Hand knit sweater #3

I finally finished my third hand-knit sweater — can I say “of the year” even though it’s January and the year was 2017? This is a top-down sweater from Cocoknits. In the book it looked like this

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I didn’t particularly like the neckline, so I subbed the neckline for another sweater in the book. I also wanted a sweater that flared out into an A-line shape, but that was not pulled in again by a ribbed hem. I actually knit the body following the instructions to add 4 stitches every 12 rows, and then ripped it back to just under the bust because there wasn’t enough flare. I added 4 stitches (2 to each side) every fourth row instead, and I’m happy with how that turned out. The hi lo hem is made using short rows, and because I had extra stitches because of my extra increases, I ended up adding a couple of extra short rows. I like this. It’s totally simple, which tends to be my aesthetic. The yarn is not uniformly dyed, so the splotchy-stripey colour is the design feature.

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You can see the fabric better maybe below

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It took me forever (well, almost two months) to knit this and part of the reason is that I discovered I don’t really like to sit inside my house knitting for long stretches. I enjoyed knitting my first sweater in the summer, when I could sit out on one of the porches. That was a relaxing way to spend some quality outdoor time. So I’m going to wait to start my fourth sweater until it’s nice enough to sit outside.

I had to force myself to not sew anything for the last month so I could finish this!

 

 

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Refashion x 3

This is my third time to make/remake a tunic from this wool plaid fabric. I hate to give up on something you know? The first time I made a simple sleeveless high/low shift with a few pleats at the neckline to create some drape.  When I wore it a friend commented on how I always wore such baggy clothes. Ooomph. That hurt. So I remade it, by slicing it down the front and putting on a button band. I also tightened the back up with a pleat. The back was really nice. But I still didn’t care for it. This fabric is drapey and I always thought it needed pleats or gathers or something. You can see it here.

I thought it would be nice to make a tunic like this.

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I had quite a bit of fabric left over and first I wanted sleeves. But after making sleeves I realized there wasn’t enough fabric left to add a gathered skirt all around. So I thought about the Grainline Alder, a pattern I’ve looked at several times, unsure if I liked it or not. Probably everyone has seen the Alder, which has two versions. In one version, the back is gathered. I went to the Grainline site and found the online tutorial for that version. It was pretty easy to follow it even without the actual pattern. That left doing something about the neck, which I had cut too big the first time. There’s not that much you can do when you’ve cut the neck hole too big. I decided to line up a bunch of scraps, sew a gathering stitch, gather them and pin them between the neck and the facing. I left their edges all unfinished. Go edgy or go home right? Then I decided I didn’t want to hem the bottom either, so I just serged around the bottom. I also did a wrist treatment of gathered scraps. So this is the result. The body is very much like the Alder.

 

 

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I love the sideview, and the back. But the front? I’m just not a shirtwaist kind of a person …. I could have sworn it looked better in real than in this pic. And should I trim down the neck flounce? It seems kind of overwhelming.

This is warm and toasty and pretty comfortable. And I’ll wear it this winter partly to keep in view this kind of look that I’ve never had before. Do you know what i mean? There are so many things I like about this, but I’m thinking it’s still a fail. Luckily (!!) the fabric picked up a couple of small moth holes during the last year, so this is doomed anyway. I knew that going in, so this was an exercise in experimentation to see if I could find my way to a great look.

I’m interested in any comments or suggestions about what’s wrong and why.

Trio trousers

Continuing with the two patterns I bought online from The Sewing Workshop, I’ve made a pair of the Trio trousers. And another Trio tshirt with doubled front and back in merino wool. This tshirt isn’t exceptional in any way really. It has raglan sleeves, a high round neck, and is meant to be tight around the hips so it grabs rather than hangs. It’s a nice alternative to the TNT long-sleeved tshirt I’ve made many variations of. But what is exceptional about it is the double layered fronts and backs that I was inspired to create. They make the tops so much cosier and warmer. Yum. I get the merino from Our Social Fabric, which sells 3-metre cuts of whatever colour they have. Usually it’s a lightweight fabric, probably used industrially for what we call around here “base layers”, which is a new word for under-wear, right?

I also got the fabric for the trousers there.

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The vest is a refashion of a poncho I bought off the back of a truck in Rome, Italy, in 1976. There are some things you can’t let go of.

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I just LOVE the trousers. You know how sometimes — all too rarely it seems — you get the style and the fabric exactly right? I’m not talking about good here, I’m talking about perfection. That happened here.

