Friday, November 30, 2018

The Many Shades of Brown Sweater

Late this summer I began to think that I could really use a simple dark brown sweater that I could wear with a number of my skirts and trousers. I do have this sweater, but it needs to be worn with a scarf, and the brown yarn it's made from isn't quite dark enough that it goes with the items I wanted to wear with a brown sweater.

To digress here for a moment, brown can be a challenging foundation colour. Black is black unless it's faded, and always goes together with a snap, but there are no end of shades of brown out there, and they don't all work together, which can make it difficult to assemble outfits out of separate brown items. However, I look terrible in black, so brown it is and must continue to be. I've recently made it a rule to buy brown clothing, shoes, and accessories in either a dark chocolate brown or a butterscotch/cognac brown – if I the item that I want to get in brown isn't available in either of those two shades, I don't buy it at all. If I abide by this rule, I can at least be reasonably assured of having just two uniform shades of brown to work with, which will help a lot when I'm mixing and matching. Dark chocolate brown is my first preference, and I have a number of basic clothing pieces in it as well as bags and shoes and belts, while the butterscotch/cognac brown is mostly just for shoes and bags, and even then is generally intended/reserved for summer wear, because it looks better in all that hot summer sunlight and with my lighter, brighter summer clothes than the chocolate brown.

Having identified the basic type and colour of sweater I wanted, my next step was to search Ravelry's pattern database for a solid colour pullover design in a fingering weight. I further narrowed the search by selecting the neckline styles that best suit me: v-neck, scoop, cowl, possibly ballet. After some wavering between two finalists, I selected the Obsidian pattern, designed by Lisa Mutch, that you see pictured above. It's more minimalist and contemporary than the kind of style I usually go for, but it would go really well with all the pieces I wanted it for, it has an undeniably sleek, modern appeal, and I loved that the funnel neck could be styled as a cape, a cowl, off one shoulder, or as a hood. That's a serious amount of style potential for one simple little sweater.

The next step was to buy the yarn, and there I ran into the "many shades of brown" problem again. It proved so difficult to find a machine washable fingering weight yarn in a dark chocolate brown at Romni Wools that even the store associate who was helping me gave up the task as a lost cause after twenty minutes or so, but I kept searching and hoping, refusing to settle for the too light or purplish(!) brown or handwash only yarns I came across, until I found a yarn in the right shade. In the end, I bought 400 grams of BC Garn Soft Silk, which is 100% slightly raw silk and proved quite lovely to work with.

And here's the finished item. The pattern was pretty well written and I encountered no serious problems in knitting this project, though I did have to experiment with different cast ons in order to find the stretchiest possible one for the neck so that it would fit over my shoulders. I made just one modification, which was to make the sleeves full length rather than elbow length, as that's an unflattering length on me. I did wish the designer had included instructions for different sleeve lengths, but it wasn't like it was hard to figure out how to lengthen them. This sweater looks very small when lying flat, but that's how it needs to be as garter stitch has a lot of give. Making this sweater in the size that would ordinarily fit me would have saddled me (literally) with a sad, baggy sweater instead of the svelte, figure-hugging piece it's supposed to be.

And now I have the basic but stylish brown sweater that I wanted, and that goes with so many of my skirts and trousers that I can use it to make any number of outfits.

This sweater was made with newly purchased yarn and I had 50 grams left when I finished it, which leaves me with a 50 gram stash increase.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Baby Shower Insurance Jacket

This year I've been looking at my four remaining boxes of stash yarn and trying to come up with a plan to use it up more quickly than I've been doing. It's mostly just odds and ends of yarn, not matched lots that would be suitable for making whole items. I was looking especially at my box of worsted yarns and wondering what I could do with it, since I don't work with worsted much anymore. The colours I have in that box play together quite well, and for quite some time I toyed with the idea of using it to make an afghan. But I'd have to buy quite a lot of yarn to use as a base colour to tie the other colours together, and I didn't even particularly want an afghan, at least not of that style, or know anyone I could gift it to. Then I hit upon a plan: I would use my stash yarn to make baby clothes and toys, which all those half skeins would be perfect for, and put them away to give as shower gifts. If there's one thing I can count on, it's that there are always bound to be more babies appearing on the scene, and it would be so nice not to have to scramble to get something made in time to give it to the new parents.

This year I shall have time to make just one stash yarn baby gift, but going forward I'll wait until the end of the year when all the rest of the items on my list are finished, and then whip up as many baby things as I have time for.

For the one baby item I made this year, I took from my box of worsted weight yarns 150 grams of Phentex Merit acrylic worsted in "Aqua" (left over from this turquoise cardigan, which I made for me back in 2013). Then I searched Ravelry for a suitable baby clothing pattern and found the Leaf Love Baby Sweater, by Taiga Hilliard Designs. I had enough turquoise yarn to make it in the 6-12 months size.

Here's the finished item. It was quite an easy, quick knit, and finishing was a snap since there were no seams to sew. I was also fortunate enough to find buttons that went really well with the yarn -- turquoise can be a difficult colour to coordinate.

This project used 120 grams of stash yarn.