Archive for the ‘Briar Rose Knit-along’ Category

Second Time’s The Charm

June 3, 2011

I did it! My very first handknit sweater since more than 20 years is finished, I am so proud of myself.

Sorry for the bad picture, I am not a very talented photgrapher.

Since the bodice of my first version was too short, I unravelled the ribbing and knit another 2.5 inches in stockinette top down, then redid the ribbing. To get an elastic edge, I used very large needles for casting off. My ribbing now is moderately stretchy, but nothing compared to the elasticity of a cast-on edge. It is sufficient to pull the sweater on comfortably though, and that’s all that counts.

Additionally, I re-sewed the side seams with a little seam allowance, for a snugger fit. I know that you don’t usually make seam allowances in fully fashioned knitwear, but the sweater was just too wide, so I improvised.

I learned a lot about knitting and fitting in this wonderful knit-along and the knitting virus has hit me big time. Thanks again, Tasha, for coaching us so masterfully throught this knitting experience.

And could there be a more perfect place to show off my vintage sweater than Palm Springs, CA? From the 1940ies onwards Palm Springs has been a favorite hideaway for movie celebrities – a stylish location for my stylish new sweater. Ok, it’s a little bit on the warm side for the desert, but temperatures today are only in the middle seventies, I’ll be ok.

The reason why I am in Palm Springs is a sewing class btw: later this week I’ll be learning how to sew a couture Chanel style jacket from the wonderful Claire Shaeffer – can’t wait to start.


Finished – not quite

May 25, 2011

Here I was so proud of myself when I made the last stitches on my Briar Rose sweater. My first handknit sweater since a long time. Of course I had to wear it right away and it turned out that it is too short. As long as I don’t move it’s ok and it looks very nice.

But as soon as I move, it slides upwards and my not so displayable belly is on display.

No, that won’t do. I know myself well enough to know that I am never going to wear the sweater like that and it would be shame to have put in that much work and then hide it in the closed, so I decided to put in a little more effort to make it wearable.

I ripped the side seams up to the sleeves and unravelled the ribbing. Have you ever cut into a handknit piece with a pair of scissors? Traumatic!

My Briar Rose is back on needles and gets 2.5 more inches of stockinette stitch before re-knitting the ribbing.

Sigh. But on the positive side this is all part of the learning curve for the next sweater.

Knitting Shoulder Pads

May 22, 2011

Well, I have a little stash of off-the-shelf shoulder pads for sewing, but I am being anally retentive about authenticity here and really knit the pads for the Briar Rose. And this is how:

Step 1

I knit a square (about 5″ x 5″) in garter stitch

Step 2

I cut three triangles of decreasing size from padding material

Step 3

I made a “sandwich”

Step 4

I folded over the square diagonally. Step 5 (no pic): I closed the seams with a row of double crochets (the British ones 😉 ).

Briar Rose – almost there

May 22, 2011

Phew, I’m lagging shamefully behind in blogging – knitting and sewing like crazy and no time to write about it.

Yes I have been knitting obsessively those last days. All the big parts of the Briar Rose are finished, only the collar is missing. Since all parts are already blocked, I couldn’t resist tempatation to sew them together and try on my sweater-to-be.

This is, how my little darling looks at the moment:

Whew, it looks very “bombshell-y” on the picture, but I guess it’s just the perspective, I doesn’t look that extreme in reality.

Result: the fit is very good even though, as I already assumed, it is a little bit on the short side. Not so short that it would be worth the effort to remove the welt an knit another inch or two, though. But the next one is definitely going to be 2 inches longer. The shoulders are a tiny little bit too wide, but I have not sewn in the shoulder pads yet, this is surely going to make a difference.

Surprisingly the sweater is not as tight as I had assumed it would be. I knitted with zero ease exactly to my body measurements. But the knit fabric is very stretchy and the sweater fits just perfect. Not too loose and not  too snug. But now I understand why people would knit with negative ease, if you want a really snug sweater, you have to make it smaller. I am not a big fan of wearing too tight clothers, so for me zero ease is fine.

The pocket: no it will not stay on like this. It’s too large, I sewed it on lopsidedly and I have decided to make a new one. On the Flickr group, Tasha recommended to make it with needles one size smaller and this is what I’ll do. On top of that I learned that Americans and Brits/Australians have different name for crochet stitches. A British double crochet is an American single crochet. Duh. I am lucky I found this out with such a small piece as the pocket, no? Would have been a real bother if I tried to crochet a sweater 🙂  Anyhow, the Briar Rose pattern is from Australia, so the edge of the pocket is supposed to be made from British double crochets/American single crochets.

I can’t wait to wear my Briar Rose. It is soooo soft and cozy, the wool turned out great after rinsing and blocking.

Knitting, knitting, knitting

May 12, 2011

Are you getting bored already with my posts about knitting? Don’t worry there will be something about sewing sometime soon, but since I am obsessed with my Briar Rose project at the moment, I am going on (and on) about knitting.

Both sleeve of the Briar Rose are finished up to the beginning of the sleeve caps and now I need to do the mathematic trick – calculate the sleeve caps. I didn’t work out Tashas post on that until the very end but from what I saw I’ll need the theorem of Pythagoras.

O dear, Couturette und mathematics – this is NOT a match made in heaven.

Yesterday evening I knit the little chevron pocket, isn’t it cute?

