Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nihon Vogue Year Two Project-Dolman

The dolman design was something I really did not want to do(who wants a bat wing garment anyway?). As I was to discover, you can do any size bat wing. I chose a minimal size dolman. I must say, this is one of my favorite sweaters. I think the combination of yarn, design and wearability puts it on my favorite list.

I used Rowan Felted Tweed with a 3.75 mm needle.

The dolman construction is unique. To pick up the stitches for the sleeve, you actually use a crochet chain that includes all the stitches you will need down the length of the sleeve and you pick up as you go up the sleeve. At the top of the sleeve you graft the front/back sleeve together. One side is live stitches and one side is bound off. This way you get the structure of the bound off edge without it being too bulky. There is also a ton of short rows at the top of the sleeve. It is a slick way of creating the sleeve.

I wanted a simple cardigan, one that I could hold closed with a shawl pin rather than buttons. I find I rarely button up a cardigan from top to bottom plus I think it can look more dressy this way. Another reason to love this design is you can dress her up or dress her down.

I used a reversible cable so when the fronts flopped opened it had a finished look.

I had to calculate the number of cable repeats would fit around the neck line and luckily the numbers worked out beautifully. I was able to complete 20 full repeats of the cable and I think it looks nice.

Here is some cable detailing on the back neck.

As you knit the pieces, you knit the front/back including the sleeves. This can seem like you are knitting forever without getting anywhere. I had to remind myself that I wasn't just knitting a front or a back. I was knitting the sleeves as well.

I have seen many designs lately that are shrugs that have a rounded bottom front. Rather than being a 45 degree angle, it is rounded. I considered doing a cardigan with this shaping for my final project for year two. I asked Jean about it and she said that this rounding uses the same concept of the dolman curve. I think someday I will have to tackle this, just for fun!

I just finalized my design for my final project for year two. I have wavered many, many times. Cardigan, skirt, cardigan, skirt. Drum roll please. The winner is....skirt.

While my classmates made a capelet, I was the only student that ventured into skirt-land. I knit a worsted weight linen skirt and I think it is very cute. Having just finished that(still have to put the elastic in and sew the band to the skirt and Jean has to show me how to do this) I am inspired to do another skirt. Linen is so easy to care for(washer, then dryer and a quick iron block) and it is good to go. Great for travel because it doesn't get wrinkled.

My final project is done in sport weight linen(on 2.5 mm - a US 1). I pored over so many stitch pattern books and settled on two stitch patterns from one of Barbara Walker's books. I am done swatching and I need to wash/dry it and then I can calculate my final numbers. I hope to cast on in the morning on Thanksgiving before I head to my sister's house.

Also to my fellow classmates...I finished the gansey! When Greg comes home I just have to make sure the bottom ribbing is long enough and then I can finish with the invisible, sewn cast-off. This has been like a marathon. A post is forthcoming but it won't be until next month.

I'm in the home stretch for completing year two! Whew.

This will be my last post before the Thanksgiving holiday. Americans, have a nice long weekend! Enjoy being with friends/family and hopefully you will have some time for some fibery fun!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nihon Vogue Year Two Project-Raglan

The raglan. A popular, classic design.

Most raglan's knit today are done in the round, from the top down. Done in this manner it is convenient because you can try the garment on as you go along and there is virtually no seaming.

This Nihon Vogue raglan for year two is not done in this way. It is a very complex, geometrical way to design a raglan. I learned a lot and I also learned that I may not want to do a raglan of this type again. I did a post on the more technical side of this design in this post.

The upside is learning something new. Supposedly by designing a raglan in this way it will fit better. There isn't as much gapping in the armpit area.

The downside you need to be very exacting and accurate in your knitting. This design is knit in pieces.

There is a good amount of calculation. In addition, I found that you must chart the decreases on a spreadsheet. You MUST do the front/back/sleeve decreases EXACTLY on the same rows. If you don't, when you seam your pieces together the patterns won't match/line up.

I even had to re-knit my sleeves. Ok, I didn't have to re-knit the whole sleeve. I had finished my pieces and Jean was showing me how to sew it up, I realized I had an extra stitch when I began the decreases for the sleeve cap. I asked her, "Can't we just fudge this in?". No. She kind of gave me this look and I knew right then and there what the answer was before she uttered a word. It must be right! So...I undid the sleeve cap portion of both sleeves so my numbers would be right.

I know what you are thinking. Really? One darn(I used a much more appropriate word) stitch? Come on! It is knitting!!

No, this is Nihon Vogue and the whole reason we endeavor into this program is to have professional level garments. This is what I signed up for. I love it. Sure. I didn't love it at that very moment. When I wear it I know things are *just* right. It definitely was worth the extra effort. That is another lesson I am learning in Nihon Vogue. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing it right, especially if you are going to dedicate hours to a project.

There will be plenty of you out there arguing the point that knitting should be enjoyable and fun. Yes, it should. Nihon Vogue is about knitting at a different level. Sure I knit from published patterns and I like not having to *think* about it. I follow the step by step instructions. Nihon Vogue is about creating my own instructions. That is why during my Nihon Vogue projects I take detailed notes about what I did. We have to turn these in with our design notes. Really the design notes are for me, not Jean. They are a history of what I did for a particular design.

Sorry for the detour. Back to the Raglan.

This was an exercise in getting your patterns to match up, whether they be stripes or stitch patterns.

