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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Déjà Vu

DéjàVu2Here’s the last Ondée I hadn’t photographed yet, with a Hollyburn skirt I made back in May!

That Hollyburn is more of a summer skirt and I wouldn’t wear that outfit in real life since I don’t like such a light-coloured skirt with dark tights, but I don’t hate it either so I took the opportunity to blog those two garments at once, especially since I don’t have anything new to say about the Ondée sweater (same size as usual, same fabric as the blue version).

DéjàVu3I had already sewn a Hollyburn skirt, which was actually the first garment I ever posted on this blog. I love and have been wearing that winter version so much that I wanted another one for the warmer months. I bought the fabric with that exact project in mind at Gotex at least two years ago, but so many projects, you know how it goes…

DéjàVu4It’s always a bit of a disappointment when a project you have been thinking about for so long doesn’t turn out as perfect as in your head, which is the case with this one. I blame the fabric: although it looks like a sort of chambray, it’s in fact a polyester/cotton blend, and, just like the one I had used for my Centaurée, it has taken the worst of each component: while the cotton means it wrinkles easily, its polyester part won’t take a press! This was definitely my last time ever sewing such a material.

DéjàVu5I have been trying to lower my fabric stash (no pledge or anything, just trying to remain conscious of what I already have and stop overbuying like I used to – I have to say it’s been working pretty well!) and I didn’t want to keep the small remnant that was left after cutting the skirt, so I made the belt loop version and I sewed a matching bow belt to go with it. I used Tilly’s tutorial (in her book, but you can find it on her blog, too), and I added two snaps to make sure the ends stayed in place.

DéjàVu6Weirdly, despite my qualms about the fabric, a less than perfect zipper insertion and the fact that that skirt shape in a light colour probably isn’t the most flattering shape on me from behind, I still like the skirt a lot. I made it a little bit longer than my first version, which I have always thought was a tiny bit too short to my taste, and, I completely forgot to take a picture of that, but to finish the hem I used some light blue bias tape with white polka dots. Since it was destined to be a casual summer skirt, I didn’t line it, and I used my serger to finish the seams.

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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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The Clue of the Lady In Blue

NancyDrew1Like a lot of people who sew, there are many times when I finish a garment, vow to make another one because I like it so much… and then promptly forget about it.

So when I told you about how much I liked my first Ondée and how I was definitely going to sew other ones, I was conscious that, even though I intended to hold my promise, there was a good chance I’d be swayed by the next shiny new pattern and never keep my word.

NancyDrew3But lo and behold, I did keep my word on this one! And the Ondée sweater is such a fast sew that I actually made two in one afternoon! I’m showing you the first one today, a blue one with white collar, which is also the one I have been wearing non stop since its completion. The main fabric is a cotton/lycra knit from eBay seller Tia Knight. The collar fabric is the same I used on my first Ondée. Looking back at that post, I realise I forgot to mention that I had bought both mint and white jersey knits at the Stoffenspektakel, where you always find loads of high quality cotton/lycra jersey knits in every colour of the rainbow! I also forgot to mention the size I made: a 36, my usual bust/waist size for Deer&Doe patterns.

Like for the first one, I serged the whole top except for the collar (I didn’t feel like changing the serger thread to white just for the collar!), for which I used a zigzag stitch. Once again, I topstitched under the collar with a zigzag stitch.

NancyDrew4The skirt is also a repeat! It’s another version of this skirt I love and wear so much, based on the tutorial in Gertie’s book (also available on her blog). I don’t know how I managed that since I seem to remember I measured the waist of the first version, but the waist is a little bit looser than that of my first one. I intend to insert a small piece of elastic at the back to remedy that, but me and alterations, you know how it goes…

It’s a question of an inch, so the skirt is perfectly wearable as is, but it doesn’t stay in place as well as a skirt with zero ease at the waist.

NancyDrew5Despite that little flaw, I love that skirt so much and have been wearing it accordingly. Did you notice the print? It’s a Nancy Drew print! It’s from a discontinued Moda Fabrics line. As one of Nancy Drew’s biggest fans when I was a kid (while we’re at it, did you know that, in French, her name was “translated” to Alice Roy and she is widely known as Alice détective?), I couldn’t pass up this fabric when I found it three years ago at de Stoffenkamer. I bought it with the intention of making this exact skirt! I cut (more like, tore!) the pockets from the remnants so as not to waste any scrap that could be used. The fabric was narrow enough that I could use the whole width on each skirt panel… including the selvedges!

