Bronze Brynja

brynja1This cardigan is one of my last finished objects, the last FO of 2016 in fact. I was wearing it today when, coming home from work, I realised how long it had been since I published anything on this blog, so I’m glad I’ve finally stopped caring about posting my projects in the order I finish them! Please excuse the crazy hair, I had just been rained on. OK who am I kidding, my hair is always crazy! :-/

brynja3The pattern is Brynja by Linda Lencovic, in PomPom Quarterly, Issue 11 (Winter 2014). FYI, it is now also available as an individual download. It had caught my eye when it first came out, and I immediately thought of it again when, about a year later, the lovely Aïda brought 19 skeins (yes, NINETEEN – no, I haven’t used all of them) of Phildar Sport’Laine (Bronze colourway), a discontinued wool/acrylic blend, at our annual fabric/yarn swap. The yarn slept in my stash for a little over a year, which I guess is not too bad compared to how long some other yarns have been waiting in there. It was very pleasant to knit with, and its only downside is that the 49% of acrylic mean that things can get a little bit sweatier than with my other, 100% natural, sweaters. Sorry if that’s TMI. It does not smell though, probably thanks to the wool content?

brynja4I did not find the instructions for the cardigan completely user friendly, which I’m thinking might have to do with the very limited space they had to fit in the magazine (4 very small pages, schematic included). There were also a couple mistakes in there, which had me unravel quite a few rows (details on my Ravelry). Mistakes/Small lack of clarity aside, it was still an enjoyable knit thanks to the AWESOME cable pattern. I mean, isn’t it gorgeous?

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The buttons were rescued from an old jacket by my mother. Merci Maman!

And so easy to knit and to memorise. Plus, no need for a cable needle. I loved seeing those cables take shape and I love the texture they give the finished cardigan!

brynja5However, when I first finished the cardigan and tried it on, I felt pretty meh about it, if not seriously disappointed. All I could focus on were the very low armholes, which I am not used to. I forced myself to wear the cardigan nevertheless, on a very casual day at work… and I fell in love with it! The low armholes can’t even be seen from the front, only from the back, and they do not bother me at all anymore; I actually like their relaxed feel! They don’t look that good when the cardigan is closed, but I always wear it open, so…

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Pockets! A bit small for the hands but perfect for tissues and chapstick!

My Brynja has now become one of my most worn cardigans (I know I say that about a lot of my knits, but it is true, I do wear most of them on a very regular basis – the majority of them never even see the inside of my wardrobe from about September to June). Its colour goes with a surprising amount of prints and other colours, which I did not see coming. By the way, did you know the name of this colour in French is “caca d’oie”, which means “goose poop”? Oh, the glamour! It’s actually a very accurate description of the colour, much more so than the one chosen by Phildar, isn’t it? But I didn’t think “Goose Poop Brynja” would make as catchy a title! 😉

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A Favourite Cosy Outfit

cosy1Ah, Cardamome! Ah, Armande! I intended to blog about them separately because each deserves its own blog post, but I was wearing them both on a day I came home from work when it was still (sort of) daylight, so I jumped on the occasion to take some pictures, and a shared post will have to do.

cosy3The Cardamome dress is yet another Deer&Doe pattern (yes, I do intend on sewing them all ultimately!). It was my favourite one from the A/W 2015 collection and I immediately knew I wanted to make it in this starry cotton lawn I had in my stash. It took me a little bit more than a year to get to it, but I didn’t change my mind in the meantime. I also knew I wanted to highlight the curve of the bib with some piping of the same colour as the stars, which are not white but off-white/ecru. It turns out off-white piping is not that easy to find! I resorted to buying some extremely pale yellow piping and tea-dyeing it. It did not make it a perfect match, but quite close, and the difference is virtually unnoticeable when you look at the finished dress.

cosy4I think I’ve said before that I had recently realised that a lot of my clothes could benefit from either going up one or two sizes at the shoulders or making a wide shoulder adjustment. On this dress I tried simply cutting a size 40 at the shoulders blending to a 36 armhole-bust-waist-hips. I didn’t change the height of the shoulders, only the width, so I kept the 36 sleeves. They fit, so I guess this must have been the right choice. I didn’t bother cutting a larger size at the hips because the skirt seemed wide enough. The skirt is indeed wide enough, but barely. Close call there!

cosy5I didn’t make buttonholes for the buttons (vintage, from a yard sale last August) but used sew-on snaps on the front placket and simply sewed the buttons through all layers at the cuffs, thinking I’d add snaps later if it bothered me not to be able to open these. It has never bothered me.

