More Blue Socks

I think I’m on a blue sock knitting jag. After the Rocaille socks of last month, I immediately started on the wildly-popular-nearly-a-decade-ago Hourglass, also in a deep vivid blue — Madelinetosh Sock in “Baltic”. If the Baltic Sea is really that colour, I want to go live in it. On second thoughts, perhaps not.

IMG_20160523_075619

As usual, I continued the slipped stitch heel pattern all along the sole. And extended the ribbing into the toe for more prettiness.

2016-05-30 11.25.54

Nail biting suspense questions: will I succumb to second sock syndrome? Or cast on for the twin immediately? Will I ever be able to accurately capture the deep, shifting, colour? Stay tuned!

Rocaille Socks

… are done!

Love them. I continued the ribbing pattern all the way to the toe for better continuity. Hopefully, the slipped stitch sole will help these last longer, given that this yarn is intended for baby clothes rather than socks!

IMG_1455

Details
Pattern: Rocaille
Yarn: Lanas Stop Prima Merino, 2 balls
Needles: 2.25mm
Ravelled: here

Sock in Progress

A quick post: I started with the Rocaille Socks from The Knitters Book of Socks.

13177267_10154774695623356_4729036292394946081_n

Great book, great pattern. I’m substituting a regular slipped stitch heel instead of the afterthought heel in the pattern, and also continuing with the slipped stitches along the sole and gussets as I have before.

Despite the heavy cabling, the pattern is quite addictive, and if I had a long weekend I could have probably finished the pair. But I don’t have a long weekend. Sigh.

Knotty or Knice

In the last few days, I finished a long-lingering FO. Knotty or Knice socks:

image

I had originally planned to make them over the knee socks, like my Chestnut Cabled Socks. But halfway up the leg I couldn’t bear to go on with the tiny little twisted cables any more. So I put it aside for over a year, while I worked up the motivation to complete them– or rather, tried to do so.

Finally I picked them up a week ago, decided they were long enough, and finished them with ribbing. The second sock went really fast – perhaps four days of intermittent work? – and here we are!

My stopping point turned out to be just right – I have only a few metres left of the first skein. The second skein (bought to make knee socks) still waits; I can’t bear to knit with literally the same yarn so soon.

I slip stitched the entire sole (since I wear out the heel and balls of the feet much more than the heel flap), throwing in short rows where necessary to enable the firm, slipped, sole to catch up with the growth of the instep.

image

The yarn, Dream in Color Smooshy was great to work with – very smooth and tightly spun. It’s slightly thicker than other sock yarn, so the resulting fabric is particularly dense. And the colour is so pretty! Ripe and deep.

Details
Pattern: Knotty or Knice socks
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, 1 skein, “Sundown Orchid”
Ravelled: here

L, Not-So-B, D

Another Muse Natalie. I love this pattern!

P1100141

I confess to being the sort of person who hates those “10 Things a Woman Must Have” type lists. Although I love looking at pictures of capsule wardrobes for a specific reason (winter business travel, summer beach, etc), the idea that all women, in their daily lives, have to have a certain set of clothes really annoys me. And especially when these typical lists are so soul-suckingly boring (LBD, white button down, striped T-shirt, blah blah blah).

So if I have to sew a D, it cannot be fully B, and, as it turned out, it’s not so very L either.

I increased the length of the centre front skirt so as to keep the hem straight, but made no other changes. The centre triangle is basted to a woven material (not interfaced) for stiffness. And I hand-sewed on a matching triangle on the WS to hide all the seams. I also had to hand stitch the neck binding on the reverse side after attaching it by machine. Any attempt to machine stitch the binding to the WS resulted in a horribly wavy neckline. Probably because my jersey fabric was so thin!

P1100145

Nothing more to say — I like it as much as my  first one, despite obligatory photobombing by the Creature!

