It was Michelle Obama who converted the humble cardigan into a fashion staple almost as universal as a little black dress. When she wore one of her ubiquitous knits to meet the Queen, I realized the cardigan had officially arrived!
Once our fashionable first lady demonstrated how versatile cardis could be, wearing them paired with anything from bluejeans to ballgowns, I decided I had to have one of my own. Yes, that’s right, up until that point, I had never owned a black cardigan. EVER. In fact, the only cardigan I had owned my entire life was a little vintage number that I knitted to wear to English tea parties with my girlfriends.
Pretty, but more Jane Austen than Jennifer Anniston. It's hard to make this work with pants, or anything that is not a retro dress, so I just relegated the cardigan to the vintage bin. Once Michelle Obama burst on the fashion scene, that all changed.
Her photo in Vogue, pairing that cashmere number with a fabulous cherry tweed pencil skirt and silk blouse opened my eyes to the possibilities. I realized that a wool cardigan, in the same color, could tone down a silk blouse in a work setting, or set off a multi-colored pattern top to perfection.
Over the next few years, I tried my hand at a variety of open sweaters, but the pattern for the perfect little black cardigan always eluded me. That is, until my wonderful British pen pal and knitting partner in crime, Arianwen, suggested that we knit Audren in Unst together.
Voilà, I have my little black cardigan at last! The pattern designer, Gudrun Johnston, has really impressed me. She has so many thoughtful instructions. The pattern seems just perfect, from the sleeves knitted from the top down just right, picking up one stitch out of every two, to the I-cord bind off at the neck. Also, I think her lace panel creates a wonderful detail without being too fussy or too retro. Frankly, the main purpose of a black cardigan for me is to frame a wonderful top, so I will likely be wearing it open most of the time, as in the photo below:
But if I do get cold enough that I need to close it, the melon-stitch lace panel creates just enough interest to add a little texture to the basic black.
Thank you, Arianwen, for helping me find my little black cardigan at last!