Wednesday, October 28, 2020

A Walk Through Pine Creek

This project came to be because I wanted a brown-tone hat and scarf set to go with my plain brown winter coat. I thought fair isle would be a nice design direction. I also decided I would make a pair of brown gloves to go with the set. I still have the pair of brown knitted gloves I made in 2014, but I've worn them so much that it would be a good idea to have a second knitted pair. 

I searched Ravelry for a suitable pattern, and found the Pine Creek design, by Mary Henderson, which I loved at first sight. I decided I'd get two shades of brown and a contrast colour to knit it with. Now, what glove pattern should I use? I didn't want to make the gloves in that fair isle pattern too, as my rule is that while wearing two matching knitted pieces is a nice coordinated look, three knitted pieces in the same distinctive pattern are too much of a good thing -- it's too matchy-matchy a look. But I could knit the gloves in the same dark brown yarn so as to make them look like a set, and then the gloves could be worn separately with all my winter coats.   

After searching for a suitable glove pattern on Ravelry, I settled on the Nisu pattern, designed by Maraka Mari. They are plain without being too plain, and I thought the cabled pattern on the back complemented the fair isle pattern of the Pine Creek set. 

With my patterns selected, it was off to Toronto's Romni Wools to pick out the yarn. I bought three skeins of Mirasol Sulka Nina in Cafe Royale, which is a lovely blend of merino, alpaca, and silk, then for my lighter shade of brown and contrast colour, I bought two skeins of  Sandnes Garn Mini Alpakka: one in shade 2652, which is a light brown, and one in shade 3508, which is a sort of muted pumpkin.   

As you can imagine, this project was a lot of work, involving as it did not only lightweight yarns and small needles, but also fair isle. But it went smoothly. I don't think I made any mistakes to speak of. My one regret was that I hadn't chosen a lighter shade of brown than the Sandnes Garn Mini Alpakka 2652 -- a higher level of contrast would have made the set much more striking and shown the design to better effect. It's too muted for my liking as is. 

This is the first cowl I have ever made. I get the appeal of a cowl -- they are very practical as they stay in place, which means they are unlikely to get lost, and they provide coverage -- but I prefer the look of a scarf. However, while I did consider turning the cowl design into a scarf design, with this particular project, the cowl was the way to go. The underside of a fair isle scarf wasn't going to look attractive, and I was not interested in knitting a tube fair isle scarf. I was happy with the way the finished cowl sat on me, so that's good.  

Here's the tam. This really is such a lovely pattern. The photos didn't show the orange yarn accurately -- it's a sickly golden yellow here.

Once the cowl and tam were complete, it was on to the gloves. 

The gloves gave me serious attitude when I was working on them. Really, glove, who raised you?

As well as they turned out, knitting this pair of gloves was a wholesome reminder of why I don't knit gloves more often. They are so finicky and fiddly to make. I do think it is worth doing occasionally, as one does wind up with a perfectly fitted pair of gloves. But I wouldn't want to do it often, or ever make gloves for anyone else, as the intended wearer would have to sit beside me while I worked, and let me try the glove in progress on their hand every five minutes when I'm working on the fingers. 

The completed tam, cowl, and gloves. I can't help regretting my choice of a not-light-enough brown, but otherwise this is a set I am very happy with.

I had 110 grams of yarn left once I completed this project, and as I bought all the yarn for it, that's a 110 gram stash increase. 

Where Two Tartans Meet

In 2015, I bought 1.9 metres of the tartan fabric you see above for under $10 with the idea that it would be used to make a dress for me. In 2017, I used a little of it to make a pincushion for a friend. In August 2020, I used some of it to accent a dress and purse for my grandniece Cauliflower, cutting out the pieces for my dress first to make sure I would have what I needed for it, and could feel free to use what was left for Cauliflower's dress. Then, once I'd finished the dress for Cauliflower, it was time to turn back to the pieces I'd cut out for my dress. I had a certain dread of making it, remembering what it was like to make a tartan skirt from a very similar fabric years before.

