I was scrolling though Pinterest the other day, looking for pinspiration, when I was reminded of the Macaron dress I planned to make nearly two years ago.
I’ve got a wedding coming up in a few months, and I think this dress would be perfect. I immediately dug out the pattern pieces I cut over a year ago.
I’m pretty much planning for this project to be a toile. I have a weird love-hate relationship with the fabrics I chose. I never normally wear pink, but I couldn’t resist the pretty floral pattern and birds. I remain unsure about whether the blue looks good, or the top of the dress would pop more with a white contrast.
Anyway, it will be a pleasant surprise if I end up with a wearable dress. I’ve never bothered making a toile before, but I paid full price for the Liberty fabric and I’m really looking for perfection in the final garment. Macaron is quite an intricate pattern so I’m a little apprehensive about my ability to fix fitting problems. Eek!
I whizzed through the steps of constructing the bodice pretty quickly.
As soon as I tried on the bodice, I realised there were big problems. The fit on the waist was tight and the bust seemed okay, but I had a lot of fabric pooling in the back.
You can even see the bagginess on the hanger. I tried pinching in the side seams and tugging in various directions, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it lie flat. This is my first solo attempt at a fitted bodice.
I decided to trace a copy of the bodice pattern to make my adjustments. This is a bit of a case of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted- since I cut out the pattern pieces, I’ve lost the larger sizes. However, this way I still have a back-up in case my alterations somehow make the fit even worse.
I ended up deciding to book a private sewing lesson to get some expert fitting advice. I completed as many steps as possible to take along. I have to say, Macaron is surprisingly easy to construct given the polished final look of the dress.
Slashing the pleats to place the pockets was a bit scary, but I adore the final result. This is what the pieces looked like before my lesson.
Wish me luck!
Pattern: Macaron by Collette Patterns
Fabric: Viscose bought on holiday in Indonesia. The blue is some random fabric purchased on Goldhawk Road
As I’ve mentioned numerous times, my obsessive passion for knitting has taken a nosedive over the past few months. I think that this is partly due to becoming a highly competent knitter. I don’t feel particularly challenged by prospective knitting projects. Another part is dissatisfaction with some of the garments I have created. Since you are creating shaped fabric as you knit, once an item is finished, it’s finished. If there’s something you don’t like about it, often that’s a case of tough luck.
There’s also a limit to the number of knitted garments that a wardrobe can take. Realistically, I don’t wear knitted jumpers that often. They are a bit casual for workwear, and if I’m looking for comfort, I usually reach for a RTW sweatshirt or hoodie rather than one of my creations.
I think this is why sewing has started to interest me so much more. You can create a much wider variety of clothing, and home-sewn items are less radically different to shop-bought than handknit to machine knit.
However, the experiences of knitting and sewing are vastly different. For me, sewing is highly immersive and addictive. I fly through the steps, desperate to discover the result of my fevered work in front of the machine. I scarcely breathe. This is partly my personality- being outcome- rather than process-oriented (something I try to work on). It’s also a side-effect of my being a relative novice. When I first started knitting, I would occasionally stay up all night working on a project. However, I also think it’s partly due to inherent differences in the two activities.
This is a very long-winded way of saying that I miss knitting. As an attentionally impoverished millennial, I am basically incapable of sitting still. I’ve noticed that I’ve started playing stupid games on my phone while I’m watching TV. This used to be knitting time.
I haven’t forced myself to do any knitting during my fallow period. But recently my interest in yarn has started to pick up. After reading a very interesting blog post by Tom of Holland, I picked up a copy of Indigo Knits, a wonderful book about working with denim yarn.
I also bought Inspired by Islay, Kate Davies’ most recent publication.
This jumper is everything to me. I’m holding off on starting because I need to consider whether there is a gap in my wardrobe for her. I would like a cropped sweater to wear over skirts and dresses, but I’m not sure whether this is the right candidate.
I also bought some of Kate’s Buachaille wool. I’ve been wanting to try it ever since it was released. So far I’ve just made a swatch.
So, some stirrings of wanting to knit, and a small project to work on are positive signs. I think that even holding off on starting Port Charlotte represents progress. A mistake I’ve made over and over is starting projects without sufficient thought and research. Knitting a garment is slow, labour-intensive and expensive. I owe it to myself as a craftsperson to put in the legwork to have the best chance of ending up with something I love.
