Thursday, 24 August 2017

Knitting: a pretty pink cardigan (King Cole 3541)

We're drifting into late August and heading rapidly towards the autumn so, in the grand tradition of my knitting habits, obviously it's the perfect time to have just finished knitting a very summery cardigan. The temperatures will hopefully still be appropriate for a short-sleeved cotton cardi for a little while though, so I'm going to wear it as much as possible before longer sleeves have to make their seasonal reappearance.

The pattern that I chose to use for this summer's knitting project is King Cole 3541, which features the short-sleeved round neck cardigan that I made and a long-sleeved V neck option. Both of the cardigans have the same cable panel running up the centre fronts and down the middle of the sleeves.

I have to admit that I was slightly daunted at first by the 28-row repeat for the cable panel. I've tackled cables quite happily before, but in simpler patterns and with a smaller number of rows in the repeat so you quickly memorise the pattern. While I don't think I ever completely memorised the cable repeat in this case, I got the basic idea of what I needed to knit in my head fairly quickly. There wasn't anything to be scared of in the cables and I didn't have any problems with knitting the panel as long as I always had the pattern leaflet by my side to consult.

By the time I'd finished knitting the back and fronts and was moving on to the sleeves, I was feeling a bit lazy and wanted to get the cardigan finished quicker so I considered leaving the cable panels out of the sleeve and just knitting them in stocking stitch, but I'm glad that in the end I opted to include the cables. It definitely made knitting the sleeves more interesting, and I think it's a nice detail to have the cables from the fronts mirrored in the sleeves. When I've knitted long-sleeved cardigans I always slightly dread the sleeves because they seem to take forever, but these short sleeves were finished in no time by comparison.

I made the size based on my bust measurement, and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. The cardigan has 2 inches of positive ease, and I think it's just the right level of being fitted enough to be flattering without it being so tight that the button bands end up gaping when they're done up. The cardigan has also turned out to be the perfect length to wear with all my waisted dresses, which is always good.

The yarn I used is the King Cole Cottonsoft as called for in the pattern, and I used colour 712 Rose. I haven't always enjoyed knitting with 100% cotton yarn in the past (memorably when I knitted some baby hats in 100% cotton yarn a few years ago, my mum told me she thought they'd make better dish cloths!), but I didn't have any problems with this yarn. It was good to knit with, and the finished cardigan is nice and soft to wear, but also feels like it will wear well. Which is good when you've put so much time into making something!

All in all, this cardigan is definitely a winner for me - not least because it goes really nicely with quite a few of my summery dresses (I'm wearing it here with my original New Look 6723 dress that I made a couple of years ago). I enjoyed knitting the cardigan and I'm tempted to have a go at a long-sleeved V neck option at some point. Who knows when that will be though because I've already got a list as long as my arm of knitting patterns to try! Next in the queue is a shawl, and I'm thinking of casting on my first pair of socks too. What are you knitting at the moment?

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Sew Over It Doris Dress

Do you have any garments in your wardrobe that get a bit overlooked? Until recently, the Sew Over It Doris dress that I sewed up last year had sadly slipped into that category. I wore it a fair amount just after I made it, but somehow since then I'd forgotten how lovely it is and the dress had stayed neglected on the hanger. Once I put that right, I enjoyed wearing it so much that I quickly decided that I needed to make a second Doris dress.

I wonder whether one of the reasons that I hadn't been wearing my first Doris dress so much is that the ties get a bit in the way of cardigans (because you often need a cardigan still in the British summer!), so this time I decided to use the fixed back belt instead. That also creates a bit more of a difference between my two versions than just using different fabric, which is never a bad thing.

Other than switching the ties for the belt, I did everything else just the same as I did for my first version. I blended between a 12 at the bust and 14 at the waist/hip, with 1.5 inches added to the bodice length. Also, the buttons down the front of the bodice are there for decoration only - there's no need for them to function because of the side zip so I just sewed them through both front bodice pieces.

The Liberty tana lawn that I used for my first version worked so nicely - it's the perfect mix of fabric that's easy to handle but has just enough drape for the Doris dress - that I decided to use a prized length of Liberty fabric from my stash for this second version. The print is called Suzy Elizabeth, and is my favourite Liberty print that I've used so far. I made a dress using the navy colourway of the same print a couple of years ago, and I've got another length of the navy in my stash which I'm intending will become a shirt this autumn. How many times do you have to use the same print before it becomes an obsession?! What can I say? I just love all that tiny crockery!

I should mention that my fabric buying budget isn't generous enough to just be buying Liberty fabric at RRP as often as my last few projects would suggest! A lot of the tana lawn that I've used has come from Kat's Fabrics on ebay which sells factory seconds, making them much more reasonable prices. I've bought fabric from them quite a few times now, and I've only found a small fault on one piece - the rest of them have all seemed perfect to me.

While we're on the subject of fabric, I think the fabric requirements stated on the pattern envelope for the Doris dress are really generous. I made a 12/14 (with length added to the bodice), and the fabric requirements state 3.2m for 12 and 3.7m for 14, but I used well under 3m - I'd say 2.8m at the very most, and this is a directional print. That's OK (it just means I have bonus fabric left over for another project!), but it's something I'd bear in mind if I were buying fabric for another Doris.

All in all, I'm really happy that I rediscovered my original Doris dress and gave myself the motivation to make this second one. It's a lovely floaty dress to wear and, as I've already detailed at length, I love tana lawn for summer weather. Let's just hope that we get a bit more of that soon so that I can wear it some more!