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Avery’s Petite Lisette Dress

Since I’m so bored with social media, it’s time I shared a knitting update with you all!

This delightful little pattern caught my eye on Instagram (yes, my feed is populated by my relatives, their babies, and yarn): Petite Lisette, by Lili Comme Tout.

It’s billed as a dress, but the finished product is much more like a tunic than a dress:

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Petite Lisette dress, the front

Main Body

The dress is worked bottom-up in the round, first on 4mm needles, then on 3.5mm. I found the broken ribbing at the hem a little strange-looking at first, but now it’s grown on me. I did add a couple of centimeters in length, but it still seems too short to be a dress.

Next came the box pleats: The pattern includes some very helpful instructions, and I didn’t find it necessary to make my usual how-to search on YouTube. You might need to, though, if you’re more of a visual learner.

They are a bit finicky, and I found myself not breathing for several seconds at a time while I was working them. The fear of dropping any stitches had me holding my breath and sticking out my tongue in concentration.

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Petite Lisette dress from the back

Bodice & Neckline

To work the bodice, you knit up to a certain point, then put some stitches on hold while you work up either side of the neckline. This is done both at the back and the front.

It’s hard to measure well when all your jersey knit is curling, and I think I might have made it a bit lop-sided. It probably doesn’t help that I was knitting in moving vehicles, airplanes, and other such uncomfortable places that make laying a piece out and measuring it difficult.

The cast-off around the neckline is an i-cord bind off (link to an instructional video). It’s a pretty bind off, but it’s slow, and the pattern calls for making an extra length at either end for tying. I think if I make this dress again, I will skip the extra lengths, do an i-cord bind off and then fashion a little button loop and sew on a button for the closure.

Sleeves

Picking up and knitting for the sleeves is always tricky, and I get this horrible gap between my main work and the picked-up stitches. I have no idea how to avoid this, so if anyone has any tips, I’d appreciate it!

My solution has been to sew them closer once I’ve finished the sleeves. Not ideal, but it works.

You can choose to make the dress with short, capped sleeves, or with longer sleeves. I did a three-quarter length. There is a box pleat at the end of each sleeve, which is a bit tricky, but looks very cute once it’s done.

The i-cord bind off on the sleeves posed another problem: How to graft the end of the bind off to the beginning so that it looks nice. I had some help doing the first sleeve, and that one ended up looking pretty nice.

But for the second sleeve, I was just winging it. Since I didn’t have internet access at the time, I couldn’t fall back to a YouTube video search. I have since found this video on grafting the i-cord bind off, which I hope others will find helpful.

Yarn & Notions

The yarn I used is Sweet Georgia “Tough Love” sock yarn in orchid. It’s a great fingering weight yarn, and it’s nice and soft for a little baby to wear. It’s also machine washable, a definite plus.

I used my Addi Click circular needles for the body, and some knitpick double-pointed needles for the sleeves and box pleats. I’m a huge fan of my Addi Click needles (I have them in metal).

And that is all she wrote! It is currently with little Avery, ready for her to grow into it this winter.

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My First Knitted Sweater

SUCCESS!

Ladies and gentlemen, I have done it. I have knitted my first handmade sweater. (I’m not counting the little sweater I made for my nephew for Christmas–that one was tiny.)

It started with a swatch

I got the pattern for the Alpenglühen cardigan on Ravelry. It was recommended to me by a friend for a first sweater, as she said the pattern was excellent and easy to follow. It really is! If you’re looking for a pattern for your first sweater, try this one.

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10cm x 10cm swatch

Since this was my first try at a garment, I decided to go by the book and make a swatch. It turns out my gauge was perfect.

The yarn is Studio Donegal’s Soft Donegal. It’s 100% merino wool with a tweedy, multi-colored flecked texture. My parents bought it for me in Dublin, Ireland last year and gave it to me as a Christmas present. It’s a gorgeous color, soft, and even the jersey knit gives a nice stretchy result. I love it.

Confounded By Cables

Though I’d done cables before, this was my first big cabled piece, and darn it if I didn’t make a mistake in one of my cables only to realize it 10 rows later. The horror!

What to do?! Rip out 10 rows of work? Ignore it and pretend it’s not there only to have it haunt my dreams? No. A solution had to be found.

