Tunisian crochet vest: Lessons learned

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I have been trying to remember when I started this tunisian vest but can’t remember and I am too lazy today to look for the post, anyway it was a while ago! I worked this pattern alongside a Craftsy class about custom-fitting where you learn how to adapt this pattern to make sure it fits even if you don’t match any of the sizes provided.

This was my second crochet garment ever, and even though it is not my favourite project I did learn A LOT about custom-fitting with it and I am definitely glad I took the class and finished it. I used the yarn called on the pattern, simply because gauge is so important when it comes to garments and I wanted to give myself the best chance to achieve the gauge in the pattern (which of course never happened but more on that later). The yarn was Cascade 220 Superwash, a very nice and snuggly yarn and I used two colours even though the pattern was only in one.

So… the most important question is: did it fit?

Oh yes it did! It actually did and just the way I wanted… except for the length. I could never get the right row gauge and I just kept on going with the pattern even though I knew it was much shorter, I just kept telling myself I would fix it when blocked but this wasn’t enough. I tried to make it longer by adding a few rows of ribbing with normal crochet, and I was fine with it until I showed it to my boyfriend and asked if he liked it, at which point he said: “Yes… but is it not supposed to be longer?”

Men. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

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I have worn this but mostly because I put so much work in it, not because I like how I look in it. It is a bit of a shame, but I still liked many things about this project that I would like to share:

1. It fits! I learned how to measure myself and how to adapt a pattern and that is such an important skill. This will give me so much more confidence to tackle the garment patterns still in my queue for this year.

2. I have been crocheting for many years and this was the first project in a long time which had to be ripped off and started again more than once, it was very frustrating. However, I still finished it! I am so proud of myself for sticking to it, even if the results weren’t perfect.

3. This project showed me the importance of making the right swatch. I mentioned this before in a previous post but one of the big issues with my initial swatch was that I was trying to get the right gauge by crocheting in a way that wasn’t natural to me, which of course led to a lot of problems when I actually started the project.

So people: when making your swatch you should crochet as you normally would and don’t do the entire swatch at once, pick it up again on a different day since our tension changes a lot depending on how we are feeling that day. Also block it to see how much the yarn will stretch, specially if its something you plan on washing at some point. 

4. Another big thing I learned with this project was to not make things more complicated for myself for no real reason. I am not sure why but since I consider myself an experienced crocheter I am usually trying to make things harder for myself and adapt patterns to make them more challenging. Now, this could work on some projects but not when I am learning a whole new skill. For this pattern I decided to go with two colours instead of one, and even though it didn’t add much complexity it was rather unnecessary and the finishing with the two colours wasn’t as neat as it would’ve been with just one. It also made the ripping off a lot harder. Simpler is better sometimes!

Of course there were some things I wasn’t happy about with this pattern and I thought I should share those as well:

1. Stripes are not the most flattering thing. I know I should’ve known this but again, I was trying to complicate things for myself. One colour would’ve looked a lot better.

2. I am not crazy about the yarn used in this pattern, it is too heavy and bulky and it shows when you are wearing it, it adds quite a big layer because of that extra fabric that tunisian crochet creates in the back. If I were to do this again (not very likely but you never know) I would use something much lighter, probably a 4 ply and would make it more of a mid-season vest.

So a lot of learning so far in this new year, and I am sure there is loads more to come! Have a great day everyone.

x

Sol

My custom-fit vest with Dora: Materials

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Hello! Hope you are all doing great 🙂 Today I wanted to start a series of posts about this new class I am taking on Craftsy. If you haven’t heard of Craftsy before go to my Craftsy Fair Isle Class Review for more information. After taking that class I was completely hooked with online classes so I decided to take advantage of another one of their sales and buy a new one: Custom Fit Tunisan Crochet by Dora Ohrenstein.

The whole idea of this class is to teach you how to adapt patterns to your size, especially something like a sweater. It includes the pattern for the vest on the picture above and the instructor takes you through the process of making sure that the final piece fits you just like you wanted, which could of course mean giving more ease to the pattern in certain areas and less in others.

This is such a great topic for a class, I can’t believe I haven’t seen more of these before. Who hasn’t looked at a pattern for a garment and realised that your size isn’t in the pattern? I am a petite size, it is quite difficult to find clothes let alone patterns that fit my measures so I am very excited about this class and have decided to take you, my lovely readers, through my learning process. At the end of it we will see if it worked for me or not. I have to say, if it does work, I will be forever grateful.

