Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Jaeger Handknits Turin Cardigan (and a bonus Emery dress)

As has become fairly standard for me, I've just finished knitting what was meant to be a winter cardigan right in time for a rise in temperatures which means it'll probably mostly sit in a drawer until autumn. I'm not the only one that does that am I?! You'd have thought that I might have got better at estimating how long a project will take me more accurately by now, but apparently not!

Anyway, the pattern I used is the Turin cardigan by Martin Storey which is part of a Jaeger Handknits pattern booklet that I found a while ago in a charity shop. There are 20 patterns in the book and, while some are definitely a bit dated, there are a number of others that I'd like to knit at some point so it was well worth whatever I paid for it (I can't remember how much that was, but it may even have been as little as 49p given the shop I got it from!).

The Turin is a relatively short cardigan - slightly longer than cropped, but shorter than most others still - which is a good length for me. It features stripes of a pretty lace pattern, which is also intended to have a bead in the middle of each lace diamond but I didn't like the idea of beads (I know what I'm like - I'd get them caught on everything!) so I left them out.

The sleeves are also meant to use the same lace pattern but, as I mentioned in my post about my previous cardigan, I'm not much of a fan of lace sleeves so I just knit these in plain stocking stitch.

The pattern was simple and easy to follow, and uses my preferred construction method of knitting the individual pieces and then seaming them. The lace pattern is worked over 10 rows and needed a bit of concentration to start off with, but it gradually worked its way into my memory so I could relax into the knitting a bit more.

The yarn that I used is Stylecraft Special 4-ply in the shade Lipstick. It's definitely not the most luxurious yarn in the world, but it's very budget friendly and I've liked using it for crochet so I wanted to see how it would fare when it came to knitting. On balance, I like it less for knitting but it's OK still. I also wanted to try using an acrylic yarn because I find my wool cardigans very itchy unless I've got long sleeves under them so they don't get worn unless it's really cold. I definitely don't have that problem with this yarn, but I'm not sure I'd use it for a whole garment again. We'll wait and see how it wears until I make a final decision on that though.

The dress that I'm wearing with the cardigan in these photos is the latest in my collection of Emery dresses. It probably doesn't warrant a blog post of its own because at this point I don't really have anything new to say about this pattern, but I thought it still deserved to be documented. The fabric for this one is from the Melody Miller Jubilee collection for Cotton & Steel, and I got it from The Village Haberdashery. Unsurprisingly, I love how it turned out - the combination of a pretty print and a trusted pattern was always going to be a winner for me!

It's a happy coincidence that I happened to finish these two projects at pretty much the same time because they look great together. For once, the slowness of my knitting actually resulted in something good! Next up on my knitting needles will be a short-sleeved cotton cardigan. Let's see if I can finish it before summer's over!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Pauline Alice Aldaia Dress

How are you this week? I'll admit, I've been better! Don't worry, there's nothing too horrendous happening but life has definitely been a little annoying recently. Thankfully a little bit of creativity will always cheer me up, and this project did just that. It's the latest instalment of my quest to make more knit dresses this year, and this time it's the turn of the Pauline Alice Aldaia dress.

The Aldaia pattern is for knit dresses and offers three options each for the bodice, sleeves and skirt which can all be mixed together giving a total of 27 possible combinations. Just to prove how well the different options work together, for this dress I used the bodice from view B (wrap style bodice), sleeves from view A (elbow length with bands) and skirt from view C (6 gore skirt).

I decided to make a size 44 - my bust should actually put me in a 42, but there's only an inch between the bust sizes for 44 and 42 and the 44 still gives me negative ease so I thought it would be fine. I made a toile of the bodice in some leftover jersey from my Christmas pyjama making marathon just to check, and it fitted nicely.

As usual, I had to lengthen the bodice by an inch - fairly standard for me. I also had to lengthen the skirt a lot to get the length I wanted, and in the end I added 5 inches (for reference, I'm somewhere around 5' 8"). Because I was lengthening it quite so much, I added the extra length to the bottom of the skirt pieces and continued the outward flare rather than using the lengthen/shorten line, because I think if I'd done that then I'd have lost a lot of the fullness (and you probably know by now that I love a twirly skirt).

Sewing the dress was a really enjoyable process. The instructions are perfectly clear, but aren't too hand-holdy. Obviously I had to skip around between the instructions for the three different views, but that was no problem. Part of me is still apprehensive about sewing knits in a way that I'm not with wovens, but there was no need to worry about sewing the Aldaia. Even my twin needle behaved perfectly (redeeming itself for playing up the other week).

My only slight quibble about how the dress turned out is that it seems to sit slightly oddly at the seam between the centre front piece and the front side piece where the lower layer of the 'wrap' is under the top one. I wonder whether that's because both the upper and bottom wrap pieces are pleated at the side, and whether it might be better to try to eliminate the pleats from the bottom wrap to reduce bulk a bit.

The fabric I used is a turquoise marl cotton/Lycra jersey from Maud's Fabric Finds - unfortunately it no longer seems to be in stock but there are lots of other lovely (non-marl) colours available. It's a really nice quality, was great to work with and I think is just the right weight to give the skirt enough body to twirl nicely without being too heavy.

Overall, I'm really happy with how my Aldaia dress turned out - it was a pleasure to sew and it's a joy to wear. I'll definitely be making more versions in the future, after all I have to try out some of the different combinations, don't I?!