Sorbetto by Colette

Sorbetto by Colette

The pattern for Sorbetto, a sleeveless top, is a free download from Seamwork. You can get yours here.

There are three views: a sleeveless top, a longer sleeveless top and a top with short sleeves:Sorbetto by Colette

I thought it would be great to have a basic blouse pattern and like the simplicity of this one.

First I made version 1 in a woven rayon print, and here’s the result:Sorbetto by Colette sewn by Deborah Cooke

This top was easy to sew and fairly quick to make. It fits me reasonably well. (The bust dart is in the right place – kind of a surprise since I’ve been lowering bust darts on everything – so if your girls are perky, you might want to double-check its location before you cut.) You can see that the front pleat kind of disappears when you use a print fabric.

I don’t love the top, though, and had to think about that. Why does it feel frumpy?

I went back and looked at the pattern pictures from the Colette website. The orange top actually looks a bit snug at the underarm on the model and the top definitely is more narrow in the shoulders than mine, especially across the back. I bound the seams instead of turning under the seam allowance, but that only adds 1/4″. The shoulders on my blouse are too wide, even for Nell.

Sorbetto by Colette Sorbetto by Colette

Cutting for my bust size and ending up with a top that’s too wide in the shoulders is a familiar issue for me. It isn’t a huge deal with a sleeveless blouse, but means I don’t want to make the version with sleeves until I work that out. The top also catches me a bit across the hips when I sit down, which means it needs to be either wider at the hem or shorter overall.

One issue at a time. I decided to try a version with a shirt tail hem. I chose another woven rayon print from my stash. Both of these rayon prints came from Fabricland, and I think they were both included in a huge feature of rayon prints at $5/m last year. I love woven rayon prints and bought a bunch of yardage then. I’ve cut a dress out of each of these prints, so cut these blouses from the remnants, using the rayon as muslin. This rayon, though, is much softer than the navy one, which is more crisp, and wow, what a difference that made. There is nothing that can make you regret a million miles of bias binding like a soft, floaty fabric! After much gnashing of teeth, here’s the result:Sorbetto by Colette sewn by Deborah Cooke

It turns out that I don’t love the shirt tail hem, plus I had some issues getting it right at the side seams – because I’d felled the seams. One side is great; the other, not so much. (grrrr.) There is a tech article in this month’s Threads magazine about that very challenge, so I’ll have a look and learn.

Oops a one way designThis is a top of many errors – I was sure the print wasn’t a one-way design but I was only looking at the wider stripes. Look how the narrow ones between those wider ones alternate. Oops. It IS a one-way design, but I had to invert the back to cut it out of the remnant.

I also inverted the front pleat by mistake. (No pix. I forgot.) And I originally sewed the front pleat as a tuck at the neck and didn’t sew it down. This made a floaty top, but also made me look a LOT more buxom than I am by creating a deep shadow at center-front between the girls. (You could do that on purpose if you wanted to look more curvy.)

That look was a non-starter for me. I took the neck apart, fixed the direction of the pleat and sewed it down for just 8″, leaving the lower part of it open. This was mostly because I didn’t want to re-do the hem, but actually, it works well with the fabric this way.

In comparing the two test tops, I much prefer the crisper rayon. The shoulders are still too wide, but I didn’t want to just trim them back because the neckline is a bit wide, too. (That explains the frump factor.) Instead, I pinned in the center back seam, as if I’d trimmed off 3/4″ and tried it on (to make sure it would go over my head). It did and fits much better through the neck. I don’t want to redo that bias binding, but that gave me a modification for future tops.

Sorbetto by Colette sewn by Deborah Cooke in Kaffe Fassett Exotic StripeI went back to my pattern and modified it. I cut an inch off the hem, cut 3/4″ off the center back of the back pattern piece, and re-angled the side seams so that they’re 3/8″ wider at the hem. The additions to the side seams make up the 1.5″ taken out of the center-back so the hem is the same finished width.