I used a discontinued yarn-Rowan Magpie. This was a wonderful yarn and I don't understand why Rowan discontinued it. I was able to get sweater quantity amounts from some fellow Ravelers. I still have a purplish color and a very beautiful charcoal gray in the stash(ten skeins each). If you have a chance to get your hands on some of this yarn, do so. It shows of cables and patterns very well. It is three ply yarn.

I did my raglan on 5.0mm for the body and 4.0mm for the ribbing. I only used 7.5 skeins which included swatching.

My inspiriation for the pattern was the Charade Socks. I love the simpleness of it and decided to use that stitch for the raglan challenge...lining up the patterns.

The cable for the front was from a Starmore design...can't remember which at the moment and I am too lazy to go look.

This is a warm and cozy sweater and now that the temperature has fallen it will get more use!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nihon Vogue Year Two Project-Aran

Another classic design. An aran sweater with saddle shoulders.

This was something I was really excited about. I hunted and hunted for traditional aran yarn(3-ply). I was going to use some of my Rowan Magpie but I wasn unsure if I had enough yardage. Since this yarn is not easy to find, I opted to find something that was readily available.

I settled on Wendy Traditional Aran. I knit this on a 4.00 mm.

The wonderful thing about this design was learning a way to do the saddle so it stays centered on your sleeve as you wear it. If you knit saddles in the "traditional" way, both sleeves are knit identically.

With Nihon Vogue, the two sleeves are just ever so slightly different. What do I mean?

When you draw/design your sleeve, your saddle is not centered identically. For example, my saddle was 7 centemeters. I positioned my saddle so that 4cm of the saddle was going to the front of my sleeve and 3cm was going to the back of the sleeve. The difference in actual stitches was only 2 stitches but the difference in how the garment lays when worn makes all the difference.

I used many traditional aran stitch patterns. For instance, the honeycomb used on the front was only using 3/4 of a full stitch pattern so that I could fit the patterns I wanted in the real estate I had available(my body measurements).

I used a Beth Brown Reinsel design/pattern stitch for the button bands, lower band and neck band. The way the buttonhole side of the XO patterns is knit, is it incorporates a buttonhole without altering the look of the stitch pattern. Brilliant.

Here are other details of the sweater:

As you can see on the back, for the honeycomb I only used 1/2 a usual repeat so I could fit the design elements I wanted, within that real estate. Although the two honecomb pattern is slightly different on the front and back, it is an okay design element(in my opinion) because they are separated by the saddle. This gives more design freedom between the front and back pieces.

This was a very time consuming project but well worth the results.

I must say, my year two projects have been designs I really am proud to wear. Things I designed and knit in year one...well there is only one that I really like. Now that I have such a strong foundation of skills and design practice, I am more satisfied with the end result of my designs this year.

Even though I am not yet done with year two, I look forward to year 3 and 4. That is when the real design work happens. I feel confident about it because Jean has given me such a strong foundation.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nihon Vogue Year Two Project-Puffy Sleeve

I admit. The blog has taken a back seat to my Nihon Vogue projects.

As I always say, I love the Nihon Vogue program. It is challenging, it is fun and there are many rewards from the hard work.

The first project for year two was a puffy sleeve garment. I used a Trendsetter Yarns Superkid Seta. It is 70%superkid mohair and 30% seta silk. I wanted something lightweight, yet warm. I imagined the puffy part of the sleeve being light and airy. Not like the large puffy sleeves from the eighty's.

I used a 3.25 mm needle(US5) with a single strand of the yarn. I think I used only 3 skeins.

If I were to knit this again, I would make the sleeves much shorter. I love this garment and I have worn it a lot. I loved learning the technique on making the puff for the sleeve. I also did some short rows near the ribbing at the bottom of the sleeve so there would be a little puff shelf-like thing. It didn't do exactly what I wanted but if I were to do it again I think the modifications I would do would make it exactly how I envisioned.

As I was knitting the garment, I realized I had an issue with the lace pattern I used. I found this lace pattern in a Japanese stitch pattern book. In the book with 1000 patterns, it is number 271.

Because of the mohair, the patterning is obscured, which is good in this case. I like symmetry. The lace is not symmetrical on each side of the center line of the front and on the back. It looks just fine but it is just something to think about in design. Despite this design flaw on this garment, I had the same "issue" in another garment this year. Oh well.

Isn't that how life is? Lessons everywhere!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It has been waaayyyy too long

I think I have a lot in common with other bloggers. How?

I create a ton of blog entries in my head. That is where they have stayed for the past couple months.

I want to share my Nihon Vogue projects I have completed for year two. I have been dragging my feet in doing an entry because the photos are on my husband's computer. Since he is the professional photographer he takes the photos I need to turn in my projects for Nihon Vogue. We need to turn in a design notebook with all the details of a design as well as a photo.

I will post photos soon(I always have good intentions!).

I just want to do a quick post. I am not even sure if there are still people out there reading my blog!

Why did I have enough motivation to do a post?

I am anxiously awaiting a Golding Fiber Tools drop spindle. I don't have one of those! I have friends that like them. I also have friends that are lukewarm about them. I get to find out for myself!

What prompted a Golding purchase? This past weekend I was in Nihon Vogue class and a couple of my friends are rabid spindlers! I just love that! Candace had her Golding and it is just so pretty! I had to have one! It is research after all, right?

I was so excited for today. My spindle was to arrive today. I then realized....it is a holiday. So it won't arrive until tomorrow!

Oh, the anticipation!

I ordered the Celtic Sheep which is currently out of stock.

I want to post more, just to share what I am doing in my retirement! I am actually productive!