Technical Tuesday: Buttons!

When I was re-doing the button band on my coolbreeze sweater, I came across a really interesting technique for sewing on buttons. Whenever I have sewn buttons on ANY knitting, the button pulls the knitted fabric where is it sewn on. It would stretch so in a couple months or years, that small square of knitted material is ready to leave the sweater itself! The problem here is the thread had much less give than the knitted button band.

 

PJ Coolbreeze ThreePiotr Jankowski | Team Ponam

The first time I sewed the buttons on the coolbreeze sweaters I was scared the buttons would rip right off the button band. They looked so strained that I didn’t feel comfortable leaving it buttoned up! As you know, I ended up having to re-do the finishing touches so it really wasn’t that big of a loss.

 

PJ Coolbreeze 5Piotr Jankowski | Team Ponam

I came across a video of someone sewing buttons on a knitted garment. At first I thought it didn’t really apply to what I was looking for because they were sewing on ribbon and very large decorative buttons. I didn’t want to use ribbon and my buttons were normal sized, but I kept watching anyway.

Instead of simply sewing these large heavy buttons onto their knitted sweater, they sewed the large button on the front (where you can see it) and a smaller button on the back (where it is hidden from sight). This is pure genius!

 

PJ Coolbreeze Five
Piotr Jankowski | Team Ponam

I think it might be a sewing technique because I was speaking to a friend about it and she said her mom used to do that when sewing buttons on delicate fabric. I had never seen this before at all and think it is the best thing since sliced bread!

I wasted no time in running around my house trying to find buttons that were relatively inconspicuous and the appropriate size. I don’t have a lot of buttons in general. I usually don’t put buttons on things and if I do, I run out and find the perfect button for the garment I am finishing. I ended up raiding the spare button stash in my sewing room.

 

PJ Coolbreeze FourPiotr Jankowski | Team Ponam

I have a container full of the extra buttons that come with clothes, coats, pants or any piece of clothing you buy that has the potential to lose a button. I am pretty sure I no longer own the pants that these buttons were taken from. Hopefully anyway.

After I sewed them on, I tried it out. It works like a charm. The button on the back spreads out the force of the pulling on the button band. I cannot believe no one told me about this! It is something I cannot live without. I will never sew on another button without the behind the scenes stabilization button.

Monday Mishaps: All Buttoned Up

Another Monday and more mishaps to tell. This one happened a while ago as well, but it is keeping with the theme of Nordic sweater misfortunes. It was on Paul’s special request sweater, if you remember I blogged about it here.

Folded Button Mishap

He wanted a cardigan and I didn’t know how to do a zipper at the time. The obvious closure was buttons. There were no problems knitting the sweater itself, everything went as smoothly as could be expected. However, when it came time to do the seed stitch button band, I was not careful enough. When picking up stitches, I watched to make sure I wasn’t picking up too many. I started knitting and everything looked good. I think my tension must have loosened as I got closer and closer to binding off because when I finally finished, there was a very definite curve in the material.

Paul Button Mishap

It wasn’t extremely noticeable so I started on the other side in hope that I would do better, but I didn’t. At this point I took solace in the fact that they matched and it wasn’t a glaring mistake.

Apparently I don’t learn from my mistakes because when I was doing the button band for my coolbreeze cardigan, blogged here, I did the same thing! It really wasn’t quite as bad. I knew the type of yarn I used significantly relaxed after touching the water, so I knit the body a little on the small side. The button band, on the other hand, was a ribbed surface. It looked much smaller than it actually was. As soon as I blocked that bad boy, the button band sagged so badly that it was decorative.

Butten Mishap

I did rip this one out, and did it again. I still haven’t sewn on the buttons. I am thinking if it still looks bad this time I will attach a zipper on the inside so when the buttons are done up, they won’t pull at the fabric and make it look like I am about to explode out of said sweater. I don’t care how skinny you are, if you’re wearing a button up cardigan and EVERY SINGLE button is gaping, it’s not flattering.

One of the best pieces of advice for button bands that I have ever gotten was to use your swatch to test how often you need to pick up stitches in order to get the perfect number. Believe it or not, I actually did this with my coolbreeze sweater. The integrity of the yarn changed so drastically I didn’t anticipate the drape well.

I love the coolbreeze pattern so much that I am determined to make it work out. It has no chance to thwart my plan, this cardigan WILL behave!! Trust me, it’s happening.

Monday Mishaps: Right in the Middle

Monday Mishaps! Another weekend has come and gone, I hope everyone had a good time and lots of knitting. I am going to go with an old project rather than something I have screw up recently. There hasn’t really been a catastrophe big enough to merit writing about.

Nordic Sweater

You will all recognize this picture of the brown Nordic sweater I did last year. I get so many complements on this sweater because of the beautiful colours on the yoke. What people don’t notice is the waist shaping.

