Rowan Roadshow

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I still remember how I spent some of my childhood days in Britain. When I was exploring the city with my mum, I would always stop at the local yarn shop and gaze at the windows in wonder. None of us was knitting back then, but both of us admired the stranded colourwork, heavy intarsia and cable knit jumpers in beautiful, muted colour palettes.  The pattern books that also were on display indicated a yarn brand called Rowan which was responsible for the designs I instantly had fallen in love with.

More than a decade later when I finally started to knit, I was happy to learn that this company still existed and was pretty famous for their high quality yarns and exquisite designs. I browsed their patterns on Ravelry and started to collect older issues of the knitting and crochet magazine. My first Rowan sweater followed soon. It was knit in Kid Classic, a wool, mohair and nylon blend I still like a lot. Currently, I am knitting a yoked sweater in Kidsilk Haze, but I will tell you more about it another time.

I am glad to have been invited to the Rowan roadshow in Hamburg where I had the opportunity to learn more about a brand that has been inspiring me for such a long time. The company still follows its heritage of quality yarns in paintbox colour palettes paired with timeless design. I was a bit ashamed that I had missed the launch of two pure British yarn qualities, Valley Tweed and Moordale. Both are spun in Britain from British Fleece and are featured in this autumn’s British Made pamphlet. You may have noticed already that the Knitting and Crochet Magazine now is divided into a main collection and the Focus magazine. This season, Rowan focuses on natural fibres but the topic will change every season. You can purchase these two publications bound together with a wrap or individually which I find a pretty cool idea.

A completely new concept is Mode at Rowan. This collection is a capsule wardrobe in a contemporary design that reflects current fashion trends. The patterns are intended to fit easily into your wardrobe and beginner-friendly to knit. This fall, Mode at Rowan consists of a large pattern book with 18 patterns and four smaller publications showcasing one yarn quality each.

Another new concept is the 4 project pamphlet. Each issue has four patterns in one yarn quality and is yarn shop exclusive, so not available online. But talking online availability, I am delighted to find the patterns of all other new Rowan publications for individual purchase on their website! An exception is the Rowan Magazine which is available in a digital version only in the Rowan App.

One of my personal highlights this season is Arne & Carlos’ remarkable men’s collection. It is called New Nordic Men’s Collection and interprets classic Norwegian knits in a fresh and modern way. Vegard, Vidar and Jens are my favourites, but all designs are really clever. I would definitely wear them myself as they perfectly work as unisex designs.

There are two new yarns for this season, Cashmere Haze and Island Blend. Cashmere Haze is a laceweight blend of 40% alpaca, 30% cashmere and 30% silk with a meterage of 230m per 25g ball. It is a sister yarn to Kidsilk Haze but even softer and more luxurious.

Island Blend is a DK weight yarn composed of 70% Falkland merino wool, 15% baby alpaca and 15% silk. It is super soft and has a beautiful stitch definition.

I also was allowed to take a first glimpse at the SS20 collection, but at the moment, I am mainly looking forward to fully indulge in winter, my favourite season. I will let you know more later this year.

Thank you, Rowan, for the wonderful and informative meeting in Hamburg! Also thank you for the product samples, I am looking forward to try them out!

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New Knitting Pattern: Jewels

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When I first started to experiment with stacked stitches, a technique Xandy Peters is quite famous for, I was fascinated by the endless possibilites that opened up to me. One of them was using stacked increases for shaping, so I created an unusual edging for an otherwise pretty classic, cap-sleeved, slightly cropped tee. This included contrasting bobbles to add that little extra something. Jewels was born and already is my favourite top to wear this fall.

If you have never worked stacked stitches before, the technique may seem a bit intimidating, but I found it quite easy to learn. It allows to create wavy structures without any short rows or a gazillion of individually attached pieces. Nonetheless, I recommend to take a test run with some scrap yarn to get used to it.

Jewels is part of The Fibre Co.‘s yarn support programme and uses their wonderful Road to China Light, a luxury blend of 65% baby alpaca, 15% silk, 10% camel and 10% cashmere. The sport weight yarn is very soft, warm yet light and gives extraordinary drape. Jewels is worked top-down in one piece with set-in sleeves. It is slightly cropped and intended to end at the top edge of a medium-waist pair of jeans. Jewels comes in 17 sizes from 28” – 60” bust circumference. You can buy the pattern on Ravelry. I am looking forward to your interpretations!

