Outlander Claire Fraser’s Cowl

A couple of months ago I started to read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I fell in love with the story immediately. Even before I finished the book, I started watching the tv series and fell in love all over again, this time with the costumes. Claire’s costumes are amazing. And that knitwear, to die for.

As I am want to do when I find new knitwear I love, I jump on Ravelry and look for patterns inspired by series. One of the items I definitely wanted to knit was that delightful cowl Claire seems to wear often.

Claire_Fraser_(Outlander_TV)I immediately found the pattern by Shelli Westcott for Ravelry Outlander Claire’s Cowl Pattern. When searching for suitable yarn, I found that Westcott owns a store named Knitterly in Petaluma, CA and they sold a Knitterly Claire’s Outlander Cowl Kit for the cowl. Happy days! I quickly snapped up the dark brown + grey kit; once it arrived, I grabbed by size 35 needles and set to work.

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The pattern and kit call for 3 skeins of yarn, but I found I only used 2 to make the 30 inch cowl. (Oh what to do with that full last skein?) The knitting only took two days (it would have taken one but I started in the evening) and was real quick since it’s all garter stitch and large needles. As usual, the needle size took a toll not only on my hands but my shoulders as well; it takes a lot of strength and effort to hold yarn onto size 35 needles.

Blocking flat took some time as well since a) I have a mischievous cat that wouldn’t leave my cowl alone unless I closed the bedroom doors and b) the yarn is held double so it’s thick and takes longer to dry.

Next I think I’ll try my hand at one of her many fingerless gloves or one of the knitted shawls she wears. So many choices!

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Teal Cowl

Christmas is a holiday I enjoy, but I don’t generally give gifts. If I find something for someone, I certainly won’t pass up the chance to bestow a gift on someone. However, it’s not the part of Christmas tradition my family generally participates in.

This year, I participated in a Secret Santa event with some friends. The name that was drawn for me was that of my friend Chiki; I was sent her contact info along with a link to her Amazon wish list. Of course I could have just bought something on her list, given it to her, and called my job done. But that’t not really the person I am. So, instead, I decided to use some lovely Knit Picks Galileo yarn I had been hoarding and knit her a lovely lightweight cowl.

The pattern I chose was the Lazy Knitter’s Cowl because it was an easy pattern to memorize and used the exact sport weight yarn I had. The cowl was started just before Thanksgiving; since I was going to be away for the holiday, I took the cowl with me and knit at night in the hotel. It was finished just after I returned the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The cowl was knit to a total of about 22 inches; once completed, it was wet for blocking, and dried in my closet (up high away from inquisitive cat paws) for about a week. After it was dry, the ends were woven in and two toggle-like buttons were sewn to the cast-on garter stitch edge.

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As I anticipated, it is a lovely lightweight cowl. With the large eyelets and toggle buttons, the cowl can be worn different ways.

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The pictures show it as nearly a black color, but the yellow lighting in my home distorts the actual dark teal color of the Galileo yarn.

The cowl took less than a full skein, and I still have 4 full skeins of Galileo yarn left. I am more than certain that there will be more projects with this yarn in the future. I have a lot of lovely, deserving friends. 🙂

Wrapped in Red

One of my goals was to complete the Effortless Cardigan.  I love cardigans (I think I’ve said that before) and this cardigan is especially fun because of the long front pieces you can wrap around.  I wanted to knit this in alpaca yarn (my current favorite fiber) and my local store had just enough Paca Tweed by Plymouth Yarns in a gorgeous red wine color (I later learned that Paca Tweed is discontinued so I got lucky).

The yarn is aran weight and the pattern called for worsted.  This resulted in the fit being fine but the length being longer than the pattern called for.  This suited me just fine because I was feeling like the body was too short for my tastes.  I feel like the sleeves are too short even though I knitted them an inch longer than called for, but I can’t be bothered to undo all my ribbing.

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Speaking of ribbing…this cardigan had so much of it. I didn’t realize how long it was taking me to do the ribbing until I got to the collar part. Nearly 5 hours for 18 rows of 186 stitches. The bottom ribbing had over 200 stitches, and each side had 46 stitches. Needless to say, I am taking some time to rest my wrists and shoulders before tackling my next knitting projects (hats and cowls for gifts).

Blocking this was…interesting. Blocking always makes my projects larger than intended even when I am on target with gauge. I don’t overly manhandle my knitting either; I roll the project onto itself once to get out as much water as possible, then wrap it in towels and step on it a few times to get out excess water. I never wring or stretch the project while it is wet, and yet it still manages to come out larger than anticipated.  Maybe I should knit a size smaller next time?