Then I cut another Sorbetto in Kaffe Fassett cotton in one of his yarn-dyed stripe fabrics. I hemmed this one with self-bias because I thought it needed some structure at the hem to hang properly. It also would be better in a crisper fabric than the Exotic Stripe, but here it is!

I’m pleased with this version. 🙂 And now, I have a pattern to make LOTS of quick summer tops in a hurry. Ha.

Another Navelli

I liked the Navelli pattern so well that I decided to knit a second one. This one is in MadTosh Merino Light.

The plan was to use up some of my stash. (Don’t laugh.) I chose both Spicewood and Red Phoenix, and put them with some leftover Malabrigo Sock in black. (I’d used it for my Gates of Moria mitts.) I like the Spicewood with the black for the fair isle, but I was less happy with the Red Phoenix. It looked a bit pink with the Spicewood. I visited a LYS (a new one for me) that stocks MadTosh Merino Light and it was obvious that the Cardinal was a much better choice.

This was also when the Simmer Pot jumped into my hands, insisting that I take it home. It goes with the Red Phoenix, and both of them have ended up in my Spector. I don’t mind the Spicewood and the Red Phoenix together in that one because they’re not right up against each other. The first blog post on that sweater was last week, and it’s right here. So, the skein of Spicewood came out of the stash, and the two skeins of Cardinal were added. One skein of Red Phoenix and the other of Spicewood came out of the stash for Spector, along with the skein of Saffron, but the Simmer Pot was added. That’s four skeins out of the stash and three added. Not exactly a win, is it?!

I think my teal Navelli is a bit too wide and too short, too, so I cast on a smaller size this time and I’m knitting an extra two inches before splitting for the arms. It’s possible that I’ll frog the first one and reknit it if I like the fit of this one better.

Here’s my progress so far:Navelli knit in MadTosh Merino Light by Deborah Cooke

Spector in Mad Tosh Merino Light

Spector is a pattern by Joji Locatelli, a top-down pullover with some stitch detail on the yoke. It also uses four different colours to create a gradient. The pattern is designed to use Madeline Tosh Merino Light and for once, I’m using the specified yarn.

Here are my choices for the gradient. The colourways, from right to left, are Spicewood, Saffron, Simmer Pot and Red Phoenix. MadTosh Merino Light for Deborah Cooke's SpectorThat Simmer Pot is really something and the photograph doesn’t do it justice. I bought it on a whim. Here’s the page on Ravelry that shows it in stashes – because many Ravellers are much better photographers than I am. (I don’t see the colourway on the MadTosh website.)

And here’s the beginning of my yoke. I’ve started the first gradient change and am supposed to split the yoke for the sleeves. I’ve put it on a thread to try it on first, which is the wonderful opportunity of knitting top-down sweaters.

Spector by Joji Locatelli knit in MadTosh Merino Light by Deborah CookeIt seems that this sweater is supposed to tug down, to make a scoop neck. When I tried it on at this point, it seems too soon to split for the sleeves as it’s challenging to tug it down enough for it to reach my underarms. My gauge is spot-on. On Ravelry, people have commented on how stretchy it is and how well it fits. Hmm. I’m small in the shoulders, so this should work. Hmm. I decided to knit a litte more before splitting for the underarms, since I prefer more of a round neck and I dislike tight sweaters. I ended up knitting another 3/4″.

I’d just started the change to the second colour in this picture and you can see a teeny bit of it at the bottom of the yoke. I did the first round of bud stitches incorrectly, just below the ribbing for the neck, but I did them consistently 🙂 so I’m not going to frog back.

When the yoke is split for the underarms, there’s a neat little trick to turn the work inside out, so the body is mostly knit instead of mostly purled. I’m not doing that, as I don’t mind purling and I think there might be a gauge difference.

