hangs beautifully, even after lots of worrying on my part. The worrying happened because moss stitch tends to bias (I found out) during the knitting progress, but it magically straightens itself out when it's blocked (like so many other glitches do!).
  • The stockinette bands. This detail really makes the sweater for me. It's beautiful and I love how it rolls in a bit; it makes the perfect edging. Some people in the knit-along didn't care for the rolling so they added a different stitch pattern to the edge. Some did a slip stitch at the edge and one person even did a cable all the way up both fronts. I decided to compensate for the rolling by adding another inch to each edge, so I added 5 stitches.
  • The yarn. I choose Cascade Venezia, which is a silk/merino blend. The silk really lightens up the yarn, making it perfect for spring and fall pieces, and even for summer evenings at the beach! I love the color, too. I'd been wanting to knit something in cream and this seemed like a good candidate. And it was! The cream is such a nice neutral; it works with black, brown, gray, red—virtually any color, really. My gramma wore lots of bright colors, and the sweater looked good with everything.

What I would change if I did this sweater again:

  • Make the fronts wider. I found myself tugging at the fronts to bring them together. That's part of the "minimalist" aspect of this pattern—no buttons, zipper, etc., but it bugged me a little. I tried a shawl pin, which worked really well, and I also just bit the bullet and got used to the larger opening at the front. If you want to add some width, just add stitches to the stockinette portion of the fronts. It really does roll in quite a bit so you can add a couple of inches with no problem.
  • Do the Kitchener stitch to connect the stockinette bands together at the back neck. I strongly dislike doing the Kitchener stitch; I seem to always mess it up and have to do it several times, stretching out the yarn. So I ended up using the three-needle bind-off instead. It's okay, but there is a little bulk at the back. I just need to practice the Kitchener (also known as grafting) so I can be as good as my friend Terry, who just whips out her needle and yarn, starts grafting, and keeps visiting all the while. Maybe she'll trade me a latte for a lesson!

Revisiting this experience makes me want to knit the Minimalist Cardigan again. I think I'll make it in burgundy this time, and hand wash it just to be extra safe! Order your kit today, before they're all gone!


Featured Product

Burgundy Minimalist Cardigan Kit

Availability: Out Of Stock
Was: $160.90
Sale: $109.00


All you need to knit the popular Minimalist Cardigan in Tahki's Burgundy Zara yarn is in this exclusive Kit!


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Sharon Elise wrote
on Aug 20, 2013 3:13 PM

Hi: I hope you can give me a suggestion.  I just knitted the Minimalist Cardigan and now need to do the seams.  However, I can't find any information on doing the shoulder seams with moss or seed stitch (I've tried Googling it).  How did you do it?

Thanks, Sharon

LileeEgg wrote
on Mar 30, 2013 1:17 PM


The address to purchase the pattern for $3.85:

gumbiecat wrote
on Mar 25, 2013 6:35 PM

I knit the Minimalist Cardigan in 2007, shortly after I received my IK magazine.  It was a great knit and very comfortable to wear!  I'd only worn it a few times when, much to my surprise, I dropped many pounds.  The Minimalist Cardi drooped sadly on my body, and I could no longer wear it.  It's stored away...patiently waiting to be worn again.  Judy in SE Wis.

JanKnit2 wrote
on Mar 25, 2013 3:45 PM

I am with djm8!

I love boiled wool and want to make this one to felt on purpose!

RebeccaB@2 wrote
on Mar 25, 2013 2:29 PM

Hey Kathleen,  I have instructions for grafting using a knitting needle on my web site.  Much easier than using a tapestry needle.


b.kluver wrote
on Mar 25, 2013 11:57 AM

I too knit this cardigan in 2010.  It may have been my 2nd adult sized cardigan.  I knit it in Knit Picks Comfy - a cotton/acrylic blend.  It remains a go-to cardigan today and has really stood the test of time.  I throw it in the washer and dryer and it comes out soft and comfy.  I actually keep it hung up (not folded) in my closet and have been surprised that it doesn't grow...but it really doesn't.  The design is delightful.  I want to knit another one!

Jbug wrote
on Mar 25, 2013 10:57 AM

Responding to Jan Ballew:

This is a brilliant method for grafting in pattern! Thank you for sharing it. It takes the fear away.

I have knit the minimalist  and absolutely love it--made no changes to the pattern. I used a Rowan silk/merino blend (can't remember the name of the yarn) in light gray tweed with minimal amounts of light beige, black, and light blue flecks in it. If I knit it again I would gradually decrease the sleeve  toward the forearm because I am small.boned and the openings are too large for my arms without a long sleeved shirt underneath it, so that's how I wear it .I would love to wear it over a  sleeveless dress however  so I'm going to use elastic thread to snug up the ribbing. The sweater gets compliments every time I wear it.

jan ballew wrote
on Mar 25, 2013 9:02 AM

Kathleen, I haven't knit this but I wanted to tell you how I solved the hassle and frustration for me of Kitchener.  At the shoulder for example, when I have finished knitting and am ready to do the grafting, I work two more rows in my pattern stitch and then a few rows, 4-6 of stockinette, all in a light-colored waste yarn, preferably in a slightly lighter-weight.  Bind those stitches off and lightly steam the waste yarn stitching you have done.  Both shoulders done and ready to graft, lay them face up, tucking however you need the waste-knitting so the stitches to be grafted are visible.  Thread your needle and using the first row of waste-stitches as your guide, begin grafting.   By following how the waste yarn goes in and put of the stitches on each shoulder, or whatever, I don't have to remember the correct order for grafting the stitch, or try to figure out the way to graft for pattern stitches.  When the graft is done and the seam is secure, just pull out the waste stitches.  

djm8 wrote
on Mar 25, 2013 8:11 AM


What a great accidental discovery! Now I want to knit this sweater in a bigger size and felt it. I knit a bright orange wool/angora Minimalist Cardigan years ago when the pattern first came out in Interweave magazine, and it has held up beautifully. I still get compliments on it.

KaraW wrote
on Mar 25, 2013 7:26 AM

I knitted this up when the pattern was first published. Perhaps it is time to pull it out of the WIP basket and seam it up! Thanks for the will be a perfect Spring addition to my wardrobe.

KnitGall wrote
on Mar 25, 2013 7:13 AM

I cannot wear or knit wool of any kind, to include blends.  Is the pattern still available?