Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Five Easy Pieces...

...waiting for front bands and a collar.

I don't often follow patterns for crocheted garments. Truth be told I often have trouble deciphering written crochet pattern directions. In my continuing effort to expand my crochet skills, I decided to try again, this time with a pattern from the Sept. '07 issue of Crochet! -- Dressed for Success, designed by Margret Willson. The yarns called for, Caron Simply Soft Tweed and Simply Soft Boucle, were unfamiliar to me, but I thought I could find a reasonable substitution in the stash. I settled on some Araucania nature Wool for the sweater body, and I'm hoping that I can use Online Lunetta doubled for the contrasting collar -- haven't swatched that yet, so if it doesn't look right I'll be scrambling to find something more appropriate.

The design itself is classically simple -- a fairly close-fitting cardigan, vee-necked with a contrasting collar. For those who pay attention to such things, the magazine rates it as 'easy'. Since I was able to follow the pattern with no problems I would agree with that assessment. Pattern stitch used (for garment body) is a simple sc, ch 1. I've used that stitch before (for the yoke of the toddler's pullover) and it's becoming a favorite. Simple to do, but with an extra hint of texture, it also works up less dense than some other stitches. I am particularly happy with how it shows off the gentle kettle-dyed color variations in the Araucania wool.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this will all come together -- and especially how (or if!) it fits, since this is a sleeker silhouette than I usually go for. If I like the look, I may try another fitted cardigan from the same issue -- Island Dreams, designed by Margaret Hubert. I'm thinking some Schaefer Yarns Amanda, also from the stash, might work for that one. Time, and some swatching, will tell. Also in this issue is an article dealing with enlarging patterns, which many crocheters might find useful. At any rate, if these sweaters turn out well, it will have been money well spent for me!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Zip -a-dee-do-dah

As promised, even though it's a sweltering summer day and I would prefer to be doing almost anything other than wearing a heavy sweater, here's a shot of Sandy post-zip

And here's a shot of the back that I think might illustrate exactly why the back neckline bothers me (plus how chunky the upper sleeves are) --

Actually, one of the shots taken (but not shown here) really brought home to me an important detail in fitting for me. That is, despite the fact that I am a bit above average in height (5 ft. 7 inches) and carrying more weight than I should, my clothing needs to be adjusted to 'petite' proportions. I know, I know, we all think of petite sizing as being for short, little bitty tiny folk, but I've come to realize that in fitting clothing 'petite' refers to our length-wise proportions (length of torso, length of legs, depth of rise, etc.) I may have plenty of height, but apparently it's mostly in my legs, not torso. You'd think that years of trying to find slacks that have the proper rise for my figure would have clued me in, but some lessons take a while to learn. Back to the drawing board!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sandy Cardigan, thisclose to being done...

...and if our local Joann's fabric store had a decent selection of separating zippers it would be done.

Since it doesn't, I'm waiting for an Internet order to arrive. What? You don't remember Sandy needing a separating zipper? You're right, the pattern calls for forming the I-cord border into button loops and sewing about 9 buttons down the front. I decided to go for a more streamlined look, hence the zip.

So, my thoughts on Sandy -- Well, to be honest, I'm relieved to be done. That's a lot of garter stitch, baby! The fit isn't as refined as I would like, which may sound strange since it's customized to some of your own measurements, but I think it could be tweaked for an even more precise fit. And an apology is in order -- despite my previous comment to the contrary you can customize the waistline depth. There is information about this in a separate highlighted panel on another page. So, sorry! I managed to change it myself, but I'm still not 100% happy with my placement.

The necessity for so many math calculations (and the many errors in this section) make this a pattern requiring great attention to detail, but being almost all garter, the knitting itself is not difficult. There were certain parts of the pattern when I found myself going "huh?". I'd like to think some details could have been expressed more clearly, but perhaps it was a comprehension problem on my part.

