Tuesday, November 27, 2018

In Progress: Knit Diamond Pullover

In the United States, we celebrated Thanksgiving last week with family, food, and football. Our family hosted guests for two nights, then visited out of town family for two more nights.

While our guests were with us, I didn’t have much time for any of my usual making; I was too busy cooking, cleaning, and visiting. But I spent about 10 hours as a passenger on our way to and from another town, which allowed me to make up for lost time.

Skeins and Balls of Sport Weight Purple Yarn with Knit Sweater Ribbing in Progress

A few weeks ago, we travelled out of state to attend a wedding. Since we don’t have any local yarn shops near us, I took the opportunity to splurge on a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy in colorway 43 Boot Camp and four skeins of Plymouth Yarn Reserve Sport in colorway 306 Mauve Mix. I’ve purchased both brands in the past and could have easily ordered them online, but it makes such a difference to me to be able to touch the yarns and see them in person when I can.

The Reserve Sport is a soft blend of 45% wool, 35% silk, and 20% rayon from bamboo. The colors range from light to medium lavender, with touches of ivory and beige. I thought it would be perfect for a top, and chose the #07 Diamond Peplum Pullover pattern by Jill Wright from the Holiday 2012 issue of Vogue Knitting. I love the classic look of the sweater.

In order to match the gauge, I’m knitting on US-3 (3.25 mm) and US-6 (4.0 mm) needles rather than the needles specified in the pattern. So far, the pattern is straightforward and works up quickly.

Close Up View of Ribbing Knit in Purple Sport Weight Yarn

I had the ribbing for the back finished before we set out. During the drive, I was able to finish the back and knit almost half of the ribbing for the front. I’ve added an inch (2.5 cm) to the length. As much as I love the diamond pattern, I don’t plan to include the peplum in my version of this pullover. I also have some adjustments in mind for the sleeves.

If all goes well, I’ll be wearing this sweater by our next family gathering in a month’s time. What are your making goals during this busy holiday season?

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Hexagon Project: Blocks 15-17

Isn’t it nice when things work out as planned? It doesn’t seem to happen nearly as often as it should, but this month it did.

Three Overlapping EPP Hexagon Flower Blocks at a Angle

Last month, I only managed to make one block for The Hexagon Project. My plan for improving that rate was to sew during my lunch breaks. And I’m happy to report that I sewed three English paper piecing hexagon flower blocks this month, for a total of 17 blocks to date.

EPP Hexagon Flower Block 15 with Yellow Pattern and Colorful Letters on Brown

Seventeen blocks are enough for a baby quilt! It feels like such an accomplishment to lay out the blocks and start to envision them coming together.

EPP Hexagon Flower Block 16 with Dark Fireworks and Bright Orange Batik

I like to have some color combinations ready to go so I can easily add them to my project bag. My supply was getting low, so this week I planned ahead for another 30 or so blocks.

EPP Hexagon Flower Block 17 with Blue Print and Colorful Letters on White

If you’ve been reading about this project from the beginning, you know that I originally cut hexagons from my smallest pieces of scrap fabric. As a result, I have a lot of certain fabrics but very little of others. As I use up these pre-cut pieces, it’s a challenge to group the colors and prints of the remaining hexies.

Three Overlapping EPP Hexagon Flower Blocks Straight On

As much as I don’t want to make this project more monumental than it already is, I think cutting more fabric pieces is in my future — but with more than 30 blocks ready to go, not in my near future.

For now, I’m going to stick with the plan: I’ll keep sewing through my lunch breaks and believing that it will all work out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Another Knit Basket Liner

I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again: Sometimes making a project once just isn’t enough. The reasons vary; some are practical — can you ever have enough washcloths? — and some are less so, like the joy of working with a favorite material.

This week I knit another basket liner from the Ripple and Lace Leaf Linen Basket Liners pattern in “The Knitter’s Book of Yarn” by Amy King.

