Sunday, May 2, 2021

Not much yarn

The first thing that I do before even starting a project is checking the amount of yarn needed to finish it. Running out of yarn with an almost finished knit on your hands is extremely frustrating. Nowadays, most designers even specify the yardage or length in meters for every size which is exceptionally convenient. Plus with the ubiquitous Internet there is always a possibility to find an extra skein or two.

In this post I am going to talk about two projects that I made recently without having enough yarn to finish. I knew it from the beginning. And still managed to finish both of them.

The yarn in question is Rowan Alpaca Cotton. It's been discontinued as many Rowan yarns are rather soon after being first introduced to the knitters. I made a sweater in it a couple of years ago and had about two balls of leftovers.

The pattern of a hoodie that I saw on Instagram is by brilliant Olga. I already wrote about her while talking about my first polo sweater. She is not a professional designer, but a dentist and sells her amazing patterns only in Russian and only on Instagram.

When I saw her version of a hoodie I immediately bought it. But then I couldn't start it because every yarn that I would try wasn't the right match. I wanted something warm and fuzzy, soft and squishy, preferably in neutral color. At some point I remembered about Rowan Alpaca Cotton and knit a sample from a leftover skein. It looked and felt perfect. Quickly I unraveled my sweater following the method described here, and started working on the hoodie.

Yet, from the beginning I knew that I didn't have enough yarn to finish the hood. I could save some yards shortening the sleeves - which I did ( I always do). But to be on a safe side I searched everywhere trying to find a ball or two of the same yarn. I found 3 (!) ravelers who had some leftover balls and apparently wanted to sell them. I wrote to all of them but no one (!) answered me. Most likely, they stopped going to Ravelry like I did or got rid of this yarn years ago.

I also found a yarn in a similar colorway but thinner - Rowan Alpaca Classic on Love Crafts. Its colorway Feather Grey Melange looked almost like my Alpaca Cotton in Raindrop. While searching in my stash in hopes to find a lost ball of Raindrop I discovered a whole bag with 8 balls of Rowan Alpaca Cotton in a different colorway - Storm. At first I even thought about combining two colors making my hoodie - light shade for the body, and darker shade for sleeves and hood. Yet, in this case I would have had lots of leftovers. I don't like leftovers (who does?) and usually cannot either get rid of them or use them all. So instead I ordered from Love Crafts several balls of Rowan Alpaca Classic in Feather Grey Melange and in Charcoal Melange as well, to go with my darker shade of Alpaca Cotton.

I was right and even shorter sleeves were not a solution. I definitely needed more yarn to finish the hood. Fortunately, Alpaca Classic in Feather Grey Melange combined with Garnstudio Drops Alpaca in grey from my stash gave me almost the same shade and thickness and I was able to finish the hood at last.
The hoodie was done, but the sleeves were rather on a short side as a result of my attempts at saving as much yarn as possible. Normal people, who don't live in South Florida, don't want a hoodie with short sleeves. It kind of defeats the purpose of a hoodie. Plus I had lots of Alpaca Classic and Drops Alpaca. So I cut the ribbed borders of the sleeves, picked up stitches and knit long ribbed cuffs. If you look closely, you can see the difference between the shades, but not much.And I am absolutely smitten by this hoodie. If one day I find an appropriate yarn, I'll make it again.
The pattern is very easy. Back, front, and sleeves are made separately and then sewn together. The devil is in the details. The back is longer than the front and the shoulder seams land on the front. The seams are crocheted from inside in a contrasting yarn so you can see the contrasting stitches (I did it only for the shoulder seams, somehow I didn't like it with all other seams but, according to the pattern, all seams must be done this way). There is also a false seam in the middle of the front and back crocheted with contrasting yarn (there are detailed instructions and pictures in the pattern explaining how to do it).
The hood is a masterpiece, engineered with lots of clever short rows. It has a two sided edging hollow inside where I inserted straps cut from one of my sun hats - they match the hoodie colors perfectly.
While working on the hoodie (it went really fast), I decided to use the darker shade of the Rowan Alpaca Cotton for Brunoy - a pattern from an old Phildar magazine that I found and bought in the PDF version here. As many of you have already noticed, Brunoy looks surprisingly edgy and modern for such an old pattern. And I didn't change a thing, just used a bigger size and made it a little longer.
This is a man's pattern, but I think that unisex is a "motto" du jour and boyfriend jeans, shirts, sweaters became staples of our wardrobes years ago. Men's knitting patterns in the old magazines are crisp, streamlined, and polished. They have great constructions with a deep knowledge of human anatomy that make them fit well.
Brunoy is a simple sweater in stockinette stitch and 1x1 ribbing. It has deep raglan sleeves with an unusual form in order to accommodate a ribbed and zippered insert.