This dress features my first collar on a stand and my first sleeve placket, and both went swimmingly thanks to the instructions for the sleeve placket and this well-known tutorial for the collar.

cosy10Note that I always wear the collar closed because I am a dork and I love it that way! When I see pictures of about everyone wearing it at least partially open, I do realise that I am kind of alone on this one, but this won’t stop me from wearing it closed all.the.time. In the same vein, why do some people want to get rid of the smocking at the waist? It’s one of the cutest details of the pattern, you guys! Plus, so comfortable!

cosy6Now about the cardigan. It’s Andi Satterlund’s Armande, a free pattern if you can believe it! Once again perfectly thought out (the seamless pocket method alone makes it worth your while!), this pattern was a pretty quick and definitely enjoyable knit. Especially in Drops Nepal, one of my favourite yarns, in this gorgeous blue (denim blue – uni colour 6314).

cosy7When I bought the yarn (more than two years ago according to Ravelry), I had this sweater in mind, but I thought I would make the smallest size as usual with Andi’s patterns, so I only bought 11 skeins. But when I started on the project, I realised that I wouldn’t want as much negative ease for this pattern as for my usual cropped sweaters, so I went up a size. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, but 11 skeins were definitely not enough unless I intended to wear my sweater with half a sleeve missing. Lucky for me Saki, who had knit a cardigan with the same yarn, was nice enough to pass on to me her remaining skeins. And double lucky for me, they were from the same dye lot since she had bought them at about the same time in the same shop!

cosy8So after a very short pause I could get back to knitting what was to become one of my favourite cardigans. It goes with much more of my wardrobe than I would have thought, and I simply love its colour, its buttons (from Tissus Passion), its shape, its collar, everything! Like most of my cardigans I very rarely wear it closed, but it does look nice both open and closed.

cosy9I wouldn’t have thought when making this cardigan and this dress that I would like them together so much, but I really do! They’re also the perfect outfit to keep you warm when you’re sick like I am at the moment: the high neckline of the dress protects the chest from drafts and the cardigan is just the right warmth. A thermal cami, two pairs of tights, socks and boots complete what I think is an elegant yet cosy get-up.

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Seeing Red

marymead5The first time I wore my purple Emery dress, I reached for a red cardigan… and realised I didn’t own any ! How was that possible? I could think of so many outfits that could be topped off with a cropped red cardigan! So the colour of the next knitting project in my queue was easily decided.

marymead2The project in question was Andi Satterlund’s Mary Mead cardigan, which she had published earlier that year. She advised in her blog post about the pattern to use a yarn with silk or alpaca in it in order to get the best result with the garter stitch, and the Alpaca yarn by Drops seemed to be the correct weight (as did the BabyAlpaca Silk yarn, but I preferred the colour of the Alpaca one), so that’s what I ordered. I was kind of baffled at how few skeins I needed: five! And I have most of a skein left, so at €2,65 per skein, that was a pretty inexpensive knit; yay Drops, yay cropped sweaters!

I do have one small reservation about this precise yarn, though: it left red marks on the underarms of two dresses! The stains did come off in the wash without applying any special products, but still, I didn’t find this very pleasant!

marymead3Being used to the construction of Andi’s sweaters and seeing that the stitch of this one was quite simple (columns of garter stitch and of very basic lace), I thought I’d be done in a month, a month and a half tops, ha! It took me close to SIX MONTHS! I kept messing up the garter stitch columns, realising twenty or more rows afterwards that I had knit a few stocking stitches instead… So I unravelled and reknit an incalculable number of times both body and sleeves, and completely lost steam on the way.

marymead4But I did end up finishing the cardigan, and those countless times I had to unravel and reknit were completely worth it as it’s now my most worn cardigan! It goes with so many things in my wardrobe, I can’t believe I waited for so long before even thinking of knitting this one!

