Vintage Lace

The last garment I posted on this neglected blog was a knit, so I hesitated posting this one for a minute. Then I realised, why would it even be a problem to post two knitted garments in a row, especially with a five months hiatus in-between? I’ve also completely abandoned any effort to present my creations in the order I made them and this knitted top is the last thing I finished. This hasn’t stopped me from wearing it a couple times already!

The day I took the pictures was my first day back at work after the summer holiday and what you see here is the exact outfit I wore that day. I came back home and suddenly thought, hey, why don’t I take some pictures of this top for my blog? This hadn’t happened since last March apparently… It took me ten minutes, fifteen tops, which makes me think I really need to get back into the habit of taking pictures when I’m wearing something I haven’t blogged yet.

This is my version of Andi Satterlund’s lovely Zinone top pattern. As soon as I first saw the pattern when it was published, I knew I wanted to make the cropped version (duh) with the full-lace back, in off-white for a vintage lace effect. I of course turned to my go-to yarn brand where I immediately found what I was looking for, DROPS ♥ You #6 in 101 off-white.

I didn’t bother knitting a gauge swatch and, well, I should have! I knit the whole body down to just before the waist ribbing when I realised it looked kind of short and, more annoyingly, the armholes looked tiny! I tried on the top and the armholes were indeed too small to be comfortable. I also measured it and compared the measurements to the pattern schematics: the width was pretty perfect, the length, not so much… This is when I at last thought of checking my gauge: not surprisingly, the stitch gauge was spot on, but the row gauge was much too tight!

I was on holiday in Spain at the time and knew I was going to get lots of quality knitting time in the following two weeks, so it wasn’t too much of a pain ripping out the body up to the armholes. I then added twenty more rows to said armholes (front and back) and went on to knit the body a second time. I intended on adding more rows to the body, too. However, when I reached the waist ribbing again, I got the impression that the length I had added to the armholes might prove sufficient once I knit the ribbing. This was confirmed when I tried on the finished top: although shorter than intended by the pattern, it is the perfect length for the high-waisted skirts I want to wear it with.

The only thing I am not entirely happy about with this top is that I didn’t think of adding any depth to the neckline: the row gauge discrepancy means that I should have added some rows there, too, in order for the neckline to be as deep as intended by the pattern. I didn’t think about that until I had knit the i-cord edging at the very end and saw that the neckline had ended up higher/smaller than it should have. Luckily this doesn’t make the top too difficult to get on and off, phew! It’s one of those errors you don’t even think about when you wear the finished garment (I would have completely forgotten about it had I not mentioned it in my Ravelry notes)… Speaking about the neckline, how nice does the i-cord bind-off look? It was my first time trying this method and I had a bit of difficulty understanding why I was doing what I was doing at the very beginning, but I decided to trust Andi’s instructions, and rightly so.

Between the fact that I didn’t get a lot of time to knit at the end of the last school year and that I almost had to knit it twice because I didn’t check my gauge first, this top took way more time than I thought it would from start to finish. I am glad that I managed to finish it and wear it a few times before summer leaves us for good, though, as it would have been a bit of a shame finishing it and not being able to wear it even once before next spring!

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Yes Frills!

frilly2With time, I’ve learned to choose my knitting projects more and more wisely. It’s been years now since I’ve knit something and not had any use out of it. In short, I am usually pretty happy with my finished knit projects. But this one, ah, this one, I like it even more than the rest!

I first discovered the pattern years ago on Casey’s old blog: she had made an adorable turquoise version with white edging which had me convinced I needed the book it came from. Not that easy since it was out of print at the time. I had to wait for quite a long time before it was rereleased, but after months (years?) of stalking the designer’s website, finally, I could get my hands on it, and on volume 2 for good measure. These two books are chock-full of lovely designs I immediately added to my mental knitting queue, with this Frilly Jumper at the top, of course.

frilly1You know how knitting queues go (i.e. not fast), so it took me another few months (years?) before finally starting working on it. I knew I wanted a crisp white edging like Casey’s, but I agonised over the main colour for a while. Then I found this perfect red at Hema of all places (I didn’t even know they sold yarn until then), 100% cotton, and I got down to work.

Ravelry tells me it took me three months to knit, but I think it could have gone much faster had I had more free time during that period. It was an easy knit and the instructions were clear. I hesitated a bit over the size and chose to make a 76-81 cm (30-32’’) based on the finished measurements, which seemed plenty enough for my 33-34’’ bust. It was the right choice: the amount of ease is perfect for me and I love the fit of the finished sweater.

frilly4The only place I deviated from the pattern was the collar: the pattern has a four-piece collar, which I didn’t like at all. In fact, the thing I liked most about the pattern when I first saw it was what I thought was a ruffle collar. Ruffle, singular, not four ruffles. It’s only when I read through the instructions that I realised that there were indeed four separate parts to that collar. This made no sense to me, and I was so much keener on a one-piece collar frill, so I changed it. It was an easy modification: I simply knit one long neck frill of 342 stitches instead of four short ones, and seamed it up at the back afterwards. Apart from than that I followed the instructions for the small neck ruffles, only on a bigger width.