I picked up some beautiful merino and silk yarn on sale a couple of months ago. The blue is right up my street but the purple… I’m not so sure about. Don’t get me wrong, Old Maiden Aunt’s colours are stunning, this is a matter of taste. I like my colours poppy and highly saturated, and this is a little more muted and smoky than I normally choose. This is a peril of buying yarn online. I’ve since been a little uncertain about what to make. After swatching, I cast on for a second Waterlily top but I still wasn’t feeling it.
At the same time, I cast on a simple Featherweight cardigan in the sock yarn that I was generously given by the receptionist at one of my schools. After a few rows, I realised this was a poor marriage of yarn and pattern. The variegation makes the cardigan a little too handmade-looking for me.
It’s just as well that I made this decision as I didn’t swatch (due to normally getting similar gauge with fingering weight yarns) and once I checked gauge, I knew that the cardigan would have turned out a little small.
ANYWAY all of these little stops and starts led me to cast on Featherweight in the purple. I’ve tinkered with the cast-on numbers as some of the finished Featherweights on Ravelry look a little baggy in the shoulders. Hopefully my maths is correct!
So far it’s looking good and an advantage of top-down jumpers is being able to try them on throughout the process.
As you may be able to see, the fit on the shoulders looks okay. Maybe a little big across the back, but not enough to re-knit the yoke. After trying on and doing some knitting maths over the weekend, I’ve decided to do a few more rows with sleeve increases only to make sure the sleeves will be wide enough.
Something I’m mulling as I knit is whether to make the collar in the same colour, or to colour block. At the moment I’m leaning towards colour blocking as the purple is a little less bright than I normally like, so I think a contrast collar could really lift it. I’m thinking maybe a nice navy, or I could overdye some of the purple with fuchsia to give a brighter, pinker, more saturated purple. Decisions, decisions…
Pattern: Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig
Yarn: Old Maiden Aunt Merino/Silk 4ply in Derelict Daughter
In other cardigan news, I think my turquoise D Minus cardigan is heading to the frog pond. I made a mistake with the front increases that means that the fronts would cross rather than be open as I wanted. The problem with knitting the sleeves before the body is that I can’t really correct this mistake without a lot of upheaval. Plus I’m not in love with the idea of a DK weight cardi. I imagined this as a light layer to throw over a dress or shirt, and this cardigan may not have met the brief. I don’t have an alternative project in mind for the yarn so I won’t rip it out just yet. But I think it’s gonna happen.
I can’t believe that I actually made this stunning shawl. I have grown so much in confidence as a knitter over the past five years, I never would have imagined being able to make something like this even a couple of years ago. I’m hoping to get some beautiful modelled shots of my shawl in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime I’ll share with you some things I learned from making this piece of wearable art, which I hope will help others attempting their first piece of openwork knitted lace.
For comparison, here is how it looked before blocking.
Unfortunately I foolishly didn’t measure the size of my blocking mats before I started, so I actually need to re-block this shawl to the correct dimensions. I think that stretching the lace out will make it look even more beautiful. I also found out that I should have used blocking wires at the top edge of the shawl for a cleaner edge, so I will also do this on my second attempt. I can’t say I mind too much as it means I can do this post as well as one with some (hopefully) beautiful modelled shots of the re-blocked shawl in a couple of weeks. Silver linings!
I also think I squeezed too much water out of my shawl before I started pinning it out. It was drying out far too quickly, which means that some of the points aren’t as… pointy as intended. Threading the blocking wires takes time and the piece needs to be damp until you feel confident that it’s in the right shape.
Pattern: Rock Island by Jared Flood
Yarn: Violet Lynx Dyeworks Ariel (bought on etsy)
Ravelry project page including detailed notes.
Just a note, if you are knitting a shawl using a gradient yarn as I did, make sure the yardage of the skein is not much more than the recommended yardage of the pattern. I didn’t know this, which means that you really can’t see the gradient effect in my shawl. I don’t mind as I think it’s still beautiful, but I would have been bummed out if I had had my heart set on this being an ombre shawl.