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A Foxy Twinset

Foxy1Continuing on with catching up with my blogging backlog, here are two Ondée sweaters that together form a twinset! One of them is a collarless short-sleeved one, and the other one is an adaptation of the long-sleeved version, which I changed into a cardigan following Marion’s tutorial. Both are the same size as my other Ondées.

Foxy2Mimolette and I both bought the same fox print cotton jersey knit at the Stoffenspektakel, I’d say two years ago, and this year she had the idea of challenging ourselves to sew that fabric before the end of fall. Thanks to that little challenge, I finally got that adorable print out of my stash, and I went in search of a pattern that would be easy to sew and that would get a lot of wear.

Foxy3Enter Ondée, but with a twist this time since I made a matching short-sleeved top and long-sleeved cardigan. Making the short-sleeved top was a breeze, and the cardigan was not much more difficult: in addition to following Marion’s tutorial, I also interfaced the facings with some knit interfacing and understitched them with a zigzag stitch.

Foxy6My intention was to use the whole length of fox fabric and there was a very small piece left after making the twinset, so I took that as an opportunity to finally try my hand at making some underwear: I used So, Zo’s free pattern and made a pair of panties! I should have made a size bigger or pulled less on the elastic while sewing it because they ended up just the tiniest bit too tight (still wearable), but this will be an easy fix for any future version.

Foxy5I love love love my little fox twinset! I have been wearing it constantly (the fabric is already starting to show signs of wear), and it’s been getting lots of compliments. It was my first time making an Ondée without the collar, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last: it truly is the perfect t-shirt shape for my taste!

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Mimosa Cardigan

Tambourine1Quick, before summer gets here and makes it unbearable to wear this cardigan even for a short photo session!

I haven’t worn it since I finished it two months ago, at first because I hadn’t blocked it yet, and then because even though the weather had not been very warm yet, it was still not cold enough anymore for me to wear such a cardigan. It’s now patiently waiting for its hour of glory on its shelf in the wardrobe, and I’m pretty sure I’ll wear it a lot come fall and winter. I mean, aren’t those circles of nupps adorable?

Tambourine3I don’t think I’ll wear it a lot closed all the way up like this though. I prefer it open; it looks less strict I think.

The lovely pattern is Tambourine by Julia Farwell-Clay, from Pom Pom Quarterly #12, and the yarn is Drops Karisma (colourway 52), which I can only recommend since it’s already my third time using it. I didn’t like the contiguous button bands of the pattern, so I changed them into ribbing I picked up and knit on afterwards. I explained this in more detail on Ravelry.

Tambourine4I also didn’t feel like sewing the sleeves to the body, so I decided to try and replace them with seamless set-in sleeves. After I had done my calculations, I took a look at these instructions and saw that the sleeves of size M used the same number of stitches, so I simply used those sleeves instead of the Tambourine ones. The sleeves are a little bit snugger than expected (it may have something to do with my gauge tightening when I knit in the round), but they are still perfectly comfortable, so no biggie.

Tambourine5I lengthened the sleeves a little bit, too, because with past knitting projects I often forgot that sleeves tend to creep up when you wear them and ended up with too short sleeves.

Even though I haven’t worn it yet for meteorological reasons, I’m really happy with the outcome. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I can’t wait for fall to arrive so that I can wear it though, because that would be much too ironic seeing as how all I can think about right now is summer!

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Tangerine Cardigan

Orange6I’ve never been a fan of orange, but ever since I finished this dress I’m wearing in the pictures, I had been wanting to knit an orange cardigan to go with it (hoping it would also go with other things in my wardrobe). Knowing how long it usually takes me to translate my ideas into actions, I’m kind of surprised it took me less than a year to make this cardigan a reality. I finished the dress last year in March, and the cardigan this year in February.

