"Watermelon" Jacket!

I'm back from vacation! And guess what?

....I had enough yarn to finish a Fiery Bolero! (The yarn gods must like me.)

This is the stand still like a mannequin shot.
[What's that? A wacky dancing while on vacation shot? Oh, alright.]
BONUS: I made the petite sundress, too. Oh, how CRAFTY!

Fiery Bolero details: Fiery Bolero from Interweave Knits Summer 2005. I used 5 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cathay for the size small, and barely had enough. I made no changes to the pattern other than adding a couple of extra rows to the body of the bolero for length, working three rows less on the ribbing of all edgings, and wrapping the stitches when working the short rows on the edging in order to avoid the "eyelets". [Footnote: Best instructions I've seen to date re wrapping stitches for short rows: Vogue Knitting's Ultimate Knitting Book.]

Petite sundress details: Simplicity pattern 4994, size 6-8 (I cut the pattern so that it would be between those sizes). I purchased the fabric at La Maison des Tissus and all notions at La Mercerie. Both are in La Croix Rousse, which is a walk from my home which makes me sooooooooo happy.

(Here's an action shot of the dress looking over the Loire Valley.)

And speaking of my vacation, I had a fabulous time. In summary: I traveled down the Loire River in a traditional boat called a futreau, strolled through fog in an international garden festival at Chaumont, watched July 14th fireworks from a terrace overlooking the river, visited where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last days, looked at over 300 portraits of illustres in a castle gallery, watched some jousting at a dungeon, got my hand kissed [!] by a stunt horseman wearing a knight costume, and then traveled up north outside of Paris for a surprise party for my dear friend Laetitia (with whom, incidentally, we stayed for a few days and had the best time ever). And when I wasn't doing all that, I was knitting, bay-bee! Mostly in the car or early in the morning while sunning myself on the terrace of the apartment. No sassy photos for you of the sunbathing but I do have, of course, a customary slideshow of the car knitting**. (You knew I would, right? I always do.) Click to see all the snapshots:

**Rules of my car knitting snapshots are as follows: All snapshots must be taken while knitting, or with knitting on one's lap, IN THE CAR. Further, the car must be in motion, temporarily stopped at a traffic light, intersection, in traffic or similar with engine always running. In no event may the car be parked, halted for more than 30 seconds or deliberately stopped for purposes of taking a photo. The seatbelt must remain on at all times, but the hand may be carefully stuck out of the window in order to obtain a good shot provided it doesn't cause any traffic accidents and even though it makes one look like a wacky camera-happy tourist.

P.S. Speaking of good friends, I had some WONDERFUL things waiting for me in my mailbox when I got back from my trip. My pal Bonne Marie sent me a surprise mega package filled with lovely gifts: some VERY haute yarn, a book of her prints taken in Paris, Last Minute Knitted Gifts, a slinky black long-sleeved shrug [!] (how she knew I wanted one, I'll never know) and some fab knitting mags. But that's not all: My pal Silvia has been doing some pattern shopping for me, BIG time. We're talking major pattern enabling...check out all the great sewing patterns she sent me! Woo hoo! What a welcome back, eh? I know I'm gonna sound mushy, but I don't care. I am so thankful for all the good friends I have, and for their sincere thoughtfulness and everything they do for me. They've all got star status around here. THANK YOU!

The fruits of my vacation knitting:

Look at this pile of knit pieces screaming at me to block, block, BLOCK us already!

Pardon us. Our ends are hanging all out.

And then I'll have to seam them so that they look like this cute little Flowery Cardigan and this cute little Flowery Jacket. I don't know about you, but when I see a little pile of knits like that waiting to be seamed I want to dive under the bed and knit a scarf or something in the round. Anything that doesn't require seaming, slappy.

But I'm not doing that. Instead, I'm working on the matching culotte with flower on the po-po that goes with the Flowery Cardigan. Yeah. Nothing like a spot of intarsia to keep us from blocking and seaming.

How I love working this flower!
But I dread sewing the sides together*. Sigh.

I'm having so much fun working that flower that I flew through most of it while watching Sofia Coppola ruin Godfather III with her monotonous speaking voice and sorely lacking acting skills. [ But we loved how you directed Lost in Translation, Sofia!] And speaking of the intarsia, I can't think of a better yarn than Phil Eponge for intarsia work. It's elasticity and stitch definition are ideal for it.

So, now that you've seen the pile of finished pieces that constitute the fruit of my vacation knitting, I've got Postcards from La Loire Slideshows for you! We did and saw many things, so this is just the first of a series of snapshots. (There will more in future entries. The fun never stops here, people.) Click to view:

*I'm getting mad ideas now that I have a sewing machine. While I love working the intarsia with Phil Eponge, I don't think I'm going to like seaming this bad boy fluffy yarn. The culotte has edges that are shaped via bound-offs and increases, so that coupled with nearly nil stitch definition will not a happy seaming party make unless there is much pouring of kir royals. While I don't mind a kir or two while seaming, I like to avoid the dancing on table with lampshade on head variety so I'm actually considering sewing the sides of the culotte using my sewing machine. I may not get the courage to do that, though, so don't take that as a promise.

