Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tunisian Crochet Project

I have been working on a lovely tunic from last year's Vogue Crochet magazine, #32 . This project is one of several Tunisian crochet projects in the magazine I liked and especially I like #37 besides #32. By the way, this is my first time taking up Tunisian crochet. So, how have I been doing?  Well, so far so good, although with a lot of trial and error. For example, I am currently working on my third sleeve and I will need to make a fourth one: i.e. my first two were not good at all.

First of all, the yarn used.  I have had seven balls of Jojoland Melody, a light fingering weight yarn, in navy blue/burgundy mix for several years.  I thought they were perfect for the tunic. The original design was crocheted with Koigu KPPPM using 5 mm hook.  Melody is thinner and less meaty than Koigu and I decided to start with 4 mm hook.

Before taking a plunge, I did some practice with 4 mm hook and obtained the gauge of 21 stitches and 10 rows for 4” by 4” square. I thought I was ready.  Since I was not certain about the yarn amount, I did some crude calculation and concluded that I had to be able to complete one sleeve with a ball of Melody.

As usual, I started with a sleeve when not certain about the gauge or the design. With my gauge, 16.5” meant 87 stitches. I think the pattern instruction has the cast on numbers for sleeves wrong. It should be 78 stitches with the gauge and the intended length. When I was almost done with the first ball of yarn, I had still some inches to complete one sleeve. Not good at all! I had to make the garment smaller (not a good idea), or go up on the hook size to make the fabric less dense. I took the latter option and restarted with 5 mm hook.  Assuming I was not too far off from the gauge in the instructions, I started with 78 stitches. 

When I completed the second sleeve I noticed that the fabric was too stretchy at the lower half than the upper half (see the photo above).  Also, I noticed a severe biasing of the fabric towards right. Apparently, this biasing is typical for Tunisian crochet. I was not happy with the completed sleeve at all. Looks like I was still learning how to maintain the tension with the first half of the sleeve. What do I do? I contemplated for a few days and decided to start again. I hate to regret too late. So, here I am, working on the first good sleeve. I am crossing my fingers!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lovely Orkney Cardigan, Part 2

Now a shocking discovery to report. I made a major error in knitting the bodice of Orkney: I forgot to make button holes. I was drawn to Orkney for its clean front edge without button bands, yet I forgot to knit button holes! I realized this error when I was decreasing stitches at shoulders. Too late, I said. I need to figure out how I could force button holes.

I recalled reading about button holes can be made after completing by manipulating yarns around a stitch. That’s what I decided to do. I was worried that ‘manipulation’ and ‘coaxing’ of yarn might cause too much wear and tear. In order to provide some support, I decided to use petershams for facings instead of knitted ones.

Here is what I did. I used 1” wide petersham tape for the left front, and two stripes of ½” wide tapes, sewn together except for button holes, for the right front. After the petershams were applied, I gently forced button holes on the knitted bodice. Ah, when I was applying the petershams, I realized that my steeks was too wide since the button hole had to be made through steeks as well. This was to be avoided. So, I had to re-work crochet anchoring and cut off excess.

The photo below shows the left front facing sewn on, and the right facing being assembled.

The right facing sewn on the right edge with button inserted in the button holes. 

And, here is it.  Finally done!  All the buttons are sewn and corresponding holes are made.


One more note on the project. The color Mineral was used in sleeves only. I have a lot of it leftover. The yarn amount was all sufficient even though I added steeks. The least amount left was in Billberry.

It is too warm to wear Orkney now.  Must wait for some cooler days to come back. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lovely Orkney Cardigan, Part 1

First of all, I love the colors in Orkney. The colors of Rowan Felted Tweed yarns are so well coordinated that any combination of the muted hues seems to be pleasant and beautiful. I also love the clean front edge without button bands. Since the magazine came out, I was in love with Orkney.

One thing I did not like about the design was its instruction, written to knit pieces in flat, back and forth. Like many knitters, I dislike knitting Fair Isle designs flat. I decided to add steeks to bodice and sleeves. Yes, sleeves. Since knitting in circle with small circumference is not my forte and I have tension issues, I decided to knit two sleeves together with steeks added between them.

