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?

 

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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.