Things I changed -- the fastening, where I began waist shaping on the side panel, where I ended the side panel and began my sleeve cap, and the width of the upper sleeve. I went higher up the side, and did a few more decreases in an effort to get a closer fit in that area of the sleeve, but it's still too wide for my taste. Not unwearably wide, but bulkier than I would like.

I'm puzzled by the designer's intention for the back of the collar. Is it meant to fold over, or just stand up? No photo of the back of the garment, and from photos of the front it almost looks like it doesn't come up in back at all -- but since the model's hair covers up a lot...Well, who knows? Curiously, the diagram accompanying the pattern doesn't even show the back panels being straight across, but rather it appears to be slanted as the front panels are -- contrary to the written directions.

So, will I wear it? Yes, but I don't see it becoming a wardrobe staple that I reach for time and again. It did use up a killer amount of stash yarn though, so bonus points for that! I'll try for a better photo (maybe even on a real body) post-zip installation.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


In the past I've usually just pinned out things I've needed to block on top of an old towel on the rug in my sewing room. But lately I've been reading about others using interlocking foam panels as a blocking space. When I ran across those panels in a warehouse club I decided to snap them up and give them a try. The ones I bought have 8 separate brightly colored panels (each 2 feet square) that snap together. Here's 3 of them getting ready to receive the Boteh scarf (I later added a fourth for extra length) --

Now, if needed, I can pin directly into the foam and save the rug from being damp. And here's the Boteh scarf, laying nicely on top of an old sheet, on top of the foam.

I didn't think the scarf needed pinning, but for shawls it will be a necessity. It will be interesting to see how the foam holds up to this.

I ended up dipping into a fifth skein of the Elann Peruvian alpaca to complete the scarf. If I'd left out one motif I would most certainly have had enough to finish it to pattern dimensions with four skeins, since the heavier weight yarn gave me extra length, but I had the yarn, and I like longer scarves, so there you go.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Procrastination: Take 1

For your viewing pleasure -- a work in progress -- Boteh Scarf by Kathy Merrick, from the Spring 2007 issue of Interweave Crochet. This uniquely shaped scarf is a joy to crochet. The design calls for a slightly lighter weight yarn (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock)than I am using (Elann's Peruvian Alpaca) but I think it works in this weight too. I've done just over half of the motifs, then there's a simple hdc border around the entire thing. It's going quickly, and is an easily memorized pattern. Highly recommend it, and I'm anxious to see how it works up in some Koigu I have.

Since I was using stash yarn for the scarf, and a major portion of the Sandy cardigan is also stash, I thought it would be interesting to start a little tally of skeins/balls used from stash. Not in a limiting "I'm only using stash, not buying" kind of way, but just to see how much I can use in a set amount of time -- maybe six months? Or until I get tired of doing it, or (more likely) start forgetting to keep track. Of course, to be actually useful I would probably need to keep a log of all the skeins/balls coming into the house also. We won't go there though -- too scary.

And speaking of scary -- perhaps I planted a few too many cherry tomatoes? It may be time to haul out the juicer!

The Sandy saga continues. We're getting very close to the end, but since I can not stay focused (see above procrastination) who knows when a finished photo will show up? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

And done...

Always happy to finish up a project, and even though this is a small one, it's good to be done.

And here's a closer look at the placket-ed yoke --

Still slogging away on the Sandy cardigan, but I can see the finish line way off in the distance. Just finishing up the second sleeve cap, then it's one sleeve length to go and miles (and miles) of I-cord edging. Will I make it without too many more distractions? I wouldn't be placing bets on it!

Monday, August 6, 2007

County Fair

I've never entered anything I've made in any type of competition, so I was a little reluctant when the spouse suggested I put something in our county fair.

My two little items did well though, so perhaps next year I'll make an effort to do something bigger. There weren't a ton of entries in either knitting or crochet, so competition wasn't exactly stiff, but it was a nice feeling to get a first place ribbon. And the grand prize winner? A crocheted evening dress for a Princess Diana doll - nicely crafted, and sentimental too.