The asymmetric jacket

Hey there!

You may remember me talking a few weeks months ago about sewing a jacket, biker style (I wrote “perfecto” which is how this style is called in French, and since then I realized it means something really different in English. Forget about the cigars, and let’s talk about jacket!). I finally made it! I finished it during the Thanksgiving holiday and have been wearing it since then, very proud of myself 🙂 It is by far the more advanced item I sewed.

IMGP9829Tada!

Yep yep yep! The fit is great, it looks good on me and it’s made of grey wool, just like I wanted! 🙂

Lucky me, about a week after I finished the muslin, the quilting store close to my home had an amazing sale. They sold an important stock of wool fabric they had in a warehouse(yes, it’s a quilting store with an amazing selection of quilting fabrics and sewing machines [ask Odile ;)] but they also have a small selection of apparel/fashion fabric of pretty good quality), 50% off or more. I came home with a lovely camel wool for the jacket ($20/yd instead of $40/yd), but also a beautiful Italian wool challis for an Anna dress (50% off too, and I think the original price was about $60/yd!!!). It was worth waiting! But the dowside of having such a beautiful and great quality fabric was analysis paralysis. I was so afraid to do a mistake and waste the wool that I thought a lot before cutting every piece of pattern! :S

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As for the pattern, I picked Burda pattern #116 from the March 2012 issue. You may already know that, I don’t like Burda. The fit is not great on me, the instructions are unbearable (too much text, no explanatory sketch), some unecessary details. And you need to add the seam allowance before to cut 😦 But to my own surprise, this time the fit was great, I picked the last size, a 42 while I am a 40. Still, I skiped most of the explanation. Since I wanted to be able to wear a sweater with the jacket (my Parcel sweater has been used as a reference), I did a few minor alterations:

  • I removed the front dart, because it was unecessary. I don’t need it. Unfortunately, I realized it too late and had to recut and resew the lining :S
  • The sleeves and the bodice are 0.5″ longer (almost the right length! :)),
  • No pocket. I was afraid putting my hands in the pockets would deform the wool,
  • I added ease to the lining. For this, I highly recommend you to read this from University of Kentucky. All these informations are unvaluable.

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The result is great, and I am very happy since I put a lot of effort in details and construction. Every seam is top-stitched (that was the only way to get wool seams lay flat), including the lining (made of cotton fabric and polyester for the sleeves). I added a piping to contrast with the lining. The sleeves slits are modified, they are closed with a fake lapel and buttons.

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All these details took me a lot of time, but one really drove me crazy: the 18″ detachable grey zipper. I looked everywhere in the Bay Area but couldn’t find anything in any store (well, apparently I forgot to check one place). I finally found the perfect zipper at Zipperstop (great service. A family business established in New York. The bill was hand-written, I haven’t seen that in a really long time).

This jacket is so nice to wear, I can wear sweaters, pants, skirts with it and it still look nice enough to go to work. I love love love this jacket. The only detail that bothers me is my bare neck but that’s just a good excuse to wear a scarf or to knit a cowl 🙂

IMGP9796One last picture to enjoy the details!

Happy Monday to all of you and thumbs up for Mister Hubby who took really good pictures today!

Wingardium leviosa!

Hey! Hey! Yes, there is some activity here! No, it’s not a joke! And I have a new project to share with you 🙂
I know I haven’t been very active during the last weeks (or month), I had to face several challenges, such as “I’m tired, I want to sleep”, “crap, I can’t do all the things I want to, I need a 30-hour day”, “why is this thing taking me so long?!”. Well, I guess that’s what happens when you go back to work after a very long hiatus. Good news, I just finish another project very soon 🙂

So today, you have guessed correctly, another Harry Potter knitting project! After the Herbology socks, I finally completed the Ginny’s cardigan, the very one in the cover of the magazine (the main reason to buy it).

Meet my new favorite cardigan! ♥

IMGP9786Pattern: Ginny’s cardigan by Mari Chiba
Yarn: Cascade 220 sport, color 9543 Midnight Blue

IMGP9790 Sorry for the weird face, my hairdresser has some sort of inspiration yesterday. And it’s too cold today to take more pictures!

So, what to say about this project?
It’s fun. Knitting is fun. After several projects with small needles (US 1 and 2), knitting with US6 is really fun.
It’s damn cute! The owl pattern is gorgeous. Some people might not notice these are owls but still find the pattern beautiful.

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It’s easy. It’s a bottom-up project, seamless (except for the armpit). Lots of stockinette, a few short-rows and an easy lace pattern.
It’s genious. The technique used to attach sleeves is brilliant. And there are instructions to fit the chest depending on your bra cup (and of course, you’d better know your US size, which was not my case. Ahah).
It fits well. Look at all the versions knitted on Ravelry in different sizes! Everybody looks great! (which is not the case with all patterns). The only concern I have is the sleeves. Unless you have very very thin sleeves, don’t even think about wearing a long sleeves shirt under. Or block them larger (which is what I did).

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My gauge didn’t go as expected. In order to get a size 36.5″, I knitted the size 40 1/4″. Hence the size of the owl pattern, it looks smaller than the model. To my own surprise, the yarn is soft. I love it! It’s great to wear and the color is so vibrant!
I also did a few minor modifications, nothing fancy. You can check my notes on Ravelry if you are interested.

