Of Hallows and Horcruxes

I wrote a while back about my eldest being a big Harry Potter fan, and that I’d found a fantastic pattern for the sweater Hermione wears in Deathly Hallows Part I… the post is here, if you want to refresh your memory. I bought the recommended yarn from Knit Picks and it sat for a couple of months, until I decided it was time to knit the sweater.

This sweater was certainly an adventure. First of all, to be fair, the designer, while she has several patterns on Ravelry, only has the one garment pattern. Of her 13 patterns, 10 are crochet patterns. This should have been a warning that this wasn’t going to be smooth sailing. I was smart, and went through other projects and read the notes, and felt an impending sense of doom. So many comments about things that were wrong, or needed to be modified! It was discouraging, and I hadn’t even cast on yet! I’m not so easily dissuaded though. I did my gauge swatch, measured the kid, and started knitting. I figured I’d use the experience of other knitters who’d already made one to make the process easier.

Problem 1: The yoke is designed badly. The original sweater from the movie was apparently purchased at H&M, and is seamed, rather than having a yoke. Knitting in one piece is easier though, so I can see why the designer chose to make it this way. Also, nobody is going to tell you that you’re sweater is wrong because it is a yoke rather than being seamed.

The problem here is that the increases are weird the way they’re written, which skews the colourwork pattern. Many knitters who have made this cardigan used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s method. This preserved the colourwork pattern.

Problem 2: The yarn requirements were way off. I’d only knitted the hood and had not quite finished the body, and only had 2.5 balls of yarn left. I knew there was no way I would be able to knit pockets and two sleeves with that much yarn, so I had to hunt for more, because Knit Picks was sold out. I eventually found someone who was destashing two skeins.

Problem 3: Lots of people complained that the sleeves were too big. I had to decrease them considerably. I also chose to knit them in the round, inside out, because I didn’t want to have to seam them and I also didn’t fancy purling them.

DSC_4837 The sweater, in the end, turned out nicely, and the kid is happy with it (though it was too warm to wear by the time it was finished). I did have a request for another one from my best friend, but I told her I’d never knit this sweater again. I didn’t keep detailed notes, and didn’t want to have to fight my way through it a second time. I’d be happy to knit her something else though!

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The cabled button band was knit as the sweater was knit. The whole thing, aside from the pockets, is one piece. I had expected to have to pick up stitches, but the only picked up stitches were at the underarms.

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I do quite like the pointy hood. Hopefully the kid gets a lot of wear out of this sweater. And there’s already dibs on it if/when they decide they’re not into it anymore… My best friend wants it when the kiddo is done with it!

My Ravelry page is here.

Bonny

I wrote recently about trying to make this top using Tosh Lace, which wasn’t right for the project. I couldn’t get gauge, and didn’t like the resulting fabric on larger needles. That yarn ended up in a stole, which I blogged here.

I absolutely had to make a Bonny top though. It’s versatile, and I already had the pattern, so I didn’t want it to go to waste, being that it wasn’t a free pattern. I really quite like Tin Can Knits designs too.

My husband and I were going out for the day, so we stopped at Urban Yarns in North Vancouver, and he sat on the sofa while I tried to make up my mind on what yarn I would use for my Bonny. It was a hard decision! I knew I wanted a light fingering, as the top calls for laceweight, and I hadn’t had luck getting gauge and didn’t want more laceweight in my stash if it didn’t work out. I finally decided on Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the Oak colourway, which is a lovely bright green which reminds me of moss.

I had no trouble getting gauge with this yarn, and loved the way it knit up. It makes a lovely fabric. The only modification I made to this pattern was to do a folded hem, using a provisional cast on as described in Dramy’s Bonny. I hate rolling stockinette, and this solved the problem perfectly.

I finished the top in two weeks, however it took me another couple of weeks to finally seam the shoulders. I hate seaming, so I kept putting it off. The weather warmed up a lot too, and I didn’t anticipate wearing it any time soon, so seaming it wasn’t a priority.