The pants are relatively loose, with short pleats on the fronts, and with two vertical seams down the pant legs, one of them curving. There’s a long, loose cargo pocket with buttonhole on each pant leg. I had bought this fabric in the summer, thinking it had a lovely drape and would be great for a pair of ultra wide pants for winter. The colour was, I thought, a perfectly acceptable neutral. Well, I decided to use the fabric for this pattern, and cut boldly and confidently because this was cheap fabric, probably some sort of blend. When I was almost done making them, curiousity inspired me to do a burn test. And yup, it burned like silk and smelled like silk. It feels luscious against the skin. It’s silk alright, and I’m glad I didn’t know that at the start. Here it is with the Hudson top I made earlier and posted about last time.

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The colour is a grey-brown, which I would still call an acceptable neutral. It goes with about 90% of my closet, so bonus! I can’t wait to make more of these — in linen, I think, for summer.

And p.s. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the first top on backwards. There’s a use for labels …

Double Trouble Trousers and Tee

This week I made another couple of items from the two The Sewing Workshop patterns I bought online. I started with the Hudson pant, which is a really simple and subtle design. I’ve been wanting to use up my stash, particularly stuff that’s not all that nice, but that I picked up for pennies on the pound thinking I must be able to use it somehow, for something.

So I decided to use up some undyed cotton jacquard and think of it as a useable toile. I added some patch pockets. My intention was to move on to a piece of black wool with a subtle herringbone design, which I liked, but which seemed to be too thin really. You can see through it if you hold it up to the light. It also picks up every bit of lint and hair in the house. I suppose it’s not a very good quality of wool.

Somewhere along the way I decided to use the two fabrics to make an inner pant and an outer pant and sew them together so that both would be visible.

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I sewed the black pair to the beige pair at the back waist casing. I left it free at the front, except for tacking the two together at the CF. I left part of the outer legs open. I hemmed the black pair a bit shorter than the beige pair.

I also made pocket welts, without pocket bags, on the black pair. My idea was that I could slide my hands through the pocket welt openings, right into the patch pockets on the inner pant. Great idea, eh? Unfortunately, it doesn’t totally work. There are short flaps of fabric on the inside of the pocket welts, and I can’t really remove them. They get in the way, so I have to scrabble around to get to the patch pockets. Still it’s nice to stick my hands in the welts. And the inner patch pockets could be used to store money, etc. They’d be good traveling pants if one was concerned about pick pockets.

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I like them, but I’m wondering if I should sew the two pairs together at the front waist, rather than letting the black fabric flap around. Thoughts?

Then I moved on to the Trio set of patterns, and cut some grey merino wool for the long-sleeved tee. After cutting out the pieces, it looked to me like it was going to be a tight fitting tshirt, which is not something I want with lightweight jersey. I had just enough fabric left to cut a second front and back. So that’s what I did, and then basted the two fronts together and the two backs together. I’m really really glad I did that, as it has made the top much sturdier and warmer than it would have been otherwise. I’m thinking, in fact, of doing this again with some other lightweight merino wool jersey in the stash.

I have to say I’m really liking the patterns from The Sewing Workshop. I believe they’re meant for mature women. But both the pants and the sleeves were a titch too short, which is almost unbelievable. I added short cuffs to the sleeves. The pant legs are fine, although there’s not much of a hem on the longer leg (who has two legs the same length, anyone?)

 

Style lessons with knit tops

I haven’t posted anything in a while, primarily because I was knitting, but also because I was, I thought, “just” making up a few knit tops, totally easy stuff. But actually, while I was doing that, I was also experimenting and, more importantly, drawing some conclusions about what I like and what I don’t.

I started with a top I made last spring, which I tried really hard to like, but couldn’t. You can see it here. I  removed the skirt, and recut the top part from my old tried and true See and Sew B5203 pattern. Then I reattached the skirt, but along a horizontal line, after having aligned the side seams to the seams of the bodice. There was also a little flare to the skirt that I eliminated by resewing the side seam at a straight angle. Here’s the result — a top that fits me and suits me, rather than drowning me in its oversize folds. What have I learned? Go down a complete size in Vogue tops and don’t take “oversize” as written in stone.IMG_1433

I bothered with this redo because I love the colour and weave of the fabric. I still like the top best because of that. I would like it better if it had some sort of variegated hemline, which is not possible.

So I decided to make a new version of the B5203, with a “high low” hem from one side to the other. Here it is.

