Offshore V-Neck

Here’s a jumper I knitted. The Offshore V-Neck by Bristol Ivy:

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I picked up a bag of lovely Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed in a Brocki for pretty cheap, and started looking for a project. Since my last big knitting projects had been all about colourwork (Aftur and Bláithín), I wanted a bit of the other one: cables. I loved the Offshore jumper as soon as I saw it and dived straight in.

This was all nearly two years ago. The process was a bit of a slog due partly to my own indecision and mistakes, and partly to the confusingly-written pattern.
I started in the smallest size, and after I’d knitted the bottom ribbing and a fair chunk of the cable pattern I realised it was going to be too small, so I ripped it all back and started in the next size up. I hate the idea of knitting something and it being unwearable.
I also made a few mistakes in the increasing and decreasing along the way. In the past  would have left some of these in, thinking it added to the charm of a hand-made piece, but these days I’d rather put in a bit of extra time and do it properly (it’s one of the things about me that winds my boss up).

Here are some pictures of the jumper before the nitty-gritty:

So, the pattern problems. I’ve put these on my Ravelry as well, but for anyone who doesn’t have an account / can’t be bothered to click through / isn’t that interested in knitting pattern notes but will read them anyway if they’re there, here they are.

  • Other knitters have noted that the yoke, as written, is far too small and therefore the armholes and neckhole are very tight. As other knitters did, I added depth to the yoke by stopping a number of rows early, as if for two sizes above the one I was knitting, and spacing out the raglan decreases correspondingly.
  • Something that it would have been nice to mention in the pattern is that it is VERY IMPORTANT that the body and sleeves are both stopped on an odd-numbered row of the cable chart, bound off on an even-numbered row and then joined on an odd-numbered row. Otherwise you will find yourself trying to cable from the wrong side.
  • The “at the same time” section of the pattern is complicated, and even more so if you’re trying to re-write it to make the yoke deeper. I drew out a chart to help me keep track of the neckline decreases and raglan decreases as well as the stitch counts for front, back and sleeves. Here is my chart:
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  • It’s also VERY IMPORTANT that when you get to the end of the neckline shaping you have 25 stitches left for each sleeve so that the saddle section works.
  • I added an extra 5 rows at the end of the neck cable chart to increase the size of the neck hole. I should have added an even number, because I ended up with my cable row on the wrong side for the saddle. This was manageable, but annoying, and a silly mistake to make.
  • There are 2 major actual mistakes that I can remember in the pattern:
    One is on the cable A chart, there should be a purl stitch at the end of the chart (before you go back to stockinette stitch).
    The other is in the right saddle decrease instructions. They should read:
    Row 1: Work 24, p2tog, turn.
    Row 2: sl1, work 23, ssk, turn.
    Row 3: sl1, work 23, p3tog, turn.
    Row 4: sl1, work 23, sssk, turn.
  • The pattern says to pick up 67 stitches around the neck. I’d increased the size of the neckline so I picked up 83: 18 for the back, 13 along the vertical of each saddle, 19 down each side of the front and 1 at the centre front. I picked the stitches up in the 2×2 rib instead of just straight.

I don’t want to put anyone off knitting this pattern. It’s really lovely and I’ve been wearing it almost daily ever since I finished it. It just needs a bit more thinking through than other patterns.

On my version, the beautiful cable pattern gets a bit lost in the tweedy wool, so I’d probably recommend knitting it in something a bit simpler, but I also don’t turn down cheap, good quality wool from a second-hand shop, so I can’t complain.

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Herringbone Bomber

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I started planning this one right after finishing my first Papercut Rigel Bomber. Or at least when I’d worn it for a while and realised that the low neckline wasn’t going to cut it in colder weather. It’s still not up to the depths of the Swiss winter, but it’ll be fine in autumn, and I’ll be able to wear it when spring finally decides to put in an appearance too.

The fabric is a black and white herringbone-weave wool blend (blended with what? I don’t know) with a pink stripe running up alternately-pointing zigzags. Pink isn’t usually a colour I have much to do with, but it’s subtle enough not to offend my taste and it makes the whole jacket a bit less boring.

