Thursday, March 17, 2016

Poorly made & badly fitting ...

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a customer who had purchased a 'Mother of the Bride' dress on-line. As is usual with garments like this, there are many factors that cannot be seen 'in the hand' & as a result, only the written information provided on the web-site can be used as a guide to ascertain the quality of the garment. Additionally, only on-line information can determine certain aspects regarding the company who is supplying the garment.

In this example, my customer purchased the dress after reading all the on-line company guidelines and seeing descriptions such as "hand stitched .... by experienced tailors ... personally made to your measurements" available on the web-site in question. She was extremely disappointed when the dress finally arrived & looked nothing like the garment she was expecting (incidentally full payment was requested when ordered). She tried to return the garment & obtain a refund but unfortunately, like many companies like this one, 'returns for poor workmanship were not catered for' ! She showed the dress to me for my opinion - here briefly outlined are just a few of the problems described in a report I sent to her:
  • only a single front view of the garment was displayed on-line with no explicit description for it
  • specific garment detail did not exactly match with the on-line image
  • no fabric content label was evident for the garment - a legality for the UK
  • various basic garment measurements/shapings were not identical on left & right sides of the garment
  • all visible seams had been poorly stitched with extra long stitch lengths being used
  • pleating at the waistline's centre back/front was excessively bulky & uneven
The moral of this?

If you are thinking of purchasing your garment on-line, CHECK & DOUBLE-CHECK all the information being provided .... especially regarding fabric, any descriptions & all company details. Also look at customer reviews - not just the first ones listed but look at many. And check on the SKU code ... see if the garment is listed anywhere else for sale. 

Otherwise you too could be the proud owner of a badly fitting & unflattering garment

In my customer's case, the dress was listed at another 8 sites (with different names but all having similar prices) - all displaying an identical web-company format !! & no doubt having the same returns policy!

Incidentally, there are many companies who have a reputable & trustworthy on-line business ...
just make sure you purchase from one.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Dog fur knitting - problems resolved ...

The last problem was finally resolved after several hours rewriting plus checking & verifying stitch counts etc etc. And guess what it was? ... my error as I had missed out a 'yarn over' 2 rows earlier to where I was!!! I also will put my hand up & add that in trying to save time, I decided to omit adding stitch/pattern markers. NOT A GOOD IDEA as it was this omission where I think I may have missed the 'yarn over'. Anyway now I'm back on track but still writing out in longhand all the charted pattern.
And this is where I am now at:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dog fur shawl begins ... BUT with some initial problems !!


The saga so far......

Before using my dog fur yarn, I began knitting a sample from the lace shawl pattern in some 4ply as I wanted to try the stitch pattern out. The shawl pattern was a charted one - appeared reasonably easy (which it stated on the pattern) & as I have knitted for many years, thought it would be not be any challenge for me although thought it may take be some time to finish between other things I have on the go.

After beginning twice (see samples below) ...

... I initially began to have some doubts regarding my experience!! On closer inspection of the charts, I noticed ...

Problem 1:
The pattern contained an error regarding stitch counts either side of centre!! (lower sample above shows correct stitching) - the mirror-imaging of the lace had one more stitch on the left!! Working many years ago for a knitting company, this is not unusual so decided to rewrite the charted pattern accordingly in "longhand".

Problem 2:
Next, believing the pattern to start at the base of the shawl (the pointed end of the triangle) with the instructions not advising otherwise, I began work using the darkest of my yarn as I wanted a striping sequence ranging from dark to light. As I VERY SLOWLY worked the lace pattern (double checking stitch counts on alternate rows & writing it in longhand), the apparent 'point' began to even out as the lace pattern expanded. Suddenly I realised, that the cast on edge (beginning with just 2 stitches) was in fact the upper neck edge & the lace pattern was slowly transforming the 'point' into a straight edge!! Undaunted yet again, I slowly unpicked my work even though I had now knitted 20 rows. Expecting the yarn to be quite matted, I was nicely surprised. - my dog yarn unpicked very well!

Problem 3:
And so I began again - this time using the lightest yarn & worked from my new set of pattern instructions complete with the alterations. Then as I began to knit the next chart ... another problem appeared to arise!! The lace pattern did not seem to work on the repeats!! So now I'm back to the drawing board to rewrite the charts in full & see what has happened !!!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dog fur spinning to beginning knitting ...

During the past 2 weeks I've been starting on knitting the fine dog fur but to date had not detailed what had happened so far. Over a number of years, I'd saved our longhaired GSD fur brushings & had a box of over 1kg of it!! After contacting a spinner in Devon last Autumn, I sent her 3 'collections' of the fur (light & dark see below) & collected it as spun hanks ready for knitting with.

Light fur
Dark fur

I proceeded to wind each of the hanks into skeins - appx 320 yards per skein.

Winding the light 'fur' - dark & medium skeins in background
I then began a tension square - the spinner had recommended quite large so that the yarn could retain a mohair/angora look to it.
Wound yarn in the 3 colours
On a visit to Knitting & Stitching Show last year, I came across a triangular lacy shawl pattern - ideal as a basis to start from. After an initial inspection of the pattern, I decided to knit a test sample in a 4ply yarn - mainly to look at the charted pattern plus ascertain a possible needle size. On first inspection of the pattern, there appeared to be an error & my test sample confirmed this. A decision to rewrite the instructions in long-hand would now have to occur!! & decided this should be done as I knitted using my GSD yarn. (By the way, at this stage I knitted on 2 needles.)

The pattern appeared to begin at the lower back edge - in the middle of the pointed edge. The lace pattern appeared to radiate from this point upwards - gradually increasing in size. I therefore decided to begin knitting with the darkest yarn using a 4mm needle. After working appx 20 rows, 2 noticeable facts became apparent: firstly the knitting began at the upper & longer edge & secondly the knitting was too firm.

Somewhat apprehensive of unpicking the yarn (in the event it broke or would not easily unpick), I slipped the stitches off the needle & proceed to unpick ... all went well. I started again on 5.5 mm needles & this time used the light yarn. This would mean the long inner neckline edge (from where the pattern began) would be the lightest colour & darkest would be at the hemline.

This is where the actual knitting now starts!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dog fur to shawl !! ...

In April this year, we lost our German Shepherd (pictured left) & at 14 she'd lived a long life despite having several recent health issues as well as a skin condition for many years which involved having regular baths. For any non-pet owner - long-haired GSD's have double coats & are constantly loosing fur!!! With the extra baths, this generated a lot of fur which I collected over the time we had her.

On an experimental textile course several years ago, I came across references of spinning pet fur & over subsequent years tried to locate a local spinner. Unfortunately I had no luck but still continued to collect all our dog combings & by April I had a large cardboard box full. Now living in another part of the country, I decided to try again & find a spinner.

After sending samples to 2 different spinners, one retuned exactly what I had in mind - pictured right is her test swatch of my combings. It was perfect for what I had in mind.

I located my old 'wool winder' (see left) in readiness for when my fur was spun & skeined.

My next series of posts here will detail this 'knitting journey' as it slowly takes place in between my other activities.