Enter social media. The Knitting Lodge community on Google+ is a great resource where lots of experienced knitters hang out. I posted a cry for help there, and also contacted Staci Perry of VeryPink Knits on Google+. She kindly sent me her video for correcting a stitch.

After studying the blog posts provided by the Google+ knitters and Staci’s video, I was ready to pull off the most complicated knitting technique I have done to date.How to fix a cable mistake in knitting

Holding the stitches on either side of the three offending stitches on my needles, I proceeded to drop down to where I had forgotten to cable. Then, using a crochet hook and a knitting needle, I worked my way back up using Staci’s technique.

My Chico will tell you that I held my breath for about 15 minutes while doing this. Afterwards, when I had successfully accomplished my mission, I felt like the KNITTING QUEEN OF THE WORLD! Lots of high-fives ensued.

Jersey Stitch is Boring

The back of the sweater is nicely fitted. However, it requires what seems like MILES of jersey stitch.

It’s hard not to pull out your measuring tape every few rows to check how you’re doing. The best advice I can give is to try to get through this part of the process as quickly as possible.

Back of sweater
The back is wonderfully fitted!

Gaps in the Sleeves

I had some issues with the wrap & turn required for creating the shoulder cap of the sleeve. The wrap used to create the short rows caused a gap along the seam where I picked up from the main body to knit the sleeves.

I was unable to find a solution for the problem. I tried several techniques, including the Japanese short row technique, but none worked any better.

My final solution was, when I was putting the finishing touches on, to just sew through the seam inside out.

Pick Your Buttons Carefully

ButtonsOn a sweater like this, the buttons really bring it all together and give the final finishing touch. I wanted to splurge, so I visited Rix Rax here in Montreal.

The selection of buttons is vast, but expect terrible service with a healthy dose of bad attitude to go with it.

Finally Done

It took me about a month and a half to finish this sweater. And when I finally blocked it out and sewed on the buttons, I could not wait to wear it.

And wear it I did. I wore it to work twice in one week. My colleagues humored me by complimenting me every few minutes. Whenever I wear it outdoors, I can’t help but expect strangers to stop me on the street and say, “What a nice sweater!” I am inevitably disappointed when no one in the grocery store takes notice.

Finished alpine glow sweater

But… I MADE IT MYSELF!!

 

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The Best Yarn Stores in Montreal

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Since joining the Stitch n’ Bitch in Montreal, I have become a yarn snob. The lovely ladies of the S&B morphed me into a knitting fiend, and then into a natural fiber snob. Of course, that means I’ve had the pleasure of exploring the delightful locations where such yarns can be found. Here is a rundown of the top yarn stores in Montreal.

1. Effiloché (closing down as of December 2018)

6260, Saint-Hubert

Effiloché was the first yarn store I visited here in Montreal. It’s at Plaza St-Hubert, a large shopping area (near where I bought my wedding dress, as it would happen!). The location is pretty convenient, an easy walking distance from Beaubien metro station.

The nice thing about this store is that it sells supplies for two similar interests: knitting/crocheting and sewing. They’ve got yarns as well as fabrics. They also have plenty of tools and accessories for both activities. However, I would say that their yarn selection is rather limited, and I also found it expensive. They didn’t have a range of prices including more affordably priced yarns. They offer gorgeous, all-natural yarns, and the higher price is the result.

This might be nit-picking but I found the lighting in this store quite poor. It was dark, and it made it hard to see the yarns and really enjoy their colors.

Both times I visited, I found the staff rather unhelpful. Or, I should say they were unwilling to approach me to offer their help but once accosted by me they were helpful (though somewhat grudgingly). That turned me off a bit from this store, to be honest.

Others have had different experiences here, though.  They also offer classes.

2. Espace Tricot

6050 Monkland Avenue, Nôtre-Dame-de-Grâce

My second yarn store visit was to Espace Tricot on Monkland. From downtown it’s rather a hike to get out here. The nearest metro stop is Villa-Maria on the orange line and then it’s a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute bus ride to the store.

But getting there is worth it. The ladies at this yarn shop really know their stuff and are incredibly helpful. If you have a pattern in mind, I suggest printing it out and bringing with you, as the staff at Espace Tricot are famous for taking a careful look at it with you to help you choose your yarn.

