Archive | March 2015

Warm Woollies for a Spring Stroll

A good excuse to show off their warm woollies Click to enlarge

A good excuse to show off their warm woollies
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It’s a chilly March day here in Wiltshire and Kit and Maru are setting off to walk their dog, Herr Flick the German Schnauzer.  Winter and early Spring are knitting season at Kit’s Couture, and they both have new woolly jackets to show you.

Daybreak to Dusk coat

Maru could wear this anytime - from Dawn to Dusk!

Maru could wear this anytime – from Daybreak to Dusk

Maru is wearing this lovely coat for 18-20″ dolls from a pattern by Knitting Nanny Mo, available from My Doll Best Friend.  This is an unusual and stylish pattern for a cabled coat.  The ribbing drawing it in slightly below the yoke makes it fit nicely to Maru’s torso, and the bodice sits well on her sloping shoulders.  The cabling on the skirts of the coat decorate without overwhelming and the gently ruffled hem is a pretty touch.  A single statement button fastens the bodice together.  With her outfit, Maru wears last year’s Whidbey watch cap, and her favourite suede ankle-boots.

Just as pretty from the back Click to enlarge

Just as pretty from the back
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This was quite an easy pattern to knit up.  I used shade 140 ‘Gold’ of my favourite Jarol Heritage DK yarn, a colour which looks so much better in real life than it does in my photographs.  I followed the pattern exactly apart from row 4 of the cable pattern on the right front, where I felt the cables were the wrong way round.  I wanted them to be a mirror image of the cabling on the left front, so I adjusted the instructions for row 4 to: K6, C6F, K6, C6B, K6.  This seems to me to work better – certainly I prefer it.

Apart from this small tweak the pattern is perfect, and I do love the design.  I’m busy now knitting it in Aran yarn on size 7 needles, making a larger version to fit my 24″ Paola Reina Las Reinas girl Lidia.

Spring Fever big collar cardi

Spring Fever - just right with jeans Click to enlarge

Spring Fever – just right with jeans
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Kit’s new jacket is Spring Fever, a Jacknitss Design for 18-19″ dolls by Jacqueline Gibb.  I chose Jarol Heritage DK shade 146 ‘Ming’, a dusty blue, to flatter Kit’s summer colouring and also tone perfectly with her button-up shirt.  This gorgeous jacket has a twisted ribbed bands which extend up and join the huge collar which does duty as a shawl or cape to keep Kit’s shoulders snug and warm when the March winds blow.    The wide ribbing on the deep cuffs is echoed by the same ribbing on the two pockets, and the tie belt is worked as twisted rib to match the bands and collar.  Kit completes her outfit with a pair of fur-topped black boots with crazy pompom decorations.

Collar - or shawl in disguise? Click to enlarge

Collar – or shawl in disguise?
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This was such a good pattern, so easy to follow and there was nothing that I needed to adjust or change.  It knit up perfectly to size and the fit was excellent.  In fact, it was so good that it encouraged me to try another Jacknitss pattern…

 Delightful Duffel Coat

Hooded encounter Click to enlarge

Who’s this little pixie talking to Jamila?
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Our mystery model is wearing a gorgeously-textured hooded coat with the grey trousers from Kidz ‘n’ Cat’s Sophie’s ‘meet’ outfit, and matching mauve boots with fur tops.  She’s carrying all she needs for her outing on her back in her smart leather satchel.

Meanwhile Jamila is wearing last year’s Pemberton Capelet and hat that she has inherited from Shona – and they fit her beautifully.  Her white trousers are from Precious Day Elisabeth’s ‘meet’ outfit and she has Kidz ‘n’ Cats shoes on her feet.

Helen in a hoodie! Click to enlarge

It’s Helen in a hoodie!
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And the mystery model turns out to be Kidz ‘n’ Cats Helen, with her hair tucked inside her new soft mauve duffel coat, knitted in Jarol Heritage DK shade 107 ‘Lilac’.  This is the coat from the Duffel Coat Set for Kidz ‘n’ Cats (18″ slim dolls), our second Jacknitss design.  Besides this attractive coat, the Duffel Coat Set also includes instructions for a yoked top, skinny leggings and even a duffel bag.  I have only made the coat so far.

Hood down for a portrait shot Click to enlarge

Hood down for a portrait shot with Jamila
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This is a faultless pattern which knit up perfectly.  The instructions for the coat are very clear and detailed – just what I like.  A completely new technique for me was the 3-needle bind-off (cast-off) to join the shoulder seams together, far less bulky than a stitched seam and ideal for doll’s knits.  I really like this design with its double moss-stitch texture, cuff straps, frog fastenings and its little toggle buttons.

Helen to the fore! Click to enlarge

Helen to the fore!
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A quick hair restyle into two plaits, and Helen’s happily in front of the camera again, showing off the toggle features and luscious texture on her new coat.

These three attractive and very different coat patterns have all been very successful, and have certainly  helped me while away some dark and cold winter evenings.  But very soon it will be time to get the sewing machine and the cotton fabric out because spring is just around the corner – can’t wait!