A note about the fabric: it has that very weird smell (almost, I don’t know… fungusy?) when being ironed. I thought this was maybe due to a storage problem of some sort, but it’s been washed quite a few times already and the smell is still going strong every time it gets ironed, so I’ve come to think it’s probably the dye itself that’s to blame. Luckily, it doesn’t smell at all once it’s cold!

NancyDrew2This outfit is nothing complicated, but I have been wearing it a lot these past few weeks. When the weather was a little bit warmer, I wore it mostly with this cardigan, and these days it’s finally been cold enough to pull this one out the wardrobe. It’s an outfit that I think is both cute and easy to wear. I won’t promise anything, but I’d really like a few duplicate versions!

Sunny!

Sunny1Hello, it’s me again! Once more with two garments for the price of one, which makes a total of five garments in a week, gasp!

It’s been so long since I completed this skirt and top that I don’t even remember which came first… The only thing I remember is finishing them a few days apart and realising how perfect they went together.

Sunny2The skirt is my second iteration of Tilly’s Picnic Blanket Skirt. I can’t get enough gathered skirts; with or without buttons, I need them all. You wouldn’t believe how many pieces of fabric I have bought with a simple gathered skirt in mind (I think Mimolette is going to club me to death if she ever hears me answering ever again “Oh I don’t know, I was thinking a simple gathered skirt maybe?” to her asking me what I want to make with a fabric I like!).

Sunny3So when looking for something to sew with the remnants of the skirt I sewed for my friend’s birthday (am I the best friend ever or what, sewing her a skirt only two years after her birthday?!), I didn’t dither and went for, well, a gathered skirt. With buttons, because I had spotted these cute ones at Tissus Passion and I was so happy to have found an excuse to buy them.

Sunny6While we’re on the subject of buttons, I got the impression that, after a couple of months of wearing and subsequent washing, they had started to fade a little bit. I compared them with a spare one to be sure I wasn’t seeing things, and indeed, as you can see in the picture above, they are a shade clearer. Fortunately, the fabric (which I bought in Paris about four years ago) seems to stand up better to repeated washing.

Sunny4I like the skirt a lot, but it’s the knitted top I’m most proud of, because it is my own pattern (details on Ravelry)! I had a clear idea of what I wanted it to look like and I made the pattern up as I went. The only radical difference between the finished top and what I had in mind is that I initially intended for the Swiss dot stitch to run on the whole sweater. But when I reached the part where I knit in the round, I realised this stitch couldn’t really be knit in the round. So I had to make a choice between seaming up the top afterwards, or knitting in the round with another stitch. I thought these garter stitch stripes looked cute with the dots, so I chose to go on knitting in the round with this stitch.

Sunny5The yarn is Catania and I loved knitting with it. I did freak out when steam blocking the sweater though: with the heat, the yarn changed in texture and got very stiff and started feeling sort of brittle. Luckily, the change was only temporary and everything got back to normal as soon as the yarn cooled down.

I have worn this skirt and top a lot since I finished them four months ago, together and separately. The skirt is especially versatile: with its colourful flowers on a black background, it lends itself to being worn with or without tights, both in summer and winter appropriate outfits!

Minty Fresh Sweater

Mint1As an avid fan of cropped sweaters and cute collars, I waited for about three seconds and a half before ordering the Ondée sweater when it came out. I had been eyeing the Bluegingerdoll Bonnie sweater but had never clicked on purchase, but the adorable collar of the Deer&Doe one coupled to the fact that Deer&Doe patterns usually fit me pretty well made me glad I had waited.

Mint3I can knit the cropped sweaters I need of course, and it’s not like I was desperately looking for something to wear with my high-waisted skirts as I’ve read was the case for so many people, but sewing a top is still a nice change from spending a month or more knitting one. And did I tell you about the adorable collar?

Mint4I immediately knew I wanted to use this mint cotton (with a hint of elasthane) jersey knit, and white for the collar (a crisp white collar is always a safe bet), and the result is exactly what I had hoped for, yay!

Mint5The pattern was really easy to follow and fast to sew. Even the collar, which I thought was going to be more difficult than a classic T-shirt collar, was a piece of cake. I used my serger for everything but the collar, and a zigzag stitch for the latter. A double needle would have been my first choice, but my machine has been acting out lately every time I’ve tried to use a double needle, so after trying in vain different tensions and needles on fabric scraps, in the end I opted for a simple zigzag stitch, which worked like a charm.

Mint2I don’t have a lot more to say about such a straightforward project, but rest assured that this won’t be the last Ondée you see on this blog!

