Friday, July 31, 2009

Much Better Use of French

Than Clapotis. I think we can all agree on that.
I remember when Cherie Amour first came out on Knitty. I knew hundreds of knitters wouldn't be able to resist. I mean, this was obviously good stuff. Deep V-neck? Check. Waist Cinching? Check? That certain Je ne sais quoi? Oiu Oiu!!!
I almost feel like I'm cheating because this pattern is so obviously flattering. Let's just get to the projects, shall we?
This version was knit by Joanna in Manos Wool Clasica on US 9s and 13s. The only mod she has listed was sewing up the front opening about 3 inches. I think that was a great move on her part because, although the waist is already cinched by the ribbed section in the middle, the shorter neckline moves the focal point up to her face. Beyond the ribbing, the top floats away from the mid section, giving proper attention to the smaller waist area.

Kim stated in her comments section on her Rav Project page that she should have knit a small instead of xs. I think this looks great on her. This version is knit in Woole Siena Big on US 9s and 13s. I don't think she made any mods. That's what's great about this top: very few mods required for it to look good. As an aside, if you are on Rav you really need to check out this woman's projects. Beautifully knit and artfully photographed. I think Kim is one of my newest knitting heroes.
And lastly, but certainly not leastly: Julia from Germany. The blog is in German, but it's worth a visit just to look at the great photos. Julia knit her Cherie in Lana Grossa Cento on US 10s and 13s. This particular top is a medium. She had to fiddle with the arms a bit, but we've all been there, right? This one looks a lot like the Knitty version. Were you a test knitter, Julia?

It's hard to go wrong with Cherie. The ribbing in the middle creates a slim waist even if you don't have one, and the v-neck (as usual) does great things for the bust while giving your face the attention it deserves. I'd like to see this in a lighter yarn and larger guage. I think that might decrease the bulk this sweater tends to have, but I'm not sure if the lighter yarn would still work the waist-illusion-action that the unmodified version has. You want to use a yarn with some body to hold the shape. I imagine cotton or silk would stretch out, again wasting the waist detail.

Speak Up:
Have any of you tried this in a lighter yarn? Why does this seem to look best in dark red? What mods might others be interested in? I'd like to see a collar variation. Anybody know of one?

Friday, July 10, 2009

There Was a House in New Orleans...
Called the "Rising Sun."
This pattern is a little controversial. It's for sale now, but a few lucky people were lucky enough to print or save it when it was free a while back. The controversy is that people who bought the particular issue of Interweave Knits, in which this jacket was pictured, feel like they should still have access to the pattern since they paid for the magazine- even though the pattern itself was not in the magazine.
Followed all that?
Whatever. Let's get to the goodies. This is the Sunrise Circle Jacket by Kate Gilbert. You can purchase it for $6 on her website if you don't already have it. This design is a hit or miss. I've seen a lot of photos of these jackets that look absolutely horrible. Lumpy, thick, and misshapen, they can make the wearer add 20 visual pounds. There are a few shining examples, though, that prove this pattern is really a goldmine in disguise, if only you know the secrets.

Secret #1: Yarn Selection. Jench1n, above, Chose Noro Silk Garden in colourway #208 and US 9s. The long color repeats of the yarn create slimming circles at the natural waist, visually cinching the jacket in at the slimmest point of the body. Please note the muted colors and softer, drapier yarn also add to the slimming effect. Bold, contrasting colors, like primary colors, and yarns with more "body" might not give you the visual effect you're looking for here. This particular version is a size 35", which, I think, works out to about a medium. The shawl collar construction (I believe she just used one fastener instead of 3 or 4) creates my favorite neckline- the V! Forcing your eye up from the cinched waist to the face. (For another beautiful collar variation see hanao on Ravelry)

Secret #2: Be wary of variegations. Mimi here was able to get a little brave with the variagated yarn due, in part, to the fact that she was knitting a size 33 1/2" (Manos Del Uruguay, Clasica in Bing Cherry; US 7s). A larger woman would not be able to carry off this much visual action. Mimi also switched up her skeins every few rows to avoid pooling. Now, I know people have different ideas about whether pooling is good or bad. If you see a pooled top that has a slimming effect on the wearer, please let me know. I have a feeling that any attractively slimming pooled sweater might be knit by the Loch Ness Monster.

Rule #3: Toggle placement. This is the most important rule to follow if you want your jacket to NOT look like a tent. There are a lot of jackets out there where the toggles are placed to high up on the front, left section. When the gathering happens at the top of this jacket, it causes the bottom to flare out in an A-line shape. Anyone who watches Clinton and Stacey knows that A-lines are great for skirts and dresses, but the inverse of that rule is that A-lines are HORRIBLE for tops. Unless you're about to pop a baby out, then you can wear whatever the hell you want (We'll call this Shannon's Corrolary to the A-line Rule.) Jenny, pictured above, used Cascade 220 in Charcoal Gray with US 8s for her jacket. She says this is the "largest size" but I'm not so sure. Unless the largest size is a medium in the real world as sometimes happens with these things. Notice how she, and the other women in this post, placed the toggles as far DOWN the front of the jacket as possible. The result is slimming and elongating, rather than the bulky teepee appearance of Sunrise Circles gone wrong.

