Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Vintage fair isle, off and on the needles

Woman in a 1940s fair isle cardigan
Off to work I go!
It's about time I gave you a look at my fair isle cardigan, isn't it? Here is is paired with an old Collectif 'Wilhelmina' dress and my everyday handbag. (Out of sight: my new brogues. And for anyone who's interested - probably only Goody - the perfume is vintage Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass Flower Mist.)

I finished knitting this cardigan back at the end of June, but it took me until August to weave in all the ends and sew it together. If you do any sort of craft, you may well understand the fear of finishing. In the same way as Schroedinger's Cat is simultaneously alive and dead until you look in the box, the cardigan is simultaneously perfect and a disaster until it's sewn up. In the end, I wouldn't say it's either perfect or a disaster, but the things I like about it outnumber the things I dislike. I only really dislike one thing, and that's the body length. Mr Robot's sole comment when I tried it on after sewing it all up was 'It's a bit small', which didn't help. I've worn it a couple of times now, though, and am growing to like it.

The pattern is Bestway 1491, which I got as a free download from 1940s Style For You (thanks, lady!). I made it a bit larger in the body, and adapted it to be knitted in one piece to the armpits, which dramatically reduced the number of ends I had to weave in and sewing to do later on. The one thing I didn't think to do was add an extra pattern repeat in the body. I've knitted a few vintage patterns and they're always too short in the body on me, so why I didn't bear that in mind is anyone's guess. The arms are fine, and it falls to the right place at the back, so I can only conclude that my oversized bust is causing the problem at the front. With a plain knit I'd be able to work in a few 'short rows' at bust level to accommodate my front, but I'm not sure how to do that with fair isle. An extra pattern repeat would have lowered the back slightly, but I could have lived with that.
Fair isle knitting - 1940s pattern in teal, pink, grey, black and white
Outside!
Anyway, as I said, the length is the only thing I'm not happy with. I used a discontined yarn, Sublime Extra Fine Merino 4ply, plus a bit of Rowan and Debbie Bliss wool 4ply to get a colour combo I liked, and so it's beautifully soft. The way the stripes match up across from the body to the arms is smashing. I'm really happy with the quality of my knitting. And, frankly, I've spent so long knitting it that I'm going to get lots of wear out of it, short or not.
Inside Fair isle knitting - 1940s pattern in teal, pink, grey, black and white
Inside!
 After all that slogging I'm already at work on another fair isle project, but this one's not for me. I don't often knit for other people, being very slow, but this is for a friend who's prepared to wait to get the woolly, and as it's in a thicker wool than I usually use, it should knit up quicker. I've done a tension square to check the size will come out right (hence the sheepy tape measure) and am now well under way on the real thing. There's a bit of a learning curve with this one as I'm working with three colours on a row in some places rather than the usual two, but as long as I bear in mind how I've got my yarn arranged, always drawing one colour from the top, one from the middle and the third from the bottom, the tension stays even and the pattern works out.
Fair isle swatch plus sheep tape measure

27 comments :

  1. It looks lovely :) Good to see the finished article after following its tweeted progress.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really like the length of that cardi, it sits right on your waist which is flattering. You're such a good knitter!!

    Thanks for the message of congrats, Seville was indeed amazing, I would go back there soon to see the bits we missed. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *Spain envy* I can't wait to see the photos!

      Delete
  3. It's a really beautiful cardigan, despite the fact you don't like the length. The colours are quite an unusual combination but work really well together. I can imagine you'll get a lot of wear out of it this winter and you can't beat a good cardi!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the colours are completely non-traditional - dictated by the fact that back when I wore more black I bought a whole pack of black yarn, and now my style is much more colourful and I didn't want all black, plus I had some odd balls of this and that colour to use up.

      I do get tons of wear out of my cardis. They're more annoying to knit than a jumper (facing bands, bah!) but soooo useful.

      Delete
  4. Oh, it is BEAUTIFUL! Breathtaking, really In the photo, it just looks"of the era" by which I mean shorter-"wouldn't go wasting extra yarn to do another row" logic. Personally, I think it looks just right lengthwise.

    The colours are so nice too Bravo for a very difficult project completed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I prefer to cover my pot belly up a little more, but it's not too bad. I did wonder whether 40s shapewear gave the illusion of a higher waist too, and that it's not my knitting that's off (after all, the sleeves fit) but the underpinnings that are different now.