Hand Knit Cotton Basket Liner with Lace Leaf Detail in Corners

As I was finishing up my basket liner last week, I came across two partial skeins of Plymouth Yarn Sockotta. Both were purchased in my early sock-knitting days, before I learned how much dislike hand-knit cotton socks. The first is colorway 6056, which is a self-striping yarn in the palest yellow, pink, gray, and ivory. The second, colorway 13, is a bolder self-striping yarn in off-white, light blue, and light and medium grays. I still had a small quantity of Plymouth Yarn Nettle Grove, and the colors seemed to work well together.

With this almost-practical though process — it would use up extra yarn, after all — why not knit another basket liner?

The pattern is knit from the center outward. After establishing the initial rounds, I alternated between two of the yarns every two rows.

As I finished out the blue-gray Sockotta, I began the Lace Leaf motif using only the pastel Sockotta. I had knit the design into the last liner, then removed it, and wanted to give it another chance. I’m glad I held off until I was done with the blue-gray yarn because the subtler color changes in the pastel yarn don’t compete with the lace stitches.

Partially Folded Hand Knit Cotton Basket Liner with Lace Leaf Detail in Corners

But waiting brought on a new problem; with a few rounds still to knit, I was almost out of yarn. I dug out my first attempts at handspun cotton, and discovered the yarn was the right weight and color to finish the Lace Leaf motif.

I still had to cast off, and once again I was out of yarn. I pulled out some ivory-colored Tahki Stacy Charles Classic Cotton. It’s thicker than the other yarns, but it’s made from five plies. I pulled apart a length of yarn and was able to cast off using three then two plies.

This basket liner is a little larger than the last one, measuring about 17 inches (43 cm) square. I didn’t have enough yarn to add purl rows after the Lace Leaf motifs, but I cast off purlwise in hopes of taking a little curl out of the liner’s edges. The laws of physics aren’t so easily fooled.

Hand Knit Cotton Basket Liner with Lace Leaf Detail in Corners and Curling Edges

As I look at the liner, I wonder how the blue-gray yarn might have pooled differently if I hadn’t alternated yarns, or if I had alternated a different number of rows. And I still think it might be quite pretty to extend the liner past the Lace Leaf design.

So it seems that some times making a pattern twice isn’t enough either. How many times have you revisited the same pattern?

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Knit Basket Liner

Around this time every year, the days and weeks seem to pass quickly. Some of that, I suppose, is due to how short the days are becoming in the Northern Hemisphere. I’m not sure if the relief that comes is January is because we’re past the busy holidays and their many preparations, or because the days are beginning to grow a bit longer by then. Maybe it’s a little of both.

With the arrival of November, finishing even the smallest of personal projects feels like a major accomplishment. My most recent project is a knit basket liner. I’m envisioning it as a piece for the Thanksgiving dinner table, to keep breads fresh and warm.

The idea originated with the Plymouth Yarn Nettle Grove I had left over after knitting Calendula. With just over a skein of yarn available, I remembered the Ripple and Lace Leaf Linen Basket Liners pattern in “The Knitter’s Book of Yarn” by Amy King.

My first choice was to knit the Ripple pattern. However, that version finishes at 12 inches (30.5 cm) square and when it came time to begin the ripple stitches, the liner seemed too small. Knitting additional rows would mean determining if I had the right number of stitches for extra pattern repeats before starting the ripples. In turn, reaching a certain number of stitches along each side of the liner could require me to knit more rows than my limited yarn supply would allow.

For the sake of simplicity, I decided to make the Lace Leaf version instead. Although this pattern as written finishes at 13 inches (33 cm) square, the motif is worked at the corners. I could knit additional rows before starting the leaf pattern without worrying how many stitches were along each side of the liner.

I knit some additional rounds, then worked the Lace Leaf pattern. It turned out nicely, except that the liner was still too small for my taste and the edges wanted to curl due to the stockinette stitch sides. I ripped back to just before the Lace Leaf stitches — and then realized I could have knit extra rows after the leaves, including some purl rows to limit curling. That probably would have been quite pretty.

