Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Muse Jenna Cardi in merino sweater knit

When this first came out I was interested.  Cardigans are a big part of my wardrobe and I wasn't sure if I would ever achieve knitting one myself, or be dependent on Anthropologie forever for cool quirky knitted items.  So a pattern for sewing a cardigan, I immediately thought of sewing up some sweater knits, and also right away had a lot of modifications in mind.

Which was why I thought over this pattern for a very long time.  It seemed like a slippery slope of a pattern: make one, assess, then make 4 more with various modifications.  This is indeed exactly what is going to happen, but I managed to make that first one right before moving to Nepal, so the mods will have to wait a bit.

The fabric is heavy merino wool sweater knit from The Fabric Store, which I also used for one in my endless supply of undercover hoods (see here).  This would also have benefited from a double layer of fabric, both to give it more body and to make it thicker and cozier.

I very sadly don't know what size I chose.  But it was consistent with the size chart so I would say don't expect to be surprised if you follow the size chart.  The surprise is the sleeves, they were very very long and I lopped off a decent bit and they are still longish and a bit loose.  I would consider tapering them more in the future.

It took me a million years to get the button holes done, which was a terrible terrible experience.  I recommend topstitching that seam allowance down on the far side of the button placket, so that it's out of the way of buttonholes.  I could also have interfaced the placket, but didn't.  On loose fabrics, consider that!

This first cardi is as I expected.  There are many things I plan to tweak for my Magical Perfect Cardi to be.  I'll make another version in something stable, to update these pattern changes like the sleeves.  I will eventually raise the front neck by a solid 3" because I like my cardigans to have full front coverage.  I would lengthen it above the wide hem band by 2" and then add pockets!  And eventually I plan to also add a hood.  And try the other version with the cool little shoulder gathers...

Overall I do like this first version and I am pretty pleased I found a use for these glass buttons.  I am looking forward to that slippery slope of pattern modifications which I also expect to be a fantastic opportunity for some upcycling.  My op-shop-addicted self starts literally drooling at the idea of all the different bits that I could mix and match to make more of these...

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Fun with knickers + UFO completion potpourri

I started my sweatshop in Seattle with some knickers that I had cut out in Arizona erm just about 10 months ago.  4 pairs - Watsons and the free pattern from So Zo.  I did different bindings on them as I am still seeking the perfect binding.  So far all the picot elastic I've gotten on etsy has shredded in the wash.  And the Watson gives me terrible panty lines which I know and have accepted.

So far: the blue ones with folded tape actually are great, and the red ones with the thin FOE that I couldn't fold over are tighter than the others, and already falling apart, as this FOE from Etsy was only about 1/2" wide and so I have only zigzagged it onto the outside of the knicker - and the stitches are already coming loose due to how much my Mum's Necchi hates knits and skips stitches.  The other two, with picot elastic, are fine. I suspect the grey and the blue are the So Zo pants, and that the green and red are the Watsons, but I'm not entirely sure.

I finished a Grainline Scout which is upcycled from an old dress:

My final thought on Scouts is that the only one I have ever really liked is the double-gauze.  So I think I'm going to stick with that from now on.  The fit of a size  4--2 seems to be good with no other changes. 

I decided once and for all that this Ondee does need to be an Ondee and not an Ondee-skater.

And then I moved on to some new knicker patterns: the Acacia - 2 sizes from one tshirt! (XS and S - I was between sizes, and I think the S fits better.) Yesss upcycling!  I like the butt coverage of this pattern, and I liked the option to use 3/8" elastic.  However I also think that using picot bra elastic gives the nicest finish when you don't have a serger.  And the samples made by Megan are way cuter than using old tshirts and inspires me to actually buy fabric specifically to make knickers with - one day. 

