November 22, 2013

9 How to Repair A Pom Pom or Make a Fur Pom Pom

For some reason I'm totally awful at making pom poms.  I've mentioned this before and I know you didn't believe me, so now I want to show you proof.

This is the lovely Reversible Smocked Hat by Elisa McLaughlin.  I loved the pattern so much, I made two.  I never make two of anything!  (not even socks, uh-oh).  I made this version with Rowan Kid Classic.

So, you can see there is a marvelous pom pom on top, right?  And man, did I show it off like a total pom pom dork!  I seriously thought I had conquered my pom pom problems once and for all.  Here is some of what I wrote in my Ravelry project:

I did a mega pompom tutorial with myself before embarking on this incredibly dense and wonderful pompom... Anyone who has seen me make a pompom in the past has laughed in derision.  WELL, I am now an expert.

Oh, gawd.

The pom pom had become a convoluted mess.  

Pieces were sliding out of the center LIKE A BAD HERNIA.  I was always pushing them back in before every wear, only to have them herniate out the other side.

A lot of us assume that because we cut up a pom pom, it is unfixable.  I decided to test this.

I removed all the pieces and piled them up neatly into a nice healthy moustache. 

I even managed to salvage the longer piece of yarn that had "held it together" (use these words loosely), and laid them all on top of it.

Then I tied them together again... REALLY HARD.  Also, I used the gift-wrap ribbon technique where you hold your finger on the knot until the very end, aiming to guillotine my finger.  I then used a doubled piece of thread over the entire binding and tied it even tighter.

Obviously the pom pom won't be as big as the first time, as you have to re-trim all the ends, but hey!  Look at this guy!  Surgery success!

I got to thinking, though, what about avoiding my pom pom issues all together?  Fur pom poms are all the rage.  The bigger the better.  Here is a mondo I-Don't-Want-To-Know-The-Cost-Of one that the lovely Lost In Knit just blogged from Free People.

It turns out that I have tons of old fur lying around.  Old hats, collars, trims, vintage, new, fake, real... I got to messing around with an old pair of rabbit earmuffs.

And what do you know, the ear was removable, and even had a handy elastic sewn into it!

I stuffed it with some polyester fiberfill... very aptly named:

Then I sewed the midpoint of the two sides together with a doubled thread.

Then I gathered the opposite sides in to make more of a rounded ball (it ended up being a muffin top shape, in the end).  

I'm not sure how long the fur will last, it was already rubbing away on the earmuffs, but I'm very happy with how it came out!

And now I am really eyeing what I should do with this pretty fluffy thing that ripped apart years ago...

See my It's a Total Smock-out on Ravelry

Visit my Facebook Page, I'm trying to give myself a Nov. 26 birthday present of 1000 likes.  Silly, huh?

November 13, 2013

10 Steeking Adventures - Pinion Cardigan from Twist Collective

I really love knitting Twist Collective patterns designed by Christa Giles.  Why?  First, every piece never fails to teach me a new technique, despite my experience.  Second, her attention to finishing details is exquisite, especially how she deals with collars and edgings.

And now I must admit, as she is sure to read this (hi, Christa!) that I second-guess her instructions all the time.  Naaaah, I don't need to cast-on this many stitches... nooooo why would I change needle size here?!  Every time I end up ripping back and realizing that she was right.

My first pattern was Candlewick, a cardigan from Twist Collective Spring/Summer 2012.

One of the lessons I learned here was that casting-on twice as many stitches for a garter band and then decreasing them on the next row really helps it drape right.  

I also learned how to knit in a saddle sleeve as you go, very cool.

My recently finished cardigan, I am embarrassed to say, was started over a year ago!  This is Pinion from Twist Collective Winter 2012, made with sport weight yarn.  

I loved the feather yoke, and spent a lot of time deciding what my contrast color for the feathers would be.  I decided stash-busting was in order and went to my old standby Kidsilk Aura scraps from my Sofia Wrap.

I recently used these scraps on my Armenia, as well!

I actually did the entire yoke twice... be warned that it is very important that you meet gauge there, as stranding is always tighter than you might think. I had to go up 2 needles sizes to make it work.  I also picked a larger than usual size (38 1/4" instead of 35" bust).

I think the yoke fits beautifully along the chest and sleeves, wow.

This changing of sizes is the culprit for why this cardigan took so damn long.  The yoke/bust was great, but the lower body and sleeves were too wide.