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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Hibou Express

owls1Like many knitters, I remember seeing Kate Davies’ Owls pattern for the first time on Ravelry a few years ago and thinking it was both beautiful and fun, but also way out of my league. So I promptly forgot about it, and when I came across it again at a time when I considered I was a knitter competent enough to tackle it, I didn’t see myself wearing this shape anymore.

Then my favourite yarn shop closed its doors and I went and bought about half its stock in the closing sale for fear I would end up with Phildar as my only option again (okay, I know I’m exaggerating; Phildar is not that bad – I really like these three yarns for example, and their magazines – it’s just that I prefer having more choice locally).

Owls3Among my haul was this beautiful tweed yarn I had been eyeing for months even though I don’t even usually like tweed yarn. I had always found it too expensive, especially for a tweed yarn when I was supposed not to like tweed yarn (how many times can I write “tweed yarn” in one paragraph?), but there were the last nine balls with a nice discount, so this time I yielded to the temptation, without really knowing what I would knit them into.

This yarn being a thicker one than what I’m used to, I had trouble finding a pattern I liked that would suit it, but then, as you guessed it, my Ravelry search eventually led me to the Owls pattern again, and although I still couldn’t see myself wearing that sweater as is, I suddenly had the idea of simply cropping it! Now there was a shape I was sure I’d wear a lot!

Owls4It was really easy to crop the body of the sweater (you can read my Ravelry notes if you’re interested in how exactly I did it), and it made a fast knit an even faster one: can you believe it was knit in five days?! I couldn’t believe it either, but the thick yarn coupled to the fact that it’s a close-fitting sweater and that I cropped it made it my fastest knitting project ever, by far.

It took me two more days to sew on the 32 buttons. 32 buttons is a lot of buttons to sew, and I must say I was tempted to leave them off, as I had seen some people had done, but I had already bought them (what was I to do with 32 buttons?), and also once I saw how much cuter the owls looked with their button eyes, I knew they were worth the effort!

Owls5Other than that, I really enjoyed knitting this sweater and watching those cute owls almost literally flying off my needles! The only thing I didn’t like, but that’s a detail really, was that the pattern tells you to close the armholes by grafting some stitches you have put on hold… but that this was far from sufficient to close them! I don’t know whether I did something wrong (I don’t think so because I’ve read other people have encountered the same problem), but I ended up with two large holes on each side of the grafting of each armhole. I closed them up with a few stitches and this took no time at all and looks good after all, so no real problem here; I just found it weird that the method that was recommended in the pattern actually didn’t work.

Owls6Another word of warning, if you ever knit a cropped version of this sweater: the waist ribbing might look freakishly tiny before you reach the stockinette body. Mine was small enough to fit my cat! I freaked out a little bit, but I decided to trust my gauge swatch and go on knitting, and things started to look more normal once I had hit the body, which stretched the ribbing and made it start to look human-sized, phew!

Also about the size, if you want a close-fitting sweater and fall between two sizes like I did, I’d recommend going with the smallest size: according to the schematics, the size I chose is supposed to fit a 30-32’’ bust, mine is 33’’ and I’m really happy with the fit of my finished sweater, even with a few layers under it!

Owls2Though I’ve come to realise such a thick sweater doesn’t need that many layers to keep you warm. It’s one of the warmest sweaters I’ve ever owned. As a matter of fact, I have to make sure I’m never wearing anything too ugly or revealing under it in case I have to take it off or faint form the heat when I’m teaching!

Christmas Eve Outfit

Réveillon4It’s been a long time since I posted a finished garment, and here I am with some of the crappiest pictures I’ve ever posted on this blog, but they will have to do or I’ll never show you any of the last pieces I made, what with winter and its crazy lack of daylight…

I took these coming back from work yesterday around 3 p.m. (lucky me finishing so early! 🙂 ) and I barely had enough light long enough to take them.

Réveillon1So, this is the outfit I made to wear on Christmas Eve. Last year I made the dumbest choice by wearing this skirt which, although very comfortable for daily wear, became an instrument of torture after I had ingurgitated Christmas dinner. Which is why this year I decided I needed the most ample dress possible in order to eat as much as I wanted and not feel like my clothing was trying to kill me.

Réveillon2Enter my beloved modified babydoll Renfrew dress that could hold triplets and a whole turkey! I sewed the waist gathers the same way as for this one (this gathering method makes for a very loose-fitting waist), the sleeves are 3/4 like on this one, but I used a different method for the neckline: for once I didn’t use a band but simply turned under the neckline edge twice. I felt it was dressier.

