Tuesday 20 May 2014

Knit It - Owlet

Hello! Thank you for all your lovely comments on my SFV dress, there are not enough words to say how sweet and kind and just plain wonderful you all are! 

It was while batting with my SFV dress in fact, that I started today's project, as per usual I didn't feel I had enough going on so decided that I needed to add in a knitted project into the mix! This time, it was a very belated birthday present for my friends newest little one, Douggie.

~ Owlet ~
by Kate Davies 
Size: 18 months
Ingredients: 5 mm Circular Needle, 4.5 mm Circular Needle , 4 x 5 mm DPN's,
4 x 4.5 mm DPNs (Double Pointed Needles) & A Cable Needle
Yarn: Worsted Weight Yarn - I doubled up some 4ply Stylecraft Oatmeal

Owlet calls for worsted weight wool which I have struggled to find anywhere here in the UK, I decided to go to my old standby of doubling up my yarn so as I had some yummy Oatmeal coloured 4ply left over from my Brothers Pullover, doubling it up made it about an 8ply (same as DK) and I believe Worsted to be 10ply, but with my slightly baggy tension on circular needles I seem to have gotten away with it.

I bought this pattern not long after joining Ravelry in 2010 and it has been burning a hole in my to-do list since then. The reason for my delay was that I thought it was going to be too difficult I mean look at it those owls they definitely look tricksy, but I could not have been more wrong. After realising I hadn't made little Douggie anything for his birthday, I decided to brave this pattern and quickly discovered it was very simple indeed.

Owlet is knitted entirely in the round, as a new knitter this struck me as a terrifying prospect, I mean no seams where do I hide all my mistakes! But after knitting my fair share of things 'in the round' I can assure you it's the easiest and I would even say the most satisfying way to do stocking stitch. No end of rows to worry about, you can stop mid-round and not loose all your stitches, no purl rows all knit and for some reason, it all seems to knit up soo much quicker than on straight needles! You've got to love that!

Also, the way that this jumper is designed means it is knitted in one piece, you knit your sleeves and body up to a point and then merge the stitches together on one needle and continue knitting to create the owl yoke, it is all rather genius! It also means there are no pesky seams to sew up at the end so as soon as you have cast the blighter off your finished!

Though the owls look tricky they are really easy, they are worked in a very simple cable stitch, which is very quick to remember once you have done a few! I think the most difficult part for me was working the short rows, It baffled me a little, I couldn't understand why I was doing this shaping, but once it was all finished it became clear that it was to create a rise at the neckline on the back of the jumper. Clever!

I only had one problem with this whole pattern and that was I didn't have 5mm DPN's for the sleeves, after you have worked the cuff on the smaller needles you move to the larger 5 mm, but with the tiny amount of stitches I had for each sleeve my very long circular needle was just not going to work. So both of the sleeves have been knitted on 4.5mm DPN's, I did try to make my tension a little looser to compensate I think I have gotten away with it, just, the difference in stitch size is thankfully only really noticeable when you look really closely!

Once all the knitting was done, all that was left to do was to add some eyes to the owls I toyed with the Idea of adding buttons as on the original, but all the buttons in my stash seemed a little too large to work, so I opted for some 4ply wool and some french knots, I think it has worked really well. I just hope its new owner likes it as much as I do! I am actually really tempted to knit myself one, especially as I have just seen that there is an adult sized version called Owls out there just waiting to be knit!

Wendy x

Friday 9 May 2014

Sew For Victory 2.0 - Hollywood No.1977

Well, here it is my Sew For Victory 2.0 entry, in all its purple and black sequinned glory!

I am so pleased with this dress (someone tell my face) as it fits perfectly, and it's probably the most comfortable thing I have made to date. It has, though been a real labour of love and at points, I did think I was never going to finish it, I mean who makes the decision to hand top stitch everything when the clock is ticking, oh, and then add a sequin trim last minute?! Well, I do, and apart from the self-induced stress I created, I am so, so glad I did, as it's the most well-made dress I've ever attempted!

I was not all plain sailing, however; after taking my photos in the lovely churchyard last week I realised that there was an issue with the dress which I hadn't noticed before, or perhaps I'd just chosen to ignore while fitting.

The problem was in the bust area, (see the above picture) there is just a bit too much drapey fabric, which makes things in that area look a tad...saggy! It's not terrible, but once I noticed it blown up all big and droopy on my PC screen, I couldn't, not see it, and it was really bugging me. Thankfully by some miracle, lovely Rochelle had decided extended the deadline by a few extra days, so I was able to adjust the four front pleats a smidgen, taking them up about an inch and tapering them out a little to remove a little more of the excess fabric and banish the sagginess. Hurrah!

Something I learnt: cutting crepe on the grain is difficult. Very difficult. At times it felt like the fabric was a living breathing (constantly moving) entity, I did my best and though I am sure there are sections where the grain is not running true, it's not glaringly obvious. Sewing it was actually really easy, the fabric didn't fray too badly, so I was able to readjust (and by that I mean: Unpick my seams) with very little damage to the fabric, which was nice! 

The sheerness of the fabric meant that I had to line the whole dress, to avoid my unmentionables being mentioned. I chose to do this by essentially by making two dresses from the crepe which sit inside each other wrong sides facing, I figured it would be better to do this to help maintain the lovely drape that the crepe has, rather than adding a nylon type lining which would be stiffer and not so fluid.

Lining has also has meant that I was able to add some buttons loops to close the back opening rather than the zip the pattern called for, I'd feared the zip might give me puckering issues due to the delicate nature of my fabric so this option was much simpler.

I did attempt some Sewing Bee inspired rouleau loops but without a loop turner it was a lost cause, instead, I settled for some handmade bias strips which worked out really well! Lining has also meant that I could get away without finishing the raw edges of the seams which I feared it would add bulk in areas that it would be visible. To match the black buttons I had chosen to run down the back, I decided to add some sequin trim which I think works really well, and as 40s dresses seldom shied away from some sparkly embellishment I thought it would add an extra touch.

I am not sure if I have said it before, but I LOVE peplums!

I mean, I really love them! I always thought that adding ruffles at the waist would make me feel fatter but it actually helps make your waist look smaller, hides the cake eaters tummy and adds more curves, and we all know curves are good!  I especially love the peplum on this dress as it can be removed and added to any outfit! How cool is that!! I want peplums on everything from now on!

So that was and is my SFV 2.0 effort! I am so pleased I got to take part again and truly think my stitching skills have improved since last years dress, I actually can't wait to do it all again!

If you liked my dress then, there are so, so many stunning garments (no exaggeration) over on the Flikr group that I urge you to check it out, gosh they are a talented bunch!

Wendy x