The skirt is also hand-made, this is the Chardon skirt from Deer and Doe, with a mistake (I forgot to make the central pleat :S). It’s a nice skirt, and I never blogged about it because I don’t really know what to say about it.
I will very soon show you the jacket I made, so stay tuned! It’s was a time-consuming project but totally worth it! I am so proud of these 2 projects I just finished!

Knitting: advice to my beginner knitter self

Okay, two weeks since my last post. I’ve been knitting and sewing these last weeks, I completed some projects but I have nothing to show you. Because it’s not worth a post (3 new Renfrews. I don’t think you need to hear more about it except that pattern is perfect and easy), because I am waiting for an awesome sale for wool fabric to continue my jacket project, because I seriously don’t know what to think about my version of the Chardon skirt (from Deer and Doe).

So let’s talk about knitting. No project to show at the moment, so instead let’s talk about all the things I wish I knew when I first start knitting.
I am self-taught, well kind of. When I started college, I asked my Mom to teach me to knit a scarf. My Mom helped me to buy a terrible acrylic yarn, gave me a set of straight needles and taught me the stockinette stitch. I knitted a long scarf, all stockinette. For some reasons, the lateral edges kept rolling (I guess because no blocking). I hate it (does that surprise you?). I found it terribly annoying and I decided I was done with knitting.

I finally changed my mind 2 years ago because my mother-in-law was more convincing than my Mom and Ravelry had way too many cool projects. At that time, my family was very far away (they are still far away today) and I didn’t have any knitting friend. So I bought a cheap knitting book for beginner, practiced a bit and bought better material to knit a hat. Of course I made some mistakes, some big, some minors, but you learn by practicing!
So here are some advices if I had to go back in time or to teach someone to knit today.

  • Start with an easy and fast project (a hat, a mug warmer, baby clothes, a coster, a tablecloth etc.). It’s fun and instant reward!

© Julie Farmer (source: Ravelry)

My cousin is pregant, I am thinking about knitting that lovely hat for her baby. It’s quick, easy and super cute. Great learning project!

  • If you are not comfortable with your stitches, practice them until you think you correctly understand it. Before to knit my hat 2 years ago, I practiced with crappy needles and crappy yarn the ribbing pattern. Turnt out I didn’t understand that the yarn needed to be switched from back to front when switching from knit stitch to purl stitch. So I had a lot of yarn over stitches!! It took me a while to figure out why I was having more and more stitches on my needles!!

IMGP9488My first practice project. See the difference between the mess in
the first rows (bottom) and the end of the project (top)?!?
(I used it as a tablecloth when I dyed my hair with henna, hence the not so great / stained color)

  • Knit your gauge (unless you are knitting a shawl or a blanket, then it’s up to you) and wash it the same way as you plan to wash the finished project! Sometimes weird things happen :S
  • Join a group of knitters! The more, the merrier! Knitting is much more popular than you think it is and it’s not a club of Grannies! Check on Ravelry, Meetup.com or Yahoogroup! to find a group next to your place. You will make lots of friends and learn a lot from your more or less experienced new friends 🙂 You might even find someone to help you with your project and that will kindly correct your mistakes (in my group, there is a woman who doesn’t mind weave in end. Seriously, that’s priceless!)
  • If you can’t find a group and feel completely lost with the knitting instructions, yarn requirement etc., go to a yarn store (a real one, not a Jo-Ann or Michael’s store. Just avoid the yarn store in Sunnyvale, CA) and ask kindly the staff. Usually, these people are very friendly and very happy to help you. Sometimes, they have a knitting area in the store where you can sit, knit and socialize, and even a Doctor Knit session. For my first sweater, I was completely lost with the instructions and went to Nine Rubies in San Mateo, CA, to buy the yarn but had no idea what I needed. The lady there was so friendly and so helpful, it changes everything and I didn’t end up frustrated.
  • Try different materials and invest in quality. It doesn’t have to be top quality and overly pricey yarn or tools, but invest in beautiful fibers. Avoid acrylic and instead go for wool, alpaca, merino etc., especially if you plan to wear that sweater a lot. Cheap yarn can be uncomfortable to knit or have a poor finish. Some brands are not that expensive (like Cascade 220 sport, 100% peruvian highland wool, 164 yd/skein, about $5/skein). Same goes for needles. Try different sort of needles (straight, circular, acrylic, wood, bamboo, different brands) I realized I like to work with sharp needles, some of my friends use only specific brand of needles. You have to try first!
  • Don’t be afraid! Sure, you don’t want to start with a lace project, but cables are quite easy (it’s just a stitch inversion), ribbing is easy too (once you understood the yarn position front and back ;)). Whenever you don’t know what does that mean or how to do it, just ask! Either your knitting friends, Ravelry forum, the designer of the pattern or YouTube! Personally, I like tutorials from the knitwitch, but there are other free resources, like Purl Soho. While writing this article, I discovered Twist Collective, lots of great articles there.
  • If after watching tutorials and your friends, you still don’t get it or you just hate that technique, well, just use what works for you! As long as you get the right result, it’s okay! I hate seaming with a needle, I make a terrible work at it, so instead of using the matress stitch technique, I use the slip stitch crochet seam technique. The result is much better than the needle work and it works very well for me.

I think that’s a good start. Any other advice that you would like to share and wish you knew before? Please feel free to share it in the comments, I would love to hear about it, there is so much to learn!