I also did some recalculations for dividing the body and sleeves because the pattern warns that the rib stitch might not line up. Of course, I want it to so I made some changes. I’m making the L or the fourth size. Instead of beginning the division at the marker, I worked 2 stitches first (P2), then put 66 stitches on a holder instead of 68. I cast on 6 stitches, placed a marker, then cast on 6 more. (This is two repeats of the ribbing pattern. The instructions are to cast on 7 PM and co 7 more.) Then I worked 125 for the front instead of 122, put 66 on a holder, cast on 6 stitches, placed a marker, then cast on 6 more. I worked to the end of the row, then removed the end-of-row marker and worked to the middle of the underarm in pattern. That’s the new beginning of the round.

Because I was in the middle of a colour transition, I alternated between the two colours from the old marker to the new one, then continued in the specified transition.

Instead of 68-122-28-102, I ended up dividing my stitches 66-125-66-103 for the sleeve-front-sleeve-back. With 12 sts cast on at each underarm instead of 14, my total stitch count is still 252, as the pattern specifies. Ha.

Now, it’s TV knitting. Onward!

New Socks

I’ve been finishing a book lately, which means I need to some mindless knitting in the evenings. Socks are the perfect choice. I just finished this pair in Fleece Artist Trail Socks, which appears to be discontinued. Hmm. That explains why I haven’t seen any for a while. (That’s a Ravelry link.) The colourway is Nightshade:

Socks in Fleece Artist Trail Socks, Nightshade, knit by Deborah CookeI used my usual memorized pattern for these, casting on 72 stitches, working the ribbing for a while (12R of 1×1 in this case), then looser ribbing to the heel for 72R total. I did 6×2 ribbing this time, and worked a cable twist every 12R, which made counting the rows easier. It does make the socks a little more snug to pull on. I have 12g of yarn left, which will probably make one mitred square for my leftover-sock-yarn afghan.

I’ll have something more interesting to show you next week. 🙂

Inspired by Kaffe Fassett’s Heritage Quilts

Heritage Quilts by Kaffe FassettI’ve been borrowing some books from the library for inspiration while we shelter-in-place, so thought I would share one of my fabric adventures that resulted. The book is Kaffe Fassett’s Heritage Quilts, which includes a quilt (the one on the cover) called Autumn Crosses. (Clicking on the book cover will take you to the book’s product page on Amazon.com. The book, for some reason, isn’t on KF’s website.)

I was intrigued by the use of his striped fabric in this quilt. Each block is a cross, and each cross is made up of four squares: each square has a diagonal seam to make a mitred corner.

The instructions are quite clever: you cut 8 identical squares, mark the diagonal, sew two seams (1/4″ on either side of the marked cutting line), then cut the squares after sewing. When you press the seams open, ta da, there’s one of the four mitred squares for the cross. The diagonal seam line is on the bias, of course, and it’s much easier to sew a stable seam this way. And actually, out of those 8 squares, you get two different cross blocks.

My fat quarter was of his Exotic Stripe in the colourway Warm. It looked like this:

Kaffe Fassett Exotic Stripe WarmIt’s so gorgeous that I had to snap it up. I’ve had it in my stash for years but haven’t wanted to cut it. Here’s my first batch of squares in progress:Mitred squares sewn of Kaffe Fassett's Exotic Stripe by Deborah Cooke

At the top left, there’s a pair of squares with their two diagonal seams. Top right, the squares have been cut between the seams. Below are two blocks pressed open – you get a square of each from each block. The original squares are cut 3 7/8″ square and the block of four is 6.5″ square. It’ll finish out to 6″ once it’s seamed.

Out of the fat quarter, I got three batches of eight squares, which resulted in six blocks. I’m not so fond of crosses, but I played around with my mitred squares and think they’re awesome like this:Mitred squares sewn of Kaffe Fassett's Exotic Stripe by Deborah Cooke

I’ve paired them together for the shot: each top and bottom came from the same seamed block. It’s amazing how different they are!

