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.

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Fashion Friday No. 20

May 20, 2011

Vobach: Aus alten Sachen Neues machen

Click on the images for a larger view.

The German counterpart to “Make Do And Mend”. Exact date unknown, I guestimate it’s around 43-45.

Fashion Friday No. 19

May 13, 2011

Beyer Aufgetrennt und neu gestrickt

Yeah, we’re back to knitting. Click on the images for a larger view.

I don’t know the exact date but I guestimate it’s early 40ies.

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.

Intercultural (or transcontinental) perception

May 10, 2011

Is there a difference in the tastes of Americans and Europeans?

I often read in American blogs that the patterns of Burda Style are so much more stylish and have “continental chic” whereas German bloggers tend to find them dowdy, boring and endlessly repeating.

On the other side, the Americans are often criticizing the Big 3 patterns as boring, not stylish enough and repeating while in German blogs and forums people are craving the Vogue patterns for their elegance.

Why is that so? I think, that the reason is not really the patterns per se but a different point of view or a different taste in style. On the other hand, one should assume that a German pattern magazine would meet the European tastes better than an American pattern company, so it may also be the thrill of the exotic or the international flavor.

To be honest, I can comprehend neither opinion. Neither the Burda patterns nor those of other companies are more stylish as a whole. Burda Style has it’s moments but also has a lot of the same old stuff which we have seen gazillion times over the years and so do the BMV patterns.  The more sewing experience I gather, the less patterns I reall “need” or even crave. I tend more and more to using my TNT basic patterns and add fancy details and if you look closely at all the patterns out there you will see that 80 percent of them do the same thing.

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 😉 .

Fashion Friday No. 18

May 1, 2011

Frau und Mutter Nr. 9 1953

Click on the images for a larger view.

Fashion Friday No. 17

April 29, 2011

Die Schachenmayrin 04/1933

My thoughts are circling around vintage knitting so it’s only logical to share a needlework magazine today. It’s only four pages but really cute models and complete with instructions, so if you happen to speak German grab your needles!

My first go at vintage knitting

April 27, 2011

Ok, it’s time to jump in at the deep end: I want to knit a sweater from a vintage pattern. A few weeks ago I discovered the wonderful blog by gum, by golly!” by Tasha  who has called for a vintage knitalong. She’s written very detailed instructions on how to convert the vintage pattern to your size and yarn and this inspired me to give it a try.

I am not really a knitting beginner – I think every woman who went to school in the eighties carried around some knitting project in a jute bag, (with the slogan “jute instead of plastic” printed on) at least in Germany.Mostly, these were formless objects made from bulky wool died in natural and drab hues of brown and grey. The resulting sweaters sometimes smelled a beet “sheepy” when they got wet, but it was all so very natural and organic and alternative 😉 .

But vintage knitting is totally different, isn’t it?

1. In the eighties fit didn’t matter, hey, it even was undesirable. The bigger and the baggier the better and we always cast on some extra 10 or 15 stitches to be on the safe side. Vintage sweaters are designed to be closely fitting so they will require a lot more planning and calculating.

2. In the eighties, we only ever knitted with really bulky wool and large needles, preferably homespun wool from sheep you knew personally. Dear god, I can’t believe I really wore something like that. Vintage sweaters are mostly knit with small needle sizes and it will probably take longer to make them. On the other hand, they are a lot shorter and tighter than everything I made in the 80ies, so it may even out in the end.

3. I am not a patient person. I mean, really not at all. And this is not helpful for knitting sweaters. I DID knit socks and scarves in the last years but to make a whole sweater sort of feels like crossing a dessert by foot. But it is feasible in the same way: One step after the other and if other people can do it, why shouldn’t I?

So why do I want to do this?

1. Sadly, in addition to my Mount Fabric I also own a … ahem … little wool stash. It’s not close to being as large as my fabric stash, mind you, but it is there and the poor yarns have been waiting to be made into something useful for a while now, so it’s about time.

2. It’s hard to find vintage knit pieces. In Germany anyway. And in my size. And for a reasonable price.

3. I have the coolest and most beautiful vintage knitting patterns, it would be a shame to let them go to waste.

4. It is a good thing to keep my hands occupied while watching TV. Keeps them from grabbing for a bag of crisps. Or a bar of chocolate 😉 .

so, to cut a long story short: I’ll tackle the challenge and join Tashas knitalong – I’ll be behind everybody else, since the official start was in January, but hey, better late than never. And this is the knitalong sweater:

Ok, not too fancy, just your basic stockinette sweater. But I think it is a good choice for a first project as I can concentrate on getting the fit right. The pocket, sleeve caps and buttoned neckline are nice details, so the sweater will not be too drab and if I am really daring, I could even risk something other than stockinette on the front piece or sleeves, we’ll see.

In line with my new project I will post a few of my vntage German knitting magazines on Fashion Fridays in the next weeks, complete with instructions. If I inspired somebody to unexpected knitting hankerings with this post, you will also find nice vintage patterns in English here at Free Knitting Patterns and at A Rarer Borealis (where also the above pattern is posted).