Instead of really calculating what I needed, I was lazy and just kept re-doing it until it worked.  Not a fun way to do this.  Not a good way to finish your project.  People, do your calculations!

This cardigan is 'steeked'.  This basically means that you cut through your knitting to make the opening.  Sounds a bit like sweater murder, I know.  Sure, you could knit this cardigan flat, but the stranded yoke and knitting in general are much easier in the round... so you need to cut your knitting.

This was my second time steeking.  The first time I did a machine stitch to secure the stitches inside of where I would cut.  But these days my machine is only working in reverse.  (is that not ridiculous, by the way?) 

 So, I went to a source that is often cited for steeks, Kate Davies, and decided on using her crochet technique.  Because most of the steek is not stranded, I used I bright contrast thread to mark the center column to help with where to crochet.

By the way, be loose with your crochet, but not too loose so it isn't bumpy.  Channel Goldilocks, my friend.

Then, cut!

I sewed the hems down the side with slip stitch.  It looks like I pulled out some cut fibers here and there, but the hem is wide enough that it will hold together.

This piece uses beautifully tailored edging, with very specific instructions on what parts to do when.  The ribbing at the bottom meets seamlessly with the button band and the collar.  Very neat, something I want to do again and again in the future.  

Do overlook the loose waistband, I didn't listen to the designer's instructions and have to pay the price.  Do as she says.  And now you know why I call this my oPinionated cardigan!  

As usual, I have some more opinions on how to deal with this, and will update.  (No, it is impossible to rip out, as it is done before the button band.)

Now, let's talk a little bit about the collar.  It's simply too high.  And in alpaca, it is too itchy.  I noticed this on the Twist Collective model, too.  

There are a couple of reasons for this.  One, to have such nice long feathers, you need a long yoke.  But no one likes a yoke that doesn't properly meet the underarm.  So, the length has to be on top.

Also, since I used US 6 needles for the yoke (instead of the recommended US4), it was even longer.  As I said, the fit of the yoke is perfect at the underarms, so all my length went to my neck.

I tried a fix by sewing down a triangle on each corner...

I made it deeper, this is the first try.

...and then doing a single crochet row in the contrast color.  Not bad.  It's not really sitting right with the ribbing, as the two stitches have utterly different elasticities, but I'll accept the hugely added comfort level.

No more being stabbed by a corner every time I moved my head!

The color and lower stems are added after knitting.  The embroidery is quite easy and fun.  But because it is a running slip stitch, it can move around and loosen up in loops.  Make sure everything is smooth before weaving in your ends.


I used little plastic buttons with starburst flowers, cute.  They are the recommended width of the pattern, but I find they slide too easily through the holes.  I suggest you go bigger.  Or maybe it's the slippery alpaca at fault.

The yarn I used was swiped from the leftovers of another yoke project I completed years ago.  This is from a Vogue Knitting pattern from Fall 2008 called Nordic Tradition (by Svetlana Avrakh).

I changed the yoke pattern a wee bit by adding extra crosses.  I was trying to minimize the "burial mound" motif.  Lol, am I right?  It's totally a burial mound:

As a footnote, you'll notice I unknowingly used the same earrings in my oPinionated photo shoot!

This yarn is 100% alpaca from Indiecita, that I got in Santiago, Chile.  It turned out to be extremely difficult to find there.  I know.  Right next to Peru.  Do you know there is actually a yarn district in Santiago?  And it is devoted to acrylic??  Anyway, finally, a shopwoman looked at me quizzically but then opened a bottom drawer with bags of the stuff.  She didn't even want me to touch it!

Well.  Imagine my annoyance when the next yarn shop I went to in the US had the same yarn!  And yes you guessed it... for CHEAPER!  Notice my labels are totally in english.

Alrighty, back to Pinion, then.  As you can see, my sleeves are too long.  

This is in part due to my weakness for long sleeves, in part due to 100% alpaca stretching after soaking.  They will continue to get longer.  But, while working, I realized they were really comfy folded up as cuffs!

So, I am going to re-do the edging so that the right side shows in a folded cuff.  Really, I will.  But.... not today.  Or tomorrow.  :)  I want to wear this thing!

Oh and one other thing, guess what B. said when he came home and saw me wearing it... "You're my pretty squaw!"  Aw!

My oPinionated cardigan on Ravelry

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