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Nicole Buttoned Up


Yarn: Rowan PureLife Organic Cotton DK in Quebracho and Cuba

Nicole, she is finished.  We will not speak of how long she has been complete, with the exception of the purchase and attachment of buttons.  And the losing of 5 lbs.  

I love the design, but after finishing it, it was clear that if the closure was not done well, I would not achieve the lacy, classy top layer look that I was shooting for.  Especially since I probably should have been a little more thoughtful about measuring my bust line, instead of assuming old measurements would work.

I think it was that concern that found me putting off the purchase of buttons.    Now that the buttons are in place and I've been able to try it on, I'm pleased with the result.  It makes all the time I've spent on my elliptical this summer also feel worth it.    

Taking a look at the garment from all angles helped me come to appreciate Bonne Marie's shaping skills.  The sides lay well and there isn't that extra flare at the hip that sometimes appears in knitwear that's been nipped in at the waist.

I know many have opted to lengthen this vest before the waistline, but for short-waisted me, I think that would have put too much knit fabric flare over the hips.  

I made very few modifications to Bonne Marie's original design.  I did center the outer lace motifs over the shoulder straps, which involved juggling the locations of the decreases just a bit. I also opted for 8 1/2" inch buttons instead of 7 3/8" buttons, but that's about it.  I found the pattern to be easy to follow, and thought it would be a nice introduction to simple lace motifs.  I'm looking forward to being able to wear Nicole for both more casual and more dressed up events, depending on what garments are worn underneath her, and I think she'll work well for at least three seasons of the year.

The Rowan PureLife Organic Cotton was a lovely yarn to knit with.  The stitch definition is beautiful after blocking and, contrary to what you might expect from cotton, it didn't put any strain on my hands, nor was it overly splitty.  

I'm pleased with this project and happy to be adding another neutral garment to my collection.  The only real question now is what ChicKnits project will I tackle for my next layering piece.  Both Aleita and the Mondo Cable would make great wardrobe additions, I think! 

Nicole in Stasis

I realized that while I've mentioned being done withe the knitting for Nicole, I never actually produced any proof.  Here she is, pinned to my blocking board, in a picture I took in early June.  Pretty, isn't she?  They yarn looks lovely blocked out and the color is a perfect summer neutral.

Poor Nicole, why has she been in stasis for so long?  I'm trying to decide what I wan to do wit the closure issue.  Apparently, I am just slightly bigger than I estimated (particularly in the bust area -- apparently motherhood has left me with a bit more up top than I remember)...and Nicole is a bit tighter than I really like (not at all the fault of the pattern -- just the fault of my measuring assumptions).  So I'm trying to decide if I could get away with a ribbon lace up instead of buttons.  I'm a bit worried that that is going to add a little too much "tavern wench" to the look.  So Nicole is waiting while I do some thinking... and work on losing a little weight.      Losing 5 lbs would probably do wonders for Nicole -- and me!

Nicole, Continued

While I continue to ponder what I am going to do with my new handspun, and whether I am going to spin the contrasting chocolately brown that I purchased to go with it (I was thinking sock heels and toes, but now I am not so sure I want this lovely stuff to be hidden in my shoes), I decided to get back in touch with an ongoing project.  It seemed a little silly to let Nicole languish with just two short straps to complete, so I put aside my wheel for a bit to rectify the situation.

20100531_Nicole.jpgAnd because I love the lace details:

20100531_NicoleLacyDetail.jpgAll that remains now are the armhole and neckline treatments and then I'll be off to shop for buttons while I block it out.  Much blocking she will need, will Nicole, if she is going to lay right and not have a curly bottom.  I'm quite looking forward to getting her to the end zone.

Nicole Progress


I carved out a little more time to work on Nicole this weekend.  I really do like the design, but right now my head space is occupied by so many things, I've found it hard to focus and center on a knitting project.  I think I also had this mild fear of running out of yarn, but that fear is more or less allayed now and I'm on to the part where I am thinking if I want to modify the pattern a little bit to center one of the motifs on the shoulder straps.

