Friday, January 28, 2011

Classic Ruffled Cardigan

I wanted a great classic black cardigan. The kind you can wear with a crisp white blouse for work or a cute camisole for play. I like the way a lot of fashions right now have a bit of ruffle detail, and thought about adding it to the whole front opening. Some great buttons finish the look and an optional knitted flower detail is perfect right now.
Yarn: Sport weight Merino that works to gauge. About 400 grams or about 1600 meters. (I got it from Elann but it is discontinued now... THIS YARN would work with just 4 balls!

Gauge: 24 stitches and 30 rows = 4 inches in stocking stitch on 3.25 mm (US 3) needles.

Needles: 3.25 mm straight for the body and long circular for the ruffle ( the whole thing could be knit on the circulars as I usually do, just don't join and work right and wrong sides)
Finished size: Chest 38 inches around and length 24 inches. Sleeves are 3/4 the way I like, but you could make them longer. The fit is huggy but not too tight on me.

Back: Cast on 120 sts. Work in garter stitch (knit every row) for one inch. Chang to stocking stitch and knit straight until 15 inches from the beginning are done. Bind off 8 stitches at the start of next 2 rows, then decrease one at each end 2 more times. Continue to work straight until 9 inches above armhole decrease and cast off all stitches.

Left front: cast on 60 stitches, work garter stitch edging for one inch, then stocking stitch until 15 inches are done. Cast off 8 stitches at start of next row (right side facing you), then one more at the same edge at the next 2 right side starts.
While leaving that side alone for the rest of the piece, start the neck side decrease by knitting two together at the END of every right side row 14 times, then at the end of every FOURTH row 7 more times. Work even until the total length of armhole is 9 inches, and cast off all stitches.

Right side: Cast on 60 stitches, work garter stitch edging for one inch, then stocking stitch until 15 inches are done. End with the WRONG side facing you for the next row.... Cast off purl-wise 8 stitches, and purl to end. Purl 2 together at the start of the next two wrong side rows. You are now done with the armhole side and will continue that edge without changes. With next right side facing you, start neck decreases... knit two together at the start of every right side row 14 times, then at the start of every fourth row 7 more times. Work even until the total length of armhole is 9 inches, and cast off all stitches.

Join shoulders, and with circular needles and right side facing, start to pick up stitches for edge ruffle at the bottom right front edge. Pick up 80 along the straight front edge to the start of neck decreases, 30 along the decrease edge, 30 along the back edge, 30 along the left front decrease edge, and 80 along the straight left front edge.
Purl next row.
Row 3: knit all stitches,
Row 4 : purl all stitches,
Row 5: Increase** [Knit 5, Knit in the front and back of next stitch] repeat until end (ok if you end without completing the FULL repeat in the last 6 stitches)
Row 6: purl all stitches,
Row 7: Knit all stitches
Row 8: Purl all stitches.

Next row: Button hole row: Knit 10 [cast off 2 stitches, knit 20] repeat 4 more times, knit to end.
Next row: Purl across, casting ON 2 stitches over the cast of holes.
Continue the pattern starting at Row 5 , work to row 8, then repeat rows 3 - 8 once more.
Finish the ruffle edge with 6 rows of garter stitch, then cast off all stitches.

The reason I like to do the edging before the sleeve, is that I often don't know if I have enough yarn to finish and would rather have shorter sleeves than incomplete edgings!

Sleeves (make two)
Cast on 50 stitches, Work in garter stitch for one inch. Change to stocking stitch for rest of sleeve, increase one each end every 4th row 23 times. Continue until sleeve is 3/4 or full length of arm to underarm, then shape cap...
Cast off 8 stitches at start of next two rows. Decrease one each end of every row 14 times. Cast off 4 stitches at start of next 4 rows, cast off remaining stitches.
Sew sleeve cap into armhole. Sew sleeve seam and side seams. Add buttons opposite holes.

Flower detail: (all in garter stitch) cast on 8 stitches, knit one row.
Increase row: knit in front and back of every stitch.
Knit two rows.
Knit increase row.
Knit two rows.
Knit increase row.
Knit one row,
Cast off all stitches.

Curl the piece into a swirly flower shape and stitch to hold shape, stitch it to cardigan. I added two pieces of one of the buttons that broke when I took it from the button card, but intended to add the whole button to the middle of the flower, but you could add beads (sparkly?) or use other yarns for contrast!
The black yarn is difficult to knit, as the stitches are quite hard to see, but we all need a basic black cardigan. It is also hard to photograph which is why it looks a bit grey in the over lit photos above. I hope you can see enough details. It would look lovely in lighter colours too.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

new nuno part two, the vest

I cut the fabric to shape after making a muslin pattern that I liked (kind of like a swatch in knitting terms). Then I finished the edges with some wet felt roving binding, dried, then needle felted to close the edges and give definition. The back of the vest.....
The back of the bolero.....
The vest also needed a bit of shaping at the neck and waist, and I made some subtle, invisible darts to de-box-ify the whole thing. (new word, means less boxy!).

