Vix Knits… and crochets and sews…

My adventures in the wonderful world of arts and crafts

Too little time, too little crochet

Wow, the last few weeks have been crazy!

The last time I posted, I was talking about my new job and the possibility of turning a jumper pattern into a cardigan pattern.

In the interests of chronology, we’ll deal with the job issues first.

I started two weeks ago and already I know it’s just not for me. The last fortnight has been a real rollercoaster but no matter how good a day I have, I still dread work in the morning.

I’ve been feeling really stifled and struggling to find time for anything so I don’t have much new news (still plenty of old news to catch up on though).

So, it’s back to job hunting and hopefully more time, energy and thought-space for crafting.

I’d still absolutely love to find a way to combine the two but I’m not sure how yet…

Now for the exciting news! I’m still trying to choose yarn but I think I’ve figured out how to turn a jumper into a cardigan.

According to Wendy Bernard (Custom Knits) it can be as simple as halving the stitch count for the front, knitting two front pieces and adding borders.

This is what I thought but it’s nice to have the theory backed up by an expert.

As for the yarn, the pattern calls for aran, not a problem apart from the fact that I’m trying to use stuff from my stash before I buy too much new so I’m trying to incorporate some of my existing colours.

It’s not making life easy but I’ve got other projects to do while I ponder it further.

So, wish me luck and crafting for tomorrow and I’ll be back soon


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Custom Knits book review

The first of a series of books by Wendy Bernard (also the author of the popular Knit and Tonic blog), Custom Knits contains over twenty amazing projects as well as comprehensive instructions for designing and altering patterns.

Each project has a ‘make it your own’ box which gives suggestions and instructions for altering the garment.

Bernard gives instructions for making a body form so you can more easily check measurements and try on and adapt garments.

She also looks at six classic alterations before moving on to the ‘starting from scratch’ section.

I’ve only made one piece from the book so far (Mina’s Tuxedo Vest) but there are plenty more I’d like to try out.

I’m also finding the design instructions really helpful while I’m starting out on my own design journey.

The pattern I followed did have some anomalies but, let’s face it, this is not a book for beginners so it was still easy to follow.

I found the book as a whole quite refreshing. Top down knitting isn’t that popular here in the UK (for some unfathomable reason) so these patterns and design ideas really take away a lot of the trial and error.

The ability to knit the sleeves onto the garment and the abundance of garments knitted in the round make this book even more valuable to me.

I’d looked at a lot of design books before deciding on this one and I think I’ve made a really good choice. One of the others I looked at focused on making paper patterns (often using existing garments for reference) and knitting up the pattern but Bernard uses a more improvisational technique and some simple calculations. I find this much more appealing!

Frankly, it’s a struggle to decide whether to knit (and alter, obviously) something else from the book or try my hand at some serious designing

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to most intermediate/advanced knitters. There are some great patterns, invaluable tips for altering and designing and some advanced techniques to be learnt.

Wendy Bernard has also written Custom Knits 2 and Custom Knits Accessories.

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Mina’s Tuxedo Vest – update

After my struggles with my tension swatch (see previous post Tension headache) I was excited to get started on my vest and learn the new techniques involved. Because I’m working on quite large needles, it’s growing really quickly and I soon finished stage one of the back.

I should probably explain, here, that I like to think of projects in stages. It helps me set targets for myself beyond the usual ‘x number of rows’

So, this design is knitted top down, in one piece.

Stage one: provisional cast on, knit back to required length, shape armholes

Stage two: undo provisional cast on and pick up stitches (end stitches required for fronts onto needle and middle stitches for back neck onto waste yarn)

Stage three: knit fronts to required length, shape armholes

Stage four: join fronts to back

Stage five: shape neck

Stage six: shape waist

Stage seven: ribbing and cast off

Stage eight: armhole ribbing

Stage nine: collar

Stage ten: finishing, blocking and buttons

Right now, I’m working on stage five, which meant I needed to make a decision on the cardigan vs. jumper issue. For a cardigan I need to continue working back and forth but for a jumper, I need to join and work in the round.

I still think a cardigan will be better. As much as I hate sewing on buttons, I think it will be easier to put on over other tops.

I still haven’t decided what to do with the collar but I have some ideas so I’ll keep you posted.

The biggest problem I had was undoing the provisional cast on. It was really easy to do: using a contrasting waste yarn, cast on using the long tail cast on technique; instead of having the end of your working yarn over your thumb, join the waste yarn with your working yarn using a slip knot and have the waste yarn over your thumb. The end result should be stitches in your working yarn with a chain of waste yarn along the cast on edge.

Wendy Bernard (author of the book Custom Knits and the blog Knit and Tonic) has written a brilliant tuorial for long tail provisional cast on.

I was so excited but when it came to taking it out, it was a lot more difficult than I thought and didn’t really go so well…

I think I must have picked the stitches up wrong because I ended up with one too few and when I continued knitting the picked up stitches didn’t (and don’t) look quite right.

I’ve had to go with it though because I couldn’t bear the thought of taking it out, doing it again and ending up with the same result.

My main concern is that the row of picked up stitches look a little flimsy but they seem sturdy enough so I’m thinking of it as a design feature rather than failure!

Unfortunately progress has slowed a little now as I’m working on over 200 stitches! Also, stocking stitch has never been my favourite and the twisted stocking stitch used for this design is just as repetitive to knit.

So, I’m learning some extra patience as well as new knitting techniques!

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Mina’s Tuxedo Vest – help!

I’ve recently started knitting Mina’s Tuxedo Vest from Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard (book review to follow shortly)

I really love the concept and have been looking to buy something similar for ages.

The problem I’m having is that I don’t much like the collar on either version in the book.

So, I have two decisions to make. First of all, do I finish the vest as a cardigan or a jumper? This is the more immediate but simpler choice and I’m leaning towards cardigan.

Second, how on earth do I finish the collar?! My options are fairly limitless, it’s just a question of figuring out what will look the best and how best to achieve it…

I’m rather struggling to visualise my options so I’d love some help and advice

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