Orange5Once again, it’s a Andi Satterlund pattern, the Marion cardigan, and once again it was a pretty fast (it took me exactly one month from start to finish) and easy knit. Seeing as how much I love both their style and construction, this is certainly not the last of her patterns you’ll see here!

Orange1The yarn is Nepal by Drops (colourway: 2920 orange), which I had already used for this project. It’s a lovely yarn, very nice to knit with, and I always machine wash the finished sweaters (on a very delicate cycle, at 20°C) and they still look like new. So this is certainly not the last time you’ll see this yarn here either.

Orange2I had to shorten the cardigan a little bit for the ribbing to sit at my waist (judging from the pictures I think maybe I should have shortened it even more) and I chose to lengthen the sleeves to full length, because it was very cold when I knit it and I couldn’t imagine myself not wanting to wear long sleeves at the time. They seemed long enough at first, but I realised when wearing the cardigan that after I raise my arms they tend to creep up a tad and I sometimes have to readjust them. You can see that on my right arm in some of the pictures, because I had just reached for the shutter button of the camera. And while you’re at it, why don’t you take a look at the cute little cables on the sleeve ribbing? I think they are my favourite detail on this pattern!

Orange3Just like with the skirt I showed you last week, I finished this cardigan so long ago that I do not remember all of the details, so it’s a lucky thing I wrote everything down on Ravelry at the time. But just like with the skirt I showed you last week, I finished this cardigan so long ago that I’ve already had plenty of occasions to wear it and I know that it goes great with a lot of things in my wardrobe!

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The Black Zinnia

BlackZinnia5I’m not one to read those magazine articles that assume that every woman needs certain items of clothing in her wardrobe, such as a little black dress and other nonsense (I’m not one to read any of those magazines, period. Not anymore. You wouldn’t believe how much my self-esteem has improved since I’ve restricted my magazine buying to Burda and other craft related periodicals). It’s kind of ironic that I’m saying that when my last blog post featured what could obviously be described as a [shudder] LBD, but seriously, I lived without a LBD for most of my life and I didn’t feel the need for one like, ever!

BlackZinnia1Anyway, rant over I guess. What I wanted to tell you was that a black cardigan was one of the rare garments I felt I needed. I used to own a store-bought one that you can see here (I don’t know why I’m bothering linking to that picture: everybody knows what a black cardigan looks like, don’t they?), but it died and I’d been missing it sorely ever since.

BlackZinnia3There were a few pieces in my wardrobe, such as the dress you see in the picture I absurdly linked to a few rows above, that I always wanted to wear with a black cardigan. But it’s also so much more appealing to knit colourful yarn that boring black yarn, isn’t it? So each time I started a new knitting project, it didn’t even cross my mind that I could make that black cardigan.

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Smiling is for the weak.

Enter Zinnia. I don’t know why, but when I was perusing my favourite yarn shop (no link because it recently closed doors and I’ll be sad about it forever 😦 ) to choose some yarn for that project, for once I was drawn to grey and black. The various greys that were available in the shop didn’t really appeal to me, so I chose black.

BlackZinnia6And I am so happy I did! Not only was the black yarn not boring at all to knit (annoying maybe; it was a cat hair magnet! – not so much since I completed it, weirdly!), but I finished this knit two weeks ago and I’ve already worn it so often: it seems like a black cardigan does go with everything. I also like the way the textured stitch looks in black. I was afraid the dark colour would hide it, but it doesn’t and I think it looks great. The yarn is Drops Karisma, a superwash yarn which I’ll definitely use again in the future.

BlackZinnia7I really enjoyed knitting this pattern: the textured stitch kept things interesting yet it was very straightforward to follow. The lace diamonds, too, were a pleasure to knit: I placed markers between each repeat, which I always do when I’m knitting lace, and it made things easy as pie. You can find my Ravelry notes here.