I lined the jacket using the same bagging-out method that I used on my first Rigel, and I also interlined it with some soft fabric that was the victim of an accidental dying incident involving some red jersey. It took me a while to work up the nerve to start because I’ve never inter- (or under-) lined before, and I knew from the start that the main fabric was going to fray a lot. To try and counter the fraying I used a rotary cutter to cut each pattern piece out really carefully (no impatient tugging at corners when lifting the pattern piece away) and laid them on a large board with a sheet of newspaper in between each pattern piece so I could pick one up without having to handle every other piece in the process. It worked pretty well and I didn’t have any problems with frayed edges.

The main change I made to the pattern was raising the neckline by 10cm which I did by just extending the centre front line upwards and re-drawing the neck curve on the main front pattern piece and then using this as a basis for re-drawing the front facing and lining pieces. I shortened the neckline ribbing by working out how much shorter I’d made the neckline and shortening the ribbing piece by the same amount (and then a bit more to make it hug the neck a bit more).

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I put a little hanging tab in there again, and a label, similar to last time – on a piece of lining fabric and the corduroy that the pocket linings are made from.

Another small modification I made is to make the pockets quite a bit larger so that I can get my whole hand in.
At primary school being seen with hands in pockets was a sure route to a telling-off, I remember one teacher threatening to sew up our pockets if we kept putting our hands in them. In reaction to this ever since I haven’t been able to stand pockets that you can’t get your hands into, like so many pockets in ready-to-wear women’s clothes. It’s just another reason to keep sewing my own.
The corduroy itself is a bit stiff in the pockets for the main fabric – the fabric at the front of the jacket hangs slightly oddly – but I’m hoping that they’ll soften with age and use.

I also wonder if I should have use slightly heavier-duty ribbing, but I could only find it in light grey and I preferred the contrast of the dark grey with the main fabric.

So, I’ve made peace with the jacket’s imperfections, and I’m really rather happy with the outcome. I did actually take it home with me at Christmas and the English climate allowed me to wear a couple of times. This was before I finished sewing up the lining but I made myself finish it when I got back. If I’d started wearing it properly without finishing the last little bits I would have ended up wearing it like that for the rest of my (or its) life!

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Unselfish Sewing – Wahid Waistcoat

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So, about that waistcoat then. I decided quite a while ago that The Boy deserved some of my sewing time and energy, but it’s much harder to find tempting sewing patterns for men than it is for women. I had my eye on the Ryuichiro Shimazak book “Les Chemises” for a while, but nowhere I looked has had it in stock over the six or so months that I’ve been looking. Then I stumbled across Make My Pattern, an unselfish sewing project if ever there was one. Joost de Cock, in an attempt to make sewing your own clothes easier for men has an expanding range of men’s clothing patterns on his website for free! Of course, in this case it’s not a man he’s giving a helping hand to, but I (and hopefully my boyfriend) are extremely grateful nonetheless.

I gave myself a deadline on this project (birthdays are only provisional deadlines after all): I wanted him to be able to wear the waistcoat to a wedding on the Friday exactly one week after his birthday. Well, he did wear it to the wedding. I sewed the buttons on in the car on the way to the church – there’s nothing like leaving it until the eleventh hour.

So – the pattern.

To get a pattern from Make My Pattern, you have to put in the measurements of the person that the garment is for and out comes a pattern specifically for those measurements. The list of measurements to fill in is very long, but there’s a helpful guide for exactly how to take each measurement, and the garment that resulted really was very fitted to The Boy.

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(Those darts look a bit more woman-shaped than man shaped… must work on my cutting and sewing accuracy!)

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Even when you’ve put in the measurements and hit download, the website gives you a whole host of further styling options such as length, where you want the V to fall, how many buttons you want, and fit. There are 5 different fit options ranging from Skinny to Loose. I went for the second slimmest fit (called, appropriately, Slim) and I’m glad I didn’t go skinnier – I really don’t think he’d have been able to do up the buttons if I’d gone for the skinniest. As it’s not part of a three-piece suit I didn’t intend it to be worn closed anyway, so the close buttoned-up fit isn’t a problem. But he wouldn’t get a three-course meal under those buttons!

