Friday, July 24, 2015

Complete: An Imperfect & Loved Sombra

According to my usual practice, this is a make that should never see the light of day. This really is one of my shoddier projects, and you know what? I actually don't care :)

This is Sombra, by Elanor King, and my goodness I made a bit of mess of it!( I'll explain later) It's knitted with Patons Embrace 2 ply (lace weight).

This was published in last summer's edition of Pom Pom magazine, and it's the first summer weight jumper I've ever been interested in knitting; to me knitting is a winter sport, thank you very much. But this one swayed me for a few reasons. Firstly, a dolman silhouette is my new favourite for tops. Secondly, Having knitted a few bulky sweaters recently  I'd been wondering about attempting a whole jumper using a lace weight yarn. Finally, I found the construction of this really intriguing.

It's knitted from the bottom up, beginning with one strand of yarn. When you get as far as the beginning of the first "V", you pull in a second strand of another colour, knitting more stitches with both colours the further up you go. Once you get to the second "V", you start using a third colour/strand. Not only does this give you a great marle effect, but it means that the thickest part of the jumper is at the neckline and shoulders, so it sits beautifully and means the lightest-weight section isn't taking any strain.

The sleeves are knitted from the top down in the round, using double pointed needles, and with just the one strand. The pattern recommends a cotton yarn, but I'm a bit fed up with cotton doing its diva-stretching-out-thing, so chose wool instead. Embrace is really, really lightweight to wear, but surprisingly warm. I'm wearing this a lot lately, and apart from the very coldest days, it's been ample to counter winter weather.

 Here's something I didn't know - lace weight yarn goes a long way. I used two 50g balls of cream and one each of the light and dark pinks. Actually, no - two balls of the dark pink, but only because I used lt pink + dk pink + dk pink for the neckband, rather than one of each colour as per the pattern. But there's almost a full ball left, and the second cream ball could have covered it easily.

 The back has the same pattern as the front, which I liked both in aesthetics and in terms of knitting interest. And yes, there are two different days of photo taking here. I forgot I'd already taken some. (it'd been a while...) In the newer (sunnier) shots you can that I finally took the plunge and got my hair cut - really cut. I've always secretly wanted a pixie cut and have never been brave enough. (Although strictly speaking this is slightly too long to be a genuine pixie...) Response: 98% positive, except for my youngest son who didn't speak to me for two days, and a woman at work who immediately reassured me "at least you know it'll all grow back..." :D

 The neckband, like the waistband and cuffs, are done in reverse stockingette. I like the way the neckband curls under itself.

So, I love the structure, the scooped neckline, the dolman shape, the lightness of it, the colourwork, and perhaps most of all, the way it's one of those garments you wear and kind of forget you're wearing because it sits just right and never needs fiddling with or adjusting. It really is one of my favourite things I've ever made. And yet... the workmanship is pretty dreadful, actually. I don't know if all lace weight yarn is hard to keep even, but I really struggled. It used 4mm needles, which are quite thick for such a fine weight, but is supposed to make for a really airy, almost mesh-like fabric. But there's mesh, and then there's just mess, and this teetered on the edge of that line. Blocking helped a bit, but didn't fix it completely. It's worst on the sleeves where, in addition, my decreases actually left gapey holes. (you can see them in the second photo from the top, too). And my double pointed needle technique definitely needs some refining - you can tell exactly where each needle started and ended. Maybe it is partly the yarn's fault - the two and three strand knitting doesn't look uneven at all. C'est la vie, I suppose...

But overall for me the positives more than outweigh the negatives. I guess it's a bit like the story of the Velveteen Rabbit...except that he started perfect and became less so. But the bit about loving something despite imperfections holds true, anyway!

How about you? Do you have any Perfectly Imperfect makes? And what are your thoughts about the pursuit of perfection in sewing/knitting?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Refashion For Me & My Girl

Hello again :) I'm not sure why I'm always so optimistic at the prospect of school holidays potentially equalling extra sewing and blogging time; once again history proves me wrong. Back into term time again, and here I am finally getting back to posting.

To be honest, I wasn't sure whether to record this one - it's almost as basic a refashion as they come! But simple though it was, it's been a success on two fronts, so here 'tis:

Last September a op shop jaunt netted me this spotted rayon dress. It was too big all over, and elastic waists are rarely friendly to me. I think it was also intended for a taller person than me (left) or my daughter (right)

So why buy it? Easy:
a) Having discovered rayon this past year I'm a little bit in love! It breathes and moves like silk and is as cooperative to sew as cotton.
b) It reminded me (albeit as a black and white, ill-fitting version) of the dress Julia Roberts wore for the polo scene in Pretty Woman - don't tell me you didn't love it too...
c) it was $2.

Done deal.

Originally I planned to unpick it and make it up again as the polo dress. There would have been quite a lot of faffing about with the armscyes though - they're very low. So it got pushed down the queue, until it occurred to me that I'd been pinning an awful lot of midi length skirts, and my girl loves to wear slouchy, breezy, layered tops in warm weather....Double win!

The dress was constructed as a separate top and (four panel) skirt, then narrow elastic was sewn to the waist seam. I unpicked this and detached the two.

I far prefer waistbands to elastic waists, especially if I intend to wear tucked in tops. I had a bit of extra length to play with, but wanted to keep it as full as possible. So I cut 6cm from the upper edge of the skirt, which gave me plenty for a waistband. The fact that the skirt was sewn in four panels meant that as a waistband it didn't quite match up neatly as a three piece front and two backs; the "side" seams on the finished band are more towards the front. But it is centred and the print disguises that flaw well.

There wasn't quite enough to cut a facing from the fabric as well, so I had to make do with some black cotton in my scraps stash, but it matches and is on the inside so isn't seen. The main skirt was gathered and then sewn to the new waistband. Then I undid the back centre seam 20cm and inserted a zip.

 The end result is swishy and breezy and I love it! And though a summer skirt really, it's done pretty good service in cooler weather too, with a collared shirt, jumper, tights and long boots. (So long as it's not too cold out...)

The top could hardly have been easier! Once the elastic was gone, I just had to press the gathers/wrinkles out and give it a narrow hem.

 Voila! An easy cropped top for layering (since, thank heaven, she's not into the bare midriff look!)
Not much call for sleeveless tops round here at the moment - right now warm weather is a fond and distant memory - but summer's got to return one day....

So pretty basic really, but a fun and satisfying - and quick! - project. I mentioned in my MMM reflections post that I've fallen out of the habit of refashioning; this make(s) has gotten me excited about it again. And I noticed that this year's Refashioners challenge (which by the by looks amazing! The talent - oh my!) is running a community challenge alongside the main one. I think I'll give it a go....