Tag Archives: Blackwood Cardigan

Blackwood the Third

I’ve been napping the twins in the basement since it’s gotten hotter. It means that sometimes I can wriggle out from under them and sew while they nap. I’ve also put all the trashy battery-powered whiz-bang toys down there in the hopes of distracting them when they’re awake, which sometimes works.

Shortly after the twins were born, K-Line offered me a gift of fabric, and I wasn’t too proud to take her up on it, in the form of this yummy cotton rayon sweatshirt fleece from Blackbird Fabrics. It then sat, burning a hole in my stash, all winter. Finally, as soon as I finished my French terry leggings, I decided it had to get sewn; I had already decided on a Helen’s Closet Blackwood Cardigan, because easy and the pattern was already fitted and ready to go.

The fabric sat, pattern pieces half-pinned, on my basement floor for weeks, a testament to the fact that my husband never goes down there and teenagers have no limits to their ability to step over shit. But eventually I did manage to get it cut out. After that the sewing actually went fairly quickly, even at the rate of a seam or two a day.

I’ve made two other versions of this sweater. The first is great, but being wool it’s not something I dare wear in my current constantly-being-puked-on state. I have been wearing my second, knit jacquard version, but it’s not very warm and the black I used for the bands is pilling (the jacquard is holding up better than expected actually). And my phone tends to fall out of the pockets when I sit down. That being said, it’s a cut above a shapeless sweatshirt, and I was excited to have a plainer-but-still-stylish version.

I made only one change to the pattern, deepening the pockets so my big ass phone sits securely down in them. However, I missed one critical fact about my fabric. Unlike any other sweatshirt fleece I’ve worked with, this one has its main stretch vertically. I didn’t notice—didn’t even think to check!—until the sweater was completely finished, so there’s not much to do about it. It fits fine, except the sleeves are quite snug, and hard to push up to wash your hands. Oops. Meanwhile they stretch loads lengthwise. Oh well.

Oh, and I chose to make the pockets raw edged rather than torturing myself trying to turn under the edges. No regrets.

Oh, and these are the leggings from my last post, because I live in them now.

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Interstitial Blackwood

I’m in the throes of a Big Project (TM) that is eating my brain and possibly driving me crazy. Did I mention making a suit jacket for my uncle? Yes? I wish I hadn’t. Anyway, I’m not quite ready to dive into that pile of angst yet, but suffice it to say, I needed a break from it.

So today, when I found myself in the sewing room at 8 am on a Sunday morning, with no children in the house and a husband sleeping on the living room couch, I found myself puttering.

First, in a bit of a landmark move, I went through my two giant bins of scraps (plus accessory bags and piles), stuffing the smaller and uglier into my pouf.

Wait, I hadn’t mentioned my pouf! After Closet Case Patterns blogged about their scrap-stuffed pouf pattern, I made one. But I hadn’t really tried to stuff it yet.

Over the course of a couple of hours the pouf went from empty to maybe 3/4 full, and the scraps went from two bins, two grocery bags, and several other piles, to one (albeit rather full) bin.

Believe it or not, this is uncommonly tidy for my sewing room.

It’s a New Years miracle! Freeing up a bin allowed me to pack up some more of the ambient fabric, and actually reorganize the bins a bit, so I was able to get several more bins off the floor and into the wall of stacked bins.

I cut out and sewed up a quick pair of Watson bikinis, a remnant from a piece a friend in Atlanta sent me yoinks ago, which I made into some early loungewear that I’ve since dyed a rather muted purple grey. I’d kinda forgotten how neon the original colour was.

I fussed around a bit more with the jacket.

I swept the floor.

And then, after some pleasant digging through my freshly re-ordered bins, I whipped up a second Blackwood Cardigan. The first on I made, for my birthday, has been in heavy rotation ever since, only limited by the fact that a subset of my outfits don’t work with a burgundy cardigan.

Now I gotta say, the wool I used the first time was a FAR better fabric. This time I picked this pretty piece of knit jacquard, which came in as a factory remnant. The factory remnants Fabricland gets are generally pretty inexpensive, and I guess they’re a “sustainable” option since you’re using fabric that would otherwise go straight to a dump—but they can be pretty rank. They usually seem to be bits the factory has cut around because of staining or some other flaw.

