Monday, December 26, 2016

Short Raglan

Thank you so much for your comments on the Sheepy, I took all of them to my heart. 
Now... I will proceed with humble steps for the next upcycling adventure, with the hope of not goofing around quite as much as with the Sheepy cardigan. My wardrobe was giving and I found another sweater in need of attention. (Truthfully, maybe little sadly, it was one of the many.)

Can you see what needs attention and updating?

First; too short! Way too short!!! Needs a new and long skirt, that would push the lovely knots around the hem to the foreground, but … what would be the right yarn and the right color? I am counting on my stash and try to avoid buying new yarn for these upcycling projects. (Although for a while I was tempted to start something totally new, new yarn and new pattern, possibly trying to come up with a new design. However, since I have had so much “fun” lately with remaking old clothes, I am making at least this one.)
(I am not good in keeping New Year’s resolutions, but I am having nonetheless another goal for the next year. I am giving myself a yarn budget, a small one for the coming year. I am not sure of the sum yet, but I want to limit my purchase(s) to something that I really need and love. I don’t want to stop getting new yarn completely, because if I made that promise, I would most likely break it the next day. This way I just want to use the yarn I already have and get new carefully and thoughtfully.)
Second; the seams! Can you spot the raglan seam? The sweater was knitted in pieces and seamed. The raglan seams are not symmetrical, so I assume I made a mistake there. I will try to fix that. And again, the seams do not have any give, they are too tight.
Third; the collar. I don’t like it, I am trying to come up with a good solution for that and since I am going to take the sweater into pieces, I will need to rip it out anyway.
Fourth; the sleeves. I think they need something, I just don’t know what.
The pattern is from a book “The ultimate knitter’s guide” by Kate Buller, published in 2000; Rowan owns the pattern copyrights. It is a collection of patterns by various designers. Short Raglan (my sweater here) was designed by Amanda Griffiths. I think that this pattern Short Raglan was and is still beautiful, I would not have knitted it, if I did not think that. The book has patterns also from Kaffe Fassett, Louisa Harding, Kim Hargreaves, Brandon Mably to name just a few. It was one of the very first knitting books I bought and I remember how much I loved it. It has inventive techniques (then) and I remember reading it through. If I were to pick out ten books that changed my knitting life, this book would most likely make the list.
The book has a clever construction. The pages are split; and this allows you to knit from the pattern and at the same time you can turn the bottom pages to find the special techniques needed for the pattern without having to go back and forth thus losing the pattern page. I don’t think that I have seen this construction anywhere else.
I know the pieces are not fashionable anymore but I can still see some great value in them. There is something I can take use of. By adjusting the patterns to suit today’s taste, I could still knit few of the designs.
I really like this Clara by Erika Knight. The color of course is perfect for this season, but then look at the collar. It is knitted with Chenille and then decorated with embroidery, so very lovely!

Having this Short Raglan pattern here at my fingertips will somehow make the redoing easier, it is as if the pattern is somehow easy to analyze. The yarn I used was Lett-Lopi by Istex. I remember having a knitting notebook at the time I was making this pattern and I might just take time to try to find it. Would be interesting and somehow sweet to read the notes from almost 20 years ago, as I remember that I started to keep a notebook back then to get better in various knitting techniques. Let’s see if I can find it…
I did find the book, and it has some notes about the knitting procedure. I started the sweater September 1st, 2001 and completed it 17th of November. All in all, it was not a quick knit. I don’t remember if I had any problems with it, except for the fact that when it was ready, I was little bit surprised how wide and short it came out and how tight the sleeves were around the wrists, those being the main reasons why I never really used the sweater. It looked odd when I was wearing it, yet beautiful on the model. If I would have taken the time to find something to wear with it, that is, if the styling had been right, most likely the sweater would have been used more. Today, after all these years of building a wardrobe, after all kinds of silly purchases, I know what I will wear and it makes life so much easier... although, occasionally,  I still might get something unwearable.

I have started the work on it and my first step was to take the sweater into pieces after ripping out the collar. The collar came out without any problems and I saved the yarn, washed it to even out all the wrinkles and plan to use the bits to seam the sweater back together.
Here is a sketch of my plan, a sweater-dress. Of course, it might change along the making, but this is my starting point.
Before seaming the pieces back together with hopefully seams with more stretch, I will think about the sleeves first. I want to get rid of the pattern around the wrists and lengthen the sleeves somehow. These are the yarns I am going to use. I made a swatch, as I have not knitted with this yarn before and although it felt quite hard on the needles, it softened after blocking. The fiber content is good; linen and wool. Unfortunately, not available any more.