Please contact me in case you need a larger size, I am sure we can work it out.

A DIY Tulle Circle Skirt, Maxi Length

Have you ever wondered why maxi length, DIY tulle circle skirt tutorials are really hard to find? I’m going to explain. But first, you should take a look at any DIY tulle circle skirt tutorial (just google it, there are loads of good tutorials!) to get an overall idea of what I did.

My idea was to get a ridiculously full skirt. I wanted to achieve this by layering 10 tulle donuts and add a visible, elastic waistband. The first problem was the tulle as such. For a knee-length circle skirt, standard-width fabric works fine. To achieve maxi length, you either have to sew together two half-donuts per layer (best idea with fine, soft tulle 😜) or find extra wide tulle fabric. As you can imagine, it took me a while to find something suitable. In the end, my aunt got me some (25 m) 2.8 m wide tulle from Paris.

I cut out quarter donuts from folded fabric, but I had to secure the folds with fabric clips to make sure the layers could not shift while cutting them. In consequence, it took me a while to cut out all ten donuts.

Next, I wanted to preassemble the donuts before sewing them together. This means, I first had to find a large enough space on the floor to lay out a circle of 2.3 m in diameter.

As the tulle layers shift easily on top of each other, I had to pin them together layer by layer, fabric clip per fabric clip. I may have taken a break after this step.

When I thought the worst part was over, I put the preassembled ten layers on the sewing machine. Sadly, even soft tulle puffs up enormously, so I could not see the foot and needle of my sewing machine anymore.

I ended up watching from the side and was sewing at an incredibly low speed to make sure I sew a straight seam catching all layers.

Adding the elastic waistband afterwards was almost a pleasure compared to any of the steps before.

However, I love this skirt and still would not change any part of it. Of course, four layers of tulle would have puffed up enough to make this an impressive skirt. You also may complain about the (intentionally!) missing layer of lining as you can still see my legs through ten layers of tulle, but I am totally fine with it. It is a bit hard to make sure the tulle does not get caught somewhere when wearing it, but it is well worth the effort. Now I am just lacking a bodice to make this my go-to evening gown. I might have something in mind already, stay tuned!

New Knitting Pattern: Nightshade

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The idea behind Nightshade dates back quite a while to when my aunt asked me to knit her a cropped summer sweater. It should be ridiculously wide and boxy but at the same really short to just cover the breasts. The sleeves were intended to look like long sleeves, but in fact should just reach from the wrists to the elbows and be super tight. Sounds like a challenge? Well, here is the solution!

Nightshade is a lightweight, drapey, cropped sweater. This perfect layering piece for chilly summer evenings ends above your waist so you can wear it 90s-style to a pair of low-rise pants or in a more contemporary fashion to a high-waist bottom. The body is worked flat, the sleeves are worked in the round. All pieces are knit bottom-up and then sewn together. You can easily adapt the body to knitting in-the-round, but I recommend to stick to the pattern as the side seams add structure.

The shape of this sweater is very bold, so I have added minimalist, rolled edges to keep the focus on the shape. The yarn used is The Fibre Co. Meadow, a luxurious, fingering weight blend of 40% Merino wool, 25% baby llama, 20% silk and 15% linen. The yarn is drapey, soft and rustic at the same time with a beautiful semisolid colour effect due to the different fibre types. The surprisingly good meterage of the yarn makes my size M (36-38” bust circumference) sample weigh only 214g!

As Nightshade is my first graded pattern and I had problems finding test knitters, the sizes currently range from 28-30” to 52-54” bust circumference. If you need a larger size, please contact me and let me know which size you are interested in. I am sure we can work it out together. Please also contact me when you like my style and are interested in test knitting future patterns. I have a lot of ideas waiting to become new patterns!

You can buy the Nightshade pattern on Ravelry, as always. Go, show it a little love! Happy knitting!

How to Sew Yourself a Bra

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I am wearing a non-standard bra size which is not available in Germany in case I insist on a modern/ lacy/ not-you-grandma style within a limited budget. I usually order my bras from the UK where sizes for full-breasted women are a lot easier to find. But when it comes to stylish soft bras, things get a lot more complicated.

