Rosamund’s Sweater

At last! My errant 13th of 2013. It travelled with me, one-armed, for three months until I sat down and finished the arm in 3 days.

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I had envisioned Rosamund’s Cardigan as a big woolly thing, dramatic collar and sweeping curved edges. The twisted reversible cable rib is so delicious… doesn’t it look like piped icing?

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I wanted it snuggled against my neck and cosily embracing my wrists.

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And of course a big woolly cardigan needs pockets, especially ones edged with a toned down echo of the neck and cuff swirls.

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The construction was easy: a top down raglan. I made inseam vertical pockets and just eyed the front curve, decreasing where I felt I should. The cables were worked along with the curved edges until the curve became almost horizontal; at that point, I held the cable stitches separately and finished the stockinette section (after casting on a stich at each edge to use in seaming). Then I added a similar seam stitch on the inner edges of the cable strips and worked them separately, throwing in short rows to force them to curve. (See how there’s no seam when the cables are vertical – right side of pic – and then the seam starts when the cables become horizontal on the left side of the pic?)

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All done by eye, no great maths involved. Where the strips met I grafted them together (see here for techniques on grafting ribbing; I bound off one side and grafted live stitches to the edge), and then sewed them to the cardigan body using up seam stitches previously created.

 small-graft

Apart from that, I did my usual bust and waist shaping and made it longer than specified. One thing though: I’d added some short rows to raise the back neck, but they turned out to be unnecessary. In fact, they were bunching up so much that I snipped them in the middle, unravelled the short rows, and grafted the live stitches together again for a smooth nape.

As some people may notice, I put the buttonholes on the wrong side. That is, the short front overlaps the longer one instead of vice versa. I realized my mistake after I’d finished most the yoke, but couldn’t be bothered to rip out and start over.

Invisible CO and BO for all edges! See how the ribbing magically flows from WS to RS without a hard edge anywhere!

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Details

Pattern: Rosamund’s Cardigan, Interweave Knits Fall 2009
Yarn: Cascade 220; 100% wool; 201m= 100g; “Blue Sky Heather”; used up almost all of 6 skeins since the ribbed cable eats a lot of yarn.
Needles: 4mm for everything.
Mods: longer, rounded edges, pockets, long sleeves, tubular CO and BO for ribbed edges, more shaping.

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Literate

Entirely frivolous post:

According to Wordle, my blog word count distribution is….
Wordles 15Apr14 1Well, duh, anything written in English will show that! Let’s try switching off the most common English words:

Wordles 15Apr14 2

Much better! Although, do I really write that much about ‘brioche’? And ‘pompom’?

 

Bubbly

Soap Bubbles Cowl, my own ‘pattern’.

small-flat

Two wicked skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino in Piedras seduced me into breaking my project plan. They were just so soft and shimmery and muted and cloudlike, you know? I’ve raved deliriously about Silky Merino before, but the silk content really does make the fabric stretch out. My Krookus cardigan fit perfectly every morning but noticeably stretched out by the end of the day, becoming narrower and longer. So I gave it away to the Brat, since she’s skinnier than me, and the resulting long, narrow shape fitted her well. And I resolved to buy tons of Silky Merino, but never for garments.

So, Piedras:

Piedras small

This is not a colour I would have bought after viewing FOs on Ravelry… there seems to be just too much variegation in most of the projects. But in real life the colours seemed much more subdued; perhaps I found a muted dyelot?

I fully planned to use a slip stitch based pattern, keeping long floats to maximise the effect of the beautiful colour changes. But a part of my brain threw a tantrum for lace or cables, and I ended up picking up the lace pattern from the Soap Bubbles Wrap.

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Halfway through, I was convinced it was turning out hideous. Silhouetted against the light, the bubbles were pretty and well defined; in direct sunlight the lace seemed overwhelmed by colour variegation. I could see the lace pattern clearly, but had a bad feeling that it was only because of knitterly image processing by my brain.

