Thursday, 23 January 2014

Doctor Who Scarf Inspired Sweater

Doctor Who inspired items seem to be quite popular so I'm really excited to share with you my latest Doctor Who inspired item - the Doctor Who Scarf Inspired Sweater!

Doctor Who Scarf Inspired Sweater
It is always a slippery slope - once you start knitting or crocheting something you start getting ideas for what you could do with that left-over yarn.  Then before you know it you are buying extra yarn in order to make all those projects!  And this is exactly where the Doctor Who Scarf Inspired Sweater has come from! After having made a replica Doctor Who scarf  for the resident Whovian in My Splendid Family, and then some cushions for the couch out of the leftovers (see the lovely cushions below or read more about them at a sweater was the next request.

Cushions inspired by the Doctor Who Scarf  -
If you would like to make your own Doctor Who Scarf Inspired Sweater, I've put the instructions below. As with the cushions, the choice of yarn is all thanks to  The scarf pattern is from season 12 and I chosen a section of the scarf that I think showcases all the colours in proportions nice for a sweater.  I have used Vanna's Choice as the yarn as I was making sure wool allergies would not stop the sweater from being worn but has other options for yarn you may wish to consider.  I've chosen a free Lion Brand pattern called "Custom Classic Pullover" that is plain pattern available in large sizes (up to 3XL - many patterns don't include sizes above XL) and has a V-neck as my Whovian is not a fan of sweaters that are tight around the neck. You will need to register with lion brand for access to the pattern.

As the scarf is knitted in a different stitch to the sweater, and as I had to use smaller needles than the ones I used for the scarf in order to achieve the right guage, I measured the sections on the Doctor Who scarf I made and have translated those measurements into the number of rows of stocking stitch that you will find in the instructions below.  I measured the scarf when it was lying on a flat surface and sitting naturally and not stretched out.  The scarf is very stretchy so it is difficult to be exact, but due to the nature of the scarf you will never get a perfect match - the minute you put the scarf on the dimensions change due to the weight of the scarf pulling on itself.  But with this approach to measuring the different sections should be fairly consistent relative to each other.
  • Pattern -
  • Needles - circular (for the neck) and straight needles.  I found I could just squeeze all the stitches on needles that were 35 cm in length.  I'm not a big fan of circular needles so that was my preferred way of working - but you could get away with just the circular needles if you enjoy using them.
  • Vanna’ Choice Yarn in the following colours and quantities (see my note below on yarn choice) for size 2XL and under.
    • Beige – 3 balls
    • Olive – 2 balls
    • Charcoal – 2 balls
    • Toffee – 2 balls
    • Brick – 1 ball
    • Burgundy – 1 balls
    • Mustard – 1 ball
The following is a list of the number of rows that you should knit in each colour for a 2XL sweater.  You will need to follow the pattern and use this as a guide as to when to change colours.  Smaller sweaters may not exhaust this listing and larger sweaters should continue on with olive until they have finished the pattern as the olive colour in the scarf continues further than it does in this sweater.

  1. Charcoal - Cast on then 4 rows
  2. Beige - 6 rows
  3. Toffee - 31 rows (6 rib, 25 stocking stitch)
  4. Burgundy - 7 rows
  5. Brick - 14 rows
  6. Mustard - 5 rows
  7. Charcoal - 10 rows
  8. Olive - 17 rows
  9. Burgundy - 5 rows
  10. Beige - 44 rows
  11. Brick - 6 rows
  12. Charcoal - 14 rows
  13. Mustard - 6 rows
  14. Olive -33 rows then cast off
Then for the neck band ..
  1. Beige - Pick and knit then 3 rows
  2. Charcoal - 4 rows then cast off

Sunday, 19 January 2014

All Yarn is Not Created Equal

Not too long ago, the crochet/knitting pattern you would have used would have come from a magazine from your country - or from some books sold alongside the yarn at your favorite yarn store - or from a book from a bookstore in your country.  All of these sources would have quoted locally available yarns - and chances are you would have purchased that exact same yarn.

These days with the internet and online purchasing of books and patterns, you are constantly thrown into the situation where the pattern you have found uses a yarn that isn't a local yarn.  There are a few things you can do in this situation.  If you believe the yarn is crucial to the success of your project (due to colour or texture), then you can order the yarn from overseas.  For example, in My Splendid Family we have a huge Doctor Who fan that wanted a scarf made like the one that his favorite Doctor Who actor wore. I found some instructions for the scarf that included several options for overseas yarns that had been matched as closely as possible to the original scarf from the 70s.  The scarf used some very quintessential 70s colours that I knew would be near impossible to match with local yarns.  So to me, any extra overseas postage costs were worth it as all the hard work had been done.  If you do this, you may want to think about ordering an extra ball than required - if you run out of yarn, the postage costs of $20 may make that last ball of yarn very expensive!  It may be cheaper to buy up just in case and have some yarn that you will no doubt come up with a use for one day!

In cases where you don't believe yarn is crucial for success, then a local yarn can do just as well.  The problem you run into here is that each part of the world likes to describe yarn differently.  So if your pattern specifies DK yarn, you would need to translate this into 8-ply yarn if you live in the UK and then find that yarn in your stash or at your favorite yarn store.  And of course knitting a gauge swatch will help fine tune any problems that may arise from your choice of a different yarn.

The characteristics of the yarn can affect the size of your project.  Here are two booties made with 8-ply acrylic yarn.  The one on the left used standard yarn and the one on the right used "soft" acrylic yarn.

Simple right?  Wrong!  Over the weekend I started to crochet my first pair of booties.  I happened to have some white 8-ply acrylic yarn in my stash which the pattern called for.  Not knowing the sex of the baby, it seemed like a reasonable thing to use - at least for a practice run even though instinct said it was probably a bit too scratchy for a baby item.  What I didn't expect was how big the bootie  would turn out!  I seriously thought I had gone wrong somewhere!  But not at all!  The next time I was at the shops, I bought the "soft" 8-ply version of white acrylic from the exact same brand.  I made up a bootie in the soft acrylic and the resulting size difference was simply amazing.  The soft acrylic seemed to want to meld together much more than the standard acrylic - the soft acrylic holes were much smaller than the standard acrylic holes.  And the soft acrylic has a nice sheen whereas the standard acrylic has none at all.  The soft acrylic gave the finished product a slightly glossy appearance whereas the standard acrylic product had a matt finish.  The soft acrylic was also more difficult to work with as the individual strands that make up the yarn were more prone to separating.

Not much was lost with my false start of using standard acrylic - I ultimately wanted to use the soft acrylic anyway if only for the feel of it.  But it makes me wonder about how a larger and more costly project could fail in this way and how it could be prevented?

The characteristics of the yarn can affect the size of your project.  Here are two booties made with 8-ply acrylic yarn.  The one on the left used standard yarn and the one on the right used "soft" acrylic yarn.
Obviously using the exact same yarn as in the pattern is one way this can be prevented - but there don't see to be any clear answers if you a substituting a yarn.  In my case, I used exactly the same yarn brand - both acrylic, both 8ply.  You can't eliminate any more factors than that and yet they behave very differently.  The pattern did not specify "soft" - so experience and gut feeling are often your best allies in choosing a local replacement yarn.  And don't forget to let your fingers help you - some "baby" yarns are available in pastel baby colours but in standard acrylic without the soft texture!

Two samples of 8-ply yarn from the same brand of acrylic yarn.  The one on the left is a "soft" acrylic, whereas the one on the right is a standard acrylic.

How do you deal with this problem when substituting a yarn?  I'd love to hear about your experiences and any tips you may have!
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