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It’s also a bit of a pain to block projects when you have cats.  I love my four legged babies, and Kulin is so good and leaves my projects alone.  But Kuro…if you don’t watch him, he will try to eat the pins and in so doing snags his claws on the stitches.  The night I first blocked this project, he kept me up half the time being a pain in my bum.  The next night I used our drying rack since the cardigan was dry enough not to stretch out.  Kuro has nearly ruined three projects this way.  Our spare bedroom doesn’t get air circulating enough to dry projects, and we hate locking him out of the bedrooms.  Guess I’ll have to keep finding ways to get him to behave (none of the usual techniques work on him).

I still love wearing cardigans, but I think I am done with knitting them. I still have 3 more sweaters on my to-do list but thankfully they are all pullovers.

Three Cardigans For The New Year

Before 2013 ended, I finished knitting two cardigans by Andi Satterlund and was in the process for finishing a Ginny Weasley inspired owl cardigan. I didn’t call any of them “done” since I didn’t block them. Each of them has a lovingly made mistake somewhere that just goes to show how imperfect of a knitter I am.

Marion is the first cardigan by Andi that I completed knitting in September. I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Dove Heather. The yarn was originally intended for a Hermione fair isle sweater but I frogged the project.  The bottom band and neck band were completed before I discovered the wonderful thing known as a stretchy bind off.  I also made one tiny mistake in the cabling on the right side but it’s not very noticeable. I plan to knit Marion in a lovely yellow at some point.

imageHortencia is the second cardigan by Andi that I started and completed in November. It was actually done as a test knit for her pattern.  Knit in Cascade 220 Heathers in a lovely shade of dusty purple, it’s a cropped cardigan with full length sleeves and a collar. I have the perfect dress to wear with it, and the heathered yarn makes it lovely to pair with other pieces. The mistake in Hortencia is in the collar; somewhere on the left side I picked up two stitches in the same place resulting in a hole. However, due to the wide collar the hole is safely hidden from sight.

imageGinny’s cardigan is knit from Berroco Vintage DK in a dark teal color. I picked the yarn for it’s washability and it’s color. If I had to go back and do it again, I think I would have chosen Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca instead since the nylon strands in Vintage DK felt “weird” in my hands (I find I am more of a wool/alpaca blend kind of girl).  I make a mistake on the third owl from the bottom, but it’s not very noticeable. I left off the decorative pockets since they are not very functional in their small size (I need functional pockets). Blocking this was a bit of a pain since the Vintage DK contains nylon and acrylic, neither of which blocks very well.

imageIt took me so long to consider these cardigans complete because I have been adverse to blocking. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, but wool/wool blend with alpaca definitely blocks better than wool blend with nylon/acrylic.  It takes a long time to dry though; I had to lock the projects in my room while they dried to prevent one of my cats from playing with them and ruining all my hard work.

While I love wearing cardigans, I am slowly not liking knitting them. Except for Andi’s cardigans (which are cropped and quick knits), they take forever.  I thought I would never get done with Ginny’s cardigan.  The back and forth knit and purl rows were starting to drive me crazy. I have one more cardigan on my 2014 plans but the rest are pullovers.

Forays in Sewing

I previously made a blog post on clothing pieces from movies/tv series I wanted to replicate as part of my New Year’s resolutions.  I expanded on that this weekend by completing a dress and knitted hat.

The dress is based off of the What a Ketch dress on Modcloth that is by designer Dear Creatures.  I first saw Peneloping make her own replica of the dress.  At first all I thought was “How cool is that?” but recently I had been thinking “Why can’t I make that?”  I used the same Simplicity pattern as Peneloping did, but I had to make some modifications.

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I used a cotton stretch sateen since I could not find a navy knit in the right color or weight (the sateen was just lying around from some project I can’t remember; I literally stumbled across it while rifling through my fabric storage).  The sateen gives it a more formal feel making it work appropriate (once the weather cooperates).  The front darts were not aligning with my body, so I redid the top with princess seams that fit better on me and match the original dress.  I also lowered the neckline to just about my collarbones, and lowered the hem to just below my knees. The armholes were widened a bit which makes them a little wonky, but I plan to always wear this dress with a cardigan or shrug (I’m really not one for completely baring my shoulders to the world).

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The design doesn’t line up exactly in the back despite my best efforts.  It’s also a little more narrower in the left shoulder than the right.  You’ll also have to excuse my dressform; it’s shorter in the torso than I am.  The dress fits very well on but it hasn’t been washed so I’m not modeling it.  But, overall, I love my new dress, but I think it looks far better on Peneloping than it does on me.  :/

The second project I completed this weekend was a knitted Doctor Who inspired slouch featuring the Tardis.  Pattern is on Ravelry by Shawna Synder.  My cat Kulin is my model this time.

