I’m happy to share some knitting with you today, and it’s the first of what I’m going to jokingly refer to as my “Bolero Period”.
I started this bolero in early November after Rhinebeck, and I only finished knitting it the first week of February. I mean for a small bolero, that’s basically ridiculous for me. Granted, I did knit my large red Autumn Leaves scarf in the meantime, but I think that only took me two or three weeks. Other than that, this was literally my only knitting project since November. It just seemed to be knitting backwards in time! And not that speed should be your goal, but it’s surprising when something doesn’t seem like it’ll be slow and is.
The bolero itself was a modification of a cardigan pattern from the 1954 edition of Fleisher’s “Cardigans..Cardigans..Cardigans”:
I changed the gauge to work with my yarn, Rauma Strikkegarn, a DK weight that I’ve fallen in love with since my Princess Harald stranded pullover. I had to actually block out the ribbing a bit more than I expected for the fit I wanted, so you’ll see that difference compared to the pattern. I also knit the collar at least an inch longer than the pattern called for, because at the length it stated there’s no way it would have stayed down in the back. Other mods: I shortened the length, omitted the button bands and waist ribbing, curved the front border just a bit at the bottom, and went with roomy bracelet-length sleeves.
Actually, sleeves go into some weird 5th dimension for me. I know about 16″ is bracelet length and I wanted these a bit shorter, so I knit them to 13″. The grew a bit in blocking to 14″, but I swear they hit the same point on me as 16″ sleeves would have (with about the same armhole depth for reference). Whatever. Sleeves are weird. But now I can wear them down, or like push up sleeves which I kind of wanted, and were popular in the 1950s too. I like it both ways.
I knit the sleeves flat, and didn’t think through the ribbing very well because by the time I got to the sleeves I was SO DONE with this project, and ended up with really baggy cuffs. Like waaay too big to be left as-is. I’d already seamed up the sleeves at that point and they were knit up from the cuff. So the only recourse was to unpick the seam for the cuff and the first couple of inches of the sleeve to give me room, cut the cuffs off, pick stitches back up in the opposite direction, and knit tighter cuffs (which I actually then did in the round). Not a very dainty task when it starts off looking like the below but hey, it worked!
Knitting patterns in the 1950s were fond of finishing off edges with a row of single crochet. The original pattern had crocheted button bands as well as a row of single crochet around the collar. This bolero was the first time I’d ever done that. Not crochet itself, but a crochet border for my knitting. I actually learned to crochet a few years before I learned to knit, though I rarely do it now. While in theory it’s easy to crochet a simple single crochet border, I had to fuss with the pickup ratio because it really was quite wavy looking at first. And it still looked kind of crappy until I wet blocked the edge flat with lots of pins. Not my favorite thing to do but certainly beats picking up a bajillion stitches to do a ribbed border along the whooooole thing!
Overall, I’m happy with this bolero and yellow is really my version of neutral, so I expect I’ll wear this a lot in spring and fall. I’d have preferred both a shorter length overall, more curved front and probably shorter sleeves, but I started this as a bit of an experiment.
I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been assessing my wardrobe, and I’ve come to realize I really would like to focus on knitting myself some boleros, versus fitted cardigans. I have a few fitted cardigans in colors I wear a lot, and I’m kind of bored with knitting them (which explains why I have at least two languishing as WIPs). I could use some different shapes to concentrate on. Things I’m looking for: cropped lengths for dresses or skirts, roomy arms so I don’t feel strangled, a variety of styles and necklines suitable for my 1950s-leaning wardrobe preferences.
This bolero was a nice start. It’s not 100% what I wanted from it, but I think I know what I’d probably change for the future, and only time will tell as I get a chance to wear it. But any futures ones sure as hell won’t be in broken rib! I know that’s the reason it felt like I was knitting this backwards into time. It also ate through an insane amount of yarn… I needed nearly 1,000 yards for a DK weight bolero that only reaches slightly past my waist. I even had to order more yarn! That’s just nuts.
Wondering about this dress? I did actually take photos of it a couple of months ago and never posted it! But it’s a version of the vintage pattern I used for last year’s birthday dress, McCall’s 3528. Hopefully I’ll still blog about it because I Frankensewed some awesomeness with the bodice: I changed the sleeves and finally worked out how to do a fully lined cut-on sleeve bodice. Not that you can see any of that here. But you can just see my matching belt with Bakelite buckle. 😉
Anyway, I’m happy to have the first bolero of my planned “Bolero Period” I intend to go through finished, and I’m off and running on two more! 🙂