Six blocks isn’t a lot, though. The quilt in Kaffe’s book has eleven rows of nine squares each, or 99 blocks. I’d make a smaller quilt, but still need more. This fabric is discontinued – that’s the hazard of hoarding stash! – but I did find another fat quarter of it in my stash. (Yay! Proof that it was irresistible!) I also found some more fat quarters of KF stripes in similar colours:

The third one from the right isn’t pink at all, even though it looks that way in the photograph. I have more striped fabric but wanted to focus on that brick red and the olive green.

I’m thinking I might set alternate blocks of these stripey squares and an exuberant floral print – or one with lots of curves to contrast with the stripes. Here are two colourways of a Philip Jacobs print I love, called Japanese Chrysanthemum:
Japanese Chrysanthemums by Philip Jacobs Japanese Chrysanthemums by Philip Jacobs

Here are two more Philip Jacobs prints, Luscious on the left and Shaggy on the right:

Luscious by Philip Jacobs Shaggy by Philip Jacobs

Here are two favorites of mine—KF’s Millefiore on the left and Paperweight by KF on the right:

Millefiori by Kaffe Fassett Paperweight by Kaffe Fassett

Of course, all of these prints come in many colourways. I’ll have to make a bunch of squares, then take them to the fabric store to find the print that pops.

Toe-Up and Cuff-Down Socks

Things have been quiet here, and I apologize for that. I’ve been finishing a book (one that doesn’t want to end) and trying to complete some knitting projects, too.

I finished these socks, finally, but still don’t like the feel of the yarn. It’s Estelle Sock Twins, which comes in two balls, each with the same gradient. (That’s a Ravelry link.) I found the yarn splitty.

It looks like a gradient, but the colour transitions are quick: I think it’s more like steps of colour instead of a steady gradation. You can see the change from the last blue bit to the dark orange in the third stripe from the top on the right: the blue/orange just ends. The finished socks look the same, so I’ll just use the old picture:Socks knit in Estelle Sock Twins knit by Deborah CookeI knit them toe-up because I wanted to use up all the yarn in the gradient. This time I used the Ann Budd tutorial from Interweave Knits. It took me forever to get around to knitting the second one, because I still don’t like knitting toe-up socks. This is about the tenth pair I’ve made and I just don’t enjoy the process, no matter which pattern I use. It’s probably because I have to check the instructions all the time, while I’ve knit so many cuff-down socks that I just knit away. At any rate, they’re finally done and that’s a good thing because I got my needles back.

I cast on a new pair of cuff-down socks in Fleece Artist Trail Socks, a yummy yummy yarn, in a delicious colourway—Nightshade. (That’s a Ravelry link.) The colour hovers between brown and purple, with a few flashes of other colours that end up making a stripe.

Fleece Artist Trail Socks in Nightshade knit into socks by Deborah CookeI’m just doing my usual sock thing, casting on 72 stitches, working 72 rows, turning the heel etc. This time I did 6×2 ribbing and added a cable twist every 12th row. It makes the counting easier to the heel, although I hadn’t planned it that way. I just wanted to mix it up a bit.

I also worked on the sleeves for my Juicy Gloss cardigan, but discovered once I’d knit one to the elbow that the sleeves would be too wide. I frogged it back and recalculated, taking an addition 8 stitches out of the sleeve at the underarm, then decreasing more rapidly than the pattern specifies. I’m reaching the elbow now and am much happier with the fit. I’ll show it to you once the first sleeve is completed.

Sewing Project Bags

A while ago, I sewed some project bags for my knitting. I’ve got them all in use, so I dug out my quilting scraps to sew some more. I started with this free pattern tutorial from Very Shannon. It’s an easy project and results in a very nice bag.