The beauty of this design is that you can wear it four ways. Silk side out, vest...
Silk side out, upside down, bolero with big collar.....
Felt side out, vest......
Felt side out, upside down, bolero with big collar.....
I need to find some nice pins to use to close the vest, something earthy or sparkly, not sure. This vest is super light and very soft to touch. Much more stunning in person due to the textures of the wools and wrinkled silk. I am tired, but thrilled with the effort.
(PS: when I did the spell-check it did not like de-box-ify! HUH!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

new nuno

I have spent several hours today making yardage of Nuno-felt. I started with some lovely habotai silk in natural white...
Then played around with my new dyes from the Fibre Garden....

It was dyed using clamps to block out some of the brown dye, and using poured dye (not a full bath) so that some areas would be darker than others. After the required simmer, I rinsed and let almost dry. Then laid it out smooth and flat, and drizzled some black and burgundy dye over the lighter areas. After carefully wrapping in plastic, I popped it in the microwave and nuked for a minute!
And it turned out really cool.
Then I started to lay out the fibre. For this I am using Merino roving in natural (actual sheep) colours. A medium grey-brown is the base. I used a slightly grey natural for accent one and a dark brown (almost black) for accent two. Then I laid over some boucle wool yarn in chocolate brown, some curly top wool in natural and brown (dyed along with the silk to match) and lastly some small squares of dyed silk that I trimmed off the rectangle yardage. I tried to anchor the silk with thin webs of roving over top.

The of course I rubbed.... I used the sander again, this time I figured out that some polar fleece covering the sander base would be better than the bare sander (it has a velcro-type surface that was ripping holes in my plastic)... I can still learn as I go! I used the sander for almost an hour total, flipping the silk and merino piece several times. After the first sanding, I flipped it and laid out some circles of merino on the bare silk side to add a bit of texture there. Then continued with three more rounds of sanding.
The fabric seemed well fastened together, although the curly top was NOT well attached, but I thought I may be able to dry needle felt it in after the piece was dry. I gently felted it in hot soapy water in the kitchen sink, gently threw it in the second sink, then rinsed with cold. I repeated the hot / cold routine three more times, getting a bit more rough with the hot wash and the throwing. After the last cold rinse, I rolled it in towels then finger flattened the piece. I steamed it a bit with the iron to smooth out the wrinkles, and have laid it to dry....

Photo of the felt side....

Photo with the silk side folded back.....
I will cut and finish it tomorrow... photo to follow!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Heat Continues

The one good thing about having no heat in the house is that I feel the need to sit in one end of the family room, right near the wood burning fireplace, in front of the tv. In this space, I can only knit. No sewing, no felting (no laundry, vacuuming or cleaning for that matter). So I am well on track for finishing the black ruffle cardigan.

I did take a break from the chilly life to go to the fabric store and got some really fabulous buttons for the cardi'. I also found some 100% cashmere yarn on eBay, and got it for a great deal! Right now I am wearing a knit cardigan and a knit coat and a scarf and a knit blanket over my jeans... I should get a photo, I probably look silly, but with the warm laptop over my knees, I am cozy.

Stay tuned for the new cardigan and for me being warm again!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Black Ruffled Cardigan and Staying Warm

I have finished the fronts and back, and decided to stitch the shoulders and add the front ruffle detail, before doing the sleeves. The reason this made sense to me is that I may run out of yarn, and would rather have shorter sleeves than an incomplete ruffle edge.

The ruffle is stocking stitch with increases every sixth row, and garter stitch for 6 rows at the outside edge. It is less flouncy than I thought, but I think that is fine for now.

I need four really interesting buttons for the holes you can see. I have started the sleeves, but was so busy yesterday I did not get much done (I meant to post this last evening!).

I started the day well with a quick grocery run, followed by a slow and thorough visit to the Y. Then after lunch I hosted a nuno-felting session for Jane... forgot to take the after photo...

That took us to dinner, and AT THE SAME TIME.... (they always write knitting patterns like that) I had the football game on, and watched the Bears kill the Falcons. Bye Bye Seattle.