And just for fun, here’s how much the Creature has grown in the five months since I sewed my first Muse Natalie:

P1100154        Puppy 01

Oh dear, he looks quite tubby and stubby in this photo! It’s because his body is squished against mine, pressing it flatter and making it look larger.

And now, I sound like one of those dog parents! But he’s not tubby and stubby, I promise you! Here’s proof:

P1100127

La Bella

The Arabella is done!

P1100159

I’ve written about it before, so not much more to add. I started with a Brooklyn Tweed pattern size and merged it with a CustomFit generated neck, yoke and sleeves for best fit.

I do think it would have looked more structured in a woollen spun yarn, and find that the superwash, worsted spun, Tosh Merino Light makes an almost floppy garment because of its unusual length. But it’s still pretty. I did have to alternate skeins, though to prevent flashing.

P1100164

Also, the quaker ridging pattern is completely hidden in the variegation of the yarn; but I’ll live with it. Overall, am quite happy with this one!

P1100156

Details
Pattern: Arabella
Yarn: Madelinetosh Merino Light; 3.5 skeins; “Pecan Pie”
Ravelled: here

Some Progress

The back of the ‘bella is done! Being mostly stockinette it goes at a decent pace, provided one actually works on it. Right now it looks like a squashed bat, but I can see the potential!

P1100139

As you can see, the faint traces of pink have flashed across the large bottom section in the most determined way. Which tells me I shall have to alternate skeins from now on.

I’m really not looking forward to making two full length sleeves after the gigantic back and front, but am not sure of how much yarn I’ll have left. Perhaps I can weigh the back and do some complicated calculations? After all I do know how much yarn the sleeves will take, since I’m making them from the same Custom Fit pattern as my Thermal Kitten. Ok then…

Weighed and calculated. Nope, cannot take the risk. Will have to finish the front and neck ribbing, then work sleeves to maximise yarn usage. Grrr.

Initiating Arabella

After moaning and complaining about knitting fingering weight sweaters, here we are again, with a fingering weight tunic.

20160404_110355

Another Brooklyn Tweed pattern, Arabella. It’s a simple, vented tunic, made special by the gores which push the fabric out into a playful, swingy shape. I’m planning to use CustomFit for the top of the body and sleeves, and am knitting the bottom with stitch counts from the original pattern which match up most closely to the numbers needed for the CustomFit yoke. This means I’ll end up with a front which is slightly larger than the back (as generated by CustomFit), but that’s what I need for good fit. I’ll also get a bit of negative ease in the bust, which is also something I prefer to the intended positive ease of the pattern. Finally, I’ll make full length sleeves (if I have enough yarn) and also add short rows to the front of the body, to ensure it doesn’t ride high as I’ve seen in many projects on Ravelry.

The yarn is Madelinetosh Merino Light (again!) in “Pecan Pie”. Let the moaning begin!

Wren in Navy

P1100101

Colette Wren — DONE!

I haven’t made any Colette pattern since the Dahlia a couple of years ago, because the rather simple stuff they put out since then didn’t inspire me. But Wren, yeah!

Of course I decided upon the version with the panelled skirt. I did have to make some important changes to get the kind of fit I like. That said, there are some issues with the drafting of this pattern, so take note!

Size
Looking at the sizing guide, my bust size put me in XS. But the finished garment measurement on that would give me negative ease of 4 inches! Eep! I know a little bit of negative ease on knits is good, but 4 inches?? I became thoughtful.

Because of my thick waist, I decided to grade up to S in that area. But the finished measurement on that would still give me some negative ease. I became really, really, thoughtful.

Finally, my hips put me back in XS. But the finished garment would still give negative ease of 4 inches! Never! Negative ease in a clingy garment which extends below the hips means butt cupping and pelvic cling and all sorts of other maladies out of the fitting dictionary. I wasn’t going to let myself in for any of that.

