I finally managed to get photos of my most recent projects – luckily they go well together! I’ll talk about the skirt first, and put the sweater pattern review at the end of the post.
Pattern: Beignet from Colette patterns
Fabric: Rayon/poly/lycra blend, purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics
Notions: 12 7/8″ buttons
I first made this pattern in January 2010. I loved that version, but to be totally honest it was never that comfortable. The twill fabric didn’t have any give to it, and it wrinkled really easily. I decided to make this pattern again, correcting some of the newbie mistakes I made in the original. I chose to use a stretch woven, and I am a believer in them now! This skirt is really comfortable – not at all like the other, and making me feel better about the concept of pencil skirts in general!
I chose to make this skirt pretty plain – no belt loops, sash, or lining. I used self-fabric interfacing, because I didn’t want to lose the stretchy properties of the fabric. I cut a size 6, but I ended up taking it in a bit, ending with around a size 4, give or take.
The thing that surprises me the most is how flattering it is. I have always avoided pencil skirts, afraid of emphasizing the imbalance between top and bottom. It may be the black effect, but I don’t think this does that at all! It just goes to show that it’s worth trying different silhouettes. It also shows that, as always, the voice inside your head whispering how terrible you will look in something… well, it may not be super accurate, is all I’m suggesting. After I finished this I avoided trying it on for days because I was sort of convinced it would be awful. I liked it so much that I immediately wore it out to dinner!
Now onto the other half of the outfit…
Pattern: Anais by Kim Hargreaves, from her book “Breeze”
Yarn: Cascade Ultra pima, 2.5 skeins
Needles: US 5 and 6
Notes: I feel like this took ages, but the actual knitting time was short. I am very easily distracted lately, and I do like to let my hands rest sometimes! I love this sweater. It’s exactly what I wanted – the color is rich, it stretches to fit without distorting the pattern, and it went together very easily.
I’m a big fan of Kim Hargreaves, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned about a thousand times – I think her patterns are classic yet full of pretty details. This sweater will not date, unlike, say, the five swing style sweaters I made a few years ago! The stitch pattern was easily memorized – after the second repeat I only had to check for shapings.
Yarn: Love it. Seriously, I have knit with a lot of cotton, and this is my favorite one. It’s got a beautiful sheen, it doesn’t pill or split, and it’s soft to the touch. The price was great for the yardage – something like $9 for 220 yards. It didn’t hurt my hands, which is an accomplishment for cotton! I also think it would work well for crochet, as it didn’t split, twist, or otherwise behave oddly. I used it to seam the sweater up with no trouble at all. I washed the sweater on the handwash cycle in my frontloader, and blocked it flat. No pilling at all. I wouldn’t throw it in the dryer or anything, but it isn’t super delicate.
Alterations: The back piece is actually from the size 32. I switched to a larger size for the front and sleeves. I know Kim’s patterns well enough to know that I need a larger size in the sleeves than in the back. I also wanted to make sure that the front buttonband wouldn’t gape. To that end, I knit both buttonbands plain, and then machine sewed my buttonholes. Here they are:
The white stuff is leftover stabilizer, as this photo is pre-blocking. The thread is machine embroidery thread, because it was shiny and matched the yarn. Here is what I did, in case anyone is curious:
1. I knit an extra swatch of buttonband to practice on – you don’t want to make mistakes on your finished sweater!
2. I pinned wash away stabilizer (solvy) to both the front and back. I measured my button and marked a buttonhole that was the length of my button plus 1/4″ (this may vary of course!)
3. I reduced the presser foot pressure to almost nothing, and sewed the buttonhole using my buttonhole foot at the automatic setting on my machine.
4. I sliced the hole open using my buttonhole chisel.
I checked that the buttonhole was the right side, and then did the same process on the actual sweater. I followed with a good dose of fray check just to be sure!
They look nice, and they are secure. I did cut the buttonhole threads on one hole, and had to hand satin-stitch around it to fix the error. I would use scissors next time for greater control. My machine handled the knit fabric ok, though I did have to encourage the feed dogs just a bit (this is an issue with my machine on all thick fabrics, so I was expecting that.) I read a few sources that recommended sewing the buttonhole twice for extra security. I would love to do that, but I cannot for the life of me get the buttonhole in the same exact spot twice.
Would I do it again? Yes, for this sort of fitted cardigan. I hate gaping bands, and this fixed the problem. I would not do it on a loose sweater, or anything that isn’t going to be closed all the time, as it was (no lie) a whole lot of trouble, and no small amount of terror!
In conclusion, both patterns are recommended, and I’m thrilled with both of my new garments!