Friday, December 02, 2016

One more go

“I want to thank you again for your trust in my skills. This cardigan might work or then not, but you will be the first to know. It is at time out now. I just cannot face all the mistakes I have been making so far. But… on the bright side, I have learned a ton, from now on, I know, how I should have done it and hopefully my next projects will benefit from this. “

This is what I wrote about the Sheepy few days ago, and then I started to clean my desk. (I postponed writing the final words on it, because I wanted to show you something else and tried hard to think of another piece to work on.) I had decided to clean everything away, in the hopes of sweeping away the memory of the failure too. While doing it, I lingered in my thoughts around the cardigan and wondered what went so badly wrong that I could not salvage it somehow… and what did I learn from it. If I were to do it again, how would I proceed, what would be a better route?
At first, I envisioned this big open cardigan… but the fabric was too heavy for that. Then I decided to cut it into pieces and make this fitted jacket… I did not think this through beforehand and sort of ruined the procedure; without a good plan, it was difficult to go on; I should have drawn a pattern, then I should have calculated the gauge of the piece and start from there. Instead I made one mistake upon another, and this error chain was leading in total disaster… I could not keep on building on this error chain, every next step was going one step further to the disaster and I had to snap the chain.
These pictures are along the way… shaped pieces seamed into a cardigan… hem added… button/neck band added… and then again, everything undone and back to the pile of pieces, this time even unhappier pile than last time.

The ratty pile of pieces was there neatly folded away waiting to be put away. Then I just could not do it. Was there really no way to go, and if this is how I feel, why am I bothered to keep the pieces anyway. It does not make sense, not at all.

Okey…just one more go… One small, well thought step at a time.

I started with the fronts. At first I calculated the gauge of the fabric; around 30 stitches and 35 rows. Took out few of my knitting books to see if I could find a cardigan in those books that would somehow work with this gauge. Couple of years ago, I knitted Ursula by Kate Davies and the gauge of the fabric was close enough to the gauge of my Ursula. With that in mind I crocheted around the fabric piece the shape to map out the outlines of the front piece. Did the same for the other front and then I blocked those pieces. Did the same for the back. This took a long time, since I was trying to match the patterns in the sides and along the sleeve openings. The fabric was almost impossible to rip, the yarn has done its magic and the fibers are grabbing to each other, even the bottom of the sweater was impossible to unravel.
I am not sure if my shoulders are correct or if they are still too wide. I compared them to my Ursula, and they are wider than those, but then I compared them to my store-bought sweaters and they are closer to them. I am really scared to cut away any more fabric.

My back piece is drying now. Once that is done, I will seam the pieces to see if the fit is about right and then will proceed from there. I will need to stop and think about the shoulders then again. The real challenge will be with the sleeves. I will need to build fitted sleeve heads and this will be very difficult, if I try to follow the stitches and rows… This fabric is very difficult to see close as the colors sort of blend together when looked at close distance. My option is to knit new sleeves, but then the challenge would be to try to find a good yarn and a good color. Then again, it would be an opportunity to spice up the colors, which do look little muddy, there is no way around that fact… I could maybe knit ribbed sleeves… lace?

There was a point where I was very frustrated and close to a breaking point with this, but now, I am beginning to like this cardigan-to-be-hopefully. Maybe we will find a mutual understanding after all.
It took me a week to come up with this post, and the reason was this feeling of failure… I am still at the point I started this post with… this might or might not work but I have hopes.
In the meantime, here are pictures of the mittens I knitted earlier this fall and of which you saw few process pictures.

Until next time (I wish I have something good then…),
Wool with you,

Friday, November 25, 2016

Halloween socks and a new upcycling project

Thank you for all your feedback on the Charm cardigan. Before going on just one small thing…
I can totally understand about the button issue. They are very, very loud, and I was little bit worried of them too, but when I found them, I was totally smitten and only started to have second thoughts later. I decided to follow my first instinct and sewed them on. Good thing is that I can always change them if they start to be too boisterous. Time will tell.

Thank you for following the journey; and it is time to be on the road again.

