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Archive for October 25th, 2008

Knitting for Fun and Speed

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

I did it again. I held together a zillion strands of yarn (actually merely four) to make a knitted item (a top) which has a huge gauge (2.5 st/inch) because I needed an instant-knitting fix.

Apparently I’m really into knitting and into finishing… not quite as much into wearing what I made. I sometimes finish a pair of socks for myself and don’t wear them for a year. I can knit a garment and wear it twice a year. So I don’t need to find the item practical to be absolutely passionate about the process of making things.


I would have sworn I was more into the finished item than that sounds. Actually, I do wear things I knit all the time, especially socks and wraps, and wristwarmers in cold months. And I do finish a lot of things, sometimes after stopping and starting many times. I don’t abandon most items very long unless they have a real problem and need to be ripped out. (Those need to age before I reclaim the yarn or figure out how to make it into something that I like better.)

I need to admit I’ve been fascinated by Teva Durham’s Ballet T-Shirt (from the book Loop D Loop) for a while. I say it’s a tank, not a tee, but this is what it’s named.

I liked the idea of shaping the garment at the mid-front rather than sides, while peeking through the book when it first came out. I checked it out on Ravelry, where I read the input of a lot of folks who started the project before I did. There are 275 projects for this pattern on Ravelry, astounding.

ballettopbefore16.jpgOne woman said she took 5 hours to knit this project. One said 7 hours. Well, I cast on after dinner one night and bound off before bed the next, and in between was a work day.

I took photos. I liked the shape of it, and it feels good and fits snugly with nice curves, as designed (maybe a little more snug than the photos, but her models look miserably sad and anorexic and I don’t want to look like them anyway).

Almost everyone said they liked knitting this project. A percentage said that they were not flattered by the style once they finished it.

In my case, I like the neckline and the sleeve style a lot. I need a good supportive bra to defy gravity and support my curves at a pleasing place in the short, cropped garment,. I find that no real problem.

The thing that I did not see coming, was that when you do your increases at the center front, you will have a bit of a point in the hemline below the tummy. I don’t mind that shaping, but because this is stockinette without any edging other than binding off, the fabric begs to roll up. Having a point lower than the rest of the hem makes it harder to tame.

The yarns I chose were 2 strands of Elsabeth Lavold Silky Wool in turquoise, one strand of an ancient predecessor of the current Socks That Rock yarn (it has 200 yards per skein, was DK weight, and was at a time when the company offered only one kind of yarn, I got it at Bloomiefest 5 years ago), and also I used one strand of Mississippi 3 baby/sock yarn in cotton/acrylic, in hot green.

ballettop50bsm.jpgThe fabric this made is just incredible. It’s stretchy, sproingy, a little spongy, soft, comfy, lovely. And mostly turquoise, to boot!

I decided I would single-crochet the edges of the neck, sleeves and hem, in one strand of Silky Wool. I really like the dark edging, and the neck does not roll as much since I did that. It looks more finished.

However, even after crocheting it twice on the hem edge (ripping out in between tries), and really trying to loosen it up, I still found it pulled in and worked its way up to my natural waist, making a sort of pooch in the fabric at the belly. Not good. I ripped out the hem crochet but left the neck/arm crochet which I still really like. I have not taken photos after I did that.

I could say this project is done now. It fit, for goodness sake, and I actually wore it to work one day. But I just do not feel as comfy in a cropped top as I would like. I have almost nothing to wear with it.

I have enough of the four yarns to make another complete top exactly like the first. The pattern only specifies about 51 rounds if I remember right, and I knit about 60 before I ran out of yarn. I can do that number of rounds again.

So I un-did my bind off and put the stitches back on needles. Then I wound my remaining skeins of yarn and dove in.

I am doing the final sets of increases on the hips rather than front/back, so I can even out the hemline a bit. I have decided to knit until I have a tunic or dress, either until I run out of yarn or until I like how it looks at a new lower edge.

I wear tunic-length tops almost every day in the cold season. I picture this as turning into a Twiggy dress or a Star Trek or Retro or Jetsons-shaped top, perhaps with slim turtleneck underneath. The fabric is really structural, which is good for these things.

So I have knit a few inches and I already like it better. I may take an extra week to make it some way that I really like. Until then, I get to knit with this incredible mix of yarns again. I am loving that part!

Stay tuned. Here are photos of 1) the beginning/yarns, 2) immediately after binding off but with rolling neck and no crochet, and then 3) crochet on all edges including hem. I will take more photos as I progress further to the longer silhouette. You haven’t heard the end of this story!