Fashion Forward & Backward

Last Friday 2 friends and I went to the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) to see an exhibition of fashion by Dutch fashion designers. You can read more about it, and see better photos than mine, here.

The exhibition showed clothing from the 17th century up to the present time. It was really interesting and inspiring. I’ll put my best photos at the end of this post.

There was one exhibit that gave me ideas about what to do with the many pairs of jeans with holes in them that I’ve been saving.

The designer cut up old jeans, created a patchwork fabric, then sewed new jeans out of that fabric. I love this idea! This is what I will do with my old jeans collection and sew the fabric into a jumper or sleeveless A-line dress. I just hope that my sewing machine is up to all that heavy fabric. These pieces have been top stitched with the gold thread used on Levi’s jeans which I really like. Time to get a heavy duty sewing needle! I also really like the added stitching on some of the squares. I don’t think I’ll add the paint/bleach though. 😉

Here’s another view with the ”Amsterdammertje” under his butt.

If you’re local, or planning a visit between now and 3 April 22, I highly recommend you go see this exhibit. AND you get to see a church which was first built in 1409. It’s pretty impressive in its own right.

More photos from the exihibit…..

Looks like my school art project
Dress detail
Heavy metal
Created for the National Ballet
Bikes haven’t changed much over the years
From a Japanese internment camp during WWII
I would wear this
Queen Maxima’s wedding dress
Experimental knitting

And now a few photos of the church. The lighting is very dim, but you get the idea.

There is information in English about the church on their website. Since 1979 it has been a place for exhibitions, official State events, concerts, etc. It sits right on Dam Square so if you are visiting it’s hard to miss! Well worth a visit no matter what is taking place at the time.

Canal Poncho in Amsterdam

At Stephen & Penelope in Amsterdam, standing in front of the Corrie Worsted wall

This past Sunday I finished my Canal Poncho and today I visited Nancy in Amsterdam and we took some photos. I really (not just saying it) love this poncho. The design is so unique and clever and the yarn is wonderful to knit with and is very warm and cozy. And just look at these colors! Nancy and I have really different color palettes for our ponchos and they both look great (if I do say so myself).

I talked about this poncho in a previous post and I gave some tips about knitting it. I have some tips about finishing it too.

When I started this poncho I wound up my bobbins with 6 arm lengths of yarn on each bobbin. I had no idea how far that would get me. Nancy had said that 3 arm lengths would be good to start with but you might run out and have to start another length of yarn before you get to the end. Three arm lengths would be the MAX I would recommend if you are NOT using bobbins because otherwise you’ll end up with a very tangled mess after every 2 rows. I had big enough bobbins that I could easily fit more yarn so I went for longer lengths hoping that I would have enough to get through the entire piece with just that. And I did! I had about 6″ (15cm) of dark blue and orange left at the end of the longest cables – just enough! My advice is to wind as much as you can on the bobbins and then you only have to deal with 2 ends – beginning and end – per color.

I think it is just as important to have beautiful insides of garments as well as outsides, so in full disclosure style, here is the inside of my poncho. You can see, at the very beginning of the cable section, a little “oops” bit of orange yarn carried over. By the time I saw that mistake I was so far along that I couldn’t bring myself to rip back and fix it. So I sewed it down a little while at the same time weaving in the beginning of the orange yarn tail and left it there. It is a testament to being human after all. And then I paid really close attention after every row to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake in where I left the yarns. There were 2 more times when I saw that I had laid them incorrectly. To fix that I unwound my bobbin, pulled the yarn out from where it was and stuck it back in where it should be. One time I had to drop the cable stitches, tink those back 2 rows, fix the yarn end, and knit the cable back up. It’s hard to explain in text but if you’re knitting this pattern you’ll know what I mean. It was frustrating and took time to fix but looking at the clean inside of this garment is very satisfying. Well worth the effort.

I steam blocked the poncho pieces before sewing them together. I found that my knitting was a little skewed and the pieces were not straight rectangles but some steaming took care of that quickly and easily. Steaming also relaxed the stitches so that the cable stitches look neater and more even.

When I had finished the knitting, and had sewn the shoulder seams, I left all the ends of yarn hanging. I picked up the stitches around the neck and knit the neckband. THEN I wove in the ends of yarn from the cable section, weaving them into the seam of picked up stitches from the neckband. In this way you have no bulk from weaving ends into the front poncho knitting. After all the ends were woven in I sewed down the neck band loosely on the inside. It makes for a very neat edge.

I also steamed the neckband when all was done. I held my super steam iron above the knitting, hit it with blasts of steam, and then just patted it down a little with my hand.

This poncho took me 2 1/2 months from start to finish, but of course it wasn’t my only project and I was also traveling during that time. It is a project that takes dedication in attention, time and space. I worked on the front piece upstairs on my craft work table where it stayed put. Moving all those bobbins and cakes of yarn around was just not a reasonable thing to do and working on it on a table is by far the easiest way to go. I’m lucky to have a dedicated space for that. I also had a schedule – at least 4 rows and preferably 6, per day. That kept it enjoyable and kept me on track to finish before the book is available.

You can find this pattern, and more beautiful garments using La Bien Aimée Corrie Worsted, in the book “Worsted”, available on her website here. The Canal Poncho can be seen also on Ravelry here. My project page is here.