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Here it is after seaming, but I really wasn’t happy with the shoulders. They stick out! I knew I would never stop being annoyed by how the shoulders look, so I played with them until I decided that gathering them a little would fix the problem.

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This is much better! I just ran some stitches across each shoulder and tightened them up a little bit until they were slightly gathered. This pulled the shoulders in, eliminating the points on the outsides of the shoulders. Of course, now it’s the middle of June, and it’s far too warm to wear my Bonny, but it’s ready for the fall!

My project page is here.

Siren Song

I got a skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Lace from another local Ravelry member, who was destashing. It was a great value, and the colours were totally my cuppa tea. The yarn itself has been discontinued, sadly. It is lovely.

The first thing I tried to make with it was a Wispy cardigan, but the laceweight was just a little too fine for my liking. I wasn’t thrilled with the fabric, so I frogged it half way through. I later tried this cardi with a heavier yarn, and ended up frogging that as well. I think this cardi just isn’t right for me.

The second attempt was a Bonny sleeveless top, but I couldn’t get gauge. I did eventually make a Bonny, with a different Madelinetosh yarn, and I love it, but that’s a post for another day.

I let the yarn sit in my stash a little while longer, until I finally stumbled upon the perfect pattern. Siren Song is lovely, and would be perfect for the green yarn with its flashes of lavender. I had more yarn than the pattern called for, so I modified it a little.

Because I was using laceweight yarn, I used size 4 needles instead of the required size 6 needles. I also knit extra repeats of the lace. The lace has three charts, all of which are easy to memorize. I unfortunately neglected to record how many repeats I did of each chart, but I know I did extra repeats of the medium and small waves. I had very little yarn left when I finished.

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My Ravelry project page is here, if you’re interested.

Pillowcase for the tall kid

My eldest, who will soon be 14, is a big Legend of Zelda fan. A few weeks ago, I found some awesome Majora’s Mask fabric at Dressew, and bought a metre of it on a whim. I figured I’d eventually decide what to make with it.

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Eldest is going for a sleepover tonight, and needs to bring a pillow, so I figured why not make a pillowcase? I whipped it up yesterday, in about an hour. When I make pillowcases, I base them on the measurements and techniques from the One Million Pillowcase project, and use this pattern from All People Quilt. I modify the pattern a little. In this case, I cut a 3″ wide strip of green broadcloth and pressed it lengthwise in half to make an accent strip between the printed fabric and the plain black fabric. When you prepare the opening, just baste this strip to the edge before sewing the loop. Easy as pie! I also had to make it a little smaller than the pattern tells you to, because my green fabric was 1″ too short and I didn’t want seams in it. The joys of sewing from your stash and using up leftovers!

Kid likes the pillowcase, I got to use up some stash fabric, and I’m a happy mum. I’m hoping to find some kind of awesome must-have fabric to make a fun pillowcase for the boy at some point, but nothing has caught my eye.

Alterations to jeans

I haven’t updated in a while. Been meaning to do that, since I’ve got several things to share, but I haven’t felt like writing. I’m here now though, because I’m excited and wanted to share.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I’ve been complaining for a while that my jeans don’t fit properly. I’ve tried different brands, in different styles, supposedly intended for different body types. I already know that I can’t wear skinny jeans, because thanks to the amount of walking I do, I’ve got pretty muscular calves, and there’s no way I’m getting skinny jeans over those suckers. I live on a hill, and of course, everywhere I go is uphill from home, so I’ve got muscular thighs too.

So-called “curvy” jeans are a joke, because they’re supposed to fit women with a larger hip to waist ratio than a standard fit, but guess what? These are curvy fit jeans.