Réveillon3The sleeves are wide enough for me to layer a 3/4-sleeved T-shirt under the dress for maximum Christmas (and cold weather in general) cosiness. I did not add pockets for lack of time, but I’ll probably add some in the near future because I keep reaching for them when I wear the dress, and of course I don’t know where to put my tissues.

Réveillon5The cropped sweater started its life as a whole nother project. I wanted a cosy sweater dress made from this glittery sweater knit I had recently bought, but when I tried it on I realised it looked positively awful on me! I have no problem wearing things that don’t make me look as thin as possible, or that make me look pregnant for that matter (I guess the outfit I’m showing you today kind of proves my point! 😀 ), but I do wearing things that make me appear deformed! I put the dress aside, feeling there might still be a way to rescue it, and when I started thinking about my Christmas outfit, I immediately thought simply cropping it might make it the perfect companion to the little black babydoll dress I had in mind. And indeed it did!

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I must have been Captain Harlock in a previous life!

I also cropped the sleeves, which were about as unflattering as the rest of the dress when they were full-length. Since my fabric has mediocre stretch recovery, I put some wide elastic in the cuffs to prevent them from getting distorted over time. It does feel pretty stiff, which was weird at first, but it doesn’t bother me anymore.

The original collar of the dress also stood very weirdly and/or didn’t suit me at all, so I simply turned it under and topstitched it in place. I was surprised by how good it looked after this simple transformation!

Réveillon7I have been wearing this exact same outfit a lot since Christmas, but I haven’t worn the two pieces separately yet, which is weird since a black dress and a neutral sweater (gold and silver are neutrals to me – I’m not even kidding!) shouldn’t be too hard to combine with the rest of my wardrobe. I guess I just like them so much together!

Marinière With a Twist

Coronis1I don’t know whether it’s the gloomy weather or what, but I so haven’t been in the mood to take pictures of this project. It’s been finished since November 18 and I only (begrudgingly) took the pictures yesterday. I usually prefer taking pictures of my creations before I wear them for the first time because I’m afraid I’m going to ruin them and not get a chance to capture them for eternity or something, but this one has already gotten its fair share of wear before getting photographed.

Coronis4This means I can reflect more objectively on its qualities and flaws: I realised by wearing it that the sleeves, which I wanted to be long, have a tendency to creep up a little bit after a moment and not cover my wrists anymore. As you can see in some of the pictures, I mostly wear my sleeves rolled up, but still, I like having the option of real long sleeves, for when I’m riding my bike in the cold for example. Same with the body: I wanted it to hit exactly at my waist, which it does, but once again when I move it rides up a little bit and I have to readjust it. It’s not so much a problem when I wear it with a dress like I do in the pictures, but with a skirt I risk exposing what I’m wearing under the sweater. I still have enough yarn left, so I’m thinking of unravelling the ribbed parts, add one or two stripe repeats then reknit the ribs. Easy. We’ll see how long it takes me to get to it! 😉

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See how the sleeves creep up?

The pattern is Coronis by Emily Ringelman, from Pom Pom Quarterly #10 (best magazine name ever by the way) and it was really easy to follow yet pretty interesting to knit. You can take a look at my Ravelry notes for more technical details.

From afar it looks like yet another navy/white striped sweater, but there’s a twist! Look at this detail picture:Coronis7These stripes may look complicated, but they aren’t at all. You only work one colour per row, and the pattern is really easy both to understand and to memorise. The wool is Drops Alpaca, which I loved working with and love wearing. I already have another project in my queue using this same yarn.

Coronis5I completely messed up the gauge on this sweater: I suddenly decided my gauge (which I had checked beforehand) was too loose, so I unravelled what I had already knit and started over with smaller needles. I still don’t know what possessed me: when have I ever knit loosely? The answer is NEVER! I’m a tight knitter, have always been and will always be! It’s a good thing I had decided to knit this sweater with positive ease for once and ended up with a sweater with negative ease, instead of a too tight sweater as I would have if I had decided on a sweater with negative ease, which is usually my preference for that kind of cropped sweaters.

Coronis6Because of that impromptu change of needles, I had to knit way more rows to get the length I wanted, so I ended up with more stripes than on the original. And I’ll have even more rows and even more stripes when I add some length to the sleeves and body.

But I guess having too many stripes is not the worst flaw a sweater can have, so once I get to lengthening it I won’t have anything negative to say about it anymore! I really like the style and the fit and I think it will look very cute with quite a few of my dresses and skirts!

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