Rule #4: Have fun with color! This rule has two prerequisites: 4a.) This does NOT apply to stripes- see rule #1. and 4b.) All other rules must be upheld. Christy used Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed in a beautiful orange color. This is the 37" version knit on US 7s. As I was researching this pattern for this review, the bold colors grabbed my eye right away. The jacket has a funky construction, so you may as well run with it, right?

This jacket is dangerous in the wrong hands. It has the ability to make you look like a large, hairy, ape if you do not follow these rules: 1. Select your yarn carefully. Don't go too bulky or stiff and 2. Be careful with stripes and variegations. 3. Location, location, location! Of the toggles, of course. Set them low on the jacket so the sides are straight. Aviod the A-line at all costs! and 4. Have fun with it! Try some funky color or embellishments. Just keep the crazy stuff away from your boobs or hips, and you should be fine.

Speak Up:
Is this in your queue? If you've knit it, how did it work out? Do you need some remedial button placement? Show us your embellishments! And, as always, let me know what you think!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Darn You, Economy!

I tried so hard to focus this blog on free patterns. Patterns that are accessible to anyone with the desire and yarn to take them up. Then I met Topstykke.
Not only is this pattern not free, it's only sold in a kit, and the website isn't even in English. (I know that's not a requirement for a large portion of the globe, but I'm limited to English and some French so if the pattern isn't accessible to me, I'm going to call it unaccessible.) I really tried to figure out how to order it online, with no success. Maybe some of the featured knitters will be able to give us some ideas in the comments???
"What's the big deal?" you may be asking.

Yep, that's right. Not only is this tunic adorable in all adult sizes (we'll get to those in a bit), it also looks puppiesandkittenssnugglingtogetherinateacup cute on kids. (The kids version is called "Lille Topstykke" I believe.) If you want a less-blurry view of Lille Stykke, click on the image. I tried to edit out the cute baby face for privacy's sake and it blurred the image a bit. Dorthe knit this Lille Stikke with Geilsk 100% Uld on US 6s and I think we can agree that we all want one for our daughters!
Moving up a little on the size scale...
Laila's version in the purple is knit in a size L with a loose guage, so she claims it's actually an XL. Now, unless this is one of those patterns that is so completely missized so that the Olsen twins would fit a large, that XL totally looks like a M at most on Laila. The yarn is Noda Junik in Thistledown and she used US 2.5 needles. The scoop neck draws the eye down and frames her face beautifully. The a-line shape skims her body so there are no lumps or bumps showing through. (I'm sure there are no Lumps or Bumps to show, right Laila?)

Lisbeth, here in the grey, also used Geilsk 100% Uld, which I assume is the wool that comes in the kit? Am I right, Lisbeth?
She used US 4 needles and knit a size S. Her collar isn't as deep as Laila's, but I'm not sure if that's a result of the pattern size or a modification. In any case, the shorter neckline works here with the smaller bust. More fabric gives the illusion of more girth around the girls.

Our last featured project was knit by Tineke in a size M. Check out her Ravelry project page for another adorable Lille Topstykke. Tineke used US 4 needles with the 100% Uld kit yarn for the adult-sized Topstykke pictured here. Her neckline looks a bit square compared to the others and I'm not sure if it was a mod or just a fluke of the pattern. Some of the pattern reviews mentioned some difficulty in getting the pleats started, so that might be the difference. If anyone knows, leave a comment!
ETA: Tineke wrote me to say the neckline on her version is, in fact, the "correct" version. While I don't think I gave the impression that her's was wrong, I'd like to emphasize the pattern does have a square neck. She also pointed out the correct name for the child's version and the correct spelling of her name. I've corrected the errors above.

This tunic has the magic ability to look like the same size whether you knit a small, medium, or extra large (I still don't believe that's an XL, Laila. Small needle size maybe?) And that's sooo not a bad thing!
The scoop (or square) neck and cap sleeves add interesting details around the collarbone and present the face beautifully. The A-line shaping and slanting pleat pattern camouflage the tummy and hip area, slimming the trouble spots and giving the illusion of a long, lean trunk. I wish the pattern was more accessible because I have no idea how to reverse-engineer that pleating. (Not that I encourage that sort of thing.)

Speak Up:
Have you knit a similar pleat detail? How does one order this kit? Will it break the bank? Are there other A-line tunics that slim and elongate the way Topstykke does? Does Topstykke mean anything, or is it just a name?