Friday, 6 October 2017

Bretonbone top

My Bretonbone top is finished!
Folded Bretonbone top

As part of the Back to School Sweater CAL I decided to push myself slightly out of my comfort zone and make a crochet garment that was seamed together and worked bottom-up. I have a strong dislike for sewing Amigurumi toys together so sewing together a garment was always going to be 'fun'. I was kind to myself and picked a garment with little capped sleeves, rather than full length sleeves - more of which later. In this post today I thought I would share what I learnt during the process and give my reflections on the pattern, yarn and the experience.

The pattern
Whatever else I might go on to say about this project, the pattern by Eline Alcocer is excellent. It is well conceived and clearly written. I think it's easy in pattern writing to use too many words but Eline gets the balance right with clear, concise instructions.

The pattern gives instructions to make a DK or Aran-weight top and a whole page helping you to adapt the pattern to suit your body shape.

Yarn choice
To keep things simple I opted to work up the top in the recommended yarn. I made the DK-weight top using Drops Cotton Merino. It was an inexpensive yarn with a good range of colours to choose from. Naturally I chose blue!

Three balls of Drops Cotton Merino yarn in blue, white and grey

I hadn't worked with Drops Cotton Merino before and I found was very splitty which was frustrating when working slip stitch. However, if you are sensitive to woolly yarn it is very soft and as a dreaded superwash* it would probably be a good option for baby/children's clothes too. I am hoping that the structure of the garment and the fact it is seamed together will help keep its shape but it will be interesting to come back to this after a few wears.

* I have a sad tale about a hat I made from superwash yarn which I'll talk about another time!

Gauge and customisation
I worked up the swatch and immediately got the gauge recommended in the pattern - phew! And then I started working on the back panel. I must have frogged it six times before I finally settled on the number of stitches I needed to create the correct width of the top for me. I know there has been a lot of frogging happening during the CAL but the consolation I take from this is that it is SO much easier to frog crochet than knitting and it does all mean we get garments that fit!

The choice of stitch
I absolutely LOVED the Herringbone Half Treble Crochet stitch and thoroughly recommend you give it a go. The fabric it creates has a lovely drapey texture that you wouldn't get with standard Half Treble stitches.

In the end, both panels worked up quickly and then I was faced with seaming them together - the bit I was dreading all along. Last Sunday my little boy and I (he's very patient!) washed and very carefully blocked both panels. Do look up Fay's post from the blog hop for excellent advice on this. I then spend HOURS seaming it together to ensure the stripes matched. I am sure seaming without stripes would have been much quicker and also if you enjoyed seaming things together it would have been much quicker too! Despite the grumbling, I have to say that all the time was worth it and the stripes match.

Sleeves - further customisation
Next up were the little capped sleeves in the contrasting yarn. Here's one of the sleeves completed as per the pattern;
Capped grey crochet sleeves

I tried the top on again after I had made the first sleeve and decided that a) I didn't like the way it looked on me and b) I wasn't keen on the contrast colour. So after a little pondering I went 'off- pattern' and worked up simple sleeves and a slightly different neckline which I was really much happier with.

Another customisation I made was adding a split hem to help the top sit better on my hips. Another reason why crochet garments are great. It is so easy to customise them to get the best fit.

I am really very pleased with my finished top and I like wearing layers and I know that I will wear it a lot.
Finished Bretonbone top

 But I will never, ever make a seamed garment again! Working on this project has confirmed to me that I crochet and knit for the calming, meditative benefits I get by working stitch after stitch and seeing something beautiful grow before my eyes. I absolutely love wearing the finished result too but a lot of the pleasure of a project is taken away if I have to block to absolute precision and spend hours seaming together.

In summary
Pattern - excellent
Herringbone Half Treble stitch - brilliant, must use again
Yarn - ok
Seaming together a garment - not for me!

Back to School Sweater blog hop and CAL
Tamara and I are blown away by the beautiful garments that are being made as part of the CAL, if you have a few minutes take a look at the hashtag #backtoschoolsweaterCAL on Instagram or the Finished Object thread for the CAL in Crochet Circle podcast Ravelry group to see some stunning crochet garment projects.

Today on the blog hop Marta aka Mrs Daft Spaniel will be talking about designing your own crochet garments so do hop over and visit her blog.

I hope you all have the best week x


  1. It looks fantastic Helen! I knew it would. I've never tried the Herringbone half treble stitch - I shall investigate that. Well done on getting those seams sewn up - it's a tedious task for many!! Looking forward to seeing what you make next!

    1. Thank you so much Tamara. I'm looking forward to seeing your ta-da moment - you have chosen such a beautiful yarn for your garment x

  2. Your top looks very swish Helen!! I think the colours you have chosen give it a timeless look. I haven't tried the herringbone half treble either - must look it up!
    Thanks for the mention at the bottom!!

    Marta xx

    1. Thank you Marta and for your fabulous blog post too. Such an inspiring read! x