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Look at my tattoos! Oh wait, you’re supposed to be looking at the terrible gap…

Look at that gap! It is pretty significant, and causes no end of discomfort. Why? If I don’t wear a belt, my jeans constantly fall down, and I’m always grabbing my belt loops to hike them back up, only to have to repeat the process thirty seconds later. Yes, I could wear a belt, but they’re terribly uncomfortable after a while, because my jeans still want to fall down (they seem to get hung up on my calves), so the belt ends up digging in at the top of my hips. I’ve tried higher rises, but I really don’t like them. These jeans are a mid-rise. And they look nice, so it seems like a huge shame to get rid of them when I know that every other pair of jeans I try will result in the same fit problem.

For the record, my hip to waist ratio is not huge. It’s only 8″, but the combination of having to fit my muscular legs plus the hip/waist ratio means I have to buy jeans a little big to fit all of that.

I tried this tutorial, because it looked really helpful, and it was AMAZING. I tried it first on a pair of Gap boyfriend jeans that are great for springtime, but have such a huge waist gap that I can take them off without unbuttoning them (they are almost too small for my calves though). I figured that if it didn’t work, I wouldn’t be too heartbroken. Guess what though? Now they’re the best fitting jeans I’ve ever owned.

Until today, when I altered my Silver Suki jeans. They’re even better than my Gap jeans.

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My cat and birds are almost hidden now. The yarn ball is entirely hidden. Properly fitting jeans hide my tattoos! Not sure how I feel about that… LOL!

See that? The gap is gone. Waistband alterations are life changing, I tell you. I used to hate wearing jeans (I love the look, but they’re uncomfortable when they don’t fit properly). Now I love my jeans.

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Peek-a-boo kitty!

They look a little tight above the waistband, but that’s because I’m squishy. They’re very comfortable, and don’t dig in.

The topstitching thread was hard to match, because you can’t buy this shade locally. I’ve looked, and my options are white, two shades of gold, and navy. Fortunately, I was able to find a greyish brown and a pale golden yellow thread that, together, are pretty darned close. You really have to look closely to see that the thread is different, and if you’re that close to my backside, we’re going to have a very interesting conversation. I have two pair of these jeans, and it took me about an hour and a half to do the alteration on the first pair. I took in the waist 4″. Crazy, right? They just look and feel so much better now.

The only issue is that they’re a bit hard to get over my hips now, because the waist is so much smaller, but I did the alteration on jeans that were fresh out of the wash. After wearing, they stretch out a little, so it’ll be easier. Even if they didn’t stretch, it’s not that big of a deal. I just need to wiggle a little.

If you don’t have the skills or tools to do this yourself, definitely ask around, because properly fitting jeans are something beautiful. Heck, if you’re local and I like you enough, I might even do it for you.

A trio of Sewaholic Oakridge blouses

I found these great fabrics on sale at Fabricland in the fall, and knew they’d be perfect for Oakridge blouses. I already have two with the bow, so I decided to make things easier on myself and do the version without the bow.

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This first one is quite possibly my favourite, because the fabric is so unique. It reminds me of a Monet painting, specifically Waterlilies. You got your first peek at this fabric when I posted my machine sewn button tutorial. Excuse the creases in my skirt, I wore this outfit for a job interview this morning. Wish me luck!

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I loved this fabric too, because it is so difficult to find autumn colours. I love orange, and I thought I’d never say that. I still remember the adorable peach dress I had in eighth grade. It suited me really well, except for the colour, which was far too light for my complexion, and resulted in me looking pallid and ill. I generally prefer reddish or rusty oranges, and this fabric has both. I loved that the dots are random and imperfect.

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This is the final blouse. Remember that I said a while back that when I find a pattern that I like, I tend to make several garments all the same?

I didn’t need to make any adjustments to the pattern, since I’ve already sewn it twice before. I did, however, use some cotton lawn for the bias binding at the neckline instead of cutting a bias strip out of my fashion fabric. The reason I chose to do so was that fussing with a skinny bias strip in a slippery fabric felt like torture to me. Because I skipped the bias strip, I have quite a bit of fabric left over, so I plan on making myself some Colette Sorbetto tanks, which I can wear with sweaters or blazers. Thus far, I’ve only made them out of cotton.

