Monday, March 31, 2014

Top-Down Sleeve Head Puzzle

I dislike top-down sleeves knitted off of bodice. This is so because I cannot make a neat and tidy pickup row. My stitches are so wonky and unpleasant-looking when I tried. So, I went ahead and attempted to convert top-down instructions into flat instructions. That was when I began wondering. 

The top-down instructions would have you pick up X stitches around the armhole, work short rows starting symmetrically around the shoulder point, and arrive at the underarm with the same number of stitches, X, for the underarm circumference. This seems odd to me unless the armhole size and underarm circumference are the same. Should not we pick up more stitches along the armhole and reduce the stitch count while knitting sleeve head with short rows?

Since I dislike top-down sleeves, I have not paid close attention to this matter in the past. Has anyone seen a top-down sleeve head instruction involving decreasing stitch count?

I knitted my sleeves flat and set them in. They looked okay on a flat surface, but the sleeves had tendency to swing backward on my dress form. Upon inspection, I found out the reason: sleeves were set-in a lot forward than they ought to be, hence swinging backward at sleeve hems. Why did this happen?

My arm holes are made up with four sections: two vertical straight sides, one on stitch holder and another on a white chain cable, and horizontal curved top and bottom. The pattern instructions have you work short-rows around the center of the horizontal curved section, indicating that the shoulder point ought to be there. On my dress form, however, the center of the true sleeve head needs to be located at the top of the vertical armhole section on the back as you can see in the second photo on my previous post.

So, my sleeves were set-in about two inches too forward and lower than the shoulder point on the dress form. No wonder! I must have been blind and failed to think more critically. Had I inspected the bodice carefully without sleeves on the dress form first, I could have noticed the potential problem. Shame.

So, I had to remove the sleeves, and re-set them properly. At least, I did not need to re-knit the entire sleeves.   Here are the final result. 

I love the lightness and warmth of the coat, or the cardigan, not to mention the color!   The ribbed cable is really nice looking on both inside and outside. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Garter Stitch Triangle on Mirrored-Cable Swing Coat

While I was still working on Harris from Rowan Magazine #52 last year, I began tinkering on Mirrored-Cable Swing Coat pattern as I needed a simpler project to knit besides Harris.  I purchased a gorgeous dark green shade of Louisa Harding Millais yarns last summer and I wanted to use them for the coat.  As I mentioned before, the difference in gauge was too much between the pattern instruction and Millais, and modifications were rather involved. 

At that time, besides the gauge difference to accommodate, I was also interested in reducing the bulkiness of the coat in case using less bulky Millais may not be enough.  In the end, I did not use any of the additional ideas to reduce the hem circumference.   However, I started knitting from the center back towards fronts and changed one feature.
In the original version as shown below, there seems to be a gap at the center of the garter triangle.

I decided to eliminate it.

I noticed that this triangle is not just a pleasant design on the back, but it did reduce the hem circumference quite a lot, a very clever design component.  I am so glad that I did not do excessive tinkering on the design. 


I love Bronwen by Ms. Marie Wallin.

The original version is knitted up with a gorgeous yellow green called Hubberholme, as well as lighter burgundy, yellow, and brown edging.  Although I love these colors, I thought I need something to go with my navy blue work clothes and changed colors.  I am quite happy with my color choices: Askrigg, Wensley, Burnsall, and Gunnerside.

A friend of mine said the cardigan reminded her of a Chanel jacket.  Now, that is a compliment.  Then, another friend said that this is the best garment I've ever knitted.  Oh, my!

In stead of requiring two balls each of the four colors, I needed a third ball of the three colors used in stripes.  I think it is because I knit relatively loosely and I may have knitted sleeves longer than instructed.  At any rate, with such compliments, I cannot complain about this garment. 

I am wearing Christine Jonson Pencil Skirt with Bronwen in the photo above. The skirt was made with a black wool jersey, and I added a two-inch wide elastic to the waist band since my wool fabric does not have the required

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Change in Plan

I was supposed to work on the plaid dress last weekend.  Instead, I worked on tinkering on a knitting pattern, Mirroed Cable Swing Coat.  Why?  My last follow up visit to my eye doctor turned out more eventful than I anticipated: I had another retina tear which had to be fixed immediately by a laser surgery.  I sometimes think my days with sight are numbered and get depressed. 

At any rate, for this lovely swing jacket, I planned to use a different yarn, much thinner than the called-for yarn, Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky.  My yarn is Louisa Harding Millais which is now discontinued unfortunately.  This yarn has many gorgeous hues, very deep and iridescent in light. 

I think the yarn manufacturers are not quite clear on what is supposed to be super bulky as both of these yarns are classified as such.  Their gauges are so drastically different however: a width of 4" would require 8 stitches in Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky, while 12 stitches in Millais, 50% more than the Blue Sky yarn!  They are far from the same.  Perhaps "Super Bulky" means "Bulkier than Bulky." 

So, I started to draw a diagram with all the stitch and row counts following the pattern instruction, convert them into length in cm, and re-calculated stitch and row counts for Millais using its recommended gauge.  Since I was not so sure about the amount of the drape, too much it seems to me, I decided to knit from the center back towards either side.  I started knitting on Friday night and I now have the right half completed.  Looks like Millais produced a softer fabric. 

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Plaid dress with Burda Style 118

I have been working on a dress for some time after finishing Christine Jonson Pencil and Slit Skirts early this year.  I am hopeful that my sewing mojo is returning.

Fabric:  I have had this piece of black and white wool plaid for more than thirty years.  I visited this fabric just about every year contemplating what it could become, but I could not come up with any great ideas until this year.  What is more, since it sat among my stash so long that it acquired two moth holes which I rewove to fill in with difficulty.  The yarn of the fabric has small nubs and they got caught here and there, giving me such a hard time reweaving.  At any rate, the moth holes were fixed tentatively. 

The pattern:  This is the dress.  Actually, I never thought this fabric can become a dress.  That was until I saw a photo of a Vivien Westwood tartan dress.  It so happened some bloggers had already thought of this and my search provided me with this Burda Style dress.  My fabric is probably a bit too bulky for the dress, but it is unlikely that I will encounter a better alternative.  So, that was that. 

Tinkering:  Although the Burda dress has bias cut front, the back and the sleeves are not in bias.  I decided to cut all parts in bias, except the back facing and the lining.  The back pattern piece has a curved center back seam and a zipper is supposed to be installed there.  Fearing the difficulty of matching plaid on the back and the lack of yardage (I have about 2 yards plus a bit), I decided to cut the back in one piece, and re-drew the center back seam as a straight line, which meant I had to move the zipper to the right side seam.  The lining pattern for the front is also prepared.

All these pattern preps were done over two weekends.  The fashion fabric was also cut out, except for the back facing.  In the above photos, the left front drape is gathered up and pinned to back dress on my dress form.  Looking at the back, it seems that the bias fabric has taken care of the form shaping and there is no need to add darts per pattern.  I am letting the fabric to settle before I serge the edges and sew up the dress. 

Cannot wait for the next weekend!