Friday, June 19, 2015

The First World Problem Sweater

This is the Mirry-Dancers Yoked Pullover, designed by Cheryl Burke, and published in Fair Isle Style: 20 Fresh Designs for a Classic Technique. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. The design, which is a modern take on the fair isle classic, is excellent and well-shaped, but it's the masterful colourwork which makes this design truly special. I just had to make it.

I actually had the yarn for the body of the Mirry-Dancers sweater in my stash already, in the form of this fair isle cardigan I had made maybe ten years ago before I had clued in on how to shape a sweater for my figure. It was too narrow and straight through the body and too tight around the neck, and I had worn it very little. It was time to take it apart and get some real use out of the yarn. The yarn in this sweater, Naturally Loyal DK, was a warm dark plum, while the Port Wine shade used is a cooler, more grayish purple than it looks in this sample shot, but that was fine with me as the plum would suit my warm skin tone better. And there was plenty of it and it was the right weight and it was free. Who could ask for better?

I ordered the rest of the yarn online as I wanted to make my version of the Mirry-Dancers sweater in the same colourway as the design sample, and Jamieson's Shetland wool isn't stocked by any of Toronto's yarn stores. But I ran into a snag when the Canadian supplier of Jamieson's Shetland wool didn't carry three of the shades I needed. I also wanted to make one other substitution: to nix the purple Gentian shade that appears at the neckline, replacing it with the warmer Nighthawk shade that appears below it, then replacing the Nighthawk in turn with a warmer teal/turquoise shade. I spent hours trying to put together an alternate colourway, while one half of my brain consumed itself with ire that I couldn't get the Tangerine, Prairie, or Mermaid shades I wanted, and the other half asked, "Is this the ultimate first world problem, or what?" Finally I picked out some colours I thought would work and submitted the order.

Alas, when the order came and I started knitting with the colourway I'd put together, I wasn't happy with it at all. I wanted my sweater to look like the original and my version just didn't. Finally I gave in and took the book and the yarn I had down to Romni Wools, where I selected four skeins of DK yarn: one in a very similar colour to the Tangerine (Naturally Loyal in shade 949), another in a very similar colour to the Prairie (Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in colour 208), and finally a teal (Earth Collection Alpaca Peru Heather in shade 520) and a turquoise (SandnesGaarn Smart Superwash in 6733) that worked with the other colours and replaced the Nighthawk and Mermaid shades.

And this is my completed version, which I made in a size 38. It's very similar to the original and I am very happy with it, if more than a little disgruntled by how unnecessarily expensive it wound up being and by the amount of yarn I had left over. Oh well, as I keep reminding myself, that yarn isn't really wasted as it will wind up going into something else.

One Needn't Be a Jersey Girl to Wear a Jersey Dress

Nothing beats a jersey dress for easy dressing, especially in summer. They've been a standby for me for years, and I always have a few in my closet. I bought this Vogue pattern a year or two ago and have been waiting to find a perfect fabric for it. Unfortunately I never found one, but finally this year I found a fabric I thought I could live with, and went for it.

And here's the result. It looks a bit sack-like on the dressmaker's form but it doesn't when I get it on. I went with the sleeveless view as the three-quarter sleeve is a bad look on me. My only modifications were made for the sake of fit. The bodice is cut in a size 14, the skirt in a 12 as I am a size bigger above the waist than I am down below, and I also had to add 4 inches of length to the bodice in order to make room for my chest. Otherwise the dress's waistline would have been right under my bustline. This is a "very easy" pattern, but I actually found it a challenge to get the pleats in the neckline just so. I must have redone them three or four times and still don't think I got them quite right. When it got to the point that I was afraid the fabric wasn't going to stand up to any more stitching and ripping, I just decided it would have to do. The fabric, which is a graphic red check print, isn't quite my style but does go perfectly with a red trench coat, which I'm really happy about.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bookmark This!

This is such a dead simple project, but I can't resist showing off the set of pretty bookmarks I made in just 5 minutes, using pinking shears and some old greeting cards.

A few days ago I got frustrated at having to mark my books with paper clips, paint chip strips, tissues, or whatever even less attractive and suitable objects were lying around. I considered buying some bookmarks, but I haven't sufficient income even to live on at present, so I soon decided against that. Instead, I started thinking about what I had on hand that could be used to make some nice bookmarks.

My thoughts soon roved to the pile of Christmas, birthday, sympathy, and thank you cards stashed away in what I think of as my "art collage supply box" because they were too beautiful to toss in the recycling bin and I had vague intentions of making something out of them someday. Then the light bulb went off and "project brain mode" was activated. I sorted through the cards, picking out some that weren't too Christmassy, and cut the bookmarks from them freehand, taking some care to get the edges straight and to crop the images attractively. And then I called it a day. I could have added tassels, but I like these bookmarks exactly as they were and thought the tassels would be more likely to be a nuisance than to add much to the looks and utility of these bookmarks.

And as a knitter, seamstress, crafter, home renovator, writer, and editor, I'll just say I am TOTALLY not used to having my projects prove to be so quick, easy, unproblematic, and free.