Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rowan and Noro for Nikki

This is the last of the knitting for Nikki.  I decided to make her a coat and a mohair turtleneck sweater as my final contributions for this part of the wardrobe. 

I had a skein of Noro Shinano (65% wool, 35% silk) in my stash, but I cannot for the life of me figure out where this skein came from.  I can't picture myself purchasing anything in this color family, but it worked perfectly for this project.

I was hesitant to knit anything for Nikki on needles larger than a size #3 (USA).  The Shinano required a minimum needle size of #7.  I have to say it didn't turn out all that badly, and Nikki actually looks fairly cute in it.  To give the sleeves and body of the garment some rigidity, I allowed for a hem.  For those of you who are new to knitting, this is a very simple operation if you are dealing with a stockinette fabric.  All you have to do is purl one row on the knit side of the garment where you want the hem to turn, then continue in stockinette for the remainder of the garment.  I have never used this technique to turn a vertical edge, but I would guess it would work just as well.  It gives a nice finished edge if you don't want the traditional K1P1 or K2P2 ribbing, and the raised stitches of the purl row provide a guide if you want to add a fancy edging when the garment is done. 

The belt was an afterthought.  I was going to try my hand at looped closures down the front of the coat, but then I thought a three year old might have a hard time with tiny toggle buttons.  Also, I didn't want to complicate the project beyond belief (which I seem to be doing anyway), so I thought I'd just make it into a wrap coat.  If I had it to do over again, I'd make the belt narrower.  I only completed three rows of garter stitch including the bind off row, but it's a bit too wide for my tastes.

Overall, the coat exceeded my expectations and looks darling with the magenta skirt.  The weight of the fiber was acceptable for a coat and it was definitely quick to knit up and finish. 

Next came the turtleneck sweater in Rowan's Kidsilk Haze.  I was really excited about trying this fiber because so many knitters absolutely adore it.  But I have to say I was disappointed in its performance.  Aside from the fact that it is an extremely fine or dainty fiber to work with (think thread), it turns really nasty if you have to rip out an error.  The mohair fiercely grabs the neighboring stitches, and no amount of either gentle coaxing or vigorous tugging convinces the errant stitches to release.  This is a property of most mohair fibers, but I found it particularly annoying knitting a sweater for a fashion doll.  The garment pieces are so small to start with, that any error needing frogging results in a balled up piece of unusable fabric.  In fact, I made an error on one of the sleeves and ended up throwing it away because of the tangle that resulted.

Personally, I'd choose Habu's A-32B (60% mohair, 40% silk) over Kidsilk Haze for adult garments made using this fiber composition.  The Habu blend seems to be spun a little tighter and the fabric that results is soft, a bit less fluffy, and has a wonderful drape.  I haven't compared yardage or price for either of these yarns, but now that I know how each fiber performs, I'd feel confident making the financial commitment for the Habu if I wanted a special sweater.

As far as the sweater design is concerned, I wish I had made the collar a bit larger.  I measured the doll and estimated the amount of fabric that was needed, rather than trying the garment on Nikki every few rows as I knit.  The body of the sweater fits perfectly, but the neck requires a bit of stretching to get it right.  I will probably not use the velcro closures on the neck edge.  Nikki's long hair will hide the fact that the collar does not go all the way around easily. 

Clothing patterns for fashion dolls don't seem to be widely available on the Web, unless you want to knit.  One woman in New Zealand has generously posted her patterns at  Since I don't have a sewing machine set up in my craft room and have little experience with making clothing (okay, dear sister in Allentown, I have no experience making clothing from textiles), I decided to use all the help I could find in this area.  I printed out three of the patterns and I'm off to hopefully not make a total mess of the fabric I purchased last Saturday.  What was that again about checking for the bias of the fabric?  What's bias?  And do these paper patterns have an allowance for the seams?  How can you tell?  Darts?  Okay, dear Allentown sister, you can stop laughing now.

1 comment:

loretta said...

The Noro coat looks great. I agree that the belt's a bit wide but hey, who knows what next year's hottest fashion trend will be????

As for bias, if the fabric leans to the left it is Democratic bias. To the right, it's Republican bias. You can double check this with the straight-as-an-arrow gal in Allentown.