Sunday, November 13, 2016

New life of Charm

Hello from Sunday evening! Ruusu wants to thank you for the nice comments on her socks; she sends you all xx's and I am eager to show and tell you all about my current upcycling project.

I started this blog in October 2005. One of the first cardigans I blogged about was Charm by Kim Hargreaves. I completed it with a fake fur (do you remember those fuzzy yarns?) collar in November 2005. It stayed on the closet shelf untouched for several years. I took it into rotation couple of years ago (without the collar!) and after some wear, I was less and less pleased with it. The yarn, Felted Tweed by Rowan (Treacle colorway) has held up beautifully, but the button bands have grown out of proportion.
Charm was knitted in pieces with garter stitch. Garter stitch is very stretchy when knitted with relaxed gauge, it drapes around the body comfortably, but my too tightly done seams had hindered the movement. The seams had not been able to keep in pace with the cardigan; some of them were partly broken. This of course is not the fault of the cardigan, but the person who is sitting here between the chair and the computer is to blame solely for that. My seaming method was unsuitable and I am not sure if I executed the button bands as written in the pattern… I must have made a mistake there and did not realize it then. The original Charm had both beauty and sophistication, it combined the roughness of garter stitch with the glamour of a fur collar in a lovely manner, but my version had lost all its appeal in action and it was showing signs of wear and tear.

How to salvage this? Could I do something to bring it back to life again? If not, it was not for keeps any more.
I stretched the front band a “little” bit to see how far it would go and indeed, it would go far, if I let it. This treatment obviously is not a way to handle you knits, but since I was going to repair this, at this point I was not going to be cautious, but wanted to know the whole truth. I could rip out the poor thing and knit it again… but not an option. There were two problems that needed solving; the button bands and the seaming. I had to focus on those first and then think about other embellishments, if needed.

I took out all the seams except for the very top part where the live stitches were gathered onto a same needle and the collar was knitted up. At this point the cardigan was in pieces, but that collar was holding it together. I decided to seam the raglan seams first, and I needed to seam them in a way that would allow movement.
I picked up stitches with knitting needle along the sides of the raglan pieces. Let me explain, at first I picked up stitches onto a knitting needle along the sleeve raglan edge, then along the front- or the back-raglan edge. I lined those stitches on the needles and used Kitchener stitch to close the seam. The seam is visible as you can see, but I could add color with this treatment and that is what I did. I used various colors for the seams to see which one I liked best. The seams are more flexible now than before. At this point I just closed the raglan seams. I was not sure what I wanted to do with the side seams or with the sleeves yet. Now that I knew how to deal with the seams, my biggest concern were the button bands.
They are build-in, so I could not take them out. To know just how much of the front band, I needed to deal with, I decided to get rid of the floppy collar.
I had to use scissors and cut off the cast-off edge, as I could not find the end of the yarn. I ripped out as much of the collar that I thought was enough and then picked up the stitches onto the needles.
There lay a problem. There was no shaping in the fronts, and I did not want to use scissors to remedy this, as I did not want to have to cover the cut seam on the inside… So, I did a very tedious procedure, I short rowed backwards; that is, I ripped partial rows starting from the front edge. It resulted in many yarn ends but I was quite happy with the outcome. I had shaping for the neck and no bulky seams! After I was happy with the neck shaping, I crocheted one row of chain stitches with worsted weight wool along the neck edge for stability.
But then the button bands. At first I steamed and tried to get rid of the flaring and tried to shrink the bands, and it did work some, but I knew this treatment was not going to last. I attempted many different methods and none of them worked, I tried to add stay-stitching to the insides of the bands… I thought about sewing cloth strips… I still might have to do that but even with that treatment, the placement of stitches and garter stitch rows would look odd. It is not visible in the pictures, but there are spots on the bands where you can see that the band is gathered a little bit; the rows are not even, even though I tried to ease the gathers along the whole length of the bands.  I needed to trick the eye to look at something else. The eye always seeks for something interesting, and here the center of interest would be the buttons that are sitting on misshapen bands… Not good.
I am not a ruffle girl(!!), but decided to take that route anyway. At first, I crocheted firm base for my stitches, as crochet is more stable usually than knitting. Then I picked stitches along the edges (along the neck line and the right front side edge, the left one will not show) and knitted with 2,25mm needles for hours… I cast-off with crochet to be able to add one chain stitch between each cast-off stitch to have room for special treatment if needed… like maybe for a row of crab stitches with another blue.  I knitted the ruffle with this darkish blue.
Few words about my yarn choice. It is Alpaca again, in the same gauge range than for the beige coat ribbings, but this one is by Drops. (Look at the color chart!)

I sort of fell in love with that yarn and fiber again. While I was thinking what to upcycle next, I needed to make a pair of lining mittens to wear inside my leather mitts. I picked up this petrol (number 7240) from my Alpaca collection and quickly knitted this pair.
Now the leather ones are warmer and stay put; they were little bit loose, but since the knitting with Alpaca felt so good, I could not let go with this fiber yet and its saga continued in this cardigan. The main cardigan has a rough feel with this tweedy yarn and Alpaca’s silkiness and smoothness balances that look, I think.

And this is where I will leave you for now and I will start gathering my thoughts for the next steps. 

Until next time,
Wool with you,


  1. sandra20:28

    Gorgeous, as always!

  2. Anonymous23:39

    Another beautiful repurposed garment! Bravo! Kelley Secrest

  3. Beautiful and so creative. I'm enjoying these journeys you are writing about.

  4. Thank you so much for your recent posts. It is so inspiring to see how you have redone these items. It is also a relief not to read about last week's election. I am as dismayed as most of the knitterverse seems to be, but I am worn out with the sorrow. Thank you again.