See, as knitters, our brains have learnt to work differently, separating colour from texture and pattern. This has its advantages: we can look at a photo, ignore the colour and decide whether we like the fabric and style enough to knit it in a preferred colour, something non-knitters find really difficult to do. But it also has disadvantages: behold the endless array of lace FOs on Ravelry, exquisite stitchwork rendered invisible by violent flashing and pooling of variegated yarn!

So I pinned out the cowl to blocked dimensions and asked my husband, a non-knitter what he saw:

“Circles.”

Whew!

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To Replicate
Get the Soap Bubbles Wrap from the Interweave Online Store. CO for a multiple of 12 sts (288 sts in DK yarn). Work 3 rounds garter. Use the Left Front Chart, starting from R13. Work as much as desired, then BO after 3 rounds of garter.

I made the bubbles in stockinette by mistake (instead of reverse stockinette) and just continued with that instead of ripping out. This simplified things in two ways:
a) The ‘resting’ rounds were almost all knit, instead of clusters of knit and purl.
b) I didn’t have to do p3tog or any other purl based decrease… everything was knit based.

Specifically:

  • The vertical repeat is from R13 to R36 (24 rows) of Lower Left Front chart. Each ‘bubble’ is formed in 12 rows, but since they are diagonally offset the pattern repeat is completed in 24 rows.
  • R13 and R 25: as written, substitute k for all p
  • R14 and R26: k all
  • R15 and R27: as written, substitute k for all p
  • R16 and R28: k all
  • R17 and R29: as written, substitute k for all p
  • R18 and R30: k all
  • R19 and R31: as written, substitute k for all p
  • R20 and R32: k all
  • R21 and R33: The first (rightmost) decrease should be ssk; the middle decrease should be s2tog as if to k, k1, psso; the last (leftmost) decrease should be k2tog. Doing so maintains a smooth border around the bubbles, which is important when they are in stockinette instead of reverse stockinette
  • R22 and R34: work the decrease as s1kwise, k2tog, psso
  • R23 and R35: exactly as given. Don’t be tempted to change the lone p on top of the bubbles into a k; keeping it in p helps define the bubble below.
  • R24 and R36: exactly as given. Again, maintaining that p stitch helps define the stockinette bubble below.
  • The edging is ‘Casting on Casting off’ from Knitting Without Tears. Intensely annoying and slow to work, but it does make a beautiful edge. You need to sew it, stitch by stitch, from left to right. Because of the angle the sewing needle is inserted, one stitch needs to be held off the needle, live. And you have to make sure the loops fall to the back of the work, to get the ‘outline’ to lie correctly.

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Details
Pattern: See above; stitch pattern from Interweave Online Store
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino; 51% Silk, 49% Merino; 137m = 50g; DK wt; 2 skeins; “Piedras”
Needles: 3.5mm circular

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Metamorphosis

Piedras small

 

P1070534

 

Blocking small

Or, transformation, mutation, transmutation, lead to gold, caterpillar to butterfly, etc.

Never ceases to astound and delight, does it?!

Details soon, post blocking.

Undergrowth

Undergrowth grew like a weed (har har) on my needles and I finished it within days.

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I used the pink as MC and the tan as CC, because I wanted dramatic blocks of pink where the leaves unfurl. I really like the result, although it’s a bit of a dissonance to read the chart since the CC there is a darker square.

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Now for the braid: I read the instructions too literally, and moved the yarns to the front to purl them one at a time resulting in total failure. Finally I hunted on the internet, read a couple of blogs, and then understood: the braids are basically stranded knitting worked inside out. You are purling, and carrying the floats in front, so both strands have to be brought to the front and kept there throughout. The floats become slanted because they are consistently twisted before each stitch. The direction of the twist determines the slant of the float. Two rows of stacked floats (twisted in opposite directions) give the impression of a braid. After that, it was easy.