Arctic Chic with Saila Qilavvaq

Saila dresses Inuit style Click to enlarge

Saila dresses Inuit style
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New model Saila Qilavvaq, my Maplelea Girl, steps out for the first time in a very unusual – to British eyes – parka for the colder months.  This very distinctive garment is an Amauti, an ethnic garment worn by Inuit women in Canada.  Saila is finding it more difficult to settle in here in the UK than the other Kit’s Couture girls, because of course life is very different here from her home in Iqaluit, Nunavut Territory.  So to help her feel at home, I made her an Amauti suitable for our mild winters.

Traditionally the Amauti is made from animal skins – typically caribou – and of course its hood would often be lined with fur for warmth.  This is very important because the hood of the Amauti, along with the loose pouch-like back of the garment, is where Inuit women traditionally carry their babies.  It needs to be warm, secure, water- and wind-proof.  In recent years, the Amauti tends to be made with modern fabrics like polar fleece with cotton cloth or waterproof outer layers.  Modern Amautis are growing in popularity generally and fetch high prices.

An Amauti for the UK winter Click to enlarge

An Amauti for the UK winter
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Saila’s Amauti is made using the Wren*Feathers Arctic Parka pattern by Jennie Bagrowski.  The pattern has some of the strangest-shaped pattern pieces I have ever seen, particularly the front which has two large lobes of fabric which extend over the shoulders and join the back to form part of the pouch.  Instructions are essential with this pattern and it would be pretty much impossible to work out how the pattern fits together without them.

Tiny white flowers and swirls decorate the fabric. Click to enlarge.

Tiny white flowers and swirls decorate the fabric.
Click to enlarge.

For the outer layer of the Amauti I chose a substantial white cotton fabric printed with white flowers and tendrils which reminded me of snowflakes whirling in a light breeze.  The inner layer had to be a good warm fleece, and guided by the pattern instructions I chose microfleece in a royal blue.  Saila is a Winter (how suitable!) so white and this clear cool blue suit her admirably.  I decided against using fur fabric on the hood, as the winters in the south-west of England are so mild these days that it really isn’t necessary.  Rick-rack braid is often used to decorate Amautis so I chose a light one also in royal blue, and a matching silk cord to cinch in the garment at the waist.

The hood is HUGE - room for two babies in there? Click to enlarge.

The hood is HUGE – room for two babies in there?
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I started with the outer layer as it was the easiest to work with.  Following the pattern instructions closely I pinned and stitched the pieces together, all the while unsure exactly what I was doing and how this bizarre assortment of cloth was going to turn into a wearable garment.  First the hood is constructed, then the sleeve tops are stitched to the strange lobes of the front.  At this point I stitched the rick-rack braid onto the sleeve cuffs.  The the back tail piece is stitched to the back, and then we get to the bit that Jennie warns us is tricky: we stitch the front to the hood and back, going around the lobes and finishing at the side seams.  That I did find difficult, as I had a little too much fabric on the back.  If making this again I would ease-stitch around the low hood back to help it fit the hood front.

Then I turned my attention to the lining which was a fleece knit.  I have learned to be cautious about knits as my machine will skip stitches if it possibly can.  So I used a ball-point needle size 80 and set the stitch length to 3.5.  These seemed to be the right settings and I had no problem with skipped stitches at all as I put the lining together.  Because of its stretchiness it was much more obliging about fitting together, and as I had already done all this once I made good progress.

The long tail of the Amauti would allow Saila to sit back into a snow-bank - if we had any... Click to enlarge.

The long tail of the Amauti would allow Saila to sit back into a snow-bank – if we had any snow…
Click to enlarge.

Before putting the two layers together I had to stitch the rick-rack decoration around the hemline of the garment.  I set it so that the top edge of the braid was 1⅜” from the edge of the fabric.  It had to be pinned on carefully all the way around and stitching a straight line on that wavy braid was very difficult – it felt as if I was zig-zagging too!

Now it was time to slip the lining inside the outer layer and join them together around the hem and hood with strips of fleece, in the same way as bias binding.  My intention was to stitch the binding right-sides together and then fold the binding over to the wrong side and stitch in the ditch to catch it down invisibly.  Unfortunately the pattern does not advise how wide to cut the fleece binding and I cut the hood binding too narrow at 1″ and had to do some hand-sewing to catch it down in places.  So for the hem binding I used a strip 2″ wide, did all the stitching and then trimmed off the excess as needed.  Last of all I slip-stitched the lining to the sleeve cuffs and then this complex garment was complete!  All in all it took me three full afternoons to make.

Saila wears her Amauti over her Maplelea jeans and a Kit’s Couture T-shirt.  Her outer layer is completed by her kamiik (Inuit-style boots which were part of her ‘meet’ outfit) and her Pang hat, which was actually made for Maplelea by Inuit women in Pangnirtung.  As you can see, she is very happy in her new Amauti, and very pleased that her first modelling assignment for Kit’s Couture showcases this striking piece of Arctic chic.

Amauti? Check.  Kamiik? Check.  Pang hat?  Check.  Now where's the snow? Click to enlarge.

Amauti? Check. Kamiik? Check. Pang hat? Check. Now where’s the snow?
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After all this effort to make an authentic Amauti, I learned that only women with children would wear one.  A young girl like Saila, or a childless woman, would wear an Amautit – that second ‘t’ makes all the difference – which has no pouch.  For anyone who is interested, there is more about the Amauti and its history and meaning for the Inuit people in this report from 2001.