Alpaca Bouclé Cardigan

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This is one of the few knitted garments that I actually made out of real need, both temperature- and style-wise. I made some nice Archer button-ups and bought some beautiful silk shirts this winter, and the only possibility to wear them so far, was with a long sleeved t-shirt underneath and/or a sweater on top, which is not optimal… So when my favorite yarn shop in Budapest announced its yarn sale, i got this beautiful alpaca bouclé Drops yarn for around 2,30€ the skein (which made the price for the whole jacket less than 15€!), and started improvising.

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The yarn is not for beginners, and knitting it can be confusing at times, as it has these tiny loops that make it look and feel really nice, but these loops can be easily mistaken for stitches and you can’t see at all what kind of stitches you made… However, it is very forgiving, seems and mistakes are not visible at all. I ended up with a basic V-neck shape. These are the measurements and the pattern that I used for a medium size:

Cardigan Pattern

The whole cardigan is knit in stockinette stitch, with 5cm 2×2 rib.

Circumference: 95cm, Length: 52cm, Sleeve length: 47cm

Gauge: 15sts = 10cm on 4,5 needles

Back: 70 sts cast on, 5cm rib, 50 cm in stockinette. Place the middle 24 sts on hold, neck shaping: every 2. row bind off 1×2 and 1×1 sts. Bind of at 52cm from cast on edge.

Front pieces: 34 sts cast on, 5cm rib, after 30cm decrease for the front V-neck: bind off 1 st every 4th row (repeat 10 times). Bind off after 52cm.

Sleeves: 26 sts cast on, 5cm rib. Next row pick up 4 sts evenly distributed in the row. Pick up 2 sts every 6th row, repeat 17 times. Bind off after 47cm.

Finishing: Seam all parts together, pick up stitches around the right and left front and knit 5cm rib for the button band, including buttonholes (k2tog, 1yo for the buttonholes).

 

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It was knit super fast, during the last days of my stay in Budapest, which ended in the buttonholes being on the wrong side… The day of departure was one of the first days of wearing it, and I think I haven’t taken it off since (I have changed the shirts underneath, no worries!). I honestly do not know what I was wearing before I had this magic cardigan. It is chic and basic, adds texture to an outfit and pairs nicely with my patent leather shoes and skinny jeans. I didn’t have the time yet to sew on buttons, and I might just leave it at that for the moment.

 

Project summary:

Pattern: my own
Yarn: 15€

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Summer Sewing Plans

Apart from sewing basics and replacing and/or recycling worn out garments such as leggings and t-shirts, I have some more exciting plans for this summer season:

Turia Dungarees

First are the Turia Dungarees by Pauline Alice Patterns. After seeing this image on Instagram of the designers behind horses atelier, the idea of simple black dungarees stayed in my mind. I will try the turia dungarees in black (of course), but plan on tightening the legs around the ankle, I am not really a fan of seventies fashion…

beautiful heidi & claudia #bestofbootsandpine #bootsandpine

A post shared by Arden Wray (@ardenwray) on

 

Watson Bra

Next up is the famous Watson Bra by Cloth Habit. After seeing it everywhere, I also want to try my luck at bra making. I already have all the supplies waiting! Some beautiful mesh and lace from Komolka Stoffe in Vienna and notions, partly recycled from old bras. I will try the long version first, as a lot of you mentioned the better support it gives. Having an uncommon bra size makes it hard to find soft cup bras without underwires, so I hope this will be a way to fix this! The plan is to make a bikini and swimsuit as well…

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Quilted Jacket

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Last for now is a self-drafted little quilted jacket. I will probably copy it directly from a quilted jacked my friend bought in a vintage shop in Budapest, and it will be black (again…) with a greyish blue lining and brass buttons.

So far the plans! We will see what happens next!

My First Sweater

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Part 1

Inspired by the my fist sweater series over on Fringe Association and Marlee’s post on the Have Company blog, I decided it’s time to write about the journey to my first sweater. Before I started knitting again last winter, I had almost forgotten, that I had a heavy knitting phase in late high school, before I started studying. I remember quite well how the desire to start knitting evolved out of a shopping trip with my mother when I was about 16 or 17. I saw a beautiful grey wool sweater that I loved but found too expensive, easy conclusion (at least for me…): I will knit my own! So I jumped in the cold water, went with my mother to the tiny hippie yarn store in Tübingen, south of Germany, where I grew up.

Just recently after reading a lot about sustainable fashion and regionally produced yarns, I came to fully appreciate this shop. They just carry small-batch yarns from local mills in the area of the Swabian alps, most of the yarns dyed with natural dyes. They skeins don’t have labels, so you never remember what you got, and it is quite impossible to order anything, but this little store is a treasure, that just like when it was opened (probably in the late 70s/early 80s).

So I bought my dark brown yarn, and…designed my own pattern! A rough outline and some instructions from my mother (who is a highly talented knitter, by the way, but sadly lost the passion for it over the years…) I embarked on my first sweater adventure. A few weeks later all the parts were done, sewn together and… I tried on the sweater, and it looked like a giant gorilla costume. We had some fun looking at this failure, I am still very very sad that no one took a picture of me wearing it… I quickly unraveled the sweater and made another giant scarf out of it that fell victim to moths some years ago.

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Part 2

After this failed first attempt at knitting a sweater, I was determined to get it right the next time. I found a pattern in one of the Gardening Magazines of my mother, a nice men’s fisherman sweater. I went back to the hippie yarn store and got some green and turquoise yarn to mix up the perfect color. This time I thought a bit more before starting, adjusted the men’s size to mine and finished with a perfectly fitting sweater. I mostly used it for outdoor evenings by the fire (which we did a lot as teenagers in the countryside…), when the summer nights were still a bit too chilly to be outside without a jacket. It still has some spilled wax stains on the cuffs and almost smells like barbecue.

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Thinking back about my early knitting projects, it is quite interesting of how little my goals and motives changed over time. My taste and color choices, sure, but the basics are still the same: I want these beautiful clothes but cannot afford them, I am (almost) never scared of a challenge starting a project and I am always adjusting, readjusting and fitting the clothes that I make to my own idea. And I fail quite a lot 😉

How to… mend socks with giant holes

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These are the favorite and most-worn wool socks of my girlfriend, and after two winters of heavy wear they have giant holes in the soles. Naturally, this poses not a problem, but a challenge! There are some supplies needed for a project like this one. The socks are machine-knit, which means that the yarn used is very thin – good that I remembered the tiny 2,5 needles that I got as a present once and never used. I am not a sock-knitter so far, and really don’t enjoy knitting with small needles like these, but in the end they come in handy! The next thing you need is a yarn in roughly the same color and weight as the socks, this is more important if the holes are in a more visible place. I could have continued the norwegian-style red and white pattern, but that was too much… I hope the yarn I chose will hold up the heavy wear these socks get, we will see.

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The first thing is to turn the socks inside out and assess the state of the fabric: maybe there are smaller holes that are not visible at the first glance? Maybe there are other places that are getting thin? I chose to patch up a generous part of the sole, to avoid having to mend them again after two months.

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After the area to be mended is determined, you pick up stitches using a tapestry needle and your first double-pointed needle. If the yarn is the same weight as the socks, you can orient the picked up stitches on the stitches of the original. Next you continue knitting until the damaged area is covered, bind up the stitches and the work is already almost done!

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Seam the patch to the sock with the tapestry needle and you’re done! Good as new! I recommend attaching the patch to the sock when the patched area is as big as the one I encountered, so the two layers are not moving against each other too much.

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Happy mending!