During the Madewell sale in September I broke down and ordered their Kent cardigan in this “heather clay” color. Even though it was $100 and no doubt made in a sweatshop, I told myself that it was too hard to find wool to copy one on my own. Then it arrived in the mail and the fabric was really odd–stretchy and spongey, almost like a boiled wool but without any substance. The color was weird in person. I sent it back.

Image from Nordstrom (color now sold out)

But  “boiled wool” set off a light bulb for me and I started doing some Googling. I hit the jackpot: I found camel-colored Telio “Lana Bollito” on AmazonPrime/Fabric.com for $12 a yard (regularly $25!).  I remembered I’d downloaded this pattern last year and never made it because it was just too hard to sew knits on my regular machine. Now I had a serger, though. It all came together:

However. If you see care for your fabric listed as both “dry clean only” and “hand wash” depending on which site you find it on, you probably don’t want to pre-wash it in the machine–even on the “wool” cycle–because it will shrink. I went to cut out my fabric…and I didn’t have enough.

I ordered another two yards from Amazon (thus making a $25 project a $50 project) and didn’t once think that maybe the extra fabric would be from a different bolt. You know what’s coming…the second cut was a slightly different shade. I swore; I debated making something else; then I decided I really wanted this cardigan and would just cut the back from the different yardage, ensuring I would never see my mistake.

I’m telling myself it’s not very noticeable: You can see it where the back meets the sleeves in the side shot above if you’re looking for it, but no one so far was mentioned anything (probably because they’re distracted by how giant my cardigan is).

So I’m calling it a win. I got something not made in sweatshop, of a better quality, and for half the price of the Madewell version. Here’s the details:

  • Fabric – “Lana Bollito” boiled wool/rayon boucle knit (really gorgeous and fuzzy, even if it did get a bit stiffer after I shrank it). That camel color is sold out as far as I can see but there’s a good selection here.
  • Pattern – StyleArc Sabel Boyfriend Cardi in a size 10. StyleArc instructions are not for beginners but their pattern drafting is beautiful.  Pay attention to the finished garment measurements; I wanted a giant cardigan so was happy to see a 49″ finished bust, but it is definitely oversized.
  • Construction notes – I stabilized the shoulder seams and back neck seam with elastic, since there’s a lot of fabric hanging from there. I ended up hand stitching down the hems and button band, since the density of the fabric made machine stitching a little too noticeable.
  • Photos by my patient coworker, who let me art direct and pose like a model (I had the theme song to “J. Crew Crew!” in my head the whole time).