Monday, 9 May 2022

Scout Shawl Adventure

I don't know when I first spied it, but once I'd seen the Scout Shawl I knew that was the knitting challenge I wanted to try.

I might have spent more than 6 months looking for the yarns I wanted. Trying to find five different colours that were "neutral" enough for my tastes all within the one yarn range was a struggle.

The top contender, and probably where I first saw the pattern were the Kokon fingering merino yarns at HandMakeCreate - it's even made easy by there being yarn kits available.

But then I found the Knitting For Olive merino yarns. Every single one is lovely. If you're a  fan of neutral then I dare you to click on that link and not have your credit card wiped clean!

The Knitting for Olive merino is 500m/100g which is considerably finer than the 320m/100g of the Kokon fingering that the pattern was designed for. I don't know what I was doing when I ordered the yarn (from Denmark!). Maybe I thought I was going to hold two strands double? Obviously I hadn't looked at the pattern and realised I'd already have as many as 6 strands of yarn on the go at one time anyway!

Whatever I did, I over ordered. Oops ;)

I did some swatches and even going up two needle sizes I was still coming out smaller than intended. But I was nervous that if the needle was too big the pattern would look loose and imprecise, so I settled on using 4mm needles rather than the 3.5mm the pattern suggested.

In swatching I also got my Knitter's Book of Knowledge by Debbie Bliss out and took the time to learn how to hold the yarns. I really like this book as it shows multiple ways of doing things and explains the pros and cons of each. Other knitting books seem to just give the author's view of the one way to knit.

I'd only really tried colourwork with A's Ravenclaw beanie and hadn't quite known what I was doing, so this seemed a good opportunity to get it "right".

The photo above is dated 1st December 2021 so I guess that was the start.

I've learned to knit in the English style, yarn in right hand, but decided to try Debbie Bliss' suggestion to have a crack at doing fair isle with a yarn in each hand.

Because the shawl is knitted flat working on the right side then the wrong side, that meant I had to be able to knit and purl both english and continental. It took a bit of practice but I got there!

The pattern requires 5 colours: 1 light neutral background colour, and then two pairs with a light and dark shade in each pair.

My background colour (C2) is the creamy white in the top left of the picture above: Marzipan

The first pair (C1 and C5) are the two greys. The lighter grey (C1) is used for the border and is Oatmeal and the dark grey is Dark Moose

The second pair (C3 and C4) are the browns. C3 is on the bottom right in the above picture and is Camel and the central deeper brown is Dark Cognac

I made sure to put a lifeline in at each new pattern section, but there are some mistakes that were only discovered long after I'd gone beyond the point of recovery. There's a decidedly red wine fuelled wobble in that very first patterned section!

It came aw ay with me at Christmas and then again on our annual January mountains holiday. Sometimes it was put away briefly while I did something simpler for a break.
Progress pictures kept me entertained.

Each new pattern chart was a nice change, although the widest middle section did seem to take forever.

Still, the yarn was so nice to work with and had just enough of a woolly smell without being too raw. It was lovely journey knitting and since I don't actually wear shawls (ha!) arriving at the destination was kind of irrelevant.

As I was getting into the decreases and each row was going a little quicker I was almost feeling a bit sad about finishing. Of course I could cheer myself up by planning to buy more yarn and start something else...

And then it was finished (photos dated mid March). I did immediately feel like I could make it again. Even with the same yarns in a different order it would completely different. Substituting even just one yarn would change it even more. It's addictive!

I weighed how much yarn was left and calculated roughly what I'd used. Turns out I could have got away with only one ball of nay colour (I'd bought two of all of them and 4 of the Marzipan). However it had been handy to have two balls to work from and not have to split each colour into smaller balls
C1 Oatmeal 32g
C2 Marzipan 41g
C3 Camel 29g
C4 Dark Cognac 18g
C5 Dark Moose 26g

And the final size, once blocked was only about 2-3cm narrower than the pattern.

I've already started on something with the leftovers! (and it only necessitated buying one more colour!)

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Little Liberty bits

Some people go nuts for Liberty of London fabrics. Not really me. I can definitely appreciate the quality of the fine lawn cotton. I'm just not that into most of their prints.

Yet I have accumulated some small bits, and I thought using the contrast of multiple different Liberty fabrics to create some double welt pockets with button loops would be fun.

In true Melbourne style I needed to "balance" my tiny 1/4" strips of colourfulness with a whole lot of black!

So I decided to use some more of the lovely vintage washed cotton from Fabric Deluxe and make a black Verdun top with little pocket pops of colour

I've previously sewn welt pockets where part of the pocket was folded to create the welt. But that means everything had to be made of the same fabric. Here I've used different fabrics for the tops and bottoms of each welt and a 5th fabric for the button loops. That's a whole lot of colour for this little black duck.