This is the pattern I picked out for the dress: Vogue 8873. It's a 2013 pattern that is no longer available on the Vogue Pattern website. I love it -- it's a wearable, practical, yet stylish design that can work as either a day dress or for something more dressy, depending on the fabric chosen. It's flattering too.  When I searched for an image of the cover to use in this post, my search pulled up many a dressmaker's version of it, nearly all of which looked lovely on the wearer. And it even has pockets, which makes it practically a unicorn among dress patterns. 

But... it was probably not the ideal choice for this tartan fabric. I keep side-eyeing the sketch of view F (see bottom right of the pattern photo above) done in a tartan fabric, which shows the dress in a tartan fabric and the bodice overlay with the same tartan orientation as the skirt. Be warned: that sketch is a liar and a deceiver. The draped bodice overlay section is cut on the bias, while the skirt piece is cut straight along the grain. I had two fears as I made this dress: that I would accidentally cut one piece of it beyond repair (I had no fabric left to recut even the smallest pieces); and that it would look like a discordant mess when I was done (I hadn't had much leeway for pattern matching). 


Here's the finished dress. Yes, the tartan of the skirt and of the bodice are wildly at variance, but I am inclined to think that this fun contemporary tartan doesn't require the kind of fabric matching that a more traditional tartan does and that it looks fine. But I may be totally deluding myself.  

The fabric itself has a very sturdy quality to it and it should wear like iron. The style is not likely to ever date, or to become too young for me. I'll definitely be keeping the pattern for future use. 

I can't resist doing a little show and tell on how I'm going to style the dress. Some years back I scored the handbag you see above at my neighbourhood Salvation Army thrift shop for $8, and the suede pumps that sit beside them at a Le Château outlet store on Toronto's Orfus Road for $33. I spent perhaps $50 on the dress (the fabric was super inexpensive, but I had to buy the pattern, a zipper, and I splurged on a good quality lining), so the total cost of the outfit is under $100. The colour didn't photograph well, but the handbag and shoes are a rich teal, not the more turquoise-like colour you see here, and the two are an excellent match, with barely a few shades' difference between the two. As for jewelry, I think I'll go with some simple silver pieces, such as the sterling silver rose pendant necklace I wear a lot. 


Still not decided about that tartan mishmash -- will I be making every dressmaker who sees me in it cringe? -- but I'm very happy with the total outfit. I also managed to get a dress, contrast fabric for a second dress and a purse, and a pincushion out of less than 2 metres of fabric that I paid under $10 for, so I'm happy about that too. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

New Jewelry and a New Neck


In August 2020 I made a navy dress with tartan accent cuffs and hem border for my grandniece's 11th birthday. Once it was done I regretted that I hadn't made her a necklace to go with it, and wound up resolving to make her one for Christmas.

My first step was to look in my bead box to see if I had any beads that would go with the dress. I didn't have any beads the right colour, but I did have some silver beads I thought would be useful. I took some of the tartan and navy fabrics to Michaels to get a few strings of beads in coordinating colours. It wasn't easy to match it -- the red of the tartan is an off-beat shade -- and I wasn't excited about what I eventually found, but I did purchase two strings of red beads and one of turquoise that I thought would do. Michaels was having a 40% off sale on all their stringed beads, so that was a help. 

On the same trip, I scored an 18" jewelry neck for 50% off, which was much more satisfying. I'd been wanting one for several years. It will help me make an especially elaborate necklace I have in the works (I'll need to be sure the multi-strands sit properly), and will also be a nice-to-have when it comes to displaying whatever jewelry I make for photographing.   

Here's the necklace... and a pair of matching earrings I whipped up... and the jewelry neck. I'm very meh on the necklace. It's presentable and will go with my grandniece's dress, but it's nothing special. I wish I'd been able to find more interesting beads in the right shade. 

The jewelry neck does elevate it though. Doesn't the necklace look so much better on it than it would lying on a bare surface?


I no longer have the dress, but I did a kind of mock-up by laying a swath of the navy fabric over a piece of the tartan to get a sense of how the necklace will look over it. It goes. 

A close up of the earrings. They're not so bad. I'm still much happier about my new jewelry neck than I am about my handiwork.