So, I began knitting sleeves as I often knit them first as a swatch alternative. I was lucky this time and stitch gauge was spot on. My row gauge seemed okay as well. I knitted two cuffs flat first so that steeks won’t show at the cuff edges, and placed them together on a circular needle with eight-stitch steeks added. It so turned out I could have used six- or four-stitch steeks since there are edge stitches. Instead of following the pattern instruction in words, I followed the chart. As I could not see the line for the size M clearly in it, I ended up with having six extra stitches, three on each end, for size M. In order to accommodate this addition, I increased the armhole depth somewhat.

Fronts and beck bodices were also knitted together with an eight-stitch steek added between the fronts (this should have been a four-stitch steek so as not to have too much fabric at front edges). I cast on 248 stitches for the ribbed edge and knit: k3, k2 p2, repeat * to , k3 (the first and the last stitches are edge stitches). On row 1 of the Fair Isle section, add two stitches to front bodices and one stitch to the back bodice, with the total of 253 stitches for bodice. I placed markers after 65th and 188th stitches to indicate the side seams. Also I marked the center back stitch to aid anchoring the motif. When the Fair Isle chart was inspected, I noticed that the center back is not necessarily the middle of each motif. I shifted motifs as necessary to remedy this defect. I decided to make the cardigan longer and chose to knit 35 cm before armhole shaping began. Also, the armhole was lengthened to 21 cm.

Here are bodice, left, and sleeves before cutting steeks. 

Sleeves alone.

And after sleeves were put together.

I found the sleeves to be just right in tightness and the cuffs are nice and snug.  Some knitters mentioned sleeves being tight and I am wondering if it was due to knitting them in round in small circumference. 

I just adore the colors of the garments!  Now, the next post will be about a disaster and how I overcame it.

Saturday, June 08, 2013


It is already June 8th!   I cannot believe it. I'd better write up my reflection on MMM'13.

My goal and hope in participating the group was to get back my creative thoughts through fellow MMM'13 participants.  Given this goal, the best thing I accomplished is that I did write about my creative activities, albeit those in the past. Let’s face it. It takes a chunk of time and efforts to maintain a blog: photos must be taken and materials must be considered.

Another accomplishment is that I got inspired to sew through members of MMM’13. I am planning a new sewing projects. I have had difficulty with sewing projects for so many months. Thanks all for inspiring me!

Although I have not looked through all the photos as of today as there are six thousand plus photos, I was hugely inspired through all that I had seen. I am glad to know there are so many of you out there sewing, knitting, and crafting every day.

So, thank you, Zoe, and all the members of the group. I am looking forward to be more creative.

In terms of my current projects, I have been planning a couple of skirts in a teal green cotton fabric. This idea came to me as I was taking photos for MMM'13. I though I needed a skirt in dark green. I am mildly excited about the project.  I also finished knitting Orkney cardigan. All I need to do is its assembly which involves a bit of inventing. I made a major error in knitting the bodice: I forgot to make button holes. You see, Orkney does not have button bands. That was one of the features I liked in Orkney, yet I forgot button holes. How I managed to deal with my mistake will be another post.

A post without a photo seems sad. So, here is what I put together with flowers gathered from my garden.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Fifth Week of MMM'13

My fourth and fifth week of MMM’13 went rather poorly due to illness and subsequent medical appointments which were too many for me to handle. At any rate, I managed to do one more MMM day.

Day 30

I made this pair of pants in 1984 with one of the first Vogue Issey Miyake patterns, 1257, with black summer wool.  It became too small at waist soon after that, and sat in my closet for a long time, twenty plus to be honest.  I finally removed the waist band and waist tucks last year and replaced it with an elastic band.  I feel as though I now have a brand new pair of pants.

I made four garments in 1980's out of the above pattern: a black shirt, a black wool blend jacket, a white cotton/linen blend jacket, and the black pair I just fixed.  The shirt got rotten long ago, but the jackets are still in good shape.  My 17-year old daughter loves the jackets and wants to borrow from me.   She has a good taste.  Ha, ha. 

Lastly, but not the least, Zoe, thank you for organizing this fabulous event!  I will post on what I learned shortly.