The store itself is well laid-out and brightly lit. The yarn selection is pretty good, and there is a range of prices. They offer some more affordable acrylic, machine-washable blends as well as higher-end all-natural fibers. Their selection of accessories is pretty good, too. They have interchangeable needle kits which are a wonderful investment if you plan to keep up knitting.

The other nice thing about Espace Tricot is their website. They’ve got a great blog with some free patterns, and they’re lots of fun to follow. They also offer classes.

3. Mouliné

5317 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Westmount.

This store is right on Sherbrooke Street, easily accessible by the 24 bus or the closest metro stop is Vendôme on the orange line.

Mouliné is like Ali Baba’s cavern for knitters. It is chock-full of yarn. You’ve got all kinds of choice, and a great range of prices. This is probably the yarn store in Montreal with the widest and most varied selection. You can really spend hours in here.

The store is well-lit and vast. They’ve got it pretty well organized by fibers, weights, and colors. They also have a reasonable selection of accessories. The problem with this store is that they’re not overly helpful. The gentleman who runs the store is quite odd, and the lady behind the counter is helpful when you ask her questions, but she doesn’t go out of her way to offer assistance.

Mouliné is a great place to shop for yarn if you know what you’re looking for and don’t need or want particular guidance on a project. Don’t bother visiting their website; it’s horrible. (Update December 2018: Looks like they’ve revamped their website & it’s a lot better.)

4. La Maison Tricotéela-maison-tricotee-logo

751, rue Gilford, le Plateau-Mont Royal.

La Maison Tricotée is wonderfully convenient. It’s right next to the Laurier metro stop on the orange line and is in the heart of the Plateau (my neighborhood).

What I love most about this store is that it’s also a tea room. Céline, its founder and owner, has gone to great lengths to make la Maison Tricotée more than a store: it’s also a community. Céline offers classes, like Effiloché and Espace Tricot, but she also hosts fun events like bingo nights and themed stitch n’ bitch meetings.

So much for the activities. La Maison Tricotée sells high-end, locally made products. Their yarns are often, frankly, gorgeous. The result, however, is that they can be expensive. They do carry some more affordable options, but generally you’re looking at more than $50 for a couple of skeins. Often, though, the price is worth it. (Update: They’ve started their own house line of yarn called “Casa”. I’ve never used it but I hear great things! Check it out on Ravelry.)

The yarns are displayed well, especially on the side wall where they’re all hanging out there just begging you to buy them… Oh the temptation!

The staff are very knowledgeable here, especially Céline and Ariane, both avid knitters. You’ll get good advice on your project here, and you’ll usually learn something new about yarn or knitting every time you come in. Their website and Facebook presence are also a delight.

If you can’t afford to buy something every time you visit, you can at least stay for a cuppa tea (they actually boil the water, it’s not just hot water from the coffee machine).

5. À la Lainerie Lépine

3884 Jean Talon East.

Last on my list is la Lainerie Lépine. I have to confess that this is my least favorite yarn store in Montreal. It’s a hike from d’Iberville metro stop on the blue line, near Avenue Papineau. That’s not really the store’s fault, I guess.

The positive thing is that there is a vast collection, and it’s all pretty much affordable. The ladies who have been running the store are friendly and helpful. The problem, though, is that you have to do a lot of digging to find something good here. You’re guaranteed to come out of this store with a purchase, but if you’re looking for beautiful, luxurious, locally-produced yarns, you won’t find them here.

The Lainerie Lépine was set to close down at the end of April 2014, but the last I heard, a young lady had planned to take it over from the ladies currently running it. If you’re reading this in April 2014, you should head over and see if they still have some great sales on.

And There Are More…

There are other yarn stores in Montreal like À la Tricoteuse on Rachel and la Bobineuse on Mont-Royal, but I haven’t been to either so I cannot comment on them. If you actually come across à la Tricoteuse open, it’s a miracle. Let me know in the comments.

Update January 15th, 2018:

Thanks to commenter Beverley, she’s told us about P’tite Laine in Vaudreuil. Here is the link, for anyone who is interested. Beverley says the shop is new, has a wide selection and a very friendly owner. I no longer live in Montreal, but if anyone checks it out, let me know!