I made a single braid since I wasn’t sure if my yarn would last. Of course it did, so I picked up stitches in alternate colours from the CO edge, worked a corrugated rib, then ended with another braid. I couldn’t find a suitable CO – all the stretchy ones made the bottom look sloppy – so I just stitched the live stitches down on the inside, one by one.

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There was another reason for the ribbing: I loathe beanies, but the colourwork on this one was just to gorgeous to resist. With the extra length added by the ribbing, I blocked the hat over a plat to force it into a beret shape. It’s still not as slouchy as I’d love, but a definite improvement on the space helmet innerwear shape!

If there is a next time, I might keep the ribbing the same but increase enough stitches immediately before the colourwork starts for six pattern repeats (instead of the pattern’s five) to get a true slouchy beret. Or knit it with DK yarn, reducing needle size for the ribbing.

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Details
Pattern: Undergrowth from Knitty Winter 2011
Yarn: Nikke-Victor Neo Middle; 100% wool; 108m = 40g; sport weight; 1 skein each in MC and CC. I had small amounts left. Excellent quality yarn!
Needles: 3.5mm circular and dpn
Mods: Added ribbing, separated braids.

A Slew of Laurels

Months and months ago, I made a Laurel muslin. I realized it is a basic kurti pattern and then used it to better fit some of my RTW kurtis. I generally manage to find RTW kurtas my size, except for handicrafts selections – there you’re paying for the gorgeous hand-woven textile or  exquisite embroidery, not so much for the cut and fit. So they end up being decidedly matronly off the rack.

I cut the sleeves off the matronly kurtas and separated the front and back. Then I positoned the Laurel pattern fetchingly on the embroidery, cut the pieces out and sewed them up. Instantly wearable!

The Laurel pattern drafting is excellent and fits my shape perfectly. The back was a tiny bit wide, though, so I just removed 1cm wide vertical sections from each half back piece, then redrew the neck curve smooth. Also, after making the muslin, I realized I didn’t really need a closure, so cut the back in one piece for all the rest (eliminating seam allowances).

1. The (Wearable) Muslin
Made with some cotton mix. Please excuse the fitting wrinkles:

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I scooped out the neck and finished it with i-cord…

icord small

… and the hems and sleeves with bias tape:

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I also changed the back zip to a lapped construction. I can’t remember which tutorial I used, but there are tons online if you google “lapped zipper”. Innit lovely?!

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2. The Green Alteration
Here’s the Before (awful low light pic, but gives an idea of the general shape!):

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And the After; so much more wearable!

small after green

3. The White Alteration
(No Before photograph. I kept the original crochet sleeves)

small white after

4. The Diagonal Adventure
This fabric had diagonal pin-tucks stitched into it, giving it an unexpected stretchiness. It felt bias cut, although it is cut on the straight grain. I cut the back and front in halves. Of course I had to flip the pieces horizontally to do that, but I also flipped them vertically at the same to get chevrons.

small Diagonal laurel

Since I couldn’t add back darts to this fabric, I shaped the back waist curve by removing fabric at the centre-back seam. The edges have lace and bias binding finishing. I cut a v-neck and scooped the bottom into a U shape.

Having established that the Laurel pattern could be used for casual daytime tops / kurtis, I’m planning something slightly more complicated for the future. Let’s see!

Sweet Copper Beret

This is done:

Full small

It was a quick knit, about five days of neglectfully allotted time. I went exactly with the instructions without (!!!!!!) making a swatch. Only because ribbing stretches and brioche stitch is the alpha and omega of stretchiness, and so I was fairly confident that whatever I made would fit.

The key to working the brioche stitch in this pattern is: Do not treat a yo like a usual stitch.

This is quite the opposite of regular knitting; normally, a yo formed in one row is treated as a proper stitch in the next row and included in the stitch counts as well as stitch manipulations that form the pattern. In this case, however, one has to ignore the yos and only deal with them when specified. For eg: “k2, slip yo” actually means “knit one stitch, then push the yo back to access the next stitch, and only then slip the yo”. Once I figured this out, the knitting was easy. Before that, I’ve started this hat a couple of times years ago, but always gave up because I couldn’t produce the required pattern.