And the Kitschy Coo Barrie bottoms, size 2, which pattern I had high hopes for as it uses normal bindings that might hold up better in the wash.  First one is the lower waisted cut from an upcycled navy rayon tshirt - very soft but a pain to sew.  This has worn well and is actually my favourite of the batch.  Second one is my mum's old blue tshirt circa 1980 and the higher waist - doesn't have much stretch, in fact, those ended up too small to even pull on.  I do like the rayon, the fit is good, they sit totally below the butt so while there are panty lines they are at least not so obvious, and the soft waistband is great.  Must make these in more nice soft stretchy fabric.

I was also very pleased by how many knickers I could get from one tshirt!  This is an upcycling win!  Although I think my Anima lounge pants are totally the winner on best upcycled use of tshirts - enough that I might do them again but focus on colourblocking them so they actually look good too. 

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Halfmoon Atelier Roma skirt

This project was theoretically a quick mock up to see how the Roma fit.  I adore the Halfmoon Atelier patterns, but I always think they won't suit me.  So I wanted to see how this would go and whether I could make it work.  The linen was salvaged from a very shapeless dress which didn't work out so it has various seams in it.  It is heavyweight linen from Merchant & Mills - very heavy, consistent with the website - but still somehow difficult or different than I expected.  It's expensive stuff so I really did want to make something great with it.  I removed something like 8 inches of length from the pattern - a LOT, but I don't remember quite how much.

And then I didn't have the right kind of bias binding.  I ended up ordering some on Etsy.  And by the time it arrived I no longer had time and this project wasn't looking so easy!  So it became a UFO and I went travelling.

It was with unexpected surprise that I saw it come together now.  It's a quick make.  I had lost my pocket markings so I had to make the entire skirt in order to decide where to put the pocket, therefore ensuring that sewing it on would be a total pain, but the skirt was looking so cute that I knew I had to commit and stick with it.  I also customised how far down to sew by just pinning and trying it on, but I don't think I left the slit much higher than the pattern recommends.

I cut a size M!  I sized up based on my hips and an assumption that it would be better loose than too tight.

There is some bagging around my waist due to the thick fabric and the way it pools from the elastic waistband.  I think it's more obvious to me, looking down, than it is to the viewer, although I also don't think the skirt looks flattering, at least in these pictures.

I actually love this skirt!  The slit means it has great mobility and doesn't feel like a pencil skirt (a silhouette I really don't trust) and I am super happy with my gold bias binding. 

Monday, 8 January 2018

By Hand London Kim No. 2

After I finished my first Kim (which you can see here), I applied a few small changes to the already-cut out Kim 2.  I narrowed the bodice top by slicing a tiny piece off the sides of the center bodice piece, bringing the straps in closer and decreasing the space for the bust.  And I cut off 4 cm from the straps - mostly off the front.  And this time it's the normal length, ie only shortened 6" and not 12".  I did not think too hard about whether the armhole would be too small and in the end got lucky - I would have cut out a bit of the front of the armscye if I had remembered...but you will notice that I did all this a long time ago.  You will notice that I said rather prophetically that I hoped Kim no. 2 wouldn't take as long as Kim no. 1, and that I wrote about it almost exactly a year ago!

Well, I left these cut out pieces while I lived in New Zealand and Nepal, and have been sewing up my neglected WIPs all holidays as I wait for various visas.  It took me 1.5 days to sew up Kim no. 2, in between other things.  Those tucks are really exhausting, and it seems I just can't do tucks, gathering *and* a zip all in the same day.

So, Kim 2 fits fine.  The bust is better, but I have shrunk so there's still some space in it.  The armscye is too small due to how much I took off the straps, but the straps are no longer too long.  And the skirt is the "correct" length.  It dwarfs me - I feel pretty ridiculous in this poofy dress.  I think the removal of 1 foot of the skirt length was the best choice for me.