This particular piece had large yellow hand-writing at one end (fortunately on the wrong side) and a linear flaw in the jacquard all down one side, not to mention being cut wildly off grain. The fabric itself is nothing special, either, highly synthetic and pretty much guaranteed to snag almost instantly. But, very pretty.

Underarm flaw—not noticeable.

I was just barely able to squeeze the main body pieces out of the patterned fabric—with only a bit of the flaw along the edge of the sleeve, where it’s very hard to notice.

Wobbly pocket is wobbly. We are going to love it anyway.

I was lucky enough to find a bit of black sweaterknit of a similar weight and quality to make the bands and pockets. They’re both very soft and squishy fabrics, so getting the pocket square, even with steam-a-seam to fuse it in place, was kinda a lost cause. But I’d rather have wobbly pockets than no pockets.

I’m sad (but not surprised) to report that, while very pretty and comfy, it’s definitely not as warm as my wool version. But it was simple and reliable and quick, which is everything the ongoing project is not, and sometimes a dose of simple is exactly what you need.

Happy Sunday!

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Happy Cardiganday

Ok, that was really fun.

I decided for my birthday this year I wanted to have a sewing day, since I now have a (moderately) spacious house and a gigantic dining room table. I invited a few friends (ok, mainly former co-workers), laid out my giant cardboard cutting mat on the dining room table, and brought my main sewing machine and serger up to the kitchen table.

I even cleaned my iron, which was a whole other adventure as I nearly killed it in the process. But the sole plate hasn’t been this clean since a month after I got it, so that’s good. (The process involved vinegar, salt, toothpaste, a little bit of heat, and a LOT of scrubbing. The near-death happened when I was trying to rinse all that guck off. I think water got inside somewhere it shouldn’t’ve. But it seems to be working again now so fingers crossed. )

My friends brought various projects, mainly handwork (one seam ripping), and I displayed my lack of millennial skills by getting absolutely NO pictures of everyone. So have some dark after shots instead. (Dawn, if you’re reading this, you forgot your fabric!)

There is one shot of me and Cee at the machines, taken by a friend, where I have a derpy face.

But what did I make, you ask?

I decided, at long last, to tackle the Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet.

This is one of those patterns that I was originally going to take a pass on. I’m not a fan of sweaters that don’t close, and it seemed easier to hack a similar style from my knit sloper. But, as cute versions kept popping up in my feed, I was more and more intrigued by the band construction. I wanted to take a look at the instructions. And I felt guilty shamelessly copying the style. I mean, it’s simple, but I didn’t think of it on my own. So when Helen had a sale sometime last spring, I bit, mainly for the instructions.

Of course, once you own the pattern, you might as well try it out, right? Save yourself redrafting all those rectangles and figuring out how much shorter to make the neck-band so it doesn’t gape.

So anyway, I printed the pattern the morning of my birthday, stuck it together after people arrived (a great activity for visiting)

Once I had it taped, I compared it with my knit sloper, and was very pleasantly surprised with the similarities—identical shoulder width, similar sleeve-cap and high armscye, just enough extra width in the sleeve for it to be a sweater, not a shirt. So aside from squaring the shoulders slightly and lengthening the sleeves about 4 cm, I cut out a straight size medium.

My fabric is technically a mystery jersey from a random group at Fabricland last spring. I got it because I was pretty convinced it was wool or a wool blend, and now having ironed it I’m pretty sure I’m correct. (I love the sheepy smell of wool when you steam it.) I thought it would be a good choice for a cardigan since it won’t need to be laundered as much. I steam-shrunk in my dryer, which is my preferred method of pre-treating wool although I confess I can’t completely recall how much subsequent laundering any of those things have had.

Anyway, I’m pretty thrilled with my result. I love the slim fit. I love the longer length. (I may have to make a floor-length version) I love the pockets, although I’m not totally in love with my application of them—but that’s a separate issue.

I do still wish it closed. I might add some kind of a loop and button, like the sweater I made my aunt last Christmas.

I could possibly make the shoulder a little more square—there’s a tiny back-neck bubble still—and the sleeves might be a little long now. But that’s how I like them, and if there is any further shrinking from laundering, I’ve got a bit of insurance, anyway. (And looking at the line drawings they’re supposed to be extra-long and slouchy, so there!)

But especially, I really, really, really like sewing with friends.

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