A customfit cardigan

A customfit cardigan

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I have just finished my second Customfit handknit! I’m really pleased with it. It took me 5 months and one day, with a few other small projects interspersed, because knitting such a large project on one hit is a bit taxing.

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The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Alpaca in the color Tosca. It is 100% alpaca and at AU$16/200g it is really a quality yarn at an affordable price. I bought the yarn in November 2010 at the Mill factory shop when I was there with my good friend Sarah and her Mum. Sarah lives in beautiful alpaca jumpers (sweaters) that her mother knits her, mostly all-over patterned Arans, and I wanted to knit a bit of that snuggliness for myself.

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You can see that this is a heathered shade, and there is the occasional fleck of really bright blue. There are a few longer guard hairs in this yarn, it is not as soft as some other super-soft 100% alpaca yarns, and can be a wee bit prickly around my neck. But is has a bit more body and hopefully more durability than a baby alpaca yarn, I guess I’ll see.

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It does have some bloom and fills in the yarn over holes in the lace pattern a bit. That’s ok with me.

This pattern is Foyle’s cardigan and was custom generated to my measurements. Overall I am pretty happy with the fit, at least compared to my last unwearable cardigan. My back piece ended up longer than the fronts, probably due to an inconsistent row gauge on my behalf. I’d say the front length is spot on perfect for me, I could wear this with jeans and not feel that I had an annoying gap. The sleeve length is pretty good too, I choose 19″ from underarm to cuff, and I’d now say that is a minimum length for me. It is certainly not a generous over-long sleeve, when I move around the cuffs pull up.

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It’s hard to tell from these photos, but there is really a lot of positive ease through the body, too much. If I was sewing this I would take in the side seams by an inch on each side. It is certainly a relaxed fit, and it looks very sloppy with anything other than jeans or a fitted skirt. That said, I really do like the way that the back body fits into my waist and is not baggy there. This is from the back waist darts. There is no waist shaping on the fronts.

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Check the shaping! That’s 13 decreases between hip and waist and only 2 increases between waist and bust. This is probably a fair reflection of my bottom-heavy shape.

So customfit gives you choices about the increases and decreases that you use. You can see how my choice of decreases that sloped towards the shoulder gives this line of stitches along the neckline. I wasn’t sure how this would look, but I think it worked out ok, even though the left and right sides look different.

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Overall I am really pleased with this cardigan. Though I do have slight concerns that it is a bit warm for indoor wear, which is a bit of a pity. Outdoors you really need a waterproof coat here in winter, so if it’s too hot for under a coat or indoors then it won’t get a lot of wear. I’ll guess I’ll see. I am very happy that I finished it in time to wear it this winter though.

After I wore this cardigan for an afternoon I realized that I had inadvertently made myself a garment that was very similar to a hand-knit cardigan that my beloved maternal grandmother used to wear. It was a green V-neck cardigan with patterned fronts and plain sleeves and back. I guess that it was knit in 8ply/dk wool. I think that my paternal grandmother may have knit it, and when cleaning out her unit after she moved into residential care it was left behind, where it came to us, and then on to my maternal Grandma. I remember her wearing it quite frequently, often with ribbed wrist cuffs to extend the sleeve length. After she died I claimed it and wore it quite a lot including taking it backpacking around Europe. The sleeves and body were too short and eventually it was purged from my wardrobe. I really did love it though – being a lover of hand knits way before I learned to knit myself. This cardigan is very similar and I don’t even realise it until I was finished.

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2016 reflections

2016 reflections

I’m sitting here with coffee and sourdough toast, and it’s 6am on the first of January – I guess it’s time for reflections. After 2014’s year of massive change (having a third baby, moving across the world), I consider 2015 a year of consolidation. In 2015 Althea became much happier at school and has some lovely friends, Julian started at a new, friendly co-op preschool, and Tessa turned into a talking, walking toddler. My Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is finally under control and stable, and I guess I’ve settled into, and accepted, my role as a stay at home parent of three children at this time.

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We managed to get our entire family able to bike ride together – Althea on her own bike with gears and the younger two in a trailer, which is really, really heavy to pull especially since it’s so hilly here, but for someone who used to love her daily cycle commute, being able to take a family Sunday morning bike ride is a big achievement.

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I managed to get into a great lap swimming routine, two evening a week, then it fell apart. I joined a great choir, then it fell apart. That’s ok. I’m starting with a new choir next week, and I’m going to try to set up a home yoga routine, starting with a 30 day yoga camp.

My sewing mojo just disappeared this year, but my knitting mojo fired, probably partly because of my awesome Sunday knitting group. Such an interesting group of women – I’m so lucky to have found them. I did manage to sew a few things including a pieced duvet cover for Althea’s birthday in September. Since Santa brought me an automatic buttonhole foot for Christmas it might actually get it’s button closures some time soon.

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This dress/skirt for Althea is my favorite piece of sewn clothing for the year.

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This skirt is one of the few useful bits of clothing I made for myself this year. I made a lot of duds.

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I made my first Customfit sweater this year which I am very, very happy with. It’s a bit short but is still a great fit improvement on every other sweater I’ve ever knit. I have almost finished my second Customfit, it’s an alpaca Foyle’s cardigan. I am so determined to have it finished while winter is still in full swing – it’s going to be warm.

A wearable sweater – huzzah!

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I’m pretty proud of this Welcome to the Flock set I made for Tessa.

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Baa-able hat for Julian

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The lace required a lot of concentration but I’m so proud of this alpaca Rosewater hat.

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We had three lots of Australian visitors in 2015, my mother-in-law in March, my dear friend in August and my sisters in December. This was just so wonderful and I’m so grateful that they all gave up so my of their time and money to cross the vast Pacific Ocean to see us.

The beautiful rose garden in Portland, Oregon, that I visited with my friend Kate.

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I also survived the three month summer school vacation which was, well, pretty challenging. Our house was very hot, with no cooling and we had quite a few nights when it was too hot to sleep. Three months of being the sole source of entertainment for three children was tough, even with a few activities (holiday programs/day camps) thrown in. I also eventually calmed down when taking taking my three little drowning hazards swimming in the lake. We only took a two day/one night weekend away to Mt Rainier. Next summer we’ll definitely try for more.

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I’m looking forward to 2016. We are taking out first trip back to Australia since we moved here, and it’s going to be timed for sunshine and Womadelaide! It’s going to be bittersweet seeing all our dear friends again and then leaving though. Hopefully summer will be less exhausting.  Julian is starting school in September and Althea is changing schools. I’m going to try Tessa out with a few hours of preschool. Hopefully full nights of sleep will materialize. I’m not going to make crafting goals, as that is too much pressure for me. Crafting fits around the other non-negoitatable things in my life. I make things as the mood takes me, catching the sparks of joy.

A baby in January, a toddler in December 2015.

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Wishing you all the very best in 2016. Another year, another adventure.

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