What the Blazers?

Lately I’ve been thinking that my mostly denim wardrobe is in need of a good blazer. It would add a touch of sharpness, and would add some variety to my very limited outerwear options. (The down parka that I lived in during the long Yukon winters doesn’t get much use down here in the Raincity!)

I had originally been thinking of something very tailored, with shrunken sort of look. But I couldn’t find just the right pattern in my size, and got distracted by the Victoria Blazer, and now I’m going to make something epically slouchy and oversized. I can hear Charles shrieking “Don Johnson it!” and Jake bitching that he didn’t even have time to lotion his forearms, and I am into it.

The Victoria Blazer pattern was released a few years ago, and if you search the internets, it sounds like everybody and their dog sewed up one of these back in 2013. I’m entirely unconcerned with being behind the trend–it means that there is a lot of information out there already about the strengths and weaknesses of the pattern.

First, the weaknesses. Lucinda of Sew Wrong and Lara of Thornberry do a good job of outlining these, and I think it’s worth giving them both a read before you decide to buy this pattern. I wasn’t deterred by these negative reviews, but I am planning to make some alterations to address the issues with the lining and the lapels that are mentioned.

For some helpful advice with improving my Victoria, I’ll be using the following links:

And, By Hand London has a long-completed sew-along that I will definitely be referencing.

img_8105

I picked up my fabric at Dressew yesterday: a goldenrod yellow boucle for the outer shell, and a bird print viscose for the collar, lapels, cuffs, and lining. I have also written out a plan for the alterations I want to incorporate.

Improv #2–The Inspiration

Being in more of a rest and recuperation sort of phase these days, I am being very careful to match my projects to my energy. At first this meant spending two and a half months knitting a 7 1/2 foot-long stretch of garter stitch. Then, I cast on for a nice simple stockinette stitch pullover for the Fringe and Friends Knitalong.

The pullover has gone swimmingly–the fit is perfect, and the finished project is going to be a really useful addition to my wardrobe. But the process has almost gone too swimmingly. With the exception of a dropped stitch (which I am blaming on Stranger Things being utterly amazing), nothing has gone wrong. I did adjust my raglan increases on the fly, but this required no ripping back and not much thought. I simply opted to split the sleeves from the body a little earlier than my swatch math had indicated because it felt like the yoke was getting too long; I worked the last few body increases under the arms, and it worked out perfectly. This sweater is taking shape with no problems, and no difficulties. I still have to work the pockets and sleeves, and sew up the faux seams, so I suppose there is still a chance for drama!–but it’s unlikely.

I am revelling in the sensation of something being too easy… and of course I’m also making things more difficult for myself, in the form of another top-down improv sweater.

Sketch

The sweater’s basic shape–a long cardigan–is inspired by an old store-bought cardigan that I wear at home all the time. It’s basically my housecoat, I suppose. I’ve gotten a ton of wear out of this sweater–and it shows. The entire thing is covered in pills, and has started to form a few holes. It is worn past the point of repairing, so the plan is to replace is with something hand knit that will get treated with a bit more love, and that will be worth repairing once it starts to wear out.

I spent a lot of time considering various design elements. I even printed out pictures of a few favourite projects and taped them into my notebook so that I could think slowly and thoroughly about their appeal.

Was I inspired by the gentleman in the lower-right corner? You bet I was.
Was I inspired by the gentleman in the lower-right corner? You bet I was.

Kay’s post on Mason Dixon Knitting about searching for a “glamorous granddad” sweater definitely gave me a lot to think about–so many good links in the comments. I fell in love with the notched collar on the sweater in that post, and hope to achieve something similar on my Improv #2.

I was also attracted to a wide button band, as seen on this Vine Lace Vest and on this Dark and Stormy sweater. And I really liked the two button look on the Storytime Scholar sweater. But I also liked the no-button band look on Aidez, and the way the lace pattern follows the neck shaping on Vignette. Deciding on a button band and collar style for this project was difficult–all my desires were very competing. But my love of the notch overrode other concerns!

I’m also really into the cables-up-top-stockinette-below look of Flyingdales, so I will be doing a variation on that. I will likely place my horizontal line a little higher up than shown in that project, and add pockets.

Hello!

And, when it comes to Mr. Handsome McBeardyman… I’ll be making my cardigan a little bit v-necked as shown, as I think it will look good with my collection of denim shirts.

And finally… overall, looking at many, many, many projects… I decided that I like Irish Moss stitch and tight skinny cables, so that’s what I’m going with.

fullsizerender-6

My chart is kind of a mess, but it makes sense to me! I cast on last night and so far–four whole rows!–it’s going well.

I’m using Knitpicks’ CotLin yarn, as something machine washable seemed to make sense for an item that will get a lot of wear. Plus I usually love the way that my store-bought cotton yarn sweaters wear, so hopefully I’ll get that same feel out of this project. And although O-Wool’s Balance was very appealing, I wanted something lighter than worsted weight.

img_7622

I created a layout for the two fronts of the cardigan, and then centred this layout on the sleeves and back as well. I’m uncertain what I will do when I have reached the full width of the cable layout on the sleeves and back–I may just leave the motif centred in a sea of stockinette, or I may chart out some more cables. I’ll figure it out when I get there.

This will either be a disaster, or it will be amazing–either way, it’s just challenging enough.