The brioche stitch makes it drape really beautifully; unfortunately, the only photos I managed to take of it being worn were at night in yellow light. They were so bad (dingy/yellow/blotchy) that I had to resort to lomo-ization to make them passable. Thank goodness for special effects!

front 2 small

There is also a rather visible line of error about 2″ away from the edge, where there seems to be a line of plain (non-brioche) knitting. However, my brioche reading skills weren’t too great at that stage so I didn’t dare to unknit it! It’ll remain.

I used about 75% of the skein for the hat, and used up the remainder on a gigantic pompom, which had been my plan all along. None of those fancy pompom makers or painstakingly cut concentric circle templates for me! I wound the yarn around my foot (since my palm was too narrow for the gigantic pompom I wanted) until it ran out. Then I slipped the loops off, and tied them tightly around their ‘waist’ (forming an 8 like structure) with a previously set aside length of yarn. Then I cut the loops of the 8 and shook them out. Finally, I spent a considerable amount of time trimming the pompom to make it spherical, but that was fun!

pompom small

Details
Pattern: Sweet Honey Beret, Interweave Knits Winter 2008
Yarn: Madelinetosh DK Twist; 100% merino; 229m = 100g; one skein; “Copper Penny”
Needles: 3.75mm for rib; 5.5mm square for brioche
Mods: None, added pompom

Also, I’m travelling now, so this post is being brought to you by the magic of Scheduled Posting. Replies to questions will appear only when I’m next near an internet connection!

Border Print Taffy

Finally reunited with my sewing machine after months of travel, I set about making myself a quick garment. Hah! I should have just made more Myrtle Bags!

My  first project out of the Collette Sewing Handbook was the Taffy blouse.

Front full

I had this really pretty border print viscose:

Print

It’s deliciously cool against the skin, light and breathable. But … it is also rather loosely woven and combined with the bias cut pattern the whole process was one that leads to hair rending and cursing. I don’t care if I have to boil rice to make my own starch next time, I WILL USE STABILIZER the next time! Apologies for the yelling, but I hope my shouts echo through time to my own ears when I next decide to make a bias cut pattern out of loosely woven fabric.

On to the process.

Size: I cut a size 0 with no changes, and it fit very well. As with all garments, the key is to get the shoulder to fit and lie correctly against the body. If I had gone by bust size, I would have cut size 4 and wept as it slipped off my shoulders.

Pattern changes: I wondered if I would need to change the sleeves, making them longer and less circular. However, I really liked how the sleeves came out, so no changes there. I will move up the tie position by a couple of inches the next time.  

Cutting: Awful. I WILL USE STABILIZER next time. I positioned the body pieces on the centre of the fabric and used the border print on one side for the sleeves. I used up the remaining border on the other side to make continuous bias tape.

Tip: although making one inch wide tape to get ¼ inch tape is generally a good plan, in loosely woven fabric like this the tape thins out leaving a frustratingly narrow width of ¾ inch. So unless I use a tight, crisp woven the next time, I’ll mark lines 1.5 inches apart the next time, just to have enough width to work with.

Sewing: Pretty straightforward, because the lines of this top are very simple. I may finish the sleeve edges with my picot foot the next time. I did try to gather the front neck slightly, but after attaching the binding around the neck, the gathers pressed out. Such is the weird magic of bias cuts!

Since the ties were positioned too low for my preference, instead of ripping out the side seam I just sewed them along the outside of the seam to their new position. Oh and I hung the garment after sewing it together (before hemming), not after cutting the pieces.

The sleeves are bound with self fabric:

sleeves

As is the neck:

Neck

On the bottom I tried my picot foot. It bound it neatly, but also made the edge r-e-a-l-l-y flare out. I’m undecided if I like the ruffly lettuce look or whether I should just trim it off and stitch a regular hem.