Would you like some soy sauce with those noodles?

Look at all those ends I have to weave in.
Don't you feel just awful for me?

Yeah, yeah. I knew I was gonna have to some weaving with the Flowery Cardigan and matching culotte, but STILL. If someone had shown me a picture of the wrong side of that cute little flower with all those blasted ends hanging out of it, just waiting to be woven in, I would have totally STEPPED AWAY FROM THE INTARSIA, dude.

Just kidding. But I still hate weaving in ends.

summer2005_babyschtuff_flowercardigan_culotte_seam_thumb.jpg Speaking of which, why yes! I did sew the little diaper cover seams together using my sewing machine. I got up on Sunday morning, kicked back a cafe au lait, and revved my little sewing machine UP. Please note, however, that:

1) I used a special ball point sewing machine needle destined for knitted items.

2) I carefully basted the edges together, not pinned.

3) I sewed very close to the edge using a narrow zigzag stitch. (Thanks, Sil!)

4) I would NOT do this with all knits. Only the bad boy ones.

Voilà! It came out so nice I got brave and did the same with the diaper cover's matching cardigan. Now all I have to do now is sew these little leg bands onto the diaper cover using free-loop backstitch on the right side. No sewing machine for the leg bands, though. Some things are better off being finished the old-fashioned way.

Which reminds me...I started seaming the Flowery Jacket** already. I'm on a roll, people:

Yes, the old-fashioned way. By hand.
It's worsted cotton, after all.
I'll save the sewing machine for those bad boy fluffy yarns.

I love this little jacket. It reminds me of watermelon, or "wala wala", like my sister used to call watermelon when she was a girl. (And yes! In my home we still call watermelon "wala wala". It's like a rule.)

Alright. Enough with the knitting blab. How about some more Vacation Slideshows of Rabbit in the Loire Valley? Yes? Okay. Click the wee thumbnails to view the slideshows. Lots of cool things to see inside:

**Seems like I'm going bonkers with the knitting layette, doesn't it? I'm knitting for two babes, actually. One of these knits if for my brother's baby girl, and the other is for my sister's baby girl. Both items are knit in the same size, so they won't know who receives what until the gifts reach their destinations. Hee hee!

Before I head off for another long weekend...

Why, it's a finished Flowery Cardigan!
(With matching diaper cover!)

[Click here for the REALLY BIG shot.]
[What's that? Closeups? Oh, ALRIGHT.]
[P.S. Wanna see the front of the diaper cover?]

Project details: Flowery Cardigan and matching diaper cover with flower on the po-po, or "Cardigan Kimono et Culotte" patterns 6 and 7 from Phildar's Layette Spring/Summer 2005 using Phil Eponge. I knit the size for six months, and only had to get one more skein of white Phil Eponge for the culotte. The colors I bought to work the flower and stripes on the Flowery Cardigan were more than enough to work the flower on the culotte.

[FOOTNOTE: There is an error in the French version of the written instructions of pattern 7. For the "demi-devant droit", third line of first paragraph: "37 m. coloris CAMELIA" should read "37 m. du diagramme".]

Finishing details: Lemme see...I used long-tail cast-on for all pieces. There's lots of intarsia, so bobbins were my best friends. I steam-blocked all pieces. Due to the funky fluffiness of the yarn and practically zero stitch definition of the fabric, I sewed all seams together using my sewing machine. The front bands on the culotte, however, were knit separately and joined using free-loop backstitch. [See what I wrote about free-loop backstitch here.] All in all, I loved knitting this ensemble! I'm sending it this week to one of my newborn nieces.

But that's not all! Oh no. I was on a roll and because I don't play favorites with my siblings, I knit a hooded cotton jacket that reminds me of watermelon with its watermelon colors:

Why, it's a "Wala-Wala" Jacket!

[Click here for the REALLY BIG shot.]
[What's that? Closeups? Oh, ALRIGHT.]

Project details: Flowery Hooded Jacket, or "Paletot" pattern 4 from Phildar's Layette Spring/Summer 2005, using Phildar Aviso. The pattern also calls for Phil Eponge to knit a decorative flower for the zipper, and I will be using the leftovers from the Flowery Cardigan to do that. (I hope to find time to do that this weekend*. I want to send off this gift off to my other newborn niece pronto!)

What else? I short-rowed the shoulders and seamed them together using three-needle bind-off. All other seams were joined using mattress stitch, with the exception of the hood, whose back seam was joined using backstitch. I decided to add on a few extra centimeters to the length of the jacket, so I special-ordered a zipper 28 cm in length from my local mercerie. And you know what? After all the zippers I've sewn in by now, this one was so easy to put in I tap-danced while I did it. [See a zipper slideshow here.] Zippered jackets for everyone!

* I'm leaving tonight for another long weekend in the country. See you next week with some new projects! (Me? Multi-task with, like, five projects on the needles? Nah. We never get startitis and we never multi-task, oh no we don't. Hee hee!)