Here are some of mine—well, some are mine, but (spoiler alert) I have Christmas presents done for my knitting friends, too:Project bags sewn by Deborah Cooke

I made a simple change early on with this pattern: I created a gap in one side seam of the outer bag, then stitched around the edges. This makes a little finished slit for the ribbon to be fed into the casing. Because I’m using grossgrain ribbon, which is stiffer than twill tape, I made the casing at least an 1/8″ wider than the ribbon so it can stay flat in the casing.

Project bag sewn by Deborah Cooke

This one I cut a little deeper in an effort to get the cat entirely on the side. I didn’t quite make it, which is because I eyeballed it instead of measuring it. One friend has a cat and I thought she might like this design. I also interfaced only the bottom of the outside of the bag, in the hope that the top would be less stiff and gather more nicely. I think it does.

I like this bag, but I have ideas of my own and am working on my own design. Stay tuned!

First Snow Hats

First Snow is a hat pattern I really like. (All the links in this post are Ravelry links.) It was a free pattern when I downloaded it, although it looks as if it’s no longer available. 😦 I started using this pattern a few years ago, for these Caron Chunky Cupcakes self-striping yarns – each skein came with a matching pompom:Caron Cakes hats knit by Deborah Cooke using First Snow pattern by The Vulgar KnitterThe cables made these a more interesting knit than they would have been otherwise, and I liked the finished hats.

I also used this pattern for two bundles of Caron X Pantone, one in Faerie Cake and one in Morning Blues. These took me forever to finish because I don’t really like the feel of the yarn.

Although these hats ended up with bands of colour a lot like the ones above, in this product, there are five separate skeins of yarn. The cakes at the top include self-striping yarn. That makes an easier knit (no ends to sew in) but you can’t change the order of the colours.

Last fall, I used a ball from the mill ends of a purple tweed and made yet another hat. This one has a commercial fake fur pompom. I like this one!

First Snow hat pattern knit by Deborah Cooke in a mystery tweed mill end

I had more of those tweedy mill ends in my stash, so this summer, I knit it up into a few more hats, also with commercial pompoms.Wool hats knit in First Snow pattern by Deborah Cooke

Finally, I used up the last of the Noro Kochoran in a hat for the mister:First Snow in Noro Kochoran knit by Deborah CookeThis one is a little smaller, because I forgot to do the increases after the ribbing. I was too worried about matching the stripes – I had a lot of bits and ends to use up for this hat. It fits more like a watchcap, but the mister likes it that way, so all is good.

Do you have a favorite hat pattern?

In the Beginning Dragon Quilt – 4

I’ve been showing you my progress on the In the Beginning Dragon quilt kit – here’s my first post and my second – and today, it’s border time. The kit comes with a dragon border print, which has four rows of the border printed lengthwise. After pre-washing, the repeat lengthwise is just under 24″, with dragon circles alternating with dragon profiles in flames. Widthwise, the repeat is 9 7/8″. The instructions say to cut borders 9.5″ wide, but I wanted the maximum ability to play with positioning at the corners. Cutting four lengthwise strips 9 7/8″ wide will leave 3/4″ of black, at one selvedge or the other. Hmm.

Here’s the orange quilt illustration from the kit:In the Beginning Dragon quilt pattern in orangeThe instructions say to center a dragon circle on the width of the quilt and a dragon in flames on the lengthwise edges. The quilter who made this orange quilt did that, which is why we’re looking at this image this week. (The one who made the blue quilt didn’t.) The corners are mitered, and you can see that with this positioning, you get mirrored corners which is all good, but they each have a slice of dragon circle in them. I don’t love that, so I wanted to explore alternatives.

That extra 3/4″ of black in the border fabric can be either on the outer edge of the border or the inner edge, depending which selvedge you choose to start cutting. It looked to me like this quilter cut pretty close to that Celtic braid, moving the extra black to the outer edge. I cut the other way around, trimming the white from the selvedge closest to the braid, then cutting my 9 7/8″ strips from there.

