Friday, November 27, 2015

The Sweater I Hope Never to Spill Tomato Sauce On

Earlier this year I decided I would like to have a plain cream pullover in my wardrobe. They're such a staple for me that I've been through a number of them over the years, as I wear them so often they tend to either become ratty or get something spilled on them before too long. I did technically have one already, but it was one I made back before I clued in to the importance of waist shaping, and it was knitted in an intricate rib pattern and in a DK weight, which made it too bulky. Nice as the sweater was in itself, it did not look good on me and I consequently had only worn it two or three times in the ten or so years I'd had it. So my existing cream pullover got taken apart, I washed the yarn, and I knitted it into a little dress and purse for my grandniece.

Then I got to select a pattern and yarn for my new cream pullover. Turtlenecks don't look good on me, so I looked for something fairly plain with a cowl neck, and in a fingering weight. After some searching on Ravelry, I decided that the design pictured above, Echoes of Winter, by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud, would suit. I bought 500 grams of Schachenmayr Merino Extrafine 170 and some little pearlized buttons for the project.

And here's my version of the sweater. I made quite a few mods. I knitted it on 3.5 mm needles rather than the suggested 4.5 mm needles. I found the heart motifs in the lace pattern too young and twee for my liking, so I went with the Rowan's Leaves Lace Pattern, as reproduced from Kathleen Kinder's book The Technique of Lace. I didn't use the shaping given in the pattern as I didn't want such a fitted look, but instead shaped it as most of my sweaters are shaped. I wish I'd added another repeat of the lace pattern to the waistband and cuffs. I also wasn't thrilled with the way the collar turned out. I shaped the neckline as the pattern indicated and calculated the number of collar stitches so that my collar would be the same length as the one in the pattern, but I must have gotten the latter calculation wrong as it is bigger in my version. The collar doesn't look too bad in the photo because I arranged it to my liking before taking the photo, but I doubt it can be relied upon to sit exactly that way through a day's wear. However, I am going to try test wearing it a few times, and just see how I like it before I fiddle with it any more.

I paired this sweater with a little tartan skirt I made earlier this year, but looking at them together I'm thinking I probably won't go with this combination, as it's a little too schoolgirlish, and I'm more than two decades too old for that look.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Vinyl, Baby. Vinyl.

Recently I went through my assortment of handbags, got rid of a few, and decided I could use some new ones, or more specifically three new ones: one in cream, one in dark brown, and one in a caramel brown. I bought the caramel handbag, and after much internet browsing and Pinterest research decided to make the cream and dark brown handbags. The very sharp sewn vinyl tote bag above really caught my eye, and there's an excellent tutorial available for it. I decided that it would be the model for my cream handbag.

And here's my version. I chose an ivory vinyl for the exterior, oval tortoiseshell plastic handles, and when I couldn't find a fun patterned fabric I liked for the lining, I went with a brown satin kasha lining. I'm pretty pleased with the combination. I also really liked that one can tailor the pockets to hold anything one likes. As you can see, my sunglasses fit nicely in one slot and I also created a pen slot. And my wallet nearly matches the lining, though I never thought of that when I was picking out fabrics. When you plan a wardrobe around a certain colour palette, things just do tend to work together well.

I do have a few notes on the tutorial. The instructions for the pocket placement will tell you to put the pocket too high -- so high that there won't be room at the top for the magnetic clasp and anything that goes in the pockets will stick out the top of the bag. I followed the instructions exactly and then wound up having to redo the lining completely. If you should use this tutorial make sure you don't make that mistake. Then the instructions tell you to pre-stitch one end of the tabs to the bag, and then put the handles on, fold the tabs down, and keep the tabs and handles in place with binder clips while you stitch around the top edge of the bag. The problem with this is that the binder clips make it impossible for one to stitch around the handles. I did it the way the tutorial said, had to take the binder clips off while stitching by the handles, and consequently got the handles on crooked. When I was redoing the stitching in the handle areas, after I put the handles on, I secured the tabs by folding the end of the tabs inside the bag and, when I had them folded just right, tacking both sides of the tabs together by hand with a few darning needle stitches. I made sure my hand stitches were placed lower than where the lining stitching line would be, so that once I had the lining stitched into the bag, the hand stitches I had taken were safely out of sight underneath it. Vinyl is a little nerve-wracking to work with, because any holes you make when working with it are permanent. You basically only get one chance to get a line of stitching right, and you can forget about using pins to keep things in place while you're stitching it.

However, it turned out well in the end. Looking at this cream bag, and looking at the pattern I've got picked out for my dark brown handbag, I'm rather regretting the purchase of my caramel bag. It cost more than both my sewn handbags combined, and I don't like it as much.

Update October 8, 2018: The vinyl handbag I made somehow got stained while sitting in my closet. Don't even ask me how, because I have no idea how that could have happened. I did my best to clean the blue and dark marks off it, but nothing that I tried worked. And so I took the handbag apart, salvaged the handles and magnetic clasp, and remade it. This time I used an ivory linen decor fabric for the outside. I also interfaced the bag so that it would stand alone. I didn't do it the first time around, and really regretted it. I'm quite pleased with the new version of the bag. It's the perfect summer handbag. I doubt I'll ever work with vinyl again. It so wasn't worth it.

The inside of the bag. I used a dark brown jacquard decor fabric that I'm so in love with.