Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Burnt Tomato Blouse

This project plan began when I decided I could use a blouse to wear with a particular, hard-to-match vest I had knitted for myself several years ago.

I took the vest to Fabricland to match it to the fabric. Then I picked out this pattern, which is Vogue V887 -- and decided to go with option F in the shorter length. And then there was the problem of buying buttons for it. Nothing matched this odd shade of... what should one call the colour of this blouse's fabric? Orange? Rust? Burnt tomato? After looking in Fabricland and every store on Queen Street that carries buttons, I settled for a pack of buttons that were a suitable colour, though they were larger than a blouse's buttons usually are. I also had to buy twice as many buttons as I needed.

Here's the finished blouse with a skirt that it just happened to work with perfectly. The only alteration I ended up making was to shape the blouse a little through the waist -- it was going to be too unflattering otherwise. The buttons still look too big to me when I look at the blouse itself, but judging from this photograph they won't to the casual observer. The blouse took much longer than it should have as I seemed to make so many mistakes. My first attempt at running the tucks was a disaster and had to be taken completely apart and done again. I had to redo the edgestitching on the collar several times -- it turned out the problem was that my sewing machine needle was too dull, which caused it to skip stitches. I also had some problems with the buttonhole and button bands. But in the end I prevailed. I like the blouse and am pleased that it will go with a number of other items from my wardrobe.

And here the blouse is with the vest it was specifically chosen to go with. They do pair well. I especially like how the necklines work together. But that dark brown skirt doesn't quite go with the vest, and neither do any of my other skirts. I think I might have get the vest a skirt too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

An Elementary Christmas Present

Over a year ago, my sister flipped me a link on Pinterest with the words, "Dude. I want this."

"This" being a crocheted Sherlock Holmes amigurumi, designed by Vilma Ilona. The doll, of course, is based on the character played by Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC's Sherlock, a show that (if her Pinterest board is any indication) my sister is obsessed with. She told me she wanted the doll to keep on her desk at work, so that she "could use it to talk to people with."

Yeah, I don't know either.

I dutifully added the doll to my project list, and here is my version of it. Most of the Ravelry members who made it seemed to use worsted or even bulky weight yarn for this project. I used sock yarn for it, because I didn't have the right colours in any other weight. I worked with two strands so that it wouldn't turn out too small, and I think the finished doll was just an inch or so bigger than the designer's sample was (I forgot to measure the finished doll, but I'd estimate that it is about 8" long). My version has some shortcomings. I didn't quite have the right gray -- Sherlock's overcoat is supposed to be a charcoal gray rather than this medium gray, but I thought it was close enough. I also didn't get the hair right -- this doll's hair looks more like eighties-era Kirk Cameron than current day Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes -- but again I thought it would do.

I can't say I enjoyed making it. I don't like crocheting and I don't like working on such a small scale, and the combination of the two drove me right up the wall. This little project took weeks because I simply couldn't keep myself at it. It was a huge relief to finally finish it in time, on Christmas Eve, and then to wrap it up with the things I'd bought to go with it and put it under the tree. Originally I'd planned for this doll to be a stocking stuffer, but then it occurred to me to expand on the concept and to make my sister's present a throughgoing fangirl kit. I bought first the notebook folder, and then the official Sherlock calendar with accompanying vinyl sticker that appears in the photo at the top of this post. I made sure to get a notebook folder with the "Get out. I need to go to my mind palace," quote on it because it's the sort of thing my sister would say. And judging from the way she chortled as she took each separate item from the package, the fangirl kit idea was very much on point.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Biased Sweater

This project plan began when I fell in love with a design.

Four years ago, the Arc-en-Ciel Pullover, designed by Maria Leigh, appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Knitscene. The pattern has been in my Ravelry favourites ever since, and I bought that issue when it was on the stands because I immediately decided I had to make it. It took me awhile to get to it, though.

In July 2015, I took a trip to Romni Wools to get yarn for this project. I did really like the suggested yarn, which is Noro Taiyo Sock, but Romni didn't have it in the sample colour. So I scouted around for a substitute and settled on the yarn you see pictured above: Drops Fabel Print, in a shade Ravelry informs me is called Red Chili. I ended up being quite satisfied with my choice. While I loved the rusts, reds, plums, and greens of the Noro Taiyo Sock yarn, I wasn't too thrilled with the accompanying strips of gray and mustard yellow. The Fabel Print had not only the rust, red, plum, and greens I loved in the Noro, but also some brown, cream and peach that I liked, and though it didn't offer quite the same self-striping effect, I preferred its colourway to that of the Noro. It also turned out to be quite a pleasing yarn to work with and wear.

And this is my finished Arc-en-Ciel pullover. The sizing gave me some trouble. It's difficult to assess gauge on a bias-knit sweater. I thought my yarn was a little finer than the Noro, and I was between sizes, as the pattern offered sizes 36 and 40. I adjusted the instructions to make a size 38 and knitted on a pair of 3.25 mm needles to compensate for the yarn weight. The bottom of the sweater seemed to be just the right size, so I stupidly proceeded to knit away until I'd finished the front and the back and part of one sleeve... only to realize that the sleeve was way too big, and then that the chest measurement on the front and back was way off as well -- I think it was 45", or maybe more. Upon checking the pages of other Ravelry members who had made this design, I found out the pattern's sizing was off -- everyone was complaining that the size 36 turned out to be close to a 40. Sigh.