There's a tutorial over on the Oliver + S blog, as in my attempt to copy Liesl (Part 3?) with my shirt dress I discovered she never had written a shirt welt pocket tutorial. After doing it messily, I did it again more neatly and wrote it up to share.

The Verdun top is a super quick, easy woven tee. It has a curved hem that's lower at the back, a nice waist shaping and is just two pattern pieces and neck/hem facings.

I'm really liking how it works over a narrower skirt; this is the Extra Sharp Pencil skirt which inexplicably I can't find anywhere on my blog. Anyway, here it is elsewhere

This is the size M/L Verdun with no modifications. It's very easy to wear and so long as I avoid the blues or greens that look like surgical scrubs I could definitely have room for more in my wardrobe.

Monday, 2 May 2022

Dandelion blanket and baby knitting

Ages ago, long before I knew how to knit, or knew any expectant parents to knit for, Jorth released her dandelion blanket pattern and I loved it.

I taught myself to knit in the 2020 lockdowns, and my Frocktails co-organiser Lisa kindly went down the baby making route, and so it was time for a Dandelion blanket.

The yarn is Heirloom Mystic 8 ply merino in an infuriatingly difficult to photograph pale green. It looked very blue in every photo I took so I've tweaked the colours so the wool is correct, although my rug is not that "warm" in real life.

I added a bit of extra width to the border around the blanket by casting on an extra two stitches, making the side borders 5 stitches instead of 4 and increasing the top and bottom border rows to 6 rows instead of 4 

It came out to exactly the right size once blocked, but I'd run out of yarn far too early. I did a bit of maths and worked out how many extra rows I'd effectively added by doing two extra rows at the start and two extra stitches per row thereafter. I should have been well within the final border but I was still about 10 rows away from starting it. I ordered two more balls of yarn to be sure of finishing safely.

I only needed about 10% of one of those balls, so then  I added a beanie and some booties. Both are free patterns from Ravelry: Basic baby hat by Heather Tucker and Newborn Booties by Priscilla Uloho

There was just enough cream wool left over from Portal the doorsnake for the trim. the booties are the 0-3 month size instead of the newborn size and they look comically long to me!

Friday, 29 April 2022

Classic Shirt Dress

One thing I simply cannot walk past is a double sided fabric

of course I also wouldn't walk past an accident, a lost kitten, a crying child... 

but definitely not a nice double sided fabric. It's my weakness.

I saw this one at The Fabric Store when I wasn't looking for it. I was barely in the vicinity, but that's the nature of double sided fabric. It calls to me.

It's a double gauze with a navy plaid on one side and a lighter blue stripe on the other. Immediately I knew it wanted to be a shirt dress.

This blog post is sort of part 2 in my series of copying Liesl Gibson by sewing something just like what she did.

Part 1 (some may argue I'm already up to part umpty-billionth) was my black Cinema Dress. This one is almost a double part sequel as I've copied both the Classic shirt turned dress with popover placket, and the double welt pockets with button loop

Admittedly I didn't copy those welt pockets too neatly (Just go look at the perfection of that shirt of hers). More on that soon.

I've used my tried and true size 10 Classic Shirt pattern (without moving the bust dart this time) and lengthened it using the Camp Shirt/Dress as a length and width guide - I happened to have that one out and handy as I'd just made my cropped Camp Shirt

Instead of buttoning all the way down the front I used the free popover placket tutorial from the Oliver + S blog.  

Nothing more to say. I love it.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

CDOMD - aka Copying Liesl

Ever since forever I've been wanting a plain black Cinema Dress

Truth be told it's been ever since Liesl Gibson sewed one for herself. I keep seeing photos of her in some lovely Madrid street in that black dress and I want it. Bad.

So, here it is: the Cinema Dress Of My Dreams (CDOMD)

At first I was going to use linen, but I couldn't hit on the Goldilocks weight - not too sheer, not too heavy. 

Then I found this vintage finish cotton at Fabric Deluxe. It's perfect. It's light and floaty. It's has a softer drape than a linen would but is more opaque than a lightweight linen would be too.

I've been wearing it a lot. I've not managed to get to Madrid to try and really copy Liesl in a photoshoot, but it's a dress that works for a trip into the city

or a weekend in the country...

The sizing and modifications (yes I can raise my arms!) is the same as for my bright version seen back here.

The only problem is that in vigorously pulling this one one and off without unbuttoning it, the more delicate cotton fabric has given out where a button has pulled through. I patched it with some interfacing, but it's just happened again. I think I can just stitch the back placket closed and dress more slowly and carefully.

Friday, 15 April 2022

The perfect, ruined, somewhat salvaged hat

Do you ever make something really amazing and then completely ruin it with one last little step? A step that turns out to have been completely unnecessary anyway.