I’m pretty pleased with my new blouses, and my work wardrobe is really coming together. Now I just need a job!

Colette Phoebe Dress

Well, I’ve been avoiding posting this one because I was so excited about the pattern and my dress really didn’t work out very well. I’m just going to get this done and over with…

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It looks more or less okay from the front, I suppose. There are definitely issues though.

The neckline is way too high for me. I don’t like a neckline that comes higher than my collarbones, even if it’s a t-shirt. Why? Because I’m rather well-endowed, all that fabric just makes my bust look even bigger. There’s nothing to break it up. Maybe some chunky jewelry would help, but that’s not my style. The neckline needs to be lowered about 2″ in the front, and 1″ at the back, because it’s just a wee bit high for me there too.

The fit in the waist is good. The fit in the bust is good. The fit in the hips is okay. The fit across my tummy is terrible. This is more apparent from the side.

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Look at those drag lines! I have a bit of a tummy pouch, and that’s what is causing them. I blame my kids, but really, I need to exercise more and it would be less of a problem. There’s not a whole lot of room in this dress for my tummy. Because my tummy is bigger than this dress can comfortably accommodate, it is pushing up the waistline, causing weird wrinkles below the bust.

I don’t want to have to wear spanx, which might help somewhat, but I don’t honestly find them all that helpful. They do smooth out lumps and bumps, but they give me a sausage silhouette, which isn’t much better than lumps and bumps.

I’m not sure I’ll try making this dress again. It just needs too many modifications in order to work. I love the idea of sheath dresses, but with my tummy, I’m not sure they’re the most flattering on me. I’ll try this one again someday, after I get my tummy under control, but in the meantime, I have fabric for four more of them that I need to find other uses for.

Not every project can be a success, and this one definitely was not one of them. I’ll keep it on hand, just so that I don’t have to sew it again later if/when my belly is less pouchy, but this definitely is not a wearable dress.

The other fabrics I purchased are fine wale corduroy and lightweight suiting. There’s definitely enough for either pants and skirts, or dresses. I’m inclined to go for dresses, but I need to find the right pattern. I thought about the Sewaholic Cambie as an option, but it isn’t going to be suitable for the corduroy. I made one out of quilting cotton a while back.

I came across this blog post from Sewaholic, and love the finished dress, but Tasia’s body type is very different from my own. I’d end up with the same issue with the neckline being too high. I don’t like the back either, but the front is nice.

This might be a good option, because of the neckline variations. I find it frustrating that the pattern companies don’t list everything that is in the catalog on their websites though. I’d rather go through the patterns at home, then make a trip to the fabric store. Sadly, I don’t have anything in my collection of patterns that would be suitable.

Another Colette Mabel

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Would you believe I made another one? I went to Dressew for notions, and meandered around the fabrics, because you never know what amazing things you’ll find. Lo and behold, I found this gorgeous black and red damask knit, which had to come home with me.

Laying it out was a bit tricky, since I wanted to be sure that everything was lined up perfectly. To do this, instead of laying out on the fold, I traced around half of my pattern pieces with chalk, then flipped the pattern over and traced around the other side with chalk, and cut along the chalk lines. I did the same for the outside waistband pieces. I didn’t have to do the back this way, because it has a seam down the centre, and I didn’t care how perfectly spaced the damask pattern was on the inside.

Hooray for pretty, comfortable clothes! It’s pretty comfortable, too!

Colette Mabel

I’m sick of jeans that don’t fit comfortably. The rise is always too low, and I’m always having to either wear a belt (which is uncomfortable) or pull my pants up every few minutes (also uncomfortable, and not very convenient). In the case of the one pair with a nice, just below the navel rise, the fabric doesn’t have enough memory (2% spandex simply is not enough), so they stretch out of shape after an hour or so, which results in needing to pull my jeans up constantly. No thank you.