Fortunately, I’d sewn my Muse Natalie a few weeks ago, and the ease on that was perfect. Mildly negative in the bust and mildly positive in the waist and hips. So I knew I was on the right track and felt very confident in choosing to go up to M at the hip notch. I did, however, go down to XS again by the hem, to get that shapely look the garment was trying to achieve.

I’m not sure why the pattern has so much negative ease throughout. Perhaps it’s a way of getting the garment to ‘fit’, but to me that seems like lazy drafting. Knits can be shaped, albeit not with darts, and should be, instead of just relying on the stretchiness of the fabric.

Pattern Changes
Back: XS at shoulders and underarm, graded to S at waist. So many reviewers complained that the armscyes were too loose that I simply drew in a smaller one from my Muse Natalie pattern.

Front: XS at shoulders and underarm, graded to S at waist. I also did an FBA of one inch, so that I gained 2 inches across the whole front and so kept the negative ease of the finished garment to 2 inches (original 4 minus 2 added via FBA). I didn’t remove the extra width added to the waist by the FBA, since I need ease for my tummy. Now, to do the FBA, I had to open a side dart. This I rotated close and moved the excess fabric to the front edge. In the picture below, the green area is the extra width added through my FBA, and the red wedge is the extra fabric in the neckline.

P1100050

Instead of hemming the neck as suggested, I cut a long strip, reduced it by 10%, and used that as a continuous facing all around the neck once the shoulders were sewn.

Also changed the armscyes to Muse Natalie.

Sleeves: Used from the Natalie pattern, with an added cuff.

Back Skirt: S at waist, graded to M at hip and back to XS at hem.

Front Skirt: Ditto above. However, I also filled in the shaping at the top of the skirt panels to make them fit the extra width on the front added via the FBA. In the picture, these extra filled in bits are in red and maroon, and match the green FBA width above them.

P1100052

Sewing
After all that, the sewing was fairly simple. I did all seams with a zig-zag stitch and didn’t need to finish any edge since the fabric was so stable. I also twin-needle top-stitched almost every seam, and love the crisp look!

P1100067

Fabric
Quite a thick, luxurious navy with thin metallic accents. One way stretch only.

Verdict
I really like this garment, especially with my changes. I can’t imagine how clingy it would have been without grading up through the body! However, there are a few things I would definitely change the next time

  • Remove a one-inch-tapered-to nothing wedge from the CB
  • Bring in shoulders for a narrower neck on the back
  • Ditto on the front, continuing the extra fabric all the way to the waist for more coverage.
  • Full bicep adjustment on the Muse Natalie sleeve

If you intend buying this pattern, do be aware that most reviewers have noted problems. The sleeves are very wide and low and practically everybody has had to modify or substitute. The waist is pretty high; I like that, but it’s something to note if you want the dress to hit at your natural waist. The neck finishing is a bit amateurish, and many others have added a facing instead of simply turning it down. And the (in my opinion) excessive negative ease throughout the body is a bit disconcerting.

Finally, there are two great eyesores about this dress. First, the wonky hem — this is my inexperience with sewing knits. I’m hoping washing and pressing will sort that out. Second, the hideous, undulating waistline. This is very, very obvious since it’s on the front, and seems to be  a problem in every Wren I’ve seen, caused by the neckbands being kept short to prevent gaping. You can see how the waist rises along the sections where the neckbands are attached.

This means that the Wren pretty much always has to be worn with a belt. I’m thinking of drafting a self belt and incorporating that into the side seam the next time I make it.

Now I don’t mind making adjustments for fit, and certainly don’t expect pattern companies to draft to my specific body shape. Some narrowing and widening to fit my unique body is certainly expected. But I do expect companies charging premium price to ensure that the basic draft is good.

P1100104

Score
7/10. Three points deducted for the undulating waistline, which should have been fixed as a design drafting error! And also for the gigantic original sleeves. But apart from that… I like the pattern and already planning other versions; perhaps one in a thin, copper coloured knit with flutter sleeves? How tantalizing!