Well I do. Surprisingly frequently.

Here's the only in-progress photo I have of my LUCCA hat. The pattern is by Susanne Muller, here, on Ravelry. I had, I thought, just enough of the lovely tan Modofil paper raffia in my stash.

I made the larger size and it was coming along really well. The instructions for steam shaping are great, I was getting excited.....

And then I got to the point photographed above and realised I didn't have enough raffia*. I spent a few nights scouring the internet and the only place I could find it available for sale was in the states and a $25 cone of raffia was going to cost me another $40 to post. Despair.

* to be fair, the pattern does state that for the larger size you'd need more than one 100g cone of raffia.

So I sent a begging email to Cass at String Harvest and, HOORAY, she did have a cone in her own stash that was not on the shop's website. Glee! She posted it to me, it arrived and was even the same colour batch number, and I was off and crocheting again.

The brim is supported by some plastic hat wire that I got from The Millinery Hub along with some Petersham ribbon to sew a band.

It fit perfectly. Securely enough not to blow off in a wind, but comfortable enough not to stretch or distort when worn. I am so awesome. My hat is so great.

Then came that "extra bit"....

I decided it needed to be stiffer and so I carelessly started slapping hat stiffener onto it. It instantly stained a horrible dark, uneven colour. Aaarrrgh.

Nothing to do but keep going and give it enough coverage to be at least a somewhat even, horrible dark stained colour.

Now it was perfectly stiff, and thus completely inflexible and too small. Real tears.

I set it aside for a few weeks and wallowed in my self pity. 

Eventually I decided to try washing it. Theoretically the hat stiffener shouldn't wash out with water, but it kind of did. At least all the stiffness part of it did. The uneven staining remained.

It's never quite gone back to the sizing it was pre-ruining and washing and so it needs a hefty bit of steam ironing to achieve the shape in these photos.

The tendency is for it to be a bit small and so it looks rounded where it sits around my head and then the top part appears like a shrunken souffle hovering above the crown.

Can you tell I'm still a bit sad? I mean I'm laughing at myself as well, and I'll definitely have another go at it one day.

But meanwhile, this one is still perfectly wearable and at least I won't be too precious about it getting dirty or stained.

And it can be scrunched up and shoved into a bag and then it (sort of) pops back into shape. At least the shape that it now chooses to be.

It's all about knowing when to stop.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Patience rewarded - Jalie 2679

Ever since he was about 5 years old, P has been asking me for a top with thumb loops. Finally I got around to it.

I have a cycling top of my own from Ground Effect and knew he'd like something like it: Windproof on the front, breathable at the back, roomy pockets and those much desired thumb loops....

I knew I'd have to make some modifications to achieve what he/we wanted and so figured I should use what I had to hand. Enter Jalie 2679 - a women's softshell jacket pattern. The pattern had pretty much everything needed except the thumb loops and a shaped cycling-style "whale tail" at the back.

I recalled that deep in my fabric stash I had a decent amount of an amazing double sided, windblock microfleece - last used back here when he started primary school! (cutey!!) I'm sure my intention was to use it all up while it matched the school colours. With only the younger child left in grade 6 I might have missed the boat on that!

There was some navy sweater fleece in the stash but it is very thick and has little to no stretch and wasn't going to work. The other find (I really do have too much fabric) was this lighter blue athletic knit. It's fleecy on the inside, very soft and a much stretchier type knit than a cotton sweater knit. At first I was disappointed that the colours didn't match but then P and I decided together that the blue on navy colour blocking was kinda cool.

The jacket usually has a longish, hemmed, single layer cuff. I wanted my thumb loop to arise from where the cuff meets the sleeve, so I redrew my cuff shape to give the curve over the back of the hand and less depth around where the thumb loop would be.

Then I cut two cuffs for each side, stitched them together around the outer edge and turned them. The thumb loop was made by cutting an oval out of the cuff and then binding the raw edge with rib knit (and yes, there was navy in the stash!)

To make up for the shorter cuff, I'd added about 2 inches of length to the sleeve. but I'd forgotten about the freakish arms of this kid. There was a big gap between sleeve and cuff! I'd already been having a bit of fun using silver, reflective bias binding in a few of the seams, so we agreed that a sleeve extender (patent pending) might be able to look deliberate with the addition of some more reflective piping. That's another full 5" of sleeve length added. Freak.

For his measurements I chose the women's size R, then added 1" body length to the front panels (above the bottom front band) and to the backside panels, curving towards and inch and a half where the back sides meets the back, then dipping further to curve across the centre back

For just the cost of the zippers and the reflective binding it turned out brilliantly and I'm so glad I finally gave him his thumb loop top.