Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Completed: Pseudo Shibori Scarf... Sort Of

It's been so long since I finished a knitting project that I actually had to refresh my memory of how to cast off. How embarrassing is that?

I started this project just before school started... last year. Yep, I've been working on the same project for over a year. I had just picked up knitting again over the summer, and had been going through projects like crazy. In less than two months, I knitted a pair of fingerless gloves, three scarves, a hat, and a purse, so I figured I was ready for a more ambitious project. 

I bought the book Boutique Knits by Laura Irwin (before I knew about Ravely) for its hats. But, I had just finished the Sideways Grande Hat and wanted to try something different. I decided on the Pseudo Shibori Scarf in purple kidsilk (70% super-kid mohair, 30% silk). This stuff feels amazing - if it didn't take forever, I would use it for everything I knit. It looks so delicate but feels so cozy.

Oops, I just realised that I got carried away adjusting the white balance in this one and the colour is a little wonky. The other ones are closer to its actual colour.
It was going well enough, and then... well, school started. I don't think I knit again until Christmas break, and even then I didn't knit very much. It wasn't until I had the flu that I really picked it up again, once I was feeling slightly better but not well enough to go to school. For the entire year, I pretty much only knit when I was at home sick (which was quite a bit, mind you. My immune system hates me). Other than that, I knit pretty sporadically, and spent a lot more time sewing than knitting. Once summer school started, I would bring my knitting with me and knit after I finished tests (I'm pretty sure everyone in my class thought I was a bit odd...). More recently, I've started trying to fit it in whenever I can because I just wanted to finish.

But ta-dah! I'm finally done! I'm pretty happy about it, but I'm also looking forward to a project that's not done with laceweight yarn and 3.5 mm needles. Seriously, it's like knitting with thread. I kept track of my rows, and I did 446 of them. That's 24,084 stitches. Yikes.

The construction is pretty straightforward as long as you keep track of your rows. It's a horizontal rib pattern, which gives it a subtle texture, and knit diagonally (increasing on one side, decreasing on the other).

Now, you may notice that mine's a little different from the picture, hence the "sort of" in the title. By the time I finished it, I really couldn't have been bothered with the ruching. I had made it a length that I liked, and I would have had to make it longer if I wanted to ruche it. I figured that it had enough texture already. It's subtler than with the ruching, but it's still there. I also skipped the tabs, which I wasn't crazy about in the first place.

Overall, I'm really happy with it, and very relieved to be able to start something new. It's very cozy, yet very elegant, and I think it'll get a lot of wear. I definitely made some mistakes, but the nice thing about thin yarn and tiny needs is that the stitches are so small that mistakes (which I made many of) aren't very noticeable (the exception being the strange lump on the left side of this picture, which I will eventually try to block. I don't even know what happened there).

Can you spot the mistakes? There's four of them!
There's no pictures of me wearing it because it takes a serious chunk of time for a full photoshoot, and I've been pretty busy lately. And besides, the scarf looks the same whether I'm wearing it or not. I mean, I'm not going to show off my amazing job of fitting it to myself because, um, it's a scarf. Just take my word for it that fits.

My failed attempt at an artistic photo...
So what's next? Well, I have this gorgeous hand dyed, hand spun wool that was a birthday present last fall. It's BFL (bluefaced leicester) wool, which I had never heard of before, but it's amazingly soft. 

I haven't decided what to make with it yet, any ideas? I estimated that I have around 90 metres. I might make a matching hat and cowl set, because although I can mix-and-match most of my knitted accessories because they're similar colours, I don't have any that truly match. I just need to find a pattern, so suggestions would be really appreciated! They don't have to be matching patterns, I just want to make them in the same wool. I think I'll make the hat first, because the cowl I can finish whenever I run out of wool... that's a little harder to do with a hat! 

Ideally I need a pattern that uses 8 mm needles (that's what the woman who spun it said would look best), but I tend to knit pretty tightly so 9 or 10 mm would probably be fine. I would describe the wool as bulky or super bulky, not sure which. The tag in the photo above is a standard size business card, and it's attached with a piece of worsted weight yarn, for comparison purposes.

Thanks for reading! And if you have any pattern suggestions that would be great!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Completed: Sewaholic Alma Blouse

So, I pretty much lived in this blouse all summer and I'm sad that I'll have to put it away soon.

I made it back in the spring, and I wore it so much this summer. I *almost* have something new to post about, but I need to figure out what is up with my machine first (the threads keep getting tangled and I don't trust it with my buttonholes). That, and I need to find somewhere to buy buttons to cover. Anyways, I wore this when we had family over for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, and I thought it would be good to post about it while I can still remember all the construction details. 

The pattern is the Sewaholic Alma Blouse, View B, in a size 0. The collar is meant for a contrasting fabric but I wanted it to be a little subtler so used the main fabric. The pattern is very well-drafted - there is even an upper collar and a lower collar so that the lower collar lies nicely underneath without the seam showing.

The fabric is a medium-weight cotton (I don't remember exactly what they called it) with 2% spandex, purchased locally for around $12 a metre. It was really easy to work with - even with the spandex, it was quite stable. It turned out to be a perfect weight for the shirt, and has softened up nicely in the wash.

I decided that, to save time, I wouldn't make a muslin, which backfired as per usual. I made my usual change of tapering down the shoulder seams and went right ahead cutting out the fabric. The fit was pretty good, but not great. I should have known better - Sewaholic patterns are designed for a B cup. I fiddled with the darts a bit and now the fit is good, but the darts are definitely in the wrong spot. They end only about a centimetre away from each other, which would be really obvious is a solid colour. Luckily the busy print hides them, but when I made this shirt again I will have to adjust them properly, and will probably try a FBA.

Other than that, the construction was pretty straightforward and I made no more changes. I successfully put in my second ever invisible zipper, which hasn't broken yet and that makes me really happy (I haven't had the best of luck with invisible zippers, such as with this dress).

Do you see that invisible zipper? Me neither.
For next time (there will be one!), there are a couple things I would do differently, other than adjusting the darts properly. I would probably do the under collar and facing in a lighter weight fabric because it's a little bulky at the shoulder seams, even with all the grading that I did. I might also take in the hips just a little bit. I'm not quite as pear-shaped as the pattern is designed for, and I think it could be a little narrower at the hips. The sleeves could also be just a touch narrower, but none of these are major fitting issues and it's very wearable.

Overall, though, I'm very pleased with this shirt. It's loose enough to be comfortable yet fitted enough to be very flattering. It looks great untucked with jeans, or tucked into a skirt with heels for a dressier look. My only regret is that this version isn't that great for fall, despite being in nice fall colours. With the sleeves and the collar, it's difficult to layer pieces over top, and it's too chilly to wear it on its own. Oh well, I got lots of wear out of it this summer.

One of the reasons I prefer skirts rather than pants is that I can hold them in pictures so my arms don't look so awkward...
If these pictures look better than usual, it's because my brother took them during the summer, and it just took me a while to write about it. (This also explains why I'm outside in a short-sleeved shirt, because there's no way I would do that with the chilly fall weather.)

Oh, and since today is Thanksgiving in Canada, I'd like to say thank you to all my readers and followers so far, and thanks for all the wonderful comments! Happy Thanksgiving!

Blouse: Sewaholic Alma
Jeans: Consignment, CJ by Cookie Johnson
Shoes: Consignment, Hego's