The day was good. Until we discovered that there was a weird noise (ignored for a while) then a weird burning smell (not so easy to ignore) and we concluded our furnace was doing something wonky, so we turned it OFF and went to bed (with extra quilts).

This morning, I am really impressed with the level of insulation in our home.... it is 65F (17C) and this is impressive as it is 8F (-14C) outside! After this cup of coffee and this posting, I will be calling our furnace guy! Keep warm.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Nuno-Felt, Rock without the Roll

I have a photo with extra sunlight of the black cardigan back... not too exciting as it is only stocking stitch and black, but I hope the final details punch it up to another level... meanwhile I am enduring knitting in black... I really find it hard to see to pick up the inevitable dropped stitch. Need good lighting for sure.
But in the meantime... check out my newest Nuno-felt adventure! I am at this time, waiting for a shipment of silk. Large pieces that can be nuno-felted into enough yardage for a coat or two! So to practice the procedure, I dug out a lovely old hand painted silk scarf I have owned for about 15 years.

I laid it on bubble wrap, laid down a fine bed of natural colour merino, then dropped fine wisps of grey and lime merino to decorate. Using a soap mixture, I sprayed the roving until JUST WET, then covered with plastic wrap.

Using my hands I rubbed the plastic until the soapy water was completed through the merino and the silk scarf (becomes translucent through all the layers). The top of the plastic is dry to the touch and no water and soap are running out of the layers.

Here's the RUB!!! I got our cordless hand sander! I turned it on and placed this over the plastic, holding it in one place for 3 seconds, then lifted (not dragged) to the spot next to it and did the same 3 seconds. I moved slowly across the long edge, 3 seconds at a time, then came back across the middle, then back across the upper long edge. This covered the whole piece, one section at a time for three seconds.
I lifted the plastic and noticed some felting starting (a bit of the wool showed up on the back of the silk) but no shrinking happening yet.... perfect. I turned on the sander and repeated this process once more. Then I pealed off the plastic, lifted the scarf and flipped it to silk side up (merino side down on the bubble wrap), replaced the plastic, and did two more rounds of the sander over the plastic.
This whole process so far, took just under 30 minutes!
Then I pealed the plastic, checked the scarf to find LOTS of merino fluff on the silk side and the edges well set (the silk could not be easily pulled off the wool). Time to full (shrink and set).
(the photo is actually in the almost dry state later... but it shows how much wool came through. it photos well through the grey part of the silk)
I took the scarf to my bit laundry sink. Running the water so it was almost too hot to put my hands in, I wet the scarf and used a bit of soap to mush the thing in a ball with soapy hot water... about 2 minutes. Then I threw it to the bottom of the sink several times, then rinsed in cold water thoroughly. I repeated, hot water, soap, mush and throw again, then rinsed in cold again.
It seemed well felted then, but you just repeat this until it is shrunk enough. You can tell by feel and by how wrinkled the silk has become. The more the merino shrinks, the more wrinkly the silk becomes!

See the nice contrast between the wool felt front and the wrinkled painted silk back!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Knitting in the Dark (yarn)

I have almost finished the back of the black ruffled cardigan. I still am not sure if it will photo well, and it is just a black blob right now, so I will attempt when I have more shapes to show you. The yarn is a fine sport weight merino, it feels really nice and is a thinner weight on 3mm needles.
I am not sure I will have enough yarn to do what I have designed in my head, and will re-assess as the front pieces take form. I may have to add another yarn (maybe a charcoal grey?) to finish the ruffled front and bottom of sleeves. I really like flying by the seat of my knitted pants sometimes. It makes the whole project more exciting and I often end up with different results that the original plan due to yarn stash restrictions.
Stay tuned to see how it evolves.!
Meanwhile I am half writing this and half glued to the gold game of the World Junior Hockey Tourney. It is (almost) in my neighbourhood, being held in Buffalo, just "over the river" from my stomping grounds. As the announcers say, it is hosted by Buffalo, Ontario, thanks to all the Canadian fans that have braved the border line-ups to get to the games.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Although there were not many photos of knitting in December, I managed to knit 7 pairs of socks for Christmas gifts, as well as the texting mitts and tea cozy that DID make it onto the blog pages. I am now back to regular knitting, and my first project is a black cardigan, with (maybe) a ruffled front edge and collar. Unfortunately I think this may be hard to show in detail by photo, as the colour will not photo well. I will try when I have enough to click...
Meanwhile, I have some fun photos on my sewing side (over there in the upper right window...) and I have plans to do a bigger felting / sewing project in a week or two.
So have a Happy New Year and keep knitting in the long cold days of January. Nothing is more comfortable than having some lovely soft yarn in your hands on a cold evening!