As this year’s WGT is approaching and I plan to wear some tops with extra large armholes, I need something nice to wear underneath. While browsing sewing patterns, I stumbled upon Emerald Erin’s Jordy Bralette which is a pretty simple design that showcases your cloth perfectly. I turned a non-stretch, olive cotton sateen into a stunning result that sadly is unwearable.

The two cups are attached to an elastic band which is closed with hooks and eyes on the back. In my opinion, this construction makes the pattern not suitable for larger breasts as it lacks the support needed. The straps cannot compensate this. Another weakness of the pattern is that you can of course try on the cups before attaching them to the underbust elastic and straps, but you will not know if this bralette works for you until you have finished it. What a pity!

Before I could work myself up into frustration, I decided to try out Madalynne’s Barrett Bralette pattern. Before starting, I had done a little research if it was suitable for larger breasts and had found some projects that looked quite good. First, I cut and sewed the cups only from leftover scuba cloth. The largest size had a good fit, but the scuba did not give enough support for a 34F bra size. Next, I sewed the cups in a glittery, black cotton sateen containing 5% spandex. This cloth is totally not intended for lingerie, but was the perfect solution to my problem. As the barrett pattern is designed as a pull-on bra without back closure, I had to improvise a back closure due to an intended lack of elasticity. This meant finding the right back band length for my hook and eye closure (the 3XL back band was way too long!) and reshaping the back band to fit the side cup seams on the one side and my closure on the other. In fact, I just drew a line and cut away a triangle for a fast and easy solution. And here it is, my custom-sized, dark disco bralette.

I know that there are a lot of visible mistakes. I also could have added a lining as the pattern suggests, but this version will do for the moment. There still is room for improvement, but I have enough fabric left to sew myself another one. This, by the way, leads to my conclusion on how to sew a bra: just start and iterate the fit until you like it. And please, start with leftover fabric as the first try might not necessarily lead to a wearable result. 🙂

On Crochet Hooks

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Crochet never was a friend of mine. It took me years to understand the concept of one needle only to realise that my hands tire extremely fast even after I had acquired the basic skills.

Well, it seems like the problem was pretty easy to solve. The way I hold the hook just did not match the shape of the handle. While my hands tire and cramp using crochet hooks with thin or cylindrical handles, they do not when I use flattened handles like the Chiaogoo ones.

I deliberately chose bamboo handles as I had one other crochet hook that worked well for me, but whose handle was treated with a soft touch finish. Initially, this was not a problem at all, but the coating interacted with my natural hand cream and became sticky over time.

To test my new hooks and to improve my crochet skills, I decided to challenge myself with a doily. I chose the free Mathilde pattern by Grace Fearon and some cheap, red crochet thread. The pattern is well-written and easy to follow. I had to look up about half of the required skills, but there are tons of good tutorials on YouTube, some are even linked in the pattern. I’m pretty amazed by the result. Maybe, I’ll give crochet another chance.

A Full Intarsia Argyle Sweater

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When my dad asked me to knit him a fingering weight, Shetland argyle sweater, I did not expect how long it would take. I started it in September 2018 as a Christmas gift, but it ended up as a 2019 Easter gift. However, my dad is super happy with it.

I have modified the Jagger pattern by Martin Storey as a full intarsia front with navy sleeves and back. The yarn is Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift, a classic Shetland yarn for colourwork sweaters.

The largest size used about 450g of yarn on 3.5mm needles, 3.0mm for the ribbings.

This was my first large intarsia project, with up to 40 bobbins hanging at the back of each row of the front part. Nonetheless, intarsia knitting is not complicated once you get the hang of it. You may need a lot longer than usually to knit one row as you need to twist every crossing of two colours, but it does not get more complicated. The hard part comes when you have finished knitting and start to sew in a gazillion of loose ends. And that may be the reason why I finished knitting the pieces in January and finished the sweater as a whole in April.

I have to admit, I like the technique of intarsia knitting but I do not plan to knit such a large size in fingering weight ever again. However, I already have cast on the next large intarsia project, but this time a sweater for myself in a heavier yarn weight. At least, this time all pieces will have colourwork. I am already curious to see how much I will regret it.