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

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My custom-fit vest with Dora: Measures and first alteration

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Hello there! Hope you are all doing great and that life is treating you good 🙂 This is my second post of a short series I will be doing called “My custom-fitted vest with Dora”, if you haven’t read the first one you can check it out here. Basically I am taking a new Craftsy class where you learn how to adapt a pattern to fit your measures by altering a vest pattern that uses tunisian crochet.

The last you heard of my vest was what yarn and hook I had purchased for this pattern, and a bit has happened since then. First, I did my swatch to check my gauge and see what hook size to use and what is the right tension to get that gauge. I used a 8mm hook size as recommended for this pattern but I still got more stitches in my swatch than I should so need to use a bigger hook. Since that was the biggest hook I had I am now waiting for an order for bigger sizes and hopefully I will get closer to the gauge.

I have to say I have never been fond of doing swatches for gauge and sometimes you can get away without one, but for any kind of garment it is really important, and it is the base for any alterations you might make so you must get it right.

I continued with the lessons and have learned what measures to take and how to take them, and constructed my own body schematic to help me adapt the pattern. As I mentioned I am a small petite size, so I am smaller than the smallest size in the pattern. The good thing about this is that unless I gain or lose quite a lot of weight I should be able to keep this drawing for my future pattern alterations.

Then you are taught how to adapt the pattern to fit your bust and shoulders. The instructor goes through various scenarios to help you adapt your pattern, such as being between two sizes, being larger than any size and being small but with a large bust. Even though my specific case wasn’t there, I could easily apply the logic for the case when you are larger than any size to work for me. It involves a bit of math but nothing complicated and it didn’t take long at all.

Once you have your changes to that part of the pattern you are asked to do an armhole swatch to check if your alterations actually work the way you expected. I think this is a really good idea and even though it adds to the time it takes to finish the pattern I definitely prefer to take that extra time and make sure everything will fit perfectly. I will have to wait for that hook to start this though…

I have had so much fun altering this pattern that it is really getting a bit geeky, I really enjoy the maths of patterns so it doesn’t bother me at all to pick up my calculator!

I will let you know how my armhole swatch goes and next in the class Dora shows you how to adapt length and hip…stay tuned!

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