One thing that has surprised me about this project is how much I've enjoyed working with the cotton, Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton DK.  It's not elastic, it does want to split a little bit,  but it is soft and overall I'm very pleased with how even I have been able to make my stitches.   I thought it also might be awkward with some of the pattern stitches, but that hasn't really been the case, either. 

By the end of Sunday, I had most of the back complete, but instead of pushing on (while I think about the potential changes) I went down into my stash to take a census of the non-wooly yarns.  Not surprisingly, they are few and far between, but I did find a few 100% silks that I have in enough quantity that they have now become inspiration fodder for some summer scarves. 

Knitting for Work

In the last three weeks, my work life has changed rather significantly.  Different hours, different colleagues, different dress code.  For the time being, my crafty time is more constrained than it has been for quite some time, so I find myself really thinking hard about what I want to do with it.  

I do like to knit for wardrobe, but my current work lifestyle is not one that accomodates big slouchy sweaters or garments that are too "out there".  I find myself mostly in dress slacks, dress shirts and layering pieces like jackets and vests.  There's room for sweaters, but the types I think work best are those in very fine gauges and simple patterns with fitted shaping.  There seems to be two places that look to work best when it comes for knitwear:

1) Layering pieces like vests that help give dress shirts a bit more interest and help add a little bit more structure or make blouses that are a little bit sheer a bit more work appropriate.
2) Accent scarves that can be used to bring in a little color and provide a little hint of personal creativity without screaming "Yo! Look at me!  I like to knit"*

Thrown into this mix, I have to consider another factor, one that's been vexing me for almost a year now: I think I'm sensitive, and not in a good way, to wool.  I'm still experimenting with this, but it does seem that when I knit with wool, the eczema on my hands is more likely to flare up.  When I wear wool sweaters, my back seems to get worse.  When I wear wool socks, it seems like my legs and feet get more irriated and itchy.  I'm currently experimenting with eliminating wool from my wardrobe diet,  While it doesn't eliminate my problems, it certainly seems to reduce them.  So not only am I changing the types of garments that I am likely to knit, I'm also going to be changing up their fiber composition.  Fortunately, this is a good time to be looking at wool alternatives.  There are many fabulous cotton, silk, bamboo, linen yarns as well as many blends that really look delightful.

So I've been looking for patterns that meet my new wardrobe needs, are knit at finer gauge, and look good knit out of non-wooly yarn.  THe first place I decided to start looking was at ChicKnits, since I know Bonne Marie has been actively interested in developing patterns that "go to work".  With summer and lighter weight dress around the corner, I decided to start with Nicole -- a little vest that has a lot of visual and knitting interest, can layer well, and also can be knit in DK weight cotton.  

In the spirit of both work appropriate and compatible with a wide variety of under pinnings, I chose Rowan's Purelife Organic DK Cotton in a taupe-y shade (whose name escapes me at the moment).  The yarn is dyed with natural color dyes and  has subtle variations that add depth without being too pronounced about it.  I swatched it up on the suggetested size needles (Addi Turbo 3.75 mm "lace" style) -- I always take it as a good sign for a project when I get gauge on the first try.

I'm actually going up to a slightly larger size than I would normally knit for myself to accomodate both an "under layer" as well as a bra with more solid structure (which seems to have become one of the most necessary parts of my wardobe post-child)... and also because a number of Nicoles on Ravelry look a little too close fitting for a somewhat conservative work environment.  So far, as I knit on the project, the size has the right "feel" -- hopefully that will continue to be the way it is as I go on.

*Not that there is *anything* at all wrong as being identified as a knitter.... it's just that in a professional setting, I'd like to be remembered for my business acumen or personal enthusiasm for a particular project instead of just as "that woman wearing the wild scarf".  


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