Tuesday, 28 April 2015

KNIT: MY VERDANT CARAMEL

A labour of love.


Verdant: green deliciousness.


I started knitting this gorgeous "blanket" style cardigan last June!

The Caramel (Ravelry link) by Isabell Kraemer is an easy knit worked from the top down. It's seamless, but a faux side seam is created by a change in the stitch at the side seams and also on the inner arm. I kept to the pattern to create the side seams but omitted it on the inside arm. Simply a personal preference to finish this century. Faffing about with faux seams on the inner arm, that wouldn't be visible, was a slowing step I wasn't prepared to take.


I was doing quite well with this at the start, but I should've paid heed to the many, many others who commented on how very hard it was to keep going with the vast quantity, the miles, of stockinette stitch. I managed to get to splitting the sleeves pretty quickly. I added a few extra non-increase rows  to deepen the raglan seam. I prefer me a bit of armhole breathing space.

Then you find yourself with close to 300 stitches on the needles. And juggling two skeins of yarn, switching every two rows.

Kill. Me. Now.

Every mind-numbing row was taking close to half an hour and with a row gauge of 32 rows per 10cm you do the math. It was freaking torturous. I put this baby to bed last year in about July and only recently pulled her out again when the weather started to freshen.

The saving grace was the utterly divine yarn. Malbrigo Arroyo how I adore you. Your incredible softness, your springy perfect ply.


And your colour! Fresco Y Seco the perfect green, with undertones of emerald, grass and even gold. Sigh. Given the hand-dyed nature of the yarn no two balls are alike, not even from the same dyelot. And as such, it's recommended to knit from two skeins to avoid any weird colour changes.

I'm glad I finally pulled on my big girl pants and stuck it out. Because seriously, I freakin' adore this thing. A-dore. Open and drapey, or closed with a brooch, she's seriously the bomb.


And I'm so proud of the consistency of my tension and stitches given the huge intervening break.


I'd have liked an extra inch of length in the sleeves to cope with the inevitable creep up that plagues me, but I was literally weighing my yarn as I knit the sleeves. I needed to ensure I finished the first sleeve at the halfway weight of the remaining yarn to guarantee I got a second sleeve out of it. Gah! I ended up with 5g of yarn remaining to get to this length. Phew...

Because this...


Happy days

Thursday, 16 April 2015

SEWN: THE PHOENIX


And like a Phoenix, she has risen from the ashes.

Meet Miss Peplum (AKA The Phoenix). She needed to be shown a thing or two about elegance and appropriate behaviour by Miss Kitty.


I knew what I wanted in this top. I wanted a hi/lo, long-sleeved, swingy peplum top - similar to RDC's Marthe Blouse. But I'm not a huge fan of raglan sleeves on a woven top. Surely I could find a pattern to hack?

Enter Sato Watanabe's Basic Black Pattern A Lace Shirred Blouse (it's shown three pics down here). Go with me here. I know, I know, no shirring, no lace. But it had the basic shape I was after.

And that was about it.


That's where my trouble began. Actually no, it's not. This fabric is a beautiful printed 100% viscose I pounced upon at Pitt Trading*. It's the most gorgeous of fabrics, so incredibly light and drapey and wearing it is akin to how I imagine draping myself in butterfly wings would feel (that sounded kind of creepy and cruel... not what I intended... you know what I mean).

And my Janome wanted to swallow it down into the depths of the bobbin casing every time it got near my needle plate. I mean it really wanted to consume it and never let go. That does not bode well for beautiful French seams and silky loveliness.

So I brought out the big guns again. Miss Kitty (my 1950 Singer Featherweight 221K) did not fail. Straight stitch machines have one tiny little hole through the needle plate and anything being chewed up down there is highly unlikely. And straight stitches? Oh, my word.

Lets just say Miss Kitty sewed up this fabric like a dream.


I made some adjustments to the pattern.

I lengthened the bodice to 16.5 inches from shoulder to hem at front, curving down to gain an extra 1.5 inches at the back (the lo in hi/lo). I decided on a peplum length of 8 inches. I narrowed the sleeves to account for lack of shirring.

I was smart and toiled the bodice finding I didn't like its straight lines.

So I learned how to create a flared hem properly. Slash and spread baby. Toiled bodice number two looked the goods. Importantly, pay attention here, I did not attach the sleeves to toile 1 or 2. Da, da, daaaaaaaaaa (cue ominous noises).

I went ahead and sewed up my lovingly personalised peplum top, sleeves and all.


You'll notice a second adjustment to the pattern above if you look closely. A Broad Shoulder Adjustment. WTF?? Let's be clear. I am a classic pear shape and I have never in my life been accused of broad shoulderedness. Nup, not ever. And I was lulled into a false sense of Japanese pattern security based on my experience with an unaltered Traffic Stopper Dress. Mistake, big mistake (you seriously need to click on that last link).


Cue horrified face holding akin to Munch's The Scream. I truly did not think I had enough fabric left to recut and remake. I had to do some seriously crazy origami-like folding of my tiny piece of leftover fabric to recut the adjusted bodice and very cropped sleeves. You'll notice the cuffs (sleeve extenders)... they were cut from my first, slashed, bodice. The original sleeves weren't salvageable as I'd Frenched all the the seams.


Peeps, I am inordinately proud of this make. I worked my ass off to make it a success. All seams are Frenched except the peplum/bodice and cuff/sleeve seams. And check that final fit. First broad shoulder adjustment? BAM!


And I have a perfectly tailored peplum top pattern which I fully intend to make again. I mean seriously... after that much heartache and countless hours I'd bloody well want to.

I love this top, I really truly do.


*Thanks go to Pitt Trading who provided my choice of fabric free of charge for this project. Opinions are all my own.