I was really thrilled by the Kim pattern because my first one fit crazy well.  I do feel kind of ridiculous when I wear it - it's the only thing I own with a gathered skirt.  So Kim 2 just feels like too much.  I do like the bodice, but I think I like the Elisalex bodice more.  I still want to do some Frankendresses but I am no longer so convinced this is going to play a part.  But if I keep working at this pace at least I'll finally get my first Zeena dress finished soon!!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Miette by Andi Satterlund - a two year project

I cast this on in Ukraine but realised the lace was too difficult at that time and stopped it.  I had considered using Malabrigo Rios (I ended up making my second simple sweater with it - here) but I thought the single colour that I had originally planned to use would indeed be nicer.  The yarn is Cascade Heathers 220, the colour is called iridescence, it is pale mauve from a distance but close up it's a rainbow and very beautiful. 

So I really cast on in 2016 while I was in Poland travelling with my cousin.  I got through the first 20 rows and then ran out of knitting time...until now.  I had progressed through increasingly challenging projects in Nepal and felt ready to tackle this monster!

This is a much harder project that the simple pullover I made before, and for that reason I'm glad I put so much time in between the two.  I had to relearn everything in Nepal - yarn overs, and ssk and all of it...maybe it will stick in my head this time?  The awesome thing is how my projects inadvertently were a progression of skills.  I started with the legwarmers, doing nothing new, but really needing my project to fit me.  Then I made the cowl which reminded me how to concentrate as you only have two rows of pattern but they are slightly offset.  After that I made the handwarmers and was really amazed how ok it was to do the thumb gusset and the thumb overall - plus those went into use RIGHT AWAY! The cables in my earwarmer made me more confident doing new things - so by the time I picked this back up my confidence had grown.

I picked this up at row 20, and with one week left in Nepal I was on a mission to get it done!!  I was a knitting machine!  I didn't finish it before leaving Pheriche - I had the body and one sleeve done and determined to finish the rest in Kathmandu.  As always with knitting, I have found that the minute you stop a project you doom it to potential eternity.

My colleagues in Pheriche totally laughed at the diminutive size of this thing.  They couldn't believe it was for me.  I made the XS and it's really small looking! But when I put it on, noting there were still no ribbing front bits, it seemed to stretch to fit.  So I guess blocking is when you really make something your size. 

I'm not sure what difficulty level people place this sweater at, but I believe it's relatively challenging for a beginner.  The lace rows mean that you are endlessly counting, ugh!  If you miss a stitch, you have to put it back into the right quadrant of the sweater.  I was totally mad at the single purl row at the bottom of the sweater, not realising it really is pattern!  And after that I didn't have the energy to figure out knitting and purling into my back loops, it was too hard, so I went with normal k2p2 for the bindings.  (During my last week in Pheriche I had no internet to check on things!)

 Also I thought the way the sleeves are continued makes it really hard to actually not have a hole in the armpit.  I assume this is beginner problems.  You only pick up two stitches at the bottom, then you knit those stitches together...on my first armpit that led to a massive hole.  I left a large yarn tail luckily so I kind of darned that thing shut while weaving in the ends.  I used a very short US 8 round needle for the sleeves and it was kind of a pain but I did the same with the second sleeve (not enough of a pain to switch to DPNs).  I didn't have a smaller needle for the sleeves so the cuffs were also done with US8.  I tried to be more clever about the second sleeve but even trying to pick up strategic stitches, there is a huge hole. It seems to me like you need to pick up 3-4 stitches to avoid having a hole.

I did get around to relearning purling in the back loops for my button bindings.  It is not all that easy and for some reason I had a real block at first but I got the hang of it.  However I don't think it looks better at all and it is *so much* harder than just purling, so I'm not convinced.  Or I'm doing it wrong?

The pattern read that I needed 7 buttons, which I already had gotten in Kathmandu, so I didn't double check.  It ends up you need 8 and I could have gotten one more!  I finally finished the bands after the holidays - didn't manage to finish it in Nepal, but I'm still really pleased it's done.  I feel more confident and ready to make larger sweater projects that will actually fill gaps in my wardrobe - I'm not really confident that I'll wear this much since it is best suited to going over dresses. 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Cable earwarmer in Malabrigo rios

I felt so confident after making myself handwarmers!  Plus I was still wearing my legwarmers every day!  And nothing could be as boring as the cowl that I finished.  I've never progressed through skills like this before in knitting and the feeling of confidence - that I could start a project and conceivably finish it successfully - is really addictive.