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Isn’t that a lovely yellow jersey? Anyway I was contemplating why I love “high low” or “variegated” hemlines so much (doesn’t matter whether the difference in length is front to back, front to sides, or side-front to side-front). And I’ve come up with an answer. Please don’t laugh, as I tell you I should be two inches taller than I am. My legs are about two inches too short for my body. Both my sister and mother have correctly proportioned legs, and they’re both about two inches taller than me. So — a variegated hem gives the appearance of extra length, because of the diagonal line that’s created. It makes me look taller. And it blurs the waist line and the crotch placement, so it disguises the leg length.

I then decided to try the free Lago pattern from Itch to Stitch. Click on the link to get it yourself.

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I like it a lot. The sides of the front pattern piece are wavey — they curve out at the bust, in at the waist, and out again at the bust. You pin and then sew that piece to the back, which has straight sides. This means the fabric skims the body, rather than squeezing it. There’s a slight razor-back, so you have to figure out bra straps, or wear a tanklet under it. I plan to make several more of these. The trousers are Vogue 9193.

And finally, I made up two versions of the Hudson top from The Sewing Workshop. IG followers will have seen that I finally put out the cash to buy two Sewing Workshop patterns, for a total of five garments. I started with what I figured would be a wearable toile in an athletic double-layer fabric. After some experimentation, I decided to cut the size XS (rather than the Medium) because that’s plenty over-size enough. Here it is, with memade fisher pants and Jon Fluevog boots. I love the neck, which is a tube cut on the diagonal for a nice drape.

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And then I went for the bright merino wool version. For this one I narrowed the sleeves at the wrists, and made the back a bit longer than the front (there are side vents separating front from back).

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Those are Vogue Marcy Tilton trousers (I can’t find the pattern envelop, sorry). And orange patent leather booties. And this leads me to two other things I’ve learned about my style preferences. First, I like to wear one colour from clavicle to ankle, and second, I like saturated colours (that might mean dark colours, or bright ones). This top to bottom orange is pretty bright, isn’t it? I spared you the matching orange down-filled sweater/jacket. I will wear this combination. I love it.

That about concludes my report on what I’ve learned over the last few months. Has anybody else learned something new about themselves recently, through sewing clothes?

 

Second sweater done

I finally finished my second Elizabeth Zimmerman yoke sweater. This one is a fair bit different from the first one — I reused DK weight half wool, half alpaca yarn from a sweater I found unwearable, and I reduced the number of stitches from what my measurements indicated (from 188 to 180) for a tighter sweater. I’m glad I did. I bought some coordinating red and blue yarn (half wool, half acrylic with a touch of nylon) to make stripes after the really nice woman at the yarn store showed me a picture of a Kate Davies Keith Moon design.

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I like it! I especially love the broad red stripe around my shoulders. I think this is as far as I’ll go for designs in a yoke sweater. I’m pretty sure I’m too lazy to try the standard kind of Scando-designs and I tend to prefer simplicity. This doesn’t mean I haven’t loved some of the designs my fellow bloggers have produced with this patternless design.

I find there’s a bit of wave in the fabric caused by the “brutal” first row of decreases. It would be nice if that waviness was gone. Does anybody know anything about that? Have people who made stranded designs had the same thing?

When I tried this sweater on after it was done, I considered removing the top couple of inches to eliminate the final row of decreases (in this case I knit two together at every 4th and 5th stitch). That would give me more of a boat neck look. I don’t think I will because I’m fine with it the way it is, but I think if and when I make another of these, I will consider that alteration in advance.

I wore this sweater out and about after taking this picture late this afternoon, and it was warm as toast. I think that’s a thing with alpaca. Another thing with alpaca is that it’s heavy. The wonderful woman at the yarn store, Sarah, told me it can’t hold its weight so it tends to stretch longer and longer. It was something I had noticed and hated about the previous sweater I had knit with this yarn. Wool from sheep looks springy, but hair from alpacas hangs heavy, like, well, hair. I don’t think I will knit with it again, but I do think it was a good idea to make a close-fitting sweater with this yarn.

If you look closely you can maybe just see why I originally chose this colour. It’s exactly the colour of my eyes. Bat, bat.

So now …. what to do about this?

I have an unfinished V-neck, raglan sleeved sweater knitted with this yarn that my mother sent me after she was given it by a neighbour in her retirement residence who could no longer knit. My mother can’t knit anymore either due to shoulder issues so she sent it along to me. It came on a cone. I don’t know what it is, or what its preferred gauge is. I knit the sweater on large needles for a loose look, but when I could finally try it on, I got lost in it (it turns out the number of rows per inch is as important as the number of stitches per inch — who knew?) I suspect the correct gauge is the second from the top, which is knit with 4 mm needles. The picture on the left shows that the yarn is braided rather than twisted. If anybody knows anything about that, please share!