      Delete
  5. I love that cardi, you look great in it. I think the length is perfect, too. I'm in awe of your talent.
    I've got a heap of vintage knitting/crochet patterns from the 1940s onwards that came from a wool shop that closed in the mid-1970s. If you do get to any of our vintage fairs I'll bring them along. xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooooh! That's a deal. I've been saying to the Mr that I fancy a trip to Cardiff, so I shall see about hopping on the train to your next Judy's (assuming it's not a rugby weekend, when the trains will be hellish as we're in Rugby Union territory down here).

      Delete
  6. As others have said, I think the length is just right - sitting at the waist is flattering, and seems right for a Forties-style knit (not that I'm an expert!) It's a beautiful cardi, I'm very impressed with your skills! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It is a forties pattern. I did wonder if the shapewear of the era also raised the waist slightly and my top would sit more on my waist with the right underpinnings.

      Delete
  7. Your knitting is lovely and very neat. I love how this cardigan looks on you. The colours in your Fair Isle pattern are gorgeous. That's nice of you to knit for your friend. Again beautiful colour combinations. Cardigans are so useful and this one looks like it will go with so much. Xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!

      I don't knit for many people - they have to have the patience to wait for me...

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. Ta! I really do need to work on the zeppelin and cogs pattern I was thinking of...

      Delete
  9. It's a total gem! I love (!!!) the use of both grey and pink here. That is one of my favourite colour pairings ever. You are such a talented knitter, dear Mim. Thank you for sharing this timelessly beautiful sweater with us - it looks marvelous on you!

    ♥ Jessica

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jessica! It's all colours I wear a lot, so it should get plenty of use.

      Delete
  10. What a lovely cardi and cracking work...I'm very impressed. The length is perfect and it does look lovely on you.xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Everyone seems to like the length, so perhaps it's not as oddly short as I'd feared.

      Delete
  11. My dear artful friend,
    Might I say I absolutely LOVE the cardigan you've made? May I? :)
    You look magnificent - how's it been after coming back from holiday? Have you gotten that "back to the grind" feeling when you needed to head back to the office (yeah, I know yours has much more inspiration to it than mine... but do tell how to get back in the "work mood", if you have a recipe). That's awaiting me.. ever though I'm technically "in the office" over here as well.
    I suppose knitting does for you what sewing does for me - calms me down, makes me feel so worthy and so creative. I get rid of negativity AND make something I can flaunt (even if it's only re-touching a vintage / used garment).

    Huge hug
    Marija

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You may!

      I came back the day before my CD deadline and just over a week off print deadline. There's nothing like deadlines to encourage productivity. Even if I'm not in the mood, I can't not meet the deadlines.

      Paris did clear my head a lot, though. Every so often I need a week with no deadlines or planning, just for the break.

      Delete
  12. Hail O fellow slow knitter!
    Gorgeous cardigan there Mim and I love the shades you've chosen. Your stranding is far more neater than mine too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *Slow knitter fistbump* The shades were mainly the result of having most of those colours in my stash, and needing to choose one or two more to balance everything out.

      My new project uses three colours on some rows; stranding those was edumacational. I'm really pleased with the result, though.

      Delete
  13. I have to laugh when I read your posts after a long absence (London envy makes me crazy and I skip over your blog when I'm feeling lonesome for London), and there are so many things I want to talk to you about! Yes, I actually wore Blue Grass when I was about 14. Yes, many years ago I knit a fair isle pullover that I thought was too short, but I seem to recall my very reserved English lit professor doing a quiet double-take when I wore it to class--why do we judge ourselves so much more than others do? Anyway, I have a lot of 40s and 50s knitting magazines, and the look was definitely waist-length. Of course, the models looked like they had no internal organs and hand-span waists, but I think it's all a matter of proportion. On a more generously figured woman, that look can be very flattering. And as for the feral cats, several moves ago I semi-adopted one from the neighborhood and called her Pitti-Sing. She never actually let me touch her, but she did me the honor of curling up on the end of my bed toward the end of our relationship. I hated to leave her, but there was no corralling Miss Pitti-Sing. My best wishes to your mogs.

    Keep your chin up and please shake those spangles when you can. Best regards, Kate in Oregon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe your professor was admiring your sweater!

      I find waist-length things, or anything with a yoke, have to be proportioned very carefully for me, otherwise I can look like my boobs have slipped.

      We are making progress with the kittens. Pippin now loves to have her head scratched - but we can only approach her if she's on the top step of the stairs! - and Ziggy let me stroke him last night, though he wasn't very happy about it. He was at the top of the stairs then, so I think he's learning from his sister. Away from their step, though, they want nothing to do with us, though they're not running away quite as fast.

      Delete
  14. I think the cardigan is a great success, I hope you get loads of wear out of it. I think that length is pretty perfect to go over dresses.

    ReplyDelete