Friday, 17 April 2015

Completed: Muse Patterns Natalie Top

After loving my Jenna Cardigan by Muse Patterns, I really couldn't wait to try another one of their patterns! This is the Natalie Top and Dress, a pattern for knits with gorgeous 40's-inspired gathering, which I made when I was home for Christmas. 

I promise I'll have some more spring-appropriate stuff on the blog soon! I went home for reading week and made a couple things for spring while I was there, but don't have pictures yet. It definitely feels like the wrong weather to be posting about a black long-sleeved top now, since I've been wearing short sleeves and skirts without tights for the past week here in Montreal! My only complaint is that the gorgeous weather makes it difficult to force yourself to study for exams. Only three more to go...

I chose this pattern kind of spontaneously, because I was planning on using this fabric to make another Bronte top, but then I realized that is was really sheer! I guess I wasn't paying attention when I bought it, because it was expensive for a solid bamboo jersey knit. I bought it from a local fabric store where I bought a remnant of the most amazing bamboo jersey I've ever worked with, and when I saw more bamboo jersey in the store, I assumed it was the same! Turns out it's not - this is much thinner and much flimsier. So disappointing! 

Anyways, I needed a top pattern that was a little more forgiving and didn't have any negative ease over the bust, so that it wouldn't end up too sheer. This was perfect - the gathers meant that it wouldn't be too sheer at all!

I really love the dress variation of this pattern, but since I only had a metre of fabric, I didn't really have a choice. I'll probably make the dress this summer!

I'm not a huge fan of PDF patterns, but this one came together pretty easily and quickly. I cut out a size 30 with long sleeves. Since the Jenna cardigan was a little wide at the shoulders, I took in the shoulder seams by 1/4". I also raised the V-neck by 1", which I reduced to closer to 1/2" or 3/4" when I actually sewed it. I omitted the ties in the back, because as much as I love them, I find them really uncomfortable when you're sitting.

This top took a little big longer than some knit patterns, but still not long at all. You need to interface the triangle in the middle with woven interfacing, and then do all the gathering around the bust and attach it. A note for next time: I sewed one with the gathers on the bottom, and the other side with the gathers on the top, and one side looks way nicer than the other. I just can't remember which! I'll sew some samples before making this again to see. I don't think it's too noticeable though, especially from a distance and in black.

The only thing that I found a little more difficult with this pattern was getting the V-neck to look right! I seem to remember attaching the binding was fine, but the topstitching took me a few tries. It still doesn't look that great, but there's only so many times you can rip out topstitching in jersey before going slightly mad.

I'm really happy with the fit of this top - it's super flattering! In the end, I didn't need to take in the shoulders, and I'll probably add the 1/4" back on next time, but other than that, the fit is great. The triangle in the centre sits a little lower on me than it does in the pictures, but I don't have a problem with that, and I'm not exactly sure of the best way to fix that because of how the pattern pieces go together. I'm happy with it how it is, so I probably won't bother!

Looking at these photos, it does bunch up a little in the back, but I think that's mostly because it's getting caught on the waistband of my jeans, which is too big (I think I need to make myself some Ginger jeans).

Overall, though, this top wasn't my best make, even though the fit is great - mostly because of the fabric. It was so flimsy that it shifted a lot when I was cutting it, and one of my sleeves ended up off grain. I also managed to get a hole in one of the sleeves before I even finished it! I sewed it up and put lots of fray-check on it, and so far it seems to be fine. But seriously...

I also found it really difficult to hem, even with Stitch Witchery, a walking foot, and a twin needle, which is my go-to hemming technique for knits. It stretched out a lot, and ended up a little ripply.

What's a little different about this top from other tops that I've made is that I can't really tuck it in, which I usually do for all my tops. Because of that, I can't really wear it with a skirt, which is too bad. Nonetheless, this top got a lot of wear, especially when it was -20 degrees in Montreal, because I could wear it with jeans and merino base layers underneath - perfect for when I needed a break from all the huge sweaters!

I'll definitely make this pattern again, probably as a dress for summer. I'm really impressed with Muse Patterns - the instructions are great, and the patterns seem to be very well drafted. I also love that their newer patterns come one size smaller than the Jenna cardi did, so I don't have to size down (always a plus!). 

Thanks for reading! You probably won't see much of me until after exams. I have an exciting (but very busy) couple of weeks ahead - in less than two weeks, I'll be done my first week of university, and I'll be moving out my residence and into my first apartment! See you all in (me-made) May!

Top: me-made (Muse Patterns Nathalie Top)

Jeans: Guess

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Completed Knit: Marion Cardigan

Allow me to present my favourite finished project ever: my first handknit cardigan!

Despite learning to knit when I was really young, I never really thought of knitting anything other than accessories. Sweaters just seemed so daunting!