I tried many options: dragon circle centered on both the length and width, dragon in flames centered on both the length and width, dragon circle centered on the length and dragon flame on the width, then vice versa. I moved the Celtic braid closer to the edge of the quilt, too. None of the results make my little matchy-matchy heart go pit-a-pat.

Then I had an idea: fussy cutting. Here is a bias cut corner, a square with its sides the same width as the border, with a dragon circle centered in it. It’s cropped at the top because that’s diamonds cut out of rectangles.

It’s less than ideal that it’s on the bias, but look at the corner I got with it:Dragon Quilt Corner pieced by Deborah Cooke

Oooooo! I like that! No mitering either. There are always compromises in matching up a detailed border like this one, but this compromise pleases me. The circle around the dragon is almost whole, and the inside of the Celtic braid lines up. This also means that my quilt is slightly octagonal, but I like that, too. I could have patched the corner with some of the leftover solid black fabric, but it’s darker than the background on the border print. I thought it would show.

I cut two each of the borders shown above. I laid out the side borders to have the dragon in flames centered on the long edge and centered a circled dragon on the shorter edges. I couldn’t quite alternate circled dragons around the perimeter as there are six on the long edges and five on the short ones, but I alternated which dragon was in the corner. In two corners, I have the dragon with the spread wings between one the same on the left, and the dragon that’s more in profile on the right. On the other two corners, the profiled dragon is between two dragons with spread wings.

Voilà! Here’s my finished quilt top:In the Beginning Dragon Quilt Kit pieced by Deborah Cooke

It’s huge! Mr. Math used a ladder to take the picture and the edges are still cropped.

Initially, I was disappointed that I hadn’t ordered fabric for the back of the dragon and circles print, but I found a textured black print in the discount bin at Fabricland. It was $5/m and 54″ wide, so that was an economical solution. I’ll put a strip of the emblems along the seams—there’s some left from cutting those six dragon panels apart, as it was between them—and a dragon in flames where the strips meet, just for fun. It definitely needs to be bound with a color. I’m going to find out about the long arm machine quilting done at a local shop and maybe have this one quilted that way.

And the bonus? The leftover fabric makes really cool masks.

Mr. Math’s New Vest – and Hat!

Sonny vest by Sarah Hatton knitted in Colourscape Chunky by Deborah CookeWhen I finished my Iced in Noro Kochoran, there was a bit of wool left over. I decided to knit a vest for Mr. Math because it turns out that Noro Kochoran knits to the same tension as Rowan Colourscape Chunky. I have a book for Colourscape Chunky called Rowan Colourscape Folk. (That’s a Ravelry link.)

I’ve knit the Sonny vest by Sarah Hatton from it for Mr. Math before. That’s it at right, using Rowan Colourscape Chunky:

And here’s the Noro Kochoran one, all finished:Sonny Vest in Noro Kochoran knit by Deborah Cooke

This was a much fuzzier knit—and not the kind of thing to knit in the summer at all—but I was able to match it all up just as I wanted. I like having the red around the neckline, too.

First Snow in Noro Kochoran knit by Deborah CookeThere was a little bit of yarn left so I made a hat.

Jess by Sarah Hatton knit in Texere Olympia by Deborah CookeThis pattern is called First Snow and it’s one I use a lot. I was so busy concentrating on matching the colours that I forgot to do the increases after the ribbing: this one is a bit smaller than usual, but Mr. Math likes it better. It fits more like a watchcap. I had a pompom in dark grey, but he nixed that, so there it is.

The ten skeins of Kochoran are all used up. Yay! But, of course, I have another ten skeins stashed away in a different colourway. It has a bit of mauvey blue in it, but also a lot of grey like the first one. The Rowan book will give me some more ideas for using up the Noro. For example, I made this sweater for myself from the book, called Jess, in the same colourway as it’s illustrated in the book. I like it a lot, and am thinking I’d like a second one in the Noro Kochoran.