I am eventually going to get around to making myself a pair or two of jeans that actually fit, but that’s going to be quite a project, so in the meantime, because pants are STUPID, I have made myself some comfortable skirts that I can wear with tights.

I thought about drafting a pattern, however as my eldest would say, “it would be easy…but, lazy”. I decided to go with the Colette Mabel skirt pattern, with a minor modification… I don’t like my skirts super short, so I added 3″ to the length of the mini skirt. I don’t usually sew with knits, which meant I had very little in my stash, so I had to go to the fabric store. I found two fabrics that I liked, which will go with everything… One was a solid black knit, and the other was a heathered charcoal colour.

DSC_4699After taking my measurements, I determined that I landed exactly in the range for the large size. I made the black skirt first. First lesson with this pattern is that it doesn’t have standard 5/8″ seam allowances, so my usual habit of snipping my notches into the seam allowance meant that I had some fussing to do at the notches, since I snipped too far and ended up with tiny holes everywhere there was a notch. Doing notches this way makes cutting your fabric go much faster, but the time I spent fiddling with the stitching negates any time I saved cutting. Lesson learned: read the instructions before cutting, in case the seam allowances are not standard.

DSC_4698I didn’t feel like making the charcoal right away, so I nabbed this funky, retro heathered print from my stash. I bought it at Dressew a few months ago, from the clearance section. I think it was only $2 per meter, and I couldn’t resist it. I figured if I hated it as a skirt, I could donate it to charity without feeling like it was money wasted. In the end, I rather like it, so long as I balance it with dark tights and a dark top.

DSC_4700After actually wearing the two skirts, I decided that the large was just a touch too big, so I trimmed the pattern down to the medium size and cut the charcoal fabric. The fit is much better, and after making two skirts already, I didn’t need to refer back to the instructions, and I had all of the bugs worked out.

DSC_4701Because my black and charcoal fabrics were 60″ wide, there was quite a bit left over. Not enough for another skirt, but there was plenty to make a colour block skirt! I redrafted the back piece, and cut the centre pieces as well as the waistband out of the charcoal, and the side pieces in black. Talk about making the most of your yardage!

The last two skirts were done assembly-line style, because I could use the same thread for both. It only took me about an hour and a half to make the two, plus cutting time.

As a bonus, I scored on sweater tights at The Bay this week, because they’re clearing them out for the season, so I have plenty of options for comfy tights to wear with my comfy skirts! It was fairly inexpensive too. I spent only about $15 CAD on fabric for four skirts. The pattern is a bit pricey considering that the Canadian dollar is so low, but because I can as many skirts as I want, I think in the end it is money well spent.

Cassiope Shawl

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Back in October, when I went to Knit City, I had the pleasure to meet Caitlyn Ffrench again. We met a couple of years ago at a Fluevog knit night. She’s an independent yarn dyer, using natural dyes, as well as a pattern designer. I’d never seen her yarns in person, so I grabbed a skein of her logwood dyed fingering, without any ideas other than knitting a shawl.

I originally wanted to knit one of her designs, but couldn’t find one that a) called to me at the moment, and b) I had enough yarn to knit. After a bit of Ravelry searching, I came across Cassiope. I knew it would be an easy project, and I had just the right amount of yarn.

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In the end, I had far more yarn than I needed, so I decided to add one repeat of the mesh lace after the chevron lace, and do a couple of extra garter stitch rows before binding off. And guess what? I still have a bit of yarn left over! I figure I’ve got enough to make some lace bracelets.

The yarn was lovely to work with and I’m happy with the finished shawl. The yarn is kettle dyed, so there are slight variations in intensity of colour, which I love. I look forward to wearing it!

My Ravelry page is here.