I am not sure what makes me to go through the wardrobe to find something to work on. Maybe I feel hesitant to start a big knitting project, or maybe I just need to make use of what I already have. This not having a big project on the needles, does not make sense, as the last cardigan with the skirt did take a lot of knitting. I love finishing, I did not use to, but since I have learned many techniques on the subject, I enjoy it thoroughly. Upcycling gives me plenty of opportunities to finish. Mostly though I enjoy the problem solving. Every single step needs some thinking and I seem to be in a place where I need to shake my brain. Problem solving does not always come easily, and with the previous projects there have been moments, when I have felt that I don’t know how to proceed, and think about tossing away the whole thing. Especially the thought of throwing away the whole thing, comes to mind, if I feel that I am in a hurry. I need to take time and go on slowly, pondering the procedure from all aspects I can think of. I make lots of mistakes and only afterwards realize what I should have done, but try to take them as learning opportunities.
Other kind of handwork that brings me joy, is sock knitting. Plain, vanilla socks, something that I don’t need to think of at all. I take a book, in Finnish (as I listen to so many English books), open it on my lap (or iPad), pick up simple socks and bury myself in a stream of words and plots. I knitted these while reading Revelation (Ilmestys in Finnish) by C.J. Sansom. There were over 600 pages, which resulted in these socks with long cuffs.

While I steamed through the Beige Coat and the Charm, winter came. Yesterday I noticed that it was getting dark already before four in the afternoon. The chill has crept in on some days and has forced me to get the fires going. Christmas is only a few weeks away. This being the season of baking, cooking, gift wrapping, cleaning, I am afraid that my next upcycling project is not going to be as speedy as the two previous ones, but you never know… I might get so wrapped with it that I need to squeeze that into my days.

Now you are probably wondering what it will be… I took a deep dive into my sweaters and came to the surface with this.
This is a store-bought sweater. The design is by Estonian designer Riina Tomberg and I think I have bought it from Estonia. You could call it muddy color, but let’s call it sheep-y. It is long, maybe 3” above my knee height, done in pieces, there are seams under arms and sides. No shaping, big, wide sleeves, that are little bit too long for me. The colorwork in the back of the sweater is very lovely, I like it more than the front. Immediately when I saw it I knew it needed to become a cardigan. I never use it because that is a lot of wool to pull over your head. I would love to wear this daily bases, when I need to go to the garage or take garbage outside… Or just something to pull on when being cold.

This was my very first thought but then… could I make this into a real coat, hand stitch a lining to it, the same way I stitched the lining under the button bands when remaking Charm. Make pockets and add maybe even a hood. I pondered this for a bit but disregarded the idea, because outside you need something that protects you from the wind, and I would not want to line this so heavily. I would stick to my first plan and make this into a cardigan.

My very first step was to wash it well, to get rid of all the wrinkles that have grown during the long shelf life and then get rid of all the pilling. There was hardly any, but some that I took care of. Only then the fun began.
I steeked the front; marked the center (it was easy to see), crocheted rows on both sides of the center front to stabilize the steek, and then I cut. At first I was not sure of the neck band, as it was so lovely with the two colors, but it had to come out. It was tedious process and difficult to take out, I had to be careful to get it right.
After cutting, I picked up stitches on both sides of the fronts and around the neck and knitted the button/neck bands. It worked out like a charm. Except I was not sure of the color of the bands…
I took the sleeves out and oh my! the sleeve openings were huge. How to fix them? Cut away the underarm shaping? It would have made the cardigan too small.
I knitted this little patch for the underarm… although I knew from the very beginning that it would not work, I had to try it to see how easy it is to make patches… And then...

I know, I am little bit horrified myself too. I disregarded all these ideas and went back to the beginning. This sweater was not going to be this lovely, draping garment no matter what. It is heavy, almost bulky with all the colorwork, and thus I need to work out a plan B. Something entirely different. This is the point where I thought of throwing away the whole thing, how very frustrating. But I did not throw it away.

I took out the button bands (I did!), seam ripped it to pieces, that is the back and the fronts and took some drastic measures with scissors… which are making me little bit worried and nervous, I am not sure if this will work, not sure at all. It is but a pile of pieces at the moment and I have only vague ideas in my head. I know, at some point, I am going to make a BIG MISTAKE, something that I cannot fix… Hopefully, not just yet. It does feel ... hmmm... bad, doesn't it? I took this lovely wool sweater and cut it into pieces. Sometimes, I can be so --- plain stupid? Fool?

Enjoy your weekend,
And I am saying Wool with you, although Fool with you might be more fitting today,