I've been seeing zippers everywhere lately. Since making two zippered jackets for my husband (both from old Phildars, by the way) I wanted to make something with a zipper for myself. My only problem was that I have a finite amount of zippers in my stash (yes, I've stashed even zippers - I live on an island miles and miles away from any knitting or sewing store, don't blame me). Then I saw PetiteKnit's zippered patterns (adorable, right?), went on her website, and ordered zippers in different colors. They look trendy and sporty, unlike the ones I found on Etsy or Amazon.

While the finished hoodie parts were blocked and drying, I started Brunoy using the same needles as for the hoodie and trying to get almost the same size. It meant that my size of choice was Hommes petite (44) for the front and back (112 sts to pick up).
The sleeves on this sweater are big by design so I chose the smallest size - 52 sts. The raglan decreases on this pattern are what you'd call "fancy" and are done with the help of an extra needle. Unfortunately, they are almost invisible on the fuzzy and dark fabric. I hope to knit this pattern in a lighter yarn one day just to make all its beautiful details apparent.
Two parts of the insert and a collar are made separately and sewn to the body after everything else is finished, all parts are blocked and seamed together.

I didn't have enough of the Rowan Alpaca Cotton for the insert and collar, as predicted, because I opted for a more generous size. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Rowan Alpaca Classic is thinner than Alpaca Cotton and I wanted to make the collar doubled to hide a zipper (and a thicker collar would stand up better while zippered). I knit the inserts in 1x1 ribs, all stitches through the back loop, which made them tighter (preventing stretching). After washing and blocking the parts actually fit.

To be completely honest, I didn't figure out how to put this puzzle together right away. It took some mental work and experimenting. Yet, as soon as the two inserts were seamed to the body, the rest was quite obvious. I sewed a dark almost black zipper in between two inserts leaving the rest of it dangle and wait for the collar.
Then with a much darker yarn (Drops Alpaca in black) I made a crochet chain around the collar, picked up stitches for collar in every loop of this chain (there were also some stitches left on stitch holders on the inserts) and knit in 1x1 ribs through the back loop as long as I wanted the collar to be (basically, it was the length of the dangling zipper) and then continued till I could fold it in double.
I sewed live collar stitches to the inside of the neck opening (except 5 stitches at both ends that I put on stitch holders) using the black crochet loops as my guide.

Then I finished with the zipper, hiding it between two parts of the ribbed collar. Using 5 open stitches at each end I made thin stripes that I sewed to the insert from inside covering the zipper's fabric.
The collar/insert manipulations were not easy but the most fun in the whole process of making this sweater. The rest was boring, plain stockinette, and following directions.

Brunoy is a success in my opinion. Mostly because of a thoughtful and correct pattern plus my finishing touches.
Anyway, this is another reason why I stopped looking for new patterns on Ravelry. There are so many great patterns in old magazines (one Pingouin that I have in my collection has 80!!!!!) and most of them, knit in modern yarns with minimal adjustments, would look stunning and fashionable. To say nothing of a great fit!

It is not surprising that my next pattern was also chosen from an old Phildar. But this is a different story (to be continued)...

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