Monday, January 13, 2014

How to remove candle wax from your favorite sweater


My brother and his wife had their annual post-holiday party this weekend. They hit on a fabulous idea several years ago: hold your Christmas party after the holidays when people don't have anything else to do. This way, everyone you invite shows up because they don't have anywhere else to go on a dark, cold January night. The party is always a lot of fun.

Except when Aunt Julie backs into a fancy, lit candle holder and promptly sprays hot wax all over the wall, the wood floor - and her favorite sweater. Remember my Hiro?

Yes. That sweater. Isn't it awful? Tom said it looked like I'd sat on a Krispie Kreme doughnut.

Because I'm a psycho sweater surgeon, my first idea was cut off the bottom and reknit! But then I thought better of this drastic action and got out the iron and the ironing board. I set the iron on Silk, a low setting. Then I laid a paper towel on the ironing board...

Placed the sweater on top, and then put another paper towel on top of that.

I gently placed the iron on the spot until I started to smell the candle fragrance (yuck - I now associate candle smells with wrecked hand-knitted sweaters).

I lifted the iron and viola! The wax had started to melt and adhere to the paper towel.

The wax didn't come up all at once - I had to do it several times, replacing the waxy paper towel as I went. I also turned the sweater inside out and ironed it from the back side, too.

I kept going and going and going and then the wax stain was gone!

I still smell a little of the (nasty) fragrance so I'm going to take it to the dry cleaners tomorrow. That's the best assurance I have that the smell will permanently be removed. 

I don't recommend potentially ruining your sweater with candle wax, but I can heartily endorse this removal technique. Back to normal! I'll be wearing this favorite cardi again soon.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Directions in waist shaping

I'm working on my first Custom Fit pattern as part of the Knitting at Large Custom Fit KAL. Although the KAL started in December, I'm late to the gate like a lot of others because of the demands of the holidays. But no worry - it's ongoing. (I'd you'd like to knit along with us, check out this Ravelry page).

I'm working on a vest of my own design. It's going to be a scoop-necked cardigan vest that buttons up the front and features a large three-color fair isle motif across the bust and upper back. Here's a very general mockup (oh, how I wish I could draw).

I'm calling it the Springbrook Vest after my high school and its team colors, navy and medium blue. My intention is to wear this with jeans and a chambray shirt. If I end up loving it, maybe I'll add some sleeves at the end and make it a cardi. We'll see.

My yarn: Berroco Blackstone Tweed in Narrangasset, Denim, and Foggy. Comprised of wool, mohair, and angora, this Aran-weight tweed softens with wear and develops a halo. A little shimmering fuzziness should be nice in a fair isle design, I think.

The garment, like most of Amy Herzog's designs, is knit from the bottom up with side seams and set-in sleeves (if I were going to have sleeves). I cast on and started up the back.

My welcome surprise is that the pattern called for a waist-shaping technique I've not used before. Instead of doing two decreases at the princess seams like I've usually done, the pattern called for four. Below, I've outlined where the decreases appear since it's hard to see with the dark yarn.

I will be very interested to see how this effects the fit. It makes sense to me intellectually; anything you can do to turn a flat, two-dimensional rectangle into a three-dimensional tube is a good thing. The additional waist shaping makes the garment even more 3-D and eliminates extraneous fabric at the waist, too. (For those who don't know me, I have a mighty derriere and a narrower waist, and therefore have to do significant waist shaping on everything I make).

I have discovered one thing that I will do differently in the future though. The Custom Fit pattern calls for the decreases to be made outside of the markers (you can see two of the four in the image above). With this technique, the decrease lines go out towards the seams. Unfortunately, the decrease lines also drive the eye outward to the hips - not an optimal look for me.

In the future, I will knit the decreases inside the markers. This brings the decrease line in towards the waistline, drawing the eye in, which  is a better choice for me because it emphasizes my narrower waist.

I used this technique with Julia Farwell Clay's Bartok Tunic. As you can see here, the decrease lines point in, and then at the waist, point outwards I to accommodate my bust line. This emphasizes my curves.

If I had done the decreases outside the markers, the sweater would have looked like this. See how it draws the eye outwards, making me look even wider? (Of course, this mock-up is exaggerated so the look in real life would have been more subtle, but the effect would have benn the same.)

To conclude, my advice thus far about Custom Fit patterns is to learn everything you can from the techniques provided and then apply your own knowledge and experience. The Custom Fit support team instructs knitters to "trust the elves" that make the patterns. This makes me uncomfortable, especially since I have a much more complicated body to fit than anyone on their team, I'd bet. I've knit over a dozen sweaters for my body - at this point, I'm the real expert on fitting sweaters to my body. So my philosophy is to trust but verify. This way, you take what you need and leave the rest. For me, this means I got the innovative technique to do four sets of decreases instead of just two. Really great stuff.