Picot

Garment: I like! It’s pretty and wearable. I would definitely want a very pretty, sheer one next time, perhaps lined and edged with charmeuse in the same colour.

Also, I’m most probably mid-air right now, so this post is being brought to you by the magic of Scheduled Posting. Replies to questions will appear only when I’m next near an internet connection!

Arisaig

I used to often say hello to my Arisaig when putting away other clothes. I would pull it out to marvel at it.

Front small

I marveled at the smooth supple rib.

Rib small

I marveled at the lusciously drapey lace.

Lace small

I marveled at the tiny plump stitches.

And then I no longer marveled that after spending seven weeks on it, I rebelled at sewing in buttons! Knitting an adult size garment on 2.75mm needles is, well, not a rollicking ride of fun all the way. And now I especially do not marvel at it because, after all that, I had to give it away to the Brat. Because this is one of the first garments I modified, and the armholes turned out too small. But knitting this pattern, modified, really gave me the confidence to adapt other patterns, and helped me to see them as templates, to be shaped to my body every time. I used the very helpful Knitting Architect  which showed me how to break free from pattern obedience.

This is an old knit, but because I wanted to use the beautiful Chiara yarn for it, I decided to join Ravelry to look up yarn reviews. I suddenly got all nostalgic about it, hence this post!

Details
Pattern: Arisaig
Yarn: Lana Grossa Chiara (yummy, haloed, luscious, absolutely worth it), about 1050m
Needles: 2.75mm
Mods: The ribbing really needs to be longer in the original pattern; I increased mine by 2” and now feel I should have done more. I also shortened the ties considerably – only 60” for the longest one.

Fresh Faces

This year, I am avoiding maniacal sweater knitting!

But as usual, I abhor the calculations, deliberations and contemplations that precede starting a project. In other words, I’m sticking to my old system of creating a harem – oh that’s so cutesy, let’s call it boringly, but appropriately, a “batch” – of projects, so that for the next few weeks I can just knit, without having to open my stash shelf and glaring at the yarn, willing it to suggest the perfect pattern to show off its colour and texture. I generally buy yarn with specific projects in mind, but by now I have lots of leftovers from big projects, and am itching to put them to good use. Also, after a good old foggy and cold winter, I realized the utter necessity of a large selection of hats, cowls, mitts and socks. Here goes:

Undergrowth: I’d bought one skein of each colour (Nikke Victor Neo-Middle) to test a colourwork idea. The idea crystallized, but the yarn remained unused.  Therefore, a hat. The colours are slightly duller in real life, the pink tending towards maroon and the gold a decided tan. But I like them, especially their muted contrast; it reminds me of old brocade.

Undergrowth - beginning

Only after I uploaded the photo did I realize that this is the exact combination, several shades darker, of my wedding sari.

undergrowth sari

Also, this yarn is padded with a sponge in the middle of the skein!

Yarn sponge

Rosamund’s Cardigan: Still one-armed! I will get to it, I promise. Anyway, in worsted weight an arm should be less than a weekend’s work, correct?

one armed 1

Also, pretty cables: 

one arm 2

Boticelli (No pattern, my own): The pocket fronts are done, and the awful lumpiness behind them is the back of the tunic and pocket flaps bunched up on a circular needle.

boticelli back flaps small

Druidess Beret: In generic yarn I found in Delhi, not started yet. After the beret, I’ll attempt a cowl and/or mitts to make a set.

druidess Beret start

Sweet Honey Beret: Lovely Madtosh DK Twist in “Copper Penny” which, however, reminds me instead of young wood and living sap.  I really hope I have enough for a pompom on top. If not, I’ll opt for one in red or green yarn.

sweet copper beginning

So that’s the current batch! Also, I have cunningly chosen projects (most of) which can be worked on the wood/bamboo needles I own. Yes, that’s right, I have more long-distance flights in my near future.

 

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