Sunday, August 12, 2007

Long at last!

Margaret Tudor is assembled and done! She is a hefty beauty in many ways, gave me lots of grieves and frustrations, involved many seaming works, and took me so long. I don’t remember exactly when but I think I started on the project in 2003. And, it weighs 1.1kg. It was abandoned for more than two years before being picked up again last year. As I recall, my hands were not used to working with thin metal needles initially and I had severe pain in my fingers after the first panel was finished. Naturally, I was very reluctant to start the second panel and the project languished in my bag for quite long time. In any case, last summer, I realized that I need to finish those unfinished works before too late. Margaret Tudor was the last one on the list of unfinished works. Now, I can toss the list, at least for now.

The yarn used is Louet Gems Merino Opal in burgundy, about 4 ½ of half pound cones. I used size 1 Inox needles (2.25mm) throughout. I felt that the original garment is too boxy. It should not be close fitting, but closer fitting would be more flattering. Instructions for the smallest size were followed except for a few changes: Side body panels were narrowed by 6 stitches each with the armhole shaping intact. This change resulted in 24 stitches less in the body circumference and 12 stitches less in shoulder width. In order to compensate for the narrower shoulder width and to make sleeves longer than the original, one more rose and thistle motifs were added. Instead of using buttons to hold upper panels down, I used beads. All in all, I am quite satisfied with the finished garment. Oh, the reason why I did not use Scottish Fleet? Well, I did swatch with it to see if I can achieve the specified gauge, and I miserably failed. I just could not do it. I tried a couple of other yarns before I decided on Gems Merino Opal. This is my second project with this yarn and I just love it. Great stitch definitions and a nice color range. Here is me wearing it in summer weather! Quick, cannot stand more than a few minuties!

Margaret Tudor was my third project from Tudor Roses. The next one would be Elizabeth I with camel Dunedin. I am now working on adjusting the pattern as I hear and read that it is large and its neck opening is too wide.

I was very productive this weekend, and I’ve finished my second silk corset. I just love pure silk yarns and Ms. Modesitt’s corset pattern. I am definitely addicted to the smooth feel of silk yarns. Although I have not knitted this design with cotton yarns, I have a feeling that silk yarns provide smoother and closer fitting. The third one would have longer sleeves; maybe elbow length, with flounces.

And, me again.

Addendum: Since a good knitting friend of mine had asked, I am adding the seaming method I used for the record. I used a regular sewing thread and a needle so as not to add more bulk to the garment. I simply used whipped stitches to sew panels together, picking up a half stitch each along the seam line. Now, the exact location of the half stitches I picked. Facing wrong sides of panels with a thistle panel underneath a rose panel, let’s assume that we are seaming the right edge of the rose panel onto the thistle panel. The rose panel is placed right next to the edge of the knitted (as opposed to purled) section of the thistle panel, or the purled thistle section when viewed from right side. I picked the last half stitch of the knitted thistle section (viewed from wrong side), and the outer half stitch at the right edge of the rose panel. The resulting seams were strong enough but not bulky. One thing to note is that the stitches do not line up nicely like one would see when seaming side seams. Rose panels have smaller number of rows than the thistle panels due, of course, to difference in row gauges. So, it is essential to match the thistle and rose patterns with right side up and pin them together well so that you can flip them over without dislocating the patterns.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Silk Corset by Ms. Modesitt

Lovely silk corset designed by Annie Modesitt is finally done. I used Debbie Bliss Pure Silk, about three skeins and a little bit more for this version. It is not the best yarn one could choose for this project, though: It pills as you knit. Once finished and washed, it looks okay, but not fabulous. I am now knitting version two with Fiesta La Luz Multi, also a pure silk yarn, and the superb quality of Fiesta yarn is staggering.

The smallest size available on the pattern is XS and it is for bust size 90cm. Now, my measurement is nowhere near 90cm. So, I began knitting XS with tighter tension than usual. It did not work out: too small for me! The whole thing was then ripped and I re-started with size S and loosely knitted. That's what you see in the above. See the nicely scooped neck line? It is very important to cast on loosely. Otherwise, the whole look of the corset would be distorted.

There are several changes I made and will follow them on my second version. No I-cord cast off and cast on was used for armholes. I tried the method once but the result did not look as nice as I hoped. Also, I was not sure how big the armholes ought to be and wanted to be able to adjust once the whole garment is knitted up. So, I just used waste yarns to save stitches for armholes, and used cable cast on, done very loosely, to continue underarm sections. The waist section seemed rather short on me and it was lengthened somewhat. It could be even longer I think. The zigzag pattern was made to be symmetric, although it is not in the instruction. Instead of using single crochet to neaten the hem, I used backward single crochet, which is my favorite crochet finishing. Lastly, I sewed the front opening shut. Completely shut. There is no way I would fiddle with 20 buttons every so often, like every second. After all, the fabric is very stretchy and the neck opening is rather wide. Oh, one more thing. The armholes were finished by one additional knitted row and regular cast off done very loosely. Here is me wearing the top.

(I learned that there is an update to the pattern and much smaller sizes are now available. Not that I need them.)

As for Margaret Tudor, I found an old silk buttonhole thread in exact color I needed. All the beads are sewn on the knitted pieces finally.