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Completed Peacock Eyes Hand Knitted Cardigan

By Lauren Guthrie
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Finally, after several attempts to write this blog post and not making my deadline to finish the project, I’ve finally managed to get my Peacock Eyes cardigan to a wearable stage. Yay!!

I say wearable, not finished, as in theory a cardigan has buttons, and mine does not – but I’ll explain that later.

I made another Simple Top from my book to wear with it too in this dark blue Liberty print. I really love it, its like its got little mini peacocks on it! 

This was the first knitted garment I’ve made that is knitted entirely in one piece from the top down.

I’ve knitted several things before and always had to go through the dreaded sewing up stage but this make was amazing, once I’d finished knitting that was it!

The pattern is from Justyna Lorkowska and I bought it as a download from Ravelry (link here). I used some Rowan 4ply cotton Siena that I’ve had stashed away for years.

The pattern is really good at explaining everything step by step with a really good definition of all the abbreviations and stitches, including how to wrap and turn and make 1 left (m1l) and make 1 right (m1r) - which I refered back to pretty much every time it came up. The peacock eyes pattern is worked on a chart which I found really easy to follow but before I delved into my cardigan, I knitted up just one repeat of the pattern so I could get used to how it worked up.

When I knit a new pattern for the first time, especially one like this, I try and not worry about the thing as whole and just take it one stitch at a time, working it out as I go along and trusting the pattern that it will all turn out.

When I was first learning how to knit I always remember my Mum telling me that once I knew how to knit and purl I would be able to do anything as all other stitches are just combinations of that. It’s true (to an extent) but knowing this means I never get put off by how complicated something is, as I know it’s just another combination of knitting and purling.

I love the effect of the pattern over the back. As your knitting it doesn't look that clear but one you block it and wear it the pattern really pops out. 

So back to the pattern, and once you have worked the 3 blocks of pattern repeats its all just stocking stitch. You save stitches (I just used a scrap piece of yarn) for the sleeves and come back to them once the main body of the garment is finished.  Each row is really long so you use circular needles, but just knit back and forth, not in the round.

I made mine a bit shorter than the pattern and literally just tried in on while it was still on the needles until I felt it was at the right length. Same for the sleeves as well.

I messed up the button holes a bit in that I made to many – 11 to be exact. Which seems a bit OTT now, but when I was placing the markers at the time it seemed sensible. I know that I will never wear this cardigan buttoned up, like it is in the pictures that come with the pattern.

I’m concerned that if I put 11 buttons on (that will never be used) that I might end up just looking like button, so I’ve just left it be and been wearing the cardy buttonless. I have considered re-knitting the buttonhole band to take the buttonholes out, or put a more sensible number of buttonholes in there, but as it’s still wearable I haven’t been motivated to do it yet. Looking at these pictures though, I think it does look a bit silly. I try and get around to it at some point! 

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has put with an unintentional  ‘design deviation’….what have you embraced as a unique feature in a knitted garment?

New Fabric Friday Inspiration

By Lauren Guthrie
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The fabric shelves are creaking here at g&g at the moment. We are getting new and exciting stock in every week and I can hardly keep up with it all.

...and this photo is only one bit of the shop! 

To help me keep on track, and so that you lovely lot don’t miss out on anything either, I’m going to fill you in about some of our new arrivals, along with what projects and patterns I think they would be suited too to give a bit of inspiration for the weekend!

This week I want to show you the new range of rayon fabric from Heather Bailey’s collection – Momentum

We have six beautiful different prints which sport strong bold blues, against softer pinks, greens and yellows.

This fabric is so amazingly soft and drapey and has such a lovely flow to it. I love the colours too – predictably the yellowy-mustard one the most! 

If you’ve not worked with rayon before and are wondering what it actually is then read on….

From my extensive (Wikipedia) research, unlike most man-made fibres, it is not synthetic, and is made primarily from wood pulp – a naturally occurring cellulose based raw material.  It gets converted into a soluble compound, which is dissolved and forced through a spinneret (I’m imagining a sort of chemical type spaghetti machine here), which produces the cellulose fibres that are then woven to make the fabric.

