I love the story of Howl’s Moving Castle – I first saw the film when I was in primary school, then rediscovered it in my teens and it’s been my favourite film ever since. I also really love the original book by Diana Wynne Jones. So, when I came across ‘Magic Wizard Cardigan’ by Nathalie of @sea.aliens, I knew I had to make it – but I had to learn how to crochet first!
I tried to teach myself crochet when I was about 14 – I made a daisy chain but the skill didn’t stick. But this time I had a much better incentive, and I set to work. Over the last few months of 2022, I made a few little amigurumi projects to refamiliarise myself with crochet and I got to a point where I was confident enough to take on a cardigan!
Over my christmas holiday in 2022, my Mum and I spent an evening picking out exactly the right colours – I wanted to get it as screen accurate as possible. I’d already decided I wanted to use cotton yarn – to make it less expensive and because I thought the pattern would work really well as a light summer jacket. I ended up getting yarn from two different brands: Cerulean Blue and Banana Cream Paintbox Yarns Cotton Aran, and Peony Pink and Golden Glow Yarn and Colors Epic.
The pattern includes very clear instructions, guiding you on how to plan the configuration of the diamonds, which make up the front panel, to fit your measurements. Originally, I had planned to make a front panel roughly 6.5 diamonds long by 4.5 diamonds wide but we will be changing that later. I practiced my diamond to find out what size hook I would need, and when I settled on a 5mm hook, I could get started.
First I started on the front. It’s made up of chains of diamonds which are sewn together. The pattern is really straightforward (we’ll see me having to redo a lot of it later but that’s a beginner’s error not a problem with the pattern!) and the repetitive diamond pattern is really therapeutic! As I was using a 5mm hook, I had one front done in no time at all. However, when I got to the border diamond chains, I realised I had forgotten how to decrease properly and I had just been skipping stitches. At first I thought I could get away with it and continued the same way.
It was also at this point that I realised I had miscalculated my diamond configuration and I didn’t have the correct shaping at the neckline – I needed 2 diamonds, and I had three. So I shortened the front by half a diamond at the top by undoing my work and this fixed it.
I started sewing the diamonds together but I kept thinking about how much yarn I’d used so far – I’d only made one front piece and I didn’t think I had enough for the rest of the pattern. So I devised a plan. At first, the Cerulean Blue yarn wasn’t available in the same dye lot so I got started on the back – I thought a difference in dye lot would be less noticeable on the front where it was broken up by the pink. I also stopped seaming together the diamonds because I thought I might have to get creative in arranging the original and new dye lots. Luckily, I was able to order more of the Cerulean Blue in the same dye lot (I ordered four more) from Lovecrafts when it briefly came back in stock in a very limited amount but I had to order the Peony Pink yarn from Denmark to get the same dye lot! (I only ordered three – I’ll regret that later).
The back was very easy because it’s just one big rectangle but it took forever! I also realised when I started it that the size L that I had been using as a guide was too big so I used the guidance for a S/M. The back took me about three weeks to make and it went everywhere with me – even on a train to Oxford and on a trip to get a tattoo!
When I was crocheting the cardigan, I realised another mistake in my sizing. Once I had 66 rows (the amount needed for 5.5 diamonds) I held the back up against myself and decided this was the length I wanted the cardigan to be – except I had 6 diamonds. So now I was faced with a problem – I couldn’t take down the diamonds futher (as I had done before) as this would mess up the neckline shaping. And I couldn’t take up the diamonds from the bottom either. So, I decided to undo the whole front and start again – luckily I had only made one! This also meant I could do the decreases properly as well!
Now I was really convinced that I knew what I was doing – I drew out a proper diagram of my diamond configuration (like the pattern told me to do at the start!) and got crocheting.
I had both front pieces made in no time and ready to sew together. I used stitch markers to connect the corresponding corners of the diamonds to keep them even which was really helpful!
Finally, I was ready to move on to the next steps. Firstly, I crochet a border around the front pieces – this makes it easier to seam together later and add on the next pattern pieces.
Next I seamed together the side seams and shoulder seams so I could crochet on the sleeve. This was really easy, I just crocheted in the round until my sleeve was the right length.
When the sleeve was the right length, I started work on the cuffs. I’d never used the ribbing technique in crochet before but it was really easy and quite fun to do! I wanted to recreate the gold banding on either side of the cuff from the movie so I messaged Nathalie for advice. She was really helpful and told me to do a row of UK DC around either edge in yellow. With this done I could sew the cuffs on to the sleeves.
Almost there! With the cardigan looking a lot more like the cardigan from the movie, I moved on to the collar. The instructions are really clear and the shaping adds a great point to either end of the collar.
I finishes off the yellow scalloped edging around the cardigan, and tied in the loose ends (which took forever!), then according go the pattern I was done!
But when I tried it on, the cardigan was missing something – pockets! The pattern doesn’t include instructions for pockets but I figured out a pattern easily. I knew I wanted the diamond pattern to match across the pockets and the cardigan so I tried on the cardigan, marked where I wanted pockets to go, and worked out what shapes of diamonds I would need to make the rectangle for the pockets. I crocheted them, sewed them together, and added a scalloped edge to the top before sewing them on. I did need to order a new ball of pink yarn which wasn’t the same dye lot but it’s not too different!
And with that the cardigan was done! I’m so delighted with it – it looks just like the one from the movie! When I wore it for the first time, a few people told me it looked like the ‘one Howl wears in Howl’s Moving Castle’ and I was over the moon! The pattern is really easy to follow, with tutorials videos, and Nathalie responded to my questions super quickly and was really helpful! I’m really proud of this cardigan, especially as it’s my first big crochet project, and I can’t wait to wear it all the time as a light jacket in the summer. My friend Abi helped me do a whole photoshoot for this cardigan and I’m love how the photos turned out – see more photos on my Instagram!
3 thoughts on “Making a Howl’s Moving Castle-inspired cardigan: my first crocheted garment”
Gorgeous jacket, you did great. I just wanted to ask you how many balls you used in the end, as I want to try it too.
Thank you! You should really give it a go, it’s a great pattern! In the end I used two of the yellow, one of the cream, and twelve each of the blue and pink. I hope this helps!
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Thank you! Your answer was really helpful to me 🙂