Didn’t I tell you I was going on a bolero kick? I wasn’t kidding. Here’s my most recently completed one, and I have another well under way, and trying to plan another. Sometimes I make a sewing or knitting plan and never execute. But sometimes I do!
My second finished bolero of the year is a completely different shape than my first one, and feels like wearing… well, like wearing a chic blanket. It looks chic, but is mega comfy, and with all the extra fabric in the batwing sleeves, it feels like you’re wrapped in a lovely blanket!
This was made from a 1950s pattern from Etsy. I won’t lie: I dislike that the seller included the original photo from the pattern but didn’t include any information on what publication it came from, and re-typed the pattern. Clearly that didn’t bother me enough to not purchase it, but I still would much have preferred the original thing. So that being said, you can find it by searching for 1950s cross over bolero on Etsy, but I’m not linking to it as those minor facts bug me.
I fell in love with the pattern photo and only realized it had a completely wacky construction once I started reading through the pattern. This was unlike anything I’d ever knit! You knit two halves the same but mirrored (not the weird part), and then you graft them up the center back. Get a load of this! This is one half blocking—well technically two halves as I blocked them on top of one another as I didn’t have enough mats.
Is that funky or what?! Here’s how this works: the two long edges get seamed together to form the underam seam, but you don’t sew the entire lengths together. First, you graft both halves together, and it looks like this below.
This is just before I wet the graft at the center back to relax the stitches, so it’s not as noticeable. At this point, I realized I could theoretically knit it all in one piece, but instead of all the neck stitches being on hold, they could be cast on or bound off, or provisional cast on and put on a holder.
Also, this was literally the size of our kitchen table. I was so worried this thing was going to be huge! But it did all work out in the end. Batwing sleeves take up a looooot of space apparently.
After I knit the neckband (but before the back hem band), I folded the front bands down and at that point you can kind of see it starting to make sense! All that was left at this point was knitting a 12″ band at the bottom in the very center, which forms the back waistband.
Then here’s what it looks like after you knit that band too, right before you seam it up. (In this photo it looks like the skeins of yarn change color dramatically at the center back, and it’s true I didn’t actually bother to alternate skeins but it’s nowhere near that noticeable in person.)
And voila… it actually does all turn into a kickass bolero!
The yarn is Wollmeise Merino DK in Erbse, the perfect green for spring, and I love it with my red hair. This actually isn’t even the first bolero I’ve knit in Wollmeise DK in green, ha ha! This one is, four years ago. It’s one of my favorite yarns to wear in cool-but-not-freezing weather, so it’s the perfect yarn for spring and fall. It has a nice smooth feeling as you knit with it, and on the body, nearly reminiscent of cotton without the harsh in-elasticity of cotton when you knit (I personally can’t stand knitting with cotton).
Here’s the back view. Drama sleeves! Drama sleeves! I love it.
Now there’s one thing that’s a little bit goofy about the bolero due to the construction. Because you essentially twist the front down to meet the underarm, that seam then in turn kind of twists around your arm.
And not as if I’d stand like this a lot, but in the photo below you can see it most clearly on my outstretched arm, and that the cuff seam is nearly at the center point of my elbow.
It’s more of a noticeable seam than I was expecting, especially the twisting bit. That being said, when I more closely examined the photo from the pattern, it was noticeable there, too!
It bothered me at first, but several people on Instagram pointed out that they actually thought it looked like a design element that mimicked the curve of the bolero and shaping on the front. I like that way of thinking about it. You can kind of see that below.
And after wearing it for two days straight I’m inclined to agree! It certainly hasn’t prevented me from enjoying it.
When I first tried this on last week when I finished it, I thought the seam would prevent me from wanting to knit this again. I think I’m changing my mind about that. I’ve also contemplated other ways to construct this that would alter where that seam was positioned, but pretty much every option is pretty wacky too, and I’m not sure it would be that much better, anyway!
I actually wore this with three different outfits in two days and loved everything about it. It went with a skirt (like shown), it went with a dress, and it went with jeans. I may just need to go ahead and knit another! Perhaps with a small stitch pattern, which might also make the seam less noticeable? I’m not sure yet. But a red one, or an aqua one? I need to check my closet. Or, as someone on Instagram suggested, in winter (like, next winter), a black one with rhinestone buttons for fancy outfits! Loved that idea! Then again, black is still always a good accessorizer color for me so maybe black for spring too, ha ha! Goodness knows I adore my Carbeth in black.
I love the seed stitch edging and think it’s clever that you pick up and knit the back edging on only in the center back, and seam it to the front edging that’s knit along with the front in one one the pattern. You can juuust see where that seam is at the small of my back.
The one thing about knitting such an unusually constructed garment is that it left me with no opportunity to tweak the fit. I mean really, I had no idea how it was going to even come together until about halfway through! So I had to trust it would work, and that it would fit. That is not a feeling I normally have with knitting, which was both a bit disconcerting and kind of refreshing at the same time. 🙂 In the future, at least now I know how it’s assembled so I could make minor changes if I wanted.
Technically, I’d often knit a size 12 in a vintage pattern but the smallest was a 14 in this pattern (14, 16, 18). I figured one size in this kind of style wouldn’t make much difference, and I was right. I’m perfectly happy with the fit of this. And you can really play with how you want the neckline to close… a little higher or lower. I used two vintage buttons and larger buttonholes than the pattern, but even placing the buttonholes as directed, the corner edge was flipping out so I added a hidden snap at the very edge. I think this would be a great pattern for two statement vintage buttons, too, but these were the only ones I had matching in green and I wanted to wear it NOW!
All in all, I’m enamored with the shape! This is a really fun piece and I’m happy to have such a gorgeous new bolero in one of my favorites shades. I’m always in the mood for green but I’m extra in the mood for green when it’s about to be spring!