I’m going through a style crisis right now. I don’t know if it’s because I started working from home, if I spend too much time with Eléonore Klein or if I’m just finally catching up with trends, but I’m starting to leave my favorite retro silhouette behind for more comfortable outfits. Since I’ve made my Safran jeans (super comfy with its 30% stretch) I’ve been wearing them at least three days a week, with a flannel shirt or a big cosy sweater. Sewing-wise, I’m dreaming of Grainline Studio patterns, which I used to disregard as too boxy for me. And I picked up knitting again!
This past January I was in Boston, and with the arctic temperatures the only thing I wanted was stay at home, drink herbal tea, and knit. Unfortunately I forgot my knitting projects in France! I guess that was the perfect excuse to visit my new favorite store and buy some fancy yarn.
But first I took a look in my closet: I actually have a lot of hand-made sweaters and cardigans already, from back when I was in college and I used to knit a lot, but I rarely wear them. Then I realized most of them have short or elbow-length sleeves, or wide necklines that prevent me from wearing them with a regular t-shirt. And what I want in the winter is a soft oversized sweater, with sleeves that cover my hands, that I can throw on anytime to keep me warm.
I hadn’t knitted anything other than Andi Satterlund‘s cropped cardigans for a long time, so I wasn’t really up to date with the latest patterns. I spent some time down the Ravelry rabbit hole and discovered Isabell Kraemer. Her patterns are exactly what I wanted: simple shapes, designed for an oversized fit, but with a smart construction that keeps them elegant.
I wanted something really simple to ease me back into knitting so I picked Il Grande Favorito, which seems to be one of the most popular patterns on the French knittosphere. It’s a very basic stockinette sweater with raglan sleeves, knitted top-down with no seaming. The back is slightly longer than the front thanks to a few short-rows, and that’s about it.
This sweater was such a treat to knit. The pattern is crystal clear and most of the body of the sweater is knitted in the round like a tube so it’s perfect to knit in front of the TV. I finished it in less than three weeks wich is an amazing record for me! Although if you count TV shows I might have spent more time on it than I thought: season 1 of Mr. Robot, season 1 of Sense8 and season 2 of iZombie… That’s a lot of knitting after all.
It’s made out of Cascade Yarns Eco Cloud, a lovely and soft chainette yarn with 70% merino and 30% alpaca. I went down one needle size to get the right gauge and made a size M (40”) to get an oversized fit (3 1/2” of positive ease). After I casted off I got a bit scared because it ended up tighter than expected and the sleeves were too short, but after wet-blocking it was perfect, with a nice curve at the hem.
In the end I LOVE it. I have rarely been this happy with a finished knitting project. The sweater has a nice drape, it’s soft, the fit is just right, the color goes with everything and is great with my skintone… it’s perfect. I never want to take it off.
Speaking of uniforms, look at what I’ve sewn: another pair of Safran jeans!
Given how often I wear my firt pair, I thought it was time to make another one before the first one dies. The first pair was navy, this one is charcoal. I like my jeans basic.
The fabric is a beautiful Cone Mills denim from one of the Closet Case Files kits. I ordered the kit back then to make a pair of Ginger jeans but it turns out this fabric had enough stretch for Safran so I made those instead. I still have another fabric from the kit that I’m keeping aside to make Gingers eventually. By the way, the limited edition kits are going to be back in the Closet Case Files store on February 20th. They’re not cheap but the denim is really high quality. Oh and also I just learned you can purchase Cone Mills denim on this website.
Unlike the fabric I used for my first pair of Safran jeans, this one barely meets the 20% stretch minimum. The difference in comfort is very obvious: I forget my first pair when I wear it, but with this second one I need to be careful how I sit so that the waistband doesn’t dig into my stomach too much, and bending my knees is harder. I still tried to do a split but it wasn’t a great success.
The fit is also impacted by the lower stretch factor. I did the same adjustments as on my first pair and on the one I wear in the Deer&Doe store: graded from a 36 1/2 at the waist to a 38 1/2 at the high hips and 40 1/2 at the low hips, and lenghtened the rise by 1 cm. On this pair there are clear drag lines around the crotch, much more than on the two previous ones, which seems to indicate I could have started grading to a 40 1/2 a bit higher. It might be worth letting the seams out a bit but I’m going to wait and see if the fabric stretches out a bit with wear.
I thought about doing constrast topstitching but in the end I thought I’d wear it more without it. The only pop of color is the Liberty tana lawn with peacock feathers I used for the inside of the pockets, which was left over from this dress.
Looking at the pictures I am a little disappointed: I thought the fit was great in real life but the drag lines are very visible on the pictures, especially on the back of the legs. That won’t stop me from wearing it, hopefully it gets better after I wear it a bit. And it won’t stop me from making more! I still haven’t made the pants version: I’m dreaming of pants in a cool print, maybe houndstooth, gingham, something floral… It’s not easy to find prints with the right weight and stretch factor but I still have hope.
As for knitting I haven’t stopped there. I’ve been obsessed recently with the thought of a textured forest green oversized sweater. I ordered some Cascade 220 Heathers in Forest Green to make the Bedford sweater (this will be my first Brooklyn Tweed project!) but unfortunatly the shop I ordered it from messed up and sent me the wrong colorway, so I need to wait for a second package to arrive. While I wait I ripped an old sweater project that I hadn’t touched in years and I used the yarn to start another Isabell Kraemer pattern, On the beach (without the stripes). The construction is really fun so far, I love it!
Il Grande Favorito – Isabell Kraemer
Size M (40”)
Cascade Yarns Eco Cloud – Dove Grey (4.5 skeins)
Project on Ravelry
Safran – Deer&Doe
Size 36.5 (waist) / 38.5 (high hips) / 40.5 (low hips)
Lengthened the rise by 1 cm
Cone Mills Denim
Isabell Kramer is such a prolific knitter – in addition to her own lovely patterns, I also take inspiration from the many other patterns she knits up for herself. I recently made a pattern by Maison Rililie (Spring Lines), which I discovered through Isabell’s version on Ravelry!
OOoh that’s great! I started following her on Instagram after reading your comment, very inspiring indeed 🙂
Oh, I love this whole look. I really like Isabelle Kramer’s patterns too – even though they’re loose, they’re not sloppy and enormous. I can’t stand big and shapeless as a synonym for oversize! I get you about the comfort – it’s becoming more and more important to me as time goes by. When it’s really hot in summer I adore my linen Merchant and Mills Trapeze dress – I would never have thought I’d go for something like that, but the fitted shoulders and sleeves make it stylish. And not having anything tight around my waist or tucked in feels so much fresher. I like some of Grainline’s stuff but deeply regret buying the button up shirtdress – don’t remember the name – it was an impulse buy and I have not seen one version that looks cute or stylish. (note, I’m not saying flattering – that’s subjective and loaded!)
I feel the same way! I’ve been going back and forth about the Grainline Farrow dress, it’s a little similar to the Merchant and Mills trapeze dress but with less flare at the hem, I think I like it 🙂
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