I love the colour and would like to knit a v-neck raglan tunic length sweater, possibly with a bit of flare. There’s enough yarn I’m sure.

Simple yoke sweater done

I’ve been knitting along with kate of fabrickated.com and a bunch of other women for a few weeks now. We’ve been knitting up from the bottom using an Elizabeth Zimmerman non-pattern. How I love the non-pattern! No more squinting at three dense pages of instructions for what to do on each bloody row of knitting! No more confinement to size 150/175/200!

I measured my bust, and then the approximate bust line of two old sweaters and settled on a number. I multiplied the number of stitches per inch with that number and cast on accordingly. All other measurements are percentages of this number. If you can figure out 20 per cent of something, you can knit this sweater. Well you can always have recourse to youtube, as I did for videos on grafting and picking up cast-on stitches. Oh, and for using a circular needle for only a few stitches in a technique called “magic loop”.

Here’s the finished product.

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We used Zimmerman’s book “Knitting without Tears”, which I took out of my local library so I could supplement Kate’s instructions and get the broader picture. The book was published in the 1970’s I believe, and the colour-worked yoke sweaters are a bit old-fashioned, I think. But I did a bit of research on Ravelry and saw people are updating it in a variety of ways — lowering the neckline and shaping the waist, for example.

My variations included shunning all ribbed knit cuffs, bottom and neckline. I have to confess that at the moment I loathe all ribbed knit “endings”. I substituted garter stitch, which I’m happy with. On the wrists I used needles a size smaller for the border, and I like that. I lowered the neck a bit, and kept it a bit wider by reducing a stitch every fifth stitch rather than every second. Zimmerman deals with the need to raise the back by knitting a few extra rows of the back neck border (back and forth) before finishing the border in the round. I chose instead to knit a few extra rows of stocking stitch at the back. Makes more sense to me.

I have no experience with colour work and wanted to knit this up quickly so didn’t bother. Also, I’m not sure I’m a fan of that Norwegian ski sweater look. I must say I have been admiring some of Kate’s sweaters. And, while knitting, I began watching a Netflix series that I’m going to tell you about because it’s pertinent. Have any of you watched “The Killing”? It’s American, but inspired by a Danish detective series. It’s filmed in Seattle, and only on rainy days, as far as I could tell, so it has an appropriately “noir” aesthetic. The lead detective is a woman who always wears her long hair tied back, and whose uniform consists of sneakers, jeans and wooly sweaters. For the first five episodes she wore the same colour-worked yoked sweater, just like the Zimmerman yoked sweaters. So I got a good, long chance to see these sweaters in action. It was great. And for anyone with a Netflix account, I highly recommend the series. It has great themes pertaining to what it is to be human. If you watch it, study the sweaters 🙂

I used about one and a half hanks of Lion Brand fisherman knit yarn, undyed. I bought 3 hanks a couple of years ago when I knit my first sweater after taking two basic knitting courses. So I guess I could make an identical second sweater? That might be a bit of over-kill. However, since the first sweater I knit was unwearable, I have been harvesting its yarn for a second Zimmerman yoked sweater.

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I’m currently swatching, but I think I’m going to have to wet the swatch to get the curl out so I can get an accurate gauge. I may be knitting a bit looser than I did a few years ago.

As I told people on IG, I ran into trouble with the underarm grafting on this sweater, and took myself off to Gina Brown’s Yarns and Wool store for help. While there I bought a hank of brilliant crimson yarn to go with this new sweater. Unfortunately it turned out I brought along a remnant of the wrong yarn. Not this sweater yarn but a brighter version that I had used to make a hat, which I subsequently gave away. I don’t think the crimson is the best match to this subdued aqua, so I’m going back to the store to return it and look for something better.

Does anyone have an opinion as to whether I need the same yarn for some colourwork? If so, I’ll get just one colour because this half-alpaca, half-wool Beroco yarn only comes in 100 gram hanks, and they’re not cheap. But if I could use something else of the same gauge, something that comes in 50 gram balls, I could maybe use two other colours.

While I was at the store, the lovely saleswoman, whose name was Sarah (I think) showed me a picture of a Kate Davies yoked sweater. Here’s a picture of it: the keith-moon

I’m going to take inspiration from it. I was thinking of a stripe, and this design shows me how beautiful one or two stripes can be.