Hypocalcemia

Yikes, look at that! It’s as if my poor Purple Turtle has pyramidal scutes caused by calcium deficiency!

small 2nd row

The reverse (which is actually the RS) is a teeny bit more subdued.

small 2nd row back

This is getting interesting. I’m knitting at a very tight gauge, so I had to run and buy more yarn. But will I ever wear this skirt??!

Testudines 

The purple turtle skirt. Look at those hexagons! Almost alien looking! This skirt is not going to be wearable at work except the casualest-est of Fridays.

small 01

The pattern starts with waist triangles. The first hexagon is attached by picking up along the bottoms of two adjacent triangles and casting on for remaining stitches to form the outline of the hexagon, which is then knitted in the round with decreases to shape it flat. Then the next hexagon’s stitches are picked up from one side of the first hexagon and two triangles while the rest of the stitches are cast on. And so on, attaching each hexagon as it is created. It’s a good way to avoid sewing up all the pieces at the end! In the photo below, I’ll be picking up stitches along the vertical edge of the leftmost hexagon, then along the left edge of the attached triangle, then the right edge of the unattached triangle, and casting on the remaining sts. Then I’ll work inwards, in the round.

 small 02

A couple of things puzzled me about the pattern:

1. It’s very adamant that stitches have to be picked up alternately with the skein yarn and CO tail yarn. I tried this for one hexagon and found no advantage. So I just picked up with the skein yarn alone and did a knitted CO at the free edges. This also meant not having to do tedious yarn estimates of how long a tail to leave to accomplish the alternate pick ups and free edge COs. Win!

2. The presence of a zip. It’s a handknit skirt. Why go to all the bother of inserting a zip? I firmly decided against it and accordingly, instead of 5 full and 2 half waist triangles, I’m doing did 6 full waist triangles with 6 full hexagons dangling off them.

Best thing? The waist triangles are small enough to act as swatches. Just make sure that their longest edge x 6 can go around your waist. I’m knitting at a very tight gauge, so am making hip size 43.75.

Also, the pattern has you flip the garment at the end so that the reverse stockinette texture is on the RS. It makes for a much smoother transition between colours too.

small 03

 

April Debutantes

Spending all of last year on sweaters has given me a raving appetite for small items: caps, gloves, cowls and more! But there were still sweaters I dreamed of knitting, queued forever, which I couldn’t bring myself to remove during my occasional queue purges. So I took some time to plan for them, thought of modifications to make them fit into my winter wardrobe gaps, even down to suitable colours.

Next up:

1. Snapping Turtle Skirt: I’m planning this as the brainless filler. Whenever I’m zombied out  from work, I’ll work on a hexagon. That’s the plan, anyway! In Katia Azteca, a palette of purples, greys, lilacs and pink.

small-swatch

2. Boticelli: You’ve already met this one.

Whole small

3. Opposite Pole: exactly as written, perhaps with pockets. I may reduce the width of the collar section, so that it doesn’t need to be folded so many times behind the neck. This soft squishy yarn is Cascade Eco Highland Duo in “Toffee”, undyed alpaca and merino. See why I make L-shaped swatches. 

small-swatch

4. Drops Blah Blah: who can remember the long alphanumeric strings of Drops pattern names?! This will be a tunic, with very subtle colourwork: I deliberately chose a brown with strong reddish undertones. Both are Cascade 220, in “Red Wine Heather” and “Cordovan”. Most of the colourwork will be near the hem, fading to dots by the waist. A very toned down interpretation of the pattern will lie along a scooped neckline, ending with a cowl or folded funnel neck with crisp twisted ribbing.

small-colour

Roses and Welts

I made another skirt, a much better fitting one than the last two. It’s a basic a-line skirt from Sew U, but I made tons of changes. First, I left out the front darts to accommodate my tummy.  Then, I reduced the length substantially, and also lopped off about an inch from the top. I still marvel at the amount of ease built into the Sew U patterns – 4 inches of width removed from the bottom, and the skirt is still a-line. Finally, I added a hook and eye closure.

Oh but that’s not all! The skirt also has:

A lining: this rather bilious green fabric was what I had lying around. I used it since it’s going to be invisible anyway, and I love the heavy swishy drape and structure that a lining gives to garments. It feels like a Solid, Well Made Thing.

Piped Welt Pockets: Tutorial from here. They were much easier than expected. My only problem was: the zip foot, which came with my Brother LS2125. It has a very broad, wide, ‘heel’, which prevents the stitching line from snugging up to the piping. Well, that’s an understatement. It is inhumanly determined to not stitch next to the piping, and with grim persistence pushes the piping away no matter what you try (why yes, I did have to spend a lot of time re-doing the piping). So the curves of the pocket opening aren’t as perfect as they could be. While I’m all for making do with what one has — and not spending on extra gadgets — I think I really do need a foot that forms a stitching line along its edge. See, other people agree with me!

Three rows of top stitching, to prevent the lining from riding up.

Matched with similar, subtle, top stitching at the hem.

And now, my position on a couple of controversies:

Quilting cotton: Yes, this is quilting weight cotton. I would never make a dress or shirt out of it, but its stiffness is good for an a-line skirt. The lining helps make it comfortable too.