This sweater is knit from the bottom up in one piece. The hem is a different colour than the body and there is some light blue detail around the bottom. I got so caught up in completing the details, and appreciating how beautiful the contrast between the light brown, blue and medium brown is I went right on to knitting the body.

If you’ve ever knit a sweater from the bottom up where the body is completely stockinet stitch, you’ll know that it’s kind of an autopilot thing. I remember I was watching Lord of the Rings and making good progress when I remembered I was going to do waist shaping.

I’d never done any waist shaping before and I wanted this sweater to be fitted. If I failed to do waist shaping, it would give me a potato sack look and that is currently not the style I am looking for.

I stopped knitting the body immediately and researched waist shaping. The few resources I found that gave specific instructions without having to purchase a pattern stated that, when knitting a sweater from the bottom up, you should start your decreases an inch from the hem. To me that seemed a little soon AND I was about two and a half inches up. Naturally, I started the waist shaping right there.

Bottom of Nordic Sweater

The waist shaping was supposed to be slight, but since the yarn was so thick I miscalculated how much of a curve two stitches would effect.

When all was said and done, the slight waist shaping turned into something that would have been decidedly more… contoured, except the waist shaping settles just above their target mark.

It isn’t really noticeable unless you’re looking for it, or a raise my arms above my head… or move at all. As a result I don’t really wear it as much as I would like, but it was an excellent learning experience. I know much more about waist shaping and I was able to build off that and get my Julissa to fit perfectly!

What’s Up Wednesday

Wednesday! The halfway point of the week; where it doesn’t look entirely too hopeless! The light at the end of this tunnel is a sunny and beautiful day, not a train. You can’t tell I am looking forward to the weekend, can you?

Yarn Drying

Friday night, Dave messaged me from Johanne’s Knit n’ Stitch saying that I should come in the next day. I responded by asking if there was something in particular they needed or if I should bring anything. Apparently there was a surprise there for me. Man! I know he did that on purpose! Friday after they’re closed he tells me to come because there is a surprise waiting… argh! I almost died of curiosity. As my mind ran over the possibilities I tried to narrow it down. I hadn’t ordered anything, as far as I knew there wasn’t anything coming in that I was asking about. What could it be?!

Johanne usually has draws and you get a ballet with every purchase. I never win stuff like this, ever. The last draw was a Soak box with a skein of Lorna’s Laces yarn, matching nail polish and two bottles of soak. I was the one who won it! It was really nice to finally win one. I am going to open it up and check it out, I’ll let you know what I find.

Before I headed over to Johanne’s, Alanna came over and we dyed some yarn! She was curious about my dyeing process, so we spent the whole morning putting colour to yarn!

I had ordered a few new colours including bright purple, deep purple, gold and an emerald green. I dyed a few custom orders bright purple and bright blue striped, and deep purple and gold striped. They turned out well, I am going to knit them into socks.

Yarns Collage

We also dyed emerald green, which is beautiful with the slight sheen the Blueface Leicester has.  The second skein is Magenta and black, I’ve seen a black and red yarn called ‘Vampire’s Kiss’ I think I would call this one ‘Barbie Vampire’ or ‘Vampirette’. The last one is just a duplicate of the bright blue I made my socks from.

HD Blue Sock

Speaking of socks, I finished the blue ones. I remember I said I was knitting them a little tighter. They feel better than the previous ones I’ve made, but I really haven’t broken them in. I’ll have to give you an update after I’ve spent more time in them. I am really curious about how the yarn will hold up. Apparently you want to have nylon in the fiber you make socks from. The synthetic fiber makes your garment a little more durable. The yarn I used for these socks is 100% merino wool, but looking into some other sock yarns, they are made with 100% merino or BFL. Even extremely popular brands like Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock. It’s all in the way they are spun. I can’t wait to see how this works out.

Sensational Stockings

You will all gasp in surprise when I tell you I have another FO for you! Are you ready?

They are the socks for my Dad’s Birthday. That’s not until next weekend, but I feel better for completing it now. It has been a bad couple of weeks for headaches and brain damage in general. I kept messing up the pattern on these vanilla socks, if that doesn’t tell you how bad it is…
Since Paul was my size tester as I knit these socks, I am going to make him a pair of his own. I’ve got leftover yarn from my Dad’s socks, so they can be matching! Luckily, Paul and my father live so far apart; they will probably never wear them on the same day. I also assume wearing the same thing to an event isn’t as big a deal for guys as it is for women… right?
They knit up so quickly it feels like cheating. Hopefully I’ll finish Paul’s pair in short order and be able to move onto other UFO’s… or dyeing. I ordered some dye and yarn; I just got the dye in the mail. The yarn should be here next week. I’ll update as soon as it is in!!