As always, you can find the rest of the technical details on my Ravelry, but this is the only consequent change I made.

frilly5This little summer sweater is one of my favourite knits ever, if not one of my favourite creations ever. It looks exactly like the picture I had in my head, and it goes with so many of my skirts… The only little thing I could criticise is the thickness of the sleeve frills, that prevents me from layering most of my long-sleeved sweaters over it. Still, the weather has allowed me to wear it a lot already, and I know it won’t spend a lot of time in the closet come the next warm season.

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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!

Réveillon6

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! 😉

Coronis3

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!

Coronis2

Circus Tent Sweater

Chapiteau1Here’s my sweater! Its red and blue scallops remind me of a circus tent and I love it!

I actually finished it on Monday, but I didn’t feel like taking pictures until today, so it had to wait. I even tried forcing myself to take some pictures two days ago, but then I saw that on each and every one of them I looked like this mean angry man with a weird yellow complexion and the battery of my camera died, so I had to accept that maybe I should wait until some other day.

Chapiteau2This really is the perfect sweater either for a beginner knitter or a more advanced one looking for a fast and easy project. Had I not started knitting the wrong size, I’m pretty sure it would have taken me two weeks. Having to start from scratch after reaching three quarters of the work, it still took me just under a month to complete.

The instructions are very clear, and the construction is, as always with Andi Satterlund’s patterns, flawless: I love it when I finish knitting a sweater and I just have to weave in some ends; no seaming required before enjoying my new knit!

Chapiteau3I only made one small modification to the pattern: when I tried the finished sweater on, I found the body was a touch too long for me, which caused an unsightly pleat at the waist. So I simply unravelled a few rows of the waist ribbing (about eight rows I’d say), and voilà!

Chapiteau4It was such a straightforward knit that I really don’t have much more to say about this sweater (ravelry notes here, by the way), except that it’s a shame the cold weather seems to be close to its end here (though in Belgium, you never know…) so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to wear it before next fall.

Winter Heather

Bruyère1Phew, I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time on a knitting project… According to my ravelry notes, I started this one at the beginning of November, which means it took me close to four months to finish it, yikes!

Bruyère3It’s not even a very intricate project, but as I said before, the lace made me lose my sanity. Well, the lace at the bottom of the body did: the lace of the sleeves went without a hitch (yay stitch markers!).

And just when I was done with the scary lace, I realised I still had to knit more than sixty centimetres of ribbing for the sleeves… I HATE knitting ribbing! Oh, and after completing the sleeves, I realised I still had to knit the equivalent of a sleeve for the collar, gaaah! The collar went really fast, though, especially since I knew I would be done after that.

Bruyère4

Resting bitch face!

And I love the end result, so I don’t even regret spending so much time on this one. After all, if after spending four month and a few stressful moments looking at the same yarn (Drops Alpaca Silk – colour #08/Heather), you still love its colour, it means you made the right choice. I also love the style of the sweater, so light and flowy! It looks great with the Sureau dress you see on the pictures as well as with a few other pieces from my wardrobe. I’ve already  worn it a few times since I finished it, which bodes well for the future.

There were two things I particularly liked about the construction of this sweater: grafting the shoulders and the way you knit the collar. Grafting was one of those techniques I had never tried and was pretty scared of until I actually tried it and realised how easy it was and how good it looked (I used this video). As for the collar, they have you knit double its height, then fold it to the inside and sew it down. That way the collar holds its shape perfectly.

Bruyère5The only part I’m not really happy about is the lace: even after blocking it doesn’t really look like a garland of flowers like the original. The sleeve lace looks closer to the original, so I’m wondering whether it’s not just the yarn that suffered too much from being unravelled and reknit so many times. In any case, at least it still looks cute, so I’m not going to fret!

Bruyère2PS: Here’s what I’m working on now.

Vuelta Al Cole Sweater

VueltaAlCole1There’s no more denying it, holidays are over. I came back from Spain a week ago, and I went back to work last Tuesday. I told you before leaving that I had taken the materials for a knitting project with me, Andi Satterlund‘s Chuck sweater. In my mind, this would be the perfect sweater for your first day back at school, so I was really excited to knit it in August in order to wear it on my first workday in September, with autumny skirt and tights.

Well, no such luck, the weather has been unusually warm for a Belgian September, so I had to wear tightless skirts and summer tees the whole week. I’m not complaining (especially after the ten months long winter we had here last year), but I still can’t wait for fall to start! I know it’s not very original of me, but fall is by far my favourite season: I love the (not too cold) cold, the leaves changing colour… and fall clothing of course!