BlackZinnia8When in-between sizes as is often the case with Andi’s patterns, I usually choose knitting a size smaller, which is best with all those close-fitting cropped sweaters I love knitting/wearing, but for this one I preferred going a size bigger since it was supposed to be looser-fitting. And I’m glad with the result: I can comfortably layer one or two long-sleeved tees under it, yet it doesn’t look too loose-fitting either when I’m only wearing one layer of short or 3/4 sleeves.

BlackZinnia9I should be back in not too long with another knit, and then with that skirt I started two months ago. Both are finished and just need to be photographed, alas we all know “just” photographing our sewing projects is even less of a small feat in winter than during the rest of the year!BlackZinnia2

Adelfa Cardigan

Adelfa1Three knitted projects in a row, not a single sewn project in between. What can I say? Three weeks in Spain, far from my sewing machine, followed by the start of school and its unavoidable fatigue… Not the ideal conditions to get back to sewing!

Ah well, at least my beloved knitting needles can go everywhere with me and one row here, one row there, I ended up with a new cardigan!

Adelfa2Most of this cardigan was actually knit in Spain, on a stone bench next to an oleander – adelfa in Spanish. For my last two weeks there I was staying in a village where I didn’t have a lot to do but to knit or read (I’m not complaining here, this is my ideal kind of vacation!), so in those two weeks I finished the body and a sleeve and I knit more than half the second sleeve. Then I came back to Belgium (and to work), and the remaining half sleeve and neckband took me two whole new weeks to knit.

Adelfa4The (free) pattern is Que Sera by Kirsten Kapur and the yarn is Cascade 220, knit with bigger needles to get gauge. I made a few small modifications to the pattern: first, I added three buttonholes to the five of the pattern. I thought they looked a little too far apart in the pictures.

Then I lengthened the sleeves by one pattern repeat (12 rows) and I knit them in the round. I had to adapt the lace pattern a bit for it to work in the round (see my Ravelry notes), but that was really easy. Because of my knitting the sleeves in the round, I was afraid the sleeves would end up too wide for my taste (since there would be no seam allowance to take in account), so I knit them a size smaller than the body. Note that knitting the sleeves in the round also made them much more difficult to block correctly (which is why I’m particularly glad that I lengthened them a touch!). But I was very happy not to have to seam them up afterwards, so there’s that.

Adelfa3Also, when I first tried on the cardigan with the buttons closed, the button bands gaped like you wouldn’t believe. So I had to stabilise them with petersham ribbon. I used a method that is very similar to this one, except that I didn’t interface my petersham and that I took care to make all of my hand stitches virtually invisible because clearly I’m a psychopath. It took me four episodes of Murder, She Wrote (Have I ever told you about my passion for Murder, She Wrote?) to sew on the petersham but come on, look how pretty!Adelfa5So that’s it, I’m delighted with my new cardigan; I love its style and colour (closest to the detail picture of the petersham button bands, by the way) and I’m sure it will look great with a lot of my clothing pieces, existing or to come!

PS I forgot to mention this in my last two posts, but I’m on Instagram now!

Navy Hetty

NavyHetty1It was HOT when I took these pictures, not the ideal weather to be wearing a 3/4 sleeve dress and a wool cardigan! But I was so happy for this cardigan to finally be over that I couldn’t wait for the weather to get colder before I took the pictures.

NavyHetty2I started knitting this cardigan at the very beginning of June, thinking I would be finished in no time. I thought I would knit it in about two weeks, ha! But when I reached the end of the body, I realised my gauge was tighter than I thought and I was probably going to end up with a too small cardigan seeing how tiny the body looked.

I was determined to start from scratch, but not very motivated to do so, so I let it rest for a few days. Then I read on lladybird’s blog that it was probably supposed to look that tiny before blocking, so I changed my mind and chose to go on with the same gauge/size after all.

NavyHetty3Still, I couldn’t shake the fear that I was in fact knitting a kiddie size cardigan (Mimolette laughing her ass off every time she saw how tiny it was didn’t help that fear either! 😉 ), so I lost part of my motivation. That and a very busy month of June meant that there were a lot of days where I didn’t even touch my knitting needles. Oh, and I had to start the first sleeve all over again because I had made a stupid mistake in the way I knit my yarn overs in the round.