Christmas holidays so far have been lovely, there has been enough of good food, not too much, movie watching and for the balance, long walks with the dogs. New year is just around the corner. If we don’t see on this side again, I wish you all the best for the coming year. Thank you to each one of you for this past year. Thank you for coming to read, thank you for your comments and e-mails. xx

And as always,
Wool with you in 2017,

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Done! Finished! Completed!

I was knitting away the sleeves, when it dawned to me that, this cardigan is after all coming together and getting close to a finishing line. Somehow, I was lulled into believing that I was to knit this cardigan into unforeseen future and every single modification would be ripped and the cardigan would be restarted repeatedly. I was not protesting the thought, I was accepting and getting used to the idea. I knitted one of the sleeves three times, every time close to the wrist. The first time, I had fingering weight yarn and 2,5mm needles but picked up way too many stitches and the sleeve head came out too big. The second time, the very same yarn, and far less stitches, and the sleeve head was just perfect. It looked beautiful and slim and somehow complemented the cardigan. However, I did not have enough yarn to complete the other sleeve the same. The third time I took heavier yarn and bigger needles (3mm), but kept the number of stitches the same, again having wider sleeves. But… The second sleeve, as perfect as it was, was way too small for comfortable wearing. Because, this wool, which is quite scratchy, needs to be an outer garment and those slim, sophisticated sleeves, would have been too tight to wear even over a t-shirt. These bigger sleeves are well suited for jacket-kind-of-wearing. (Add to the above-mentioned reasoning, also the fact that I was all of a sudden finally done and was not ready to start over again, since the sleeves were the very last thing to do.)
I knitted the sleeves from the top down, decreasing evenly all the way down to the wrists and then changed the yarn to a fingering weight again, made two purl rows for folding line, knitted few rows to fold some of the fabric to the inside and tacked the folds with needle and thread to the inside. I was tempted to add some deco to the sleeves, but managed to restrict myself, and kept them simple. In the long run, I think I am happier with simple sleeves than with embellished ones.
After I had done the collar, I attached the zipper (by hand), did a few finishing touches with crochet just to add interest, stability and some detailing to the area. I really like the zipper, it is out of metal and the color match is good.
I picked up stitches along the neck line and knitted this “cover” to hide away all the cutting lines, as this part is so often visible, I wanted to have a clean look.
I did not do anything to the sleeve, side or shoulder seams. I think they will be fine, as I had so hard time ripping this cardigan, I am hoping that those stitches will stay the way they are supposed to. Again, few crochet stitches (crab stitches) around the collar.
I thought a lot about the hem but then in the end just folded over the excess part. Before closing the hem, I put weight chain inside the hem. This cardigan is short and there is a big collar of which most lies on the back side, so I wanted this cardigan to have some added weight at the hem line. This weight chain works wonders, I really like it. If there should be trouble (too much stretch) with it, I can always take it out, but I don’t think so, as this fabric is stranded all the way and thus is very stable.
The hem was again so messy that I covered it with this fabric that is cut diagonally. I hand sewed it on and then quilted it lightly, just catching the floats on the inside, not going through to the front side.
The last touch was the red button, and call it done!
This is probably going to be one of my most wearable cardigans I have ever made. It has this easiness quality in it. Of course, I could have done few things way much better, but all in all, after I cast off the memory of the hardship with this one, I am going to wear this for years to come. To be totally honest, I am really surprised that this became a wearable thing after all.
I was so sorry at some point for ruining a perfect, warm sweater.
I thought that I should have given it away instead of taking the scissors… and then making all this public here on the blog… So, you can guess how relieved I am now. If I had not made this public, I am sure I would not have been working with this quite this hard. Thank you for your encouragement and following this journey. The finished cardigan is all your doing!
The original sweater was by Estonian designer Riina Tomberg. 

The yarns I used for the project:
-      -  sleeves were knitted with Estonian wool, received as a gift many years ago - lovely, rural, natural wool
-      - the collar and some bits with Pirtin Kehräämö 2ply Finnwool
-      - the blues with De Rerum Nature Ulysse - very soft, full of air, beautiful yarn for colorwork
-      - the button bands and the collar band with Hjerte Fine Highland wool - this too very soft and lovely yarn

The needles I used were by Chiagoo and Addi, and I must confess that I have made a mental note of not using any other needles from my needle collection. Both of those needles have perfect joins in circs and the tips are pointy in the right kind of way, I think. I have various needles, but if I have Addis or Chiagoos in the correct size, those will be my go to tools.

We are only a few days away from the Christmas celebration! I wish you all the best of this season. Take good care of youself and your loved ones. 

I spotted this fellow last week all set up for the world tour. 

Next time, hopefully next week, I will have something else to work on. I have not had time to carefully think about it yet, and I put off the search on purpose, as I did not dare to take away any thought-process-time from this cardigan. Now – my mind is free to roam around.

Wool with you,