I didn’t do any calculations here, I compared my gauge to that of the instructions and roughly assumed I’d be ok with casting on 4 stitches more and so I was. It’s going to get a row of double crochets around the sides and the size will be just perfect.

Then I was browsing through my knitting patterns for inspiration for the blue red and white yarn that I selected for my next knitting project and I came up with this.

Blue-red-white garments with “V”-patterns were quite the fashion in the 40ies in the UK and US – “V” for victory combined with the national colors to show off your patriotism. But never mind the symbolism (I’m German anyway, so what would that signify …), I just love blue, red and white as a color combination and I like the V-design. If the Briar Rose sweater will be fitting well, I can use the same measure and simple have to adapt to the different gauge.

Still knitting

May 11, 2011

Or rather: ONLY knitting, because I haven’t sewn a stitch on the weekend. One of my cats has been diagnosed with epilepsy which is a reason to worry in itself. But on top of that he disappeared upon return from the vet last Tuesday and hasn’t returned since. Yes, he’s done that before, yes, he always returned and yes he’ll probably not die alone and abandoned but still I am sick with worry and don’t have the nerve to do any sewing. So I spent my weekend sitting around, talking with DH, watching TV and drinking lots of coffee. Those activities left my hands free for knitting and so I did. The front and back pieces of my Briar Rose are finished and the sleeves have been cast on.

I rinsed the back piece carefully with a little wool detergent and blotted it between towels. I drew a pattern for the back on tranparent foil which I pinned to my blocking board (wrong side up to protect my knitting from the Sharpie traces). I then pinned the moist back piece to the blocking board along the contours of the pattern piece and left it to dry. Since I am away at work until Thursday evening it will have ample time to get in shape before I remove the pins.

I already observed when washing the stitch gauge that the fabric gets softer after washing which gives me hope that the finished sweater will not be scratchy when worn.

It looks too short, somehow. I measured several times and it IS the length I wanted it to be but I am still sceptical. I often have this sort of panic attack when sewing as well: I am convinced that the garment will be too small until I make the buttonholes and attach the buttons. In the end it is always fitting, but I still fret a lot.

I also fret about how I am going to look in a this really VERY fitted sweater, since it will probably show off all my little (or not so little) problem zones nicely. Well, we’ll see, but I’d best be getting out my best foundation garments for this one.

I am really proud that I have come this far already, when I started the sweater I was thinking in terms of months but now it looks like I’ll finish it in weeks instead.

Royal Knitting

May 2, 2011

Did you see the Royal Wedding? Middletons Katie got her Prince Willie Charming and us humble commons got to watch it on TV. We had a six-hour live broadcast here in Germany on Friday morning and since Friday is my day off, I decided to do the couch potatoe thing and watch the whole palooza. The last Royal Wedding I acutally watched on TV was that of Willies Mom in the 80ies so it was about time for a new dose of yellow press romance. My own Personal Prince Charming refused to watch and only called William a “poor bloke” for having to go through all the fuss .

Well now, the truth is, I was only looking for an excuse to be knitting instead of sewing and I got done a lot in six hours. Here’s the progress on my Briar Rose.

But let’s start at the beginning:

The colour of the yarn is what me and my sewing buddies always jokingly call “liverwurst”. Well, if peach can be a colour, why can’t liverwurst?. On the pictures without flash it looks too violet and on those with flash it looks too grey. In reality it is a beautiful greyish pink. I have 11 skeins of this yarn and it should be more than enough since the sweater is not going to be very long.

Because I really want all the hard work to end in a fitting sweater I made a gauge swatch for the first time in my live AND washed it AND blocked it. That was a chance to try my brand new “blocking board” I got from a friend (Thank you, Martina). In reality it is a kid’s play mat which consists of 8 tiles of soft spongy whatever and can be assembled to larger pieces. It’s perfect for blocking, needles go in easily and it doesn’t soak up any water so the knit fabric will dry completely.

You can see that I tried a few simple knit/purl patterns as well but in the end I decided to simply make the Briar Rose in stockinette stitch as suggested in the pattern. Not too many difficulties for the first project.

Then I measured, calculated, measured again, calculated again and calculated a third time to be on the safe side:

144 stitches per piece – that sounded a lot to me. But the yarn is thin and I am working with 3mm-needles, it’s the way it is.

3,5″ Ribbing (knit 1/ purl 1) and I worked in the back part of the knit stitches because this gives a more substantial ribbing and I like it better than the regular version. I started the increases directly after the ribbing to get from waist to bust measurement and I keep track of my increases with a tally sheet.

Status on Sunday evening: Both bodice parts are finished up to the armhole increases. Now I have to get my brain in gear again to calculate how to decrease for the armholes.

I am really surprised how far I got over the weekend and that I am still extremely motivated. In my enthusiasm I even digged through my little yarn stash and found something for the next project:

Isn’t it wonderful for a nautical summer sweater? And those are also the colours of the Union Jack which brings us back to Royal Knitting 😉 .

Speaking of Royals: I absolutely loved Kates dress. Simple but with intersting details like the lace bodice and the embroidery on the skirt, really gorgeous.

And what did I wear to the wedding? Well, even though I am technically a princess since I have my own Personal Prince Charming I still didn´t make it on the guest list so I decided on the “undone look” for the event. Meaning pajamas and freshly washed, wet hair for the first 3 hours and curlers for the second 3. Nobody complained 😉 .