Geeky bit over…. this cellulose stuff produces a really lovely soft fabric. Of course its not just about the texture of the fabric, the designs are gorgeous too! 

The fabric comes in at 142 cm wide which at £14 a meter makes it pretty economical for a designer print fabric.

My top pattern picks for these delights are….

Tops and blouses

Dresses and Skirts

Or how about a luxurious Buchannan dressing gown from Gather Patterns

What sewing plans do you have for this weekend?

Sew Column and my Lace Have it your way dress - Tutorial

By Lauren Guthrie
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This month in my Sew Magazine column I’m talking about working with sheer and lace fabrics and the pink lacy dress that I made for my book launch/birthday party back in September. I've been getting good use out of it since and have worn it for the Sew Brum blogger meet up and my trip to Ally Pally this weekend too!

Working with lace and sheer fabrics can be a bit tricky at times, but as long as you take things slowly and have patience (which I don’t usually do) and measure twice (ok about 10 times) before you cut, then it isn’t too bad.

I had wanted to make a really special party dress for the book launch and we had some beautiful embroidered lace like fabrics in a few months ago. Since then I’ve been desperate to layer them up and make a dress - and it seemed fitting to choose the ‘Have it your way dress’ from my book.

One of the things I wanted to get across in my book is that with simple tweaks and different fabric combinations, its really easy to change and alter sewing projects to make them your own and that’s what the ‘Have it your way dress’ is all about.

In this version I decided to leave out the collar. The fabric has such a detailed, busy design that I wanted to really simplify things. The dress normally has a facing around the neckline, but because the outer fabric is transparent, I needed to work out the best way to combine the lining to avoid seeing ant seam allowances, dart flaps and the facing.

I cut out the lining fabric first (I used this super soft pink taffeta fabric) and then used those pieces as the pattern to cut out the lace. It took me ages as I wanted to use the scalloped edge of the lace as the hem of the sleeves and the skirt section, as well as to make sure that the pattern repeat was lined up with the centre front of the bodice and the skirt section. 

I cut it out with the fabric as a single layer – not on the fold as you normally would, so that I could control the pattern repeat of the lace with more accuracy.  

I also measured the length I wanted the skirt to be and transferred that onto the pattern. It meant that I was cutting it shorter than the pattern as I didn’t need to allow for the hem allowance. 

I wanted the sleeves to be unlined and just made from the lace fabric, so I folded back the 1.5cm seam allowance on the pattern and lined the bottom edge up with the bottom of the scalloped lace edge.

(For the sleeves, when cutting out a single layer of fabric at a time, just remember to flip your pattern piece over so that you don’t end up with two left or two right sleeves!)

Once I had everything cut out, I had to figure out the neatest way to attach the lining and lace at the neckline with minimal seam allowances showing. I also didn't want the dart flaps to be visible in the bodice.

First, I attached the front and back bodice at the shoulder seams of the lining and the lace seperatly. I then placed the lining and lace together with the right side of the lace facing the wrong side of the lining.

I attached the lining and lace around the neckline and then trimmed it back to 0.5cm.

I then flipped the lining over so the right side of the lining faced the wrong side of the lace and gently pressed the neckline, ensuring the lining stayed to the inside.

My top tip here is to clean your iron! I use this iron cleaner, which can cause some smoke/steam (watch out for a fire alarm drill) but it does the job really well. Mine was particularly dirty… oh and a pressing cloth is best practice too!

I then top stitched the neckline to hold everything together and ensure the lining didn’t spill out over the top.

I then tacked the lining and lace together around the dart areas and stitched the dart in place through both layers of fabric as if they were one.

Once they were in place, I tacked the two layers together around the side seams and arm holes and constructed the rest of the dress as normal, treating them as one layer.

My only other tip if you want to create your own version of this dress with these fabrics is that the waistline seam might be a bit itchy. I covered my seam allowances with bias binding, which made a huge difference.

If you have any other tips for sewing with embroidered or lace fabric I'd love to hear them too?!