VueltaAlCole3Anyway, this is my second time knitting one of Andi Satterlund’s patterns and this is my second time being blown away by:

– the amazing seamless contruction,

– how fast it knits,

– how good it looks.

There were a few steps I dreaded before tackling them, but every time I reached one, I just had to follow the instructions and everything made sense in the end.

VueltaAlCole2The genius construction means that, once you have finished knitting, you weave in the ends… and you have a sweater! No tedious seaming up, to me it’s like magic!

It took me exactly two weeks to knit this sweater, and that’s with the time it took me to frog and re-knit the whole first cable motif because I had made a mistake at its very beginning. I think my Miette was also knit in two weeks. Both have more or less the same gauge and the same cropped silhouette that make them such fast knits.

VueltaAlCole4I made a size S without a single modification and it fits perfectly. The yarn I used is Drops Big Merino. This was my fist time using a Drops yarn, and I’m definitely convinced!

For the waist bind-off, I initially tried a traditional one… and could barely get the sweater past my shoulders. I managed to put it on after a lot of effort and it was not very comfortable on the waist, either. So I decided to try Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind-off instead, and it worked like a charm. I used a traditional bind-off for the rest of the sweater, where less stretch is needed.

VueltaAlCole5This is the perfect fall sweater. It goes perfectly with most of my high-waisted skirts and I have a few other sewing projects in mind that would pair really well with it.

I can’t wait for the weather to allow me to finally wear it!

April Fools’ Sweater

AprilFool1It‘s finished!!! I can’t believe it took me so long to finish such a simple project: I began knitting this sweater on April 1st, which means it took me almost three months! I usually knit a sweater in one and a half to two months, but with this one, after a great start with the back, the front took me forever to complete, among other because I kept screwing up the part with the eyelet bows and having to frog and reknit it. After that I kind of lost my mojo and had to wait until I reached the second sleeve to find it again. And now it’s too hot to wear a sweater, waaaah!

AprilFool2But I still have a cute new sweater, yay! It’s exactly as I had envisioned, no surprise about the size or whatever, phew! All in all it was fairly easy to knit (the mistakes I kept doing on the bows where due to my lack of attention, that’s all), especially for my first real foray into colorwork (I don’t know whether to call this sweater colorwork – the chart was so easy).

The pattern is #3 in Phildar Magazine N°69:

Pull3As you can see I’ve changed the colours a bit! I liked the original ones, but I wanted my sweater to be as versatile as possible and I don’t think you could wear such colours in many different outfits. So I chose beige and dark blue, even though I already own a sweater in those colours, because I like nautical style a lot and I thought the form of this sweater was different enough from the other one. And who knows, I might even knit a third one someday seeing as I bought way to much yarn for this project and I still have five balls (almost six) of the beige yarn and four of the blue. 😀

AprilFool3How do you invisibly seam up a striped knit? I couldn’t stop the beige yarn I used to sew the sweater from showing a tiny bit in some places on the blue stripes. I hate seaming up knits!

But what I hated doing the most knitting this sweater was the collar band! Phildar always has this crazy idea of having you knit the collar band separately and sewing it to the sweater afterwards (they don’t seem to know circular needles even exist – they NEVER have you use them). I usually ignore that part and pick up the stitches to knit the collar band directly on the sweater. But this time, my circular needle would not cooperate. I don’t know whether that’s because my hands were sweaty from the heat or just because the needle was poor quality, but after hours (yes, hours! – my left forefinger is still a little numb) of suffering and not even managing to complete one row, I finally had to literally cut the cable of the needle to save the sweater and, the horror, resolve to using the dreaded Phildar method.

AprilFool4Look how cute the back is! They don’t show it in the magazine (you only discover it by reading the instructions!) but it was a pleasant surprise. I thought the pretend button placket looked a little sad without any buttons, so I added three.

So, when’s the cold weather coming back so that I can wear my new sweater?

WIP: Variation on the Marinière

MarinièreEnCoursHere’s the knitting project I was talking about, the one that has been taking forever. I just checked, I began working on it on April 1st (oooh, that’s nice for a marine themed sweater!). I’ve already knit the back, the front and the first sleeve: only one sleeve to go (minus most of its ribbing as you can see)!

I’m using a different yarn than the one recommended and it seems I didn’t estimate how much I would need very accurately: with less than one sleeve (and the collar, but that’s only a few rows of ribbing) to go, I still have six balls of the beige yarn and four of the blue. How many did I even buy in the first place?!

Anyway, I really can’t wait to finish this sweater as I think it will get lots of wear! Well, assuming it fits, you never know (crossing fingers)!