So I decided to try using up the rest of my Malabrigo Rios and making my friend Helen, who is obsessed with knits, an earwarmer.  I saw her wearing one a few months ago and she's moving to the depths of northern Scotland soon so I reckoned she needed another one. Plus this gave me a chance to try out another new skill - cables!

I trawled Ravelry, as always, for something that fit my criteria and came up with this free pattern: the Chevron cable headband by Kirsty Grainger.  I wanted something with clear cables but not with too many of them and this fit the bill.

I cast on initially using size 4.5mm needles, as the pattern recommends, and knitted about three rows before deciding I thought it was too loose, so I sized down to a 4.  I was happy with that.  I found the c4 cable pattern to be pretty accessible, although of course with an extra tool in my hand things seemed to go awfully slow, I definitely gained confidence with the pattern as I saw my beautiful cables emerge!  This was a really fun project for that reason - I got faster as I went along, and I couldn't believe that I was making such a nice result! 

I got to the end and kind of winged it regarding sewing the ends together.  The join looks a bit rough but I think it's not going to be too visible, and it will hold pretty well.  I used a tapestry needle and the ends from the earwarmer and just weaved it through the obvious loops on each side.  I am not sure how you are supposed to knit pieces together.  There's always something more to learn in knitting!

Anyway my success with this bolstered me to pick my Miette back up.  That's a project I started over a year ago, when I was living in Arizona, and then put down early on.  Because of the lace, plus being a sweater, it seemed overwhelming!

Also this earwarmer took very little yarn.  I made two legwarmers and this from two balls of Malabrigo rios and I still have half a ball left - probably enough for another earwarmer! 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Easy handwarmer mitts in Outlaw Vanitas DK

These entered my head as a good next project after my cowl because my hands were freezing.  I needed mitts.  I needed easy ones.  And of course up in Pheriche, high in the Khumbu, I had some limitations on my yarn and needles.

The yarn is outlaw vanitas DK.
I accidentally didn't bring size 3.5 - 4 DPNs with me.  This yarn worked on smaller needles, and I thought it was the best choice for cozy handwarmers - everything else I had was too fine or too big.

The pattern is a free download from Ravelry, called the Sarah - basic fingerless mitts.  The yarn in the picture is so beautiful!  (It's Manos del Uruguay silk blend.) 

I got ready to start and realised that it required bigger needles.  I was nervous to do any changes to the pattern, but I went ahead with 3.5 dpns and this yarn, and did the size Large instead of small.

The knitting went very well.  I was nervous about the thumb gusset and really everything to do with the thumb, and so I was really impressed when it all went well!  I made these in just about 2 days each.  The only trouble was with the hole where the thumb meets the fingers - I did a good job on the first mitt and a bad job on the second one. The instructions have you mirror them, but I think this is not necessary as they are truly identical. Considering the location of my dpns, it would have been easier to make two right mitts.  That's what I would do in the future.

These got put to use right away.  The yarn has fluffed up and pilled a bit from use, but it has been literally daily use in the clinic for about a month, so I think they are holding up well.  They are warm and really help!  I was struggling not to have my fingers freeze every day, as our clinic in Pheriche is not heated and was averaging 3 degrees in the mornings - inside!  

When we closed our clinic I gave them to the guy running one of the lodges nearby as he is keeping it open for another month.  He was really happy to get them and I was particularly glad to have made the size large as it stretched to fit without problems.  I think that I could have made a medium for myself, considering that there was stretch over time. 

I might buy the beautiful silk blend yarn and make more of these. They were so fast and mitts are so handy that these might become a gift staple in the future.  Because it was a straightforward project I also really felt my confidence increase.