Now, this class is for a tunisian pattern, but don’t fear! First, the instructor does dedicate a few lessons to the basic stitches, increasing, decreasing, and everything you need for the pattern. Second, from what I have seen so far, the process she teaches to adapt a pattern can be applied to regular crochet as well, especially patterns that work with simple stitches such as dc, hdc and tr, where increasing and decreasing more or less than what the pattern calls for is easy and won’t change the look of the final piece. It might be a bit trickier for patterns that use a stitch-repeat of a certain number of stitches, but it could still work in theory.

So in this first post I would like to share with you the materials I have purchased for my vest. I will start with the yarn, the pattern calls for a worsted weight and the only one I know that I can find in the UK is the Cascade 220 Superwash. This is such a squishy yarn, I love it… I decided to get two colours and add stripes to the vest in a berry and light grey colour.

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I also decided to treat myself to some new tunisian crochet hooks. For this project you should be able use the long 30cm hooks with a stopper, but the instructor showed a few options in the lessons and I fell in love with these Knit Pro Interchangeable Tunisian Hooks.

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There are a few of reasons why I decided to invest on them, since they are not cheap. First, they are beautiful wooden coloured hooks! I believe Knit Pro sells a cheaper option for interchangeable tunisian hooks but I just loved these. Second, I have a shoulder problem and the long hooks always made one of my shoulders ache since it can become quite heavy to handle. These hooks are light and short so when you are using them only a few stitches will be on your hook and the cord will hold the rest. Finally, there are many different lengths for cords, up to 2 meters, so I am no longer limited by the amount of stitches I can fit in without the risk of starting to loose them.

So now that I have all my materials ready I will continue with the class and keep you updated on my progress so that you can see how the vest is turning out. Hopefully it will fit perfectly once I’m finished, fingers crossed!

x

Sol

 

Craftsy Class Review: Fair Isle Crochet

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Hello there! How’s autumn (or spring) treating you? I think I am still in denial and have refused to turn the heating on yet but I know the time will come sooner rather than later. As I mentioned in my journey update  I want to do some reviews for you of online classes and books I have found useful and I will begin with the first online class I took called “Fair Isle Crochet”.

Before I get on with the review I would like to make clear that I have not been sponsored by Craftsy (trust me I am not that popular), I bought this class with my own money and the opinions written here are my own. So first, if you haven’t heard of Craftsy they offer online classes of various things such as knitting, crocheting, cooking, sewing, gardening, cooking, quilting and much more. The videos are available on any device you want, in HD quality and you can keep them forever, there is an app for iPad and iPhones and you can even watch the class offline. You will get your list of materials and patterns needed for the class to download and then you are ready to go. You should note that Craftsy is US based so their patterns will be in US terms.

First, I really liked the quality of Craftsy classes. Videos are in good quality, you can slow them down, make notes on the video, ask questions to the instructor, join discussions and share your projects. If I had an iPad I would find the app very useful, wouldn’t really watch the videos on my phone but maybe some of you would like that.

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The class was Fair Isle Crochet by Karen Whoolie and covered the following: introduction to fair isle crochet, reading charts and working fair isle crochet. After this you are talked through 3 patterns using this technique: a shawl, a trivet and a hat.

The first three lessons teach you about this technique and how to work it, and I learned some really good things such as how to keep your designs from leaning, how to get nice floats, what type of stitch is good to use for fair isle, how to change colours and I specially loved the way she weaves in ends, which applies to any crochet project and not just fair isle. The instructor is very clear in her explanations and I think someone that has never done fair isle before could follow it with no problem.

The only thing I didn’t like is her way of getting a reversible fair isle fabric with clean colour changes and no leaning of the design. I was quite excited to learn how she would achieve this because it is something I have always wondered and only have been able to do it in the round. If you are working flat once you turn your work around the designs look a bit distorted unless they are big shapes, anything more intricate gets a bit lost. She does achieve this but her method is so painfully slow and it leaves a million ends to weave in so I was a bit disappointed. It is fine for a trivet and she does explain how to make it easier to hide the ends but I just wouldn’t use her technique in a project because I would get bored very quickly. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the first three lessons to apply them for projects in the round.

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Finally there were the projects. Of course not everyone is going to like all the patterns but they each teach you a bit more about how to work fair isle. The only one I would do for myself would be the hat, but I still enjoyed seeing the lessons for the other projects and seeing the technique in action.

Overall, I recommend this class to anyone interested in learning fair isle crochet, if you already know the basic technique then maybe you should see if you like the patterns and decide if it’s worth it for you. The class costs £25 full price but to be honest I wouldn’t have bought it at that price. They do sales VERY often and got mine at £9.50 which is very reasonable for the content and three patterns. 

Hope that was useful 😉 I just started another class on Craftsy about tunisian crochet so stay tuned because this time I am going to share my learning experience with you guys step by step… more soon!

x

Sol