NavyHetty4But the Hetty is such a fast knit that, even by knitting one row here, one row there, it was not that long before a whole cardigan fell off my needles.

I added two repeats of the pattern at the end of the sleeves and four rows to each button band to compensate for my gauge being so different from the pattern, but I didn’t add any length to the body because I usually need to shorten my other sweaters/cardigans.

I also picked up way more stitches than recommended (85 instead of 61!) for the button bands, thinking that way it would be easier to stretch them when blocking the cardigan. This meant adding some buttonholes, too: I made eleven instead of eight. Same with the neckband, I picked up 98 stitches instead of 78.

NavYHettyDétailI should have taken a picture of the cardigan before I blocked it (I finished it at night and I didn’t have the patience to wait for the morning light to block it) but believe me when I say it was kid sized: pre-blocking, I think it would have fit a four-year-old!

I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I tried it post-blocking and saw that it fit! It’s very short, but it hits me exactly where I wanted it to, right at the waist! The sleeves too are the perfect length. The whole sweater could stand to be a bit wider though; it is very tight. But luckily it is not so tight that it’s uncomfortable, and as you can see I can wear it over a dress with sleeves.

NavyHetty5You may remember this was the first part of my OAL participation. I’m thinking about changing my plans for the matching dress: I still want to use the same fabric, but I’m having second thoughts regarding the pattern. With the hot weather in Brussels right now and the fact that I’m going to Spain in August, I was thinking about replacing my chosen pattern with the Colette Parfait dress. Right now I have more use of a sundress with straps, so unless I don’t have enough fabric for the Parfait, I think I’ve made up my mind!

Mama Mustard Cardigan

Moutarde2When I took a look at my me-made wardrobe before the start of Me-Made-May, I quickly realised that I was pretty lacking in the cardigan department. Cardigans are one of my staples, yet I only knit three of them, isn’t that crazy? So of course I decided my next knitting project would have to be a cardigan.

Moutarde1I still owned a store-bought mustard cardigan that went with virtually everything in my wardrobe, but it had started pilling and showing other signs of age, so I had been thinking about replacing it with a me-made version for a long time. I had some mustard merino yarn in my stash, so I browsed Ravelry by entering its gauge in the search parameters and I came upon Kelly Brooker’s Mama Vertebrae pattern. Aside from the fact that that name freaked me out a little bit (still does: to me it evokes scary creatures with a prominent spine – creepy!), I really liked the simplicity of the pattern, so I immediately bought it and got to work.

Moutarde4I was in-between two sizes and I chose the smallest one because I wanted a close fitting cardigan. I followed the suggestion of stopping the raglan increases early in order to get a smaller armhole and I didn’t cast on more stitches to compensate for the omitted raglan increases when I started working on the sleeves so that I’d get a closer fit on the sleeves. Also for that closer fit on the sleeves, I decreased two stitches every eighth row as suggested in the pattern. I really liked the fact that the pattern is easy to customise to get the fit you want, and also that it is written for four yarn weights!

Moutarde5I initially debated knitting long or 3/4 sleeves, and I opted for the 3/4 sleeves mostly out of laziness, but when I reached the 3/4 length indicated by the pattern, I felt like the sleeves hit my arms at a weird place, so I went on knitting until I felt like they were long enough to be a true 3/4 length. And of course after blocking I realised I had actually knit long sleeves… Happy accident!

Moutarde6Before blocking I was really worried about the number of stitches I had picked up along the neckline: even though I had used Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind off, the ribbing pulled the whole front of the cardigan in and I felt like no blocking would be strong enough to make it the right size. Turns out I was totally wrong: once the yarn was wet, it was really easy to get it to conform to whatever shape I wanted it to take.

Moutarde3So this is not the most original knitting project, but it fills a hole in my wardrobe and I can only hope I’ll wear it even half as often as that old store-bought mustard cardigan! Next on the list: a navy cardigan! Can you believe it’s been at least ten years since I owned one?