The project got a long hiatus -- over a year -- and then I ripped the whole thing out and began again, knitting on size 3.0 mm needles and working according to the instructions for size 36. I also added waist shaping. This time I finished the sweater and though it is indeed a size 40, I think it's just as well for a bias-knit sweater in this style to be a little on the generous size. I am very pleased with this piece and don't even care that it will only look right with a dark brown bottom piece. After all, it's such an interesting piece in its own right, and I have quite a few dark brown skirts and trousers: this suiting skirt, a velvet skirt, velvet leggings, a pair of faux suede trousers, and a pair of suit trousers, so I can dress it up or down. I'm also thinking my little collection of peridot jewelry (it's my birthstone) will look nice with it.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Stash Slippers

For some time now I've had my eye on the knitting pattern for these little numbers, which is the Knotted Slipper, designed by Julie Weisenberger. I do love a knitted slipper with a bit of style, which these definitely have. They are made with fingering yarn, and I have plenty of that sitting around, so this year I thought I'd whip up a pair of slippers for my little sister for part of her Christmas present. I actually made these slippers and wrote this post in January 2016, but have set the post to publish on December 25, 2016 so as not to spoil my sister's surprise. I don't think my sister reads this blog, but it would be just my luck if she should decide to start this year.

This is the finished pair of slippers, looking as crumpled and unimpressive as possible. To photograph these slippers to any advantage, one needs either a pair of antique shoe trees or a pair of photogenic feet, and alas, I have neither.

The finished pair of slippers on an improvised model -- a pair of my flats. The yarn is Bouquet Sock & Sweater yarn, which according to Ravelry is discontinued. Perhaps five or six years ago a former co-worker of mine gave me quite a large bag of Bouquet Sock & Sweater yarn in blue, gray, and burgundy that she said she was never going to use. So far I've made two children's sweaters and this pair of slippers from it -- which has barely put even a dent in the total amount. It's a good thing yarn keeps!

This pattern whipped up very quickly -- I was done in a few evenings -- and used just 60 grams of stash yarn.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Leftover Red Yarn Sweater

Back in 2012, when I made a panda dress, jacket and purse for my grandniece Cauliflower's fourth birthday present, I had over 350 grams of red Sirdar Country Style DK yarn left over from this project that couldn't be returned. This year when I spied the red yarn in my stash, I started thinking about using it to make a sweater for my three-year-old grandnephew, but I soon realized there was too much of it to make a sweater for him and it seemed like a shame not to make a larger project that would use almost all of it up at once.

A Ravelry search for a design that would require about 350 grams of DK yarn led me to this pattern, which is the Verthandi's Knotwork Sweater, designed by Catherine Waterfield. I thought it a simple, attractive, and wearable, and definitely the kind of design that suits a bright solid colour yarn. I'm a sucker for a Celtic knot pattern, and I also liked the unusual belled cuff shape that is more commonly found in blouses than in sweaters.

And here's my version of the Verthandi's Knotwork Sweater. It hasn't photographed well here and looks a bit as though it were sized for the Incredible Hulk rather than a slightly top heavy woman, but it looks quite satisfactory in person.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Two Shades of Cream Top

This project began when I decided it was time to reknit a certain cream cotton top that I'd made years ago, back before I clued in to what shapes suited me. The result was a cute top that looked like hell on me. I thought a slightly too short and narrow and tragically empire waisted cap-sleeved knit top would easily make a sleeveless top of the right size, and I also had half a cake of the yarn left in my stash, and I searched Ravelry for a suitable new pattern.

I settled on the Canyon Lace Tank, designed by Kristen Ten Dyke. It called for the right weight and amount of yarn and is a very attractive and flattering piece.

And here's my finished version. I made just one modification to the pattern, and that was to raise the neckline by about two inches. I have a short torso and the designer's neckline specifications would have put too much of my goods in the shop window. But I did run into one snag, and that was that I didn't have enough yarn. I'd finished the body, but I had the neckline and the armhole bands still to knit, and only a handful of scraps to do it with. Not only had the yarn been bought years ago, but I didn't even know what brand it was, much less its dye lot. But I did know I had bought it at Romni Wools, and made the trip there hoping I'd have some rather phenomenal luck and be able to match it. Of course I wasn't able to find the original yarn -- I don't think Romni even stocks it anymore. But I examined all Romni's fingering weight cottons in cream, looking for a decent match, and settled on one that was fairly close.

The supplemental yarn is Katia's Concept, a cotton-cashmere blend. (No link to the yarn's Ravelry page because it doesn't seem to be in the Ravelry database.) It's a little creamier in colour than the body yarn, but the difference is quite subtle. I did the armhole and neckline bands in the Concept, and then cut the hem band, which was in the original yarn, off and reknit it in the Concept so that all the bands would match. I'm not a hot weather person, but this outfit does make me look forward to spring.