Lining hem: ok, this is a controversy only in my own mind. Should the lining hem be turned out (between the lining and the main fabric) or in (next to the body)? I’ve seen RTW examples of both styles. My reasoning is, that while all construction details (darts, seams) should fall between the lining and the main fabric (so that there is a smooth, neat surface if the garment is turned inside out) the hem is the only part of the lining most likely to be seen when worn. Therefore, it makes sense to turn it inwards (towards the body) so that it looks clean if the main fabric rides up while worn.

Meanwhile, Nanook still awaits pocket linings. But I did so much successful sewing this weekend, I didn’t have time to knit.

Skirting Issues

(Groan… that was terrible!!)

The promised skirt post mortem!

Pattern: Skirt from Sew U: The Built by Wendy Guide to Making your own Wardrobe

With my first skirt, far from enjoying beginner’s luck, I made every possible mistake:

  • Cut two front sides. I’m only able to wear it despite that because it’s cut on the bias.
  • Put the lining together incorrectly, with its darts visible on the inside.
  • Attached zip at the right hand side instead of the left.
  • I’m pretty sure I inadvertently increased the seam allowance, making it gangrene-inducingly tight at the waist unless I wear it very high.
  • Used a cheap craft shop zip which doesn’t lock on pressing down the tab. Oops!!
  • Also, I didn’t see a length reduction line on the pattern, so I made up my own.
  • Here’s one of those duh things you only realise later: The skirt and lining are made exactly the same, with the wrong sides of both ending up between the right sides. Meaning, no construction shows on the public side or lies against your body. The only exception is the hem of the lining, which should be folded in the same direction as the main fabric. That is, if you flip the main fabric up, you should see the smooth, NOT folded, side of the lining’s hem. At least, I think so, based on the retail skirts I’ve bought.

Seeing, however, that every bloggy review praised this skirt and said it miraculously fit and fell perfectly no matter what the size and shape of the wearer, I tried it again. What do you know, they were right:

This time I was much more careful and actually cut a front piece and two back pieces.

Mods:

  • Took out the front darts since I have a bit of a tummy.
  • Increased waist circumference by taking out about 3/4” more from the top of the skirt.
  • Moved opening to side. Lesson: the opening needs to be on opposite sides of the skirt and lining.
  • Fully lined instead of faced.
  • Inserted a tab of fabric into the opening for hook and eye closure.
  • Added a facing to the top. Long rectangle, pleated at top edge to account for narrower circumference at waist. It also extends into a sash, so I figured out a way to line the dangling ends.

Much better! Will I dare to make a shirt next?

Some Techniques & an FO!

ETA July 2014: CustomFit Recipe now available for sale here! All the techniques below are explained in a neater, more cleaned up version, with photographs, and superfluous techniques deleted. Also, learn more about the Recipe.

Gentle readers, time for the next round of information on how to make the Shifting Sands Cardigan!

I gave guidelines on how to create the base stockinette cardigan in a previous post. Now, on to the techniques needed for creating the collar.

Stitch Pattern: From the Shifting Sands Scarf pattern by Grumperina. The link has written as well as charted instructions. Note that while the pattern gives instructions for extra selvedge stitches to create edges for the scarf, the actual stitch pattern itself is a multiple of five stitches.

Provisional Cast On: Choose your favourite method. Google for more information.

Double knit selvedges: These create little tubes along the sides, giving a nice stable edge. They look superficially similar to applied i-cords, but are knitted along with the main piece. To work:

* RS: Work in pattern up to last three stitches. Slip the last three stitches, purl-wise, onto right needle. Turn.

* WS: The yarn is now dangling in front of the fabric, between the third and fourth stitches.  Pick it up and purl the first stitch. The yarn will form a strand across the stitches (since it was not at the very edge of the work when you started), but never mind, purl the next two stitches, then continue to work across the row in pattern, up to the last three stitches. Slip these, purl-wise, onto right needle. Turn.

* RS:  The yarn is now dangling behind the fabric, between the third and fourth stitches. Pick it up and knit the first three stitches, then work in pattern till the last three stitches, and so on.

As you see, each row begins with completing the tube of the previous row, and ends with slipping some stitches to start making the tube of the current row.  The tubes might look a little bit sloppy for the first couple of rows, but they neaten up perfectly after that.

Note that because this technique involves slipping stitches without working them, every alternate row, the tube stitches are twice the length of your regular stitches in the middle of the fabric. In other words, you will have twice the number of regular rows as the number of tube rows in your work.

Left Twist: Here’s a good video.

Right Twist: Here’s a good video.

Related to the above is Working a Right Twist from the WS: Purl into the second stitch without throwing the old stitch off the needle, purl into the first stitch, then throw both old stitches off the left needle.

At this point, I must admit that having right and left twists on the tubes bordering the collar was a slight conceit of mine, an attempt to have even the selvedges echo the criss-cross of the main pattern, making things just so. If you feel all this is too elaborate, feel free to ignore instructions for the three Twists, and make all the border tubes in stockinette.

Increases: Make 1 (m1), Make 1 purl (m1p), Knit into front and back of stitch (kfb), Purl into front and back of stitch (pfb). Google these terms,  instructions and videos abound.

Next up: Putting it all Together!

Oh and the FO? My Annis scarfette is done! I changed the shape from the original, as you see. More later when it dries and I can take  modeled FO shots.