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It took me 8-9 hours to complete while watching the Presidential inauguration, followed by a Law & Order marathon and the evening news.  I love this new hat and can’t wait to wear it.  My mom also likes it and would like one knitted for her even though she is not a Doctor Who fan (she finds the series rather odd).  I am also planning on knitting one as a belated birthday gift to one of my oldest and best friends, Shannon, who is a huge Doctor Who/British tv fan.

My next non-replica sewing project is a skirt.  I have tons of eggplant and sky blue sateen that I plan to turn into two skirts.  Once those are complete (or nearly so), I am going to attempt to finish my Hermione sweaters and get started on sewing her red dress.

2013 Planned Sewing and Knitting Projects

No replica posts today. I haven’t had a chance to take any photos – good or bad – since work started up again on Wednesday. Classes begin on Monday so the last few days have been a blur of meetings, professional developments, and getting things ready for class.

Instead, I am posting a list of some replicas I plan to make myself. Two of my New Year’s resolutions are to 1) spend less money and 2) sew more non-cosplay related items that I can actually wear. Here are the items I plan on making if the chance and time permits.

Hermione’s Red Dress

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Hermione wore this red number to Bill and Fleur’s wedding. It is normally not a dress I would wear myself, but I had a lot of red satin from a cosplay I never finished, and I got matching red chiffon for a good price. I already have everything I need for this one except beads, which is put on afterwards anyway. Though I don’t plan on wearing this much, it would be nice to have for any special occasion that arises.

Hermione’s Navy Blue Asymmetrical Top

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This is one of the first items in Deathly Hallows I absolutely loved. The only problem is I haven’t been able to find the proper knit fabric. I am still looking but haven’t found anything so far.

Bella Cullen’s Blue Transformation Dress

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I actually want to try to make the movie version and the book version. The movie version is something I could probably wear to work and on special occasions. The book version is described as ice blue dupioni, which is an expensive fabric, so that will be more of a special occasion dress. The book version is also going to take more time to figure out since it isn’t really described.

I actually want to make a lot of Bella’s vampire wardrobe. Human Bella’s wardrobe is more my style, but I love vampire Bella’s style and darker, more subtle colors. I just wish my body was more to my liking to fit the style.

Bilbo Baggins’ Backpack

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My Tolkien fan side is being aroused again with the release of the Hobbit. One of things I really want is Bilbo’s backpack that he carried up until the goblin capture.  I can’t make an exact replica unfortunately.  I’ve been having difficulty finding buckles that are similar without having to get them custom made, which will be expensive since they require molding/sculpting and casting (not to mention I’ll need at least 5 of them in 3 different sizes).  Also, I believe Bilbo’s backpack was made of leather/suede but the most my machine can handle is suede like upholstery fabric (and that can get pricey as well).

I am also planning a messenger style version as an alternate since I much prefer messenger bags.

Dr. John Watson’s Jumper/Sweater

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My fascination with BBC’s Sherlock and Martin Freeman’s portrayal of Dr. John Watson had me scouring the net or anything related to the series I could find.  Alas there is no official merchandise, and since Sherlock and John are both men I can’t purchase their clothing replicas.  But John’s sweaters (jumpers on the UK) seem to have become popular with the knitters on Ravelry.  This is on my list of knitting projects once my current queue of four sweaters is finished.

Hermione’s Phoenix Stripe Sweater

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Currently I have two replica knitting projects on needles.  I’ve been working on them since October and am only about halfway finished.  I knit slowly and then got busy with work and generally lazy over the winter break.  Now I’m trying to finish them before beginning anymore projects, or buying anymore yarn.  One of the two sweaters is Hermione’s striped sweater from Order of the Phoenix. I am using this pattern on Ravelry and Swish DK yarn from Knit Picks.  Currently the back and 1/3 of the front is finished.

Hermione’s Deathly Hallows Fair Isle Cardigan Sweater

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This was the sweater that got me into knitting in the first place.  This sweater has been quite the feat.  I had to restart it twice since the first time my fair isle stranding was horrible.  I am about halfway done with the body (the hood and fair isle yoke are done) before I begin the sleeves and pockets.  I am using this pattern and Wool of the Andes Worsted weight yarn.  It has a positive stretch so it is a little bigger than I wanted but not overly so.

I have already knitted the scarf that Hermione wears in the above picture I will need to remember to post.  I may also knit Harry’s sweater if I can ever find a pattern.

It is going to be a busy sewing/knitting year.