Instead, I simply knit more stockinette stitch. When I was nearing the end of my yarn, I knit a few rows of garter stitch, then a few in stockinette, and still a few more in reverse stockinette.

The resulting liner, at approximately 15.75 inches(40 cm) square, is simple and understated yet still pretty — albeit without a ripple or lace leaf in sight. It doesn’t curl much, and the amount that it does looks intentional.

I used up almost all of my Nettle Grove yarn. I have a pretty and useful addition for our Thanksgiving table — or any meal, really. And the knitting time passed almost as quickly as an autumn day.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Halloween: M7493 as Eliza Hamilton

Halloween has come and gone, so I’m now allowed to share my most recent project. In my last post, I wrote a bit about the time that was going into planning my 14-year-old daughter’s costume. The schedule was tight, but the costume was ready with a couple of days to spare.

From McCall’s M7493 pattern, View C, we were able to fashion a dress like one of Eliza Hamilton’s in “Hamilton: An American Musical.” Worn during the song “Burn,” it’s a white (or pale blue?) short-sleeved dress with a light blue ribbon tied at an empire waist.

Front Full Length View of M7493 Inspired by Eliza Hamilton's Burn Dress

The pattern was a challenge for my level of garment-sewing skills, although it wasn’t a difficult pattern. I kept making mistakes in how I read the instructions. While you wouldn’t think there would be much wiggle room in step-by-step instructions, I managed to find every wiggle that was there. For the most part they were silly mistakes that wasted time and materials, but were easy enough to correct.

The bodice lining was a lot of extra work for a costume. Ultimately, though, I’m glad I stuck it out with the lining because it makes such a difference in the comfort level of the dress. All of the bodice seam allowances are enclosed in the lining, minimizing itching and random threads.

The biggest blunder that I made was in choosing a pattern size based on my daughter’s bust size. I had made an unlined muslin of the bodice — really, I did! — and it seemed to fit fine. But it no longer fit well when the entire dress came together.

I’ve never paid close attention to full bust adjustments because — ahem — that’s not an adjustment I need to worry about when sewing clothes for myself. I should have realized my daughter would need one, but it didn’t click in my brain until the dress was almost done and I was struggling to understand why the bodice back was so large relative to the front.

I finished construction of the dress late at night, right before going out of town for a couple of days. My daughter wasn’t available for a fitting (because she was sleeping, like a sensible person) so I left the hem, buttons, and buttonholes undone. I would complete those final details when I had my daughter available to try on the dress, and when I was fully awake.

Over those few days that we were away, my mother-in-law offered to finish the dress. She was the one to discover the sizing issue. Then, from a distance, we had to figure out the best way to correct the fit without undoing (or re-doing) both the bodice and its lining. She ended up making two darts in the bodice back.

Back Detail of M7493 Inspired by Eliza Hamilton's Burn Dress

Once I was home again, I attached the ribbon. My daughter wanted to be able to tie and untie the ribbon, but didn’t want it to droop. I sewed on the ribbon in two parts, so the dress can still be unbuttoned in the back, with a small gap toward the front where she can tie a bow.

Front Detail of M7493 Inspired by Eliza Hamilton's Burn Dress

I also hemmed the dress one more time. My daughter wanted the dress to be long, so my mother-in-law had left the dress floor-length. That wouldn’t be practical for walking through our hilly neighborhood; I convinced my daughter to let me bring it up another inch (2.5 cm).

While the fit isn’t perfect, my daughter absolutely loves the dress and would probably wear it every day if she could. She’s talked my mother-in-law into making the short jacket from View A, and intends to wear it regularly. It’s going to be fun to see how her personal style evolves!

As for me, I think I need to take a step back and stick with “Easy” or “Beginner” garment patterns for a while longer. What have you learned from your recent projects?