The shell of the waistcoat is made of a slightly coarse linen-and-something mix that’s been sitting in my stash for a while, and I lined it with some fairly fluid viscose. I left it hanging for a week or so before finishing the lining and shell hem, to let the lining stretch out as much as it wanted. The lining is still bagging towards the bottom a little bit more than I would like, it’s not noticeable when it’s being worn, but you can see it in this picture:

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I had some trouble with the pocket construction. For a start they seem to be very low down on the waistcoat (although they don’t look so low-set on Joost’s example) and when I was sewing them together, the pocket lining and pocket bag didn’t match up length-wise at all. One part was some inches longer than the other. It was only the second time I’ve sewn welt pockets, so I might well have just completely misunderstood the instructions, and I just cut the longer part to match the shorter (and then cut both so that they weren’t hanging out of the waistcoat!) so it wasn’t a very major problem.

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Well I’m not too traumatised by my first encounter with sewing men’s clothes, I’m still determined to make a nice shirt (there’s a pattern for one on MMP, I just have to brace myself for it, and sew a few things for myself first), and I’m looking forward to seeing Make My Pattern’s development.
Now for some simple sewing for myself. If I can bear to turn on the iron in my new top-floor flat, in this Swiss summer heat!

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Tea cosies the second

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I have, of course, made the odd traditional knitted tea cosy in the past. But they don’t keep the pot as warm as the sort that I grew up with, which don’t leave handle and spout sticking out, exposed to the elements. And as I’ve stated, keeping the pot warm while the tea is brewing is very important. Continue reading “Tea cosies the second”

Named Quinn Shirt

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I bought this pattern in the Named advent calendar sale. I’ve had it in my sights for a while because although I love the Archer shirt pattern, the interesting cross-over collar, button placket and French cuffs mean that this shirt is just a little more dressy. And sometimes I want something a little bit smarter. Continue reading “Named Quinn Shirt”

At Last: Bláithín

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I notice, as I leaf lazily (and metaphorically) through my blog, that I haven’t written anything about knitting since August. This came as quite a surprise, as I probably spent more time knitting last autumn than I did sewing. There was the purple cardi, which I sort of finished, and then decided needed the button band re-doing (it’s currently sitting on my sofa with the button band removed but not replaced), a couple of baby presents, but mostly this cardiBláithín by Kate Davies.

Two cardis, you think, that doesn’t sound like so much. Oh if only you knew, dear reader, the sorrows I faced. Perhaps I exaggerate. Not sorrows, then, let’s call it frustration. Continue reading “At Last: Bláithín”

Camas

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Well, just to break the Grainline trend for a bit (although only temporarily), here are a couple of blouses from Thread Theory, which brought out the Camas blouse (their first pattern for women) back in the spring. I bought it almost straight away as a PDF (and then sort of wished I’d waited, and got the hard copy) and made one up in this anonymous flowery jersey fabric which I bought online. It’s really pretty, but I have no idea what the fibre content is – it feels like viscose, and is extremely fluid and light. Unfortunately after several washes the colours are beginning to look a bit tired – I’m far too lazy to handwash! Continue reading “Camas”

Morris

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When this pattern came out, Grainline Studios was only half on my radar. Every time I saw a Grainline pattern I thought they looked so well-made that I thought they were way out of my league. But then I got a couple of their other patterns under my belt (including the Archer shirt, which I knew was much more complex, construction-wise) I stopped being scared of it. And then I came across some lovely ponte in a sale which just shouted “Morris” at me. I had a look at other patterns for more casual cardis, but the Morris pattern kept coming back into my head, and in the end I caved in and clicked ‘buy’ (and then asked my poor long-suffering mother to cart it across the Bernese Oberland to me.) Continue reading “Morris”

Archer

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Well, I finally took a leap and moved myself from fairly easy-construction garments to shirts. There are a lot of Archer shirts around the blogosphere, and I’m only going to keep adding to it, because I love the pattern. But I’m not going to write a lot about it, because frankly the sewing blog community is full of more experienced people who have a lot more intelligent things to say about shirt construction than I do. Continue reading “Archer”

A Heffalump Linden

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This is my current favourite item of clothing in my self-made (or, if you insist, me-made) wardrobe (or possibly my entire wardrobe). At least, it is as the moment, but my first chambray Archer shirt is coming up on the outside, and when I’ve hemmed it and put the buttons on, it could well be neck and neck. (Or collar and ribbing. Ha!) But anyway, I’ll let the jumper enjoy it while it still has the edge.
It’s the Linden pattern from Grainline Studio, made from some lovely cotton interlock printed (in case you hadn’t noticed) with elephants.  Continue reading “A Heffalump Linden”