After finishing my Pseudo Shibori Scarf though, knit with 3.5 mm needles and kidsilk, I felt like I was ready to tackle my first sweater. Unfortunately, my tendinitis hit just after finishing the scarf, so I didn't knit at all during my grade 12 year. After I graduated, I slowly got back into it, and found that I was okay so long as I didn't knit too much at once. 

I knew that I wanted to make a cardigan, and I've always loved all of Andi Satterlund's patterns, so it wasn't hard to pick out a pattern. I ended up going with the Marion cardigan, because it was mostly stockinette (aka simple), but had enough shaping and cables that I would learn something new and not get bored. 

When I first downloaded the pattern and read through it, I almost gave up then and there. I had no idea what so much of it meant - short rows, cables, picking up and knitting, yarn overs... it was pretty overwhelming!

I ended up just looking up videos on every stitch that I wasn't sure about, and practicing until I felt reasonably comfortable with all the stitches. I'm glad I picked a relatively simple pattern, because it still felt like I had so much to learn!

The yarn I picked is Colour Adventures Sweet Aran, in the colourway Midnight Blues, which I bought from Wool and Wicker in Steveston. It's 100% superwash merino, and comes in lots of colours. The yarn itself is a little pricey, but I didn't need very much so it didn't end up being too expensive overall. I don't know if I would buy it again because since then, I've found cheaper yarn of a similar quality, but it is quite nice to work with, and really comfortable to wear!

I also bought a set of interchangeable needles, which is a great investment if you plan on making lots of sweaters (like I do!). It makes it really easy to change the cable length as needed, and you never have to transfer stitches to holders - instead, you just take off the needles and screw on these little stoppers at the ends of the cables. When I was knitting the upper front and back, I used a 24" cable, then switched to 32" when I connected it all. When I knit the button band, I went up to 40" (or possible 47", can't remember). For the sleeves, I bought a second set of 5 mm tips, and used both circular needles with 24" cables. I tried to use the magic loop method first, but I found it really awkward to use for the short rows at the sleeve cap.

Since the yarn is hand-dyed, it recommends alternating skeins, which I did throughout the body. At first, I didn't know the best way to do this, so I just tied a knot and knit with a new strand every 2 rows. About 10 rows in, I realized that I would have way too many ends to weave in if I kept going like that! Instead, I just kept all three skeins attached and just picked up a new one every two rows, similar to the way I imagine you would do colourwork (although I've never done colourwork, so I can't say for sure). I didn't bother alternating skeins when I knit the sleeves because I wasn't sure of the best way, and I honestly don't notice any difference, so I probably didn't need to have alternated skeins for the rest of it. Oh well! 

Over the summer, the knitting went pretty quickly. I made lots of mistakes and had to frog a lot, but I kept going pretty steadily until I finished the main body of the sweater. In September, though, I pretty much stopped working on it altogether. I did actually find some time to knit, but I couldn't figure out the short row shaping at the shoulder. I knew that I needed a solid chunk of time to sit down and figure out what I kept doing wrong, and I just never seemed to have that time. Instead, I worked on a hat in little bits and pieces, and didn't really touch the sweater until I was home for Christmas break.

Once I figured out the short rows, the sleeves went really quickly, and I finished this within a couple weeks of the start of the winter semester. 

The next part that took me forever was, of all things, buying buttons! I really wanted to go to Rubans Boutons to find them, but when I finally found an afternoon free to go to Rue St. Hubert, it was one of the coldest days in February! I literally just ducked into the first store I saw that sold buttons, and found some that matched surprisingly well. They're nothing all that special, but the colour is a perfect match, and I like the simpler buttons because they keep the focus on the cables.

It took me so long to buy the buttons that I actually started wearing it without buttons for a while! I think it looks good unbuttoned as well, but you can see the cables better when it's buttoned up, so that's probably how I'll wear it most of the time.

I am so proud of this cardigan, but it's definitely far from perfect! First of all, it could be just a little bigger. Despite swatching and measuring my gauge, my gauge when I actually knit this was a little tight, and I never checked it along the way. It's still very wearable and comfortable, but if I want to wear anything bulkier than a camisole or thin t-shirt underneath, it's a little snug. 

Second of all, I really need to work on casting off loosely. The cast-off edges at the bottom edges of the body and the sleeves are tighter than they should be, and this makes the sweater ride up a little. You can see that in the photo below.

Another part that I need to keep looser is the part between the two needles that I knit the sleeve on - I was so worried about it being too loose that I overdid it a little, and ended up with a little bit of a ridge going down my arm where they stitches are way too tight. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who notices, but if you look closely you can see it a little in these pictures. 

Overall, though, I'm really, really happy with this cardigan! I love the colour and really suits my style. I've already almost finished my second sweater - hopefully I'll have it finished while it's still cool enough to wear it!

Ravelry notes are here.

Thanks for reading, and happy Easter!

Cardigan: Me-made (Marion Cardigan)

Camisole: Mom-made (self-drafted)
Skirt: upcycled from an old dress