A secret birthday project: Paintbox Yarns Bubble Stitch Cardigan

At the beginning of April, I embarked on a most top secret project: a cardigan for my sister for their birthday. Normally when I make things for other people, I like to include them in the process – partly because it’s fun to share the creative journey but also because it means I know that they’re getting something they’ll love! However, this time, I decided to make it a total surprise – Meg knew I was making something, but had no idea what.

This all started when I was browsing Lovecrafts.com and came across the Bubble Stitch Cardigan. I absolutely loved the bubble stitch, thick knit and boxy shape but it also didn’t look like something I would make for myself. It’s a far cry from the thin yarn and tiny needles I’ve been working with this year so far. However, I knew it was perfect for my sister. As it’s made of such thick yarn, I knew it wouldn’t take long to make and was a perfect candidate for a birthday present!

Bubble Stitch Cardigan.

My big challenge with this project was what colours I was going to use. As I wasn’t consulting Meg at all, I had total creative freedom – and that’s a lot of pressure. So, I decided to crowd source opinions. First I went to one of Meg’s best friends, if anyone was going to give me up-to-date advice on what colours Meg was wearing, it would be them. They advised me that Meg was really liking brown and earthy tones, which was a great place to start.

With this advice, I turned to OneNote. I had a brainwave that I could copy and paste the colourways from the website and mix and match to see what they would look like together. This was really helpful and also really fun.

Colour schemes.

After much deliberation,and the extremely helpful input of my boyfriend, I decided on a combination of four colours: Pistachio Green (1124), Slate Green (1126), Soft Fudge (1109), and Champagne White (1102). I know that pattern only calls for two colours and I chose four, but when have I ever willingly made my life easier?

My chosen colour palette.

With the all important decision of colours made, I could finally get started. Working on this project was a real shock to the system as I went from working on the baby’s set with DK yarn and 4.5mm needles to working with super chunky yarn and 8mm needles. However, it was also a refreshing change as it grew so quickly! Before I knew it, I had finished the ribbing on the back and was working on to the bubble stitch itself!

The bubble stitch is really easy but as a first-timer, it took me a little while to get my head round it and reassure myself that I was reading the instructions properly! In the end, I watched a video on YouTube which reassured me. The way I did it was releasing four stitches down before knitting through the loop and all the stitches above.

The shape of this cardigan is really simple, the back is one giant rectangle and there is just a simple slope along the front edge. I always worry about keeping patterns correct around shaping – for instance, with this cardigan, you don’t end up with bubbles right to the front edge. It worked out looking just fine though!

Front Shaping.

In just about a month, I had all the pieces knitted up! I wasn’t able to take this project to work or out and about with me as much as it was so cumbersome and heavy – there were even a few warm spring nights where I struggled knitting under what became a blanket! It was so satisfying seeing the pieces coming together so quickly and I couldn’t wait to sew it all up!

Finished pieces.

The construction was very simple: I sewed together the shoulder seams, then sewed in the sleeves, then sewed up the sleeve and side seams. Before, sewing in the sleeves, I also knitted the ribbing around the neckline. In a happy little accident, I ran out of brown yarn so I ended up doing a contrast stripe in the slate green – I really like it as a finishing touch!

Now that the cardigan was all sewn together, I couldn’t avoid sewing in all the ends any longer. With four different colours, there were a lot of ends, so I settled down to some TV and got on with it.

So many ends…

Now the final step was blocking, and it was here that I learnt a valuable lesson. As I had done with my previous knitting projects, I prepared to block this cardigan by submerging it completely in water before laying it out on blocking mats. This was a big mistake, I will not be doing this again!! As the cardigan is so heavy anyway, it took about 3 days to dry fully and ended up smelly musty so I had to wash it again anyway. In hindsight, I should’ve used a spray bottle (which I have now bought) to make the cardigan just damp enough to block it before laying it out to dry. I might try this with my lighter knits as well to see if it works better!


With that, the cardigan was finished a whole month before my sister’s birthday! When I presented the gift, Meg was absolutely over the moon. It may have been a warm day at the beginning of June but they put it on straight away and got nice and cosy! As it’s such a heavy knit, I hope it’ll work as a jacket in the warmer months as well as as a cosy cardigan in the winter. I’m so glad they love it so much, according to Meg its the ‘best jumper in the world’. Doing a surprise project was a gamble but it really paid off! And it was really nice to have a break from tiny knits for a while and work on something completely different. I would definitely recommend this pattern, it’s very easy and has fantastic scope for personalisation!

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