The Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Debbie Bliss Magazine came out back in February.
After studying it carefully, I decided that the pattern with which I was most enchanted was the Simple Tank.
Although knit in stockinette stitch, the striping would keep it from getting boring. There is gentle shaping on the sides to keep it flattering. And the relatively small size of the project meant I might actually finish it in time to wear it this summer.
What is it about tank tops that make them seem like a “small project”? The only difference between them and a regular sweater is a lack of sleeves. On the other hand, I heard that two long sleeves roughly equal the back of the sweater in yarn consumption, so I guess a tank top really is smaller.
The tank top is knit using Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 Ply yarn, a yummy 100% ExtraFine Merino with approximately 198 yards per 50g ball. It is available in 27 colors, but I decided to take the path of least resistance and go with the colors used in the magazine.
Perhaps that is unimaginative considering one of the fun things about knitting and crocheting is the ability to make a project unique just by changing the colors we use. However, these colors are a real change of pace for me. I tend more toward red, blue, and primary colors. But the tangerine and fuschia in the magazine sample are so bright and happy I decided to go for it.
Besides, it will be very stylish since the tangerine reflects the “Color of the Year.”
The first thing I did, of course, was swatch on the suggested needle size of US3. Instead of the required 7 sts/inch I was getting 6.5 sts/inch.
Now, you might think that’s close enough. What’s half a stitch between friends? But multiplied across an entire sweater those half stitches add up. If I’d followed the pattern with my 6.5 sts per inch the back of my sweater would have been 18 inches wide instead of the 16.5 inches my size should be.
I would have ended up with a much bigger tank top than I wanted. Rather than risk ending up with a finished top I can’t wear I went ahead and swatched with US2 needles. Gauge was mine!
You see what I did there, right? I wanted to get MORE stitches per inch so I went DOWN a needle size. (If I had wanted FEWER stitches per inch I would have gone UP.)
Some of you might be feeling a little light headed at the thought of knitting a top on US2 needles. Small needles don’t scare me. Besides, it’s just a little tank top, how long could it take to knit? And would you really want a summer top out of worsted weight wool?
The top has been zipping along. I cast on April 24 and finished the back last night, which is pretty good considering I’m on US2 needles and lost at least four days of knitting time to a mysterious hand injury/strain.
To save my sanity later on, I decided to carry the yarns up the side rather than clipping them every time I changed colors.
Goodness, if the thought of US2 needles didn’t make you lightheaded the idea of weaving in all those little ends should!
When carrying colors in this fashion you want to consider how wide your stripes are. If they are too wide you’ll have really long floats, which might not make it worth it.
You should also remember to twist the yarn occasionally by picking the new yarn up from underneath the old yarn. This will trap the floats and help keep things neater.
Another thing to watch out for is the risk of pulling the color too tightly the next time it comes into use. That is what happened to the tangerine yarn in the above picture. I knit the row properly, but somewhere along the line the yarn was yanked so hard it sucked the slack out of first few stitches.
Now that I think about it, there was one time when I got tangled in the yarn when I stood up from the couch and dragged the tangerine ball across the room.
A more likely result of short floats is the fabric puckering along the side edge. To avoid that, and ensure the floats are a good length, I like to pull the fabric downward after I knit the first stitch in the new color.
Because of that habit I noticed the problem of the missing tangerine stitches as soon as that color came around again.
Happily, it was easy to fix. I simply started at the edge stitch and used a double pointed needle to tease out the tight stitches. I pulled the first leg of the edge stitch to get a big loop of yarn and then worked that slack across to the first normal stitch. I did have to fiddle with the stitches in question a bit to get them back to the correct gauge, but it just took some patience.
In fact, I think it would be hard to tell there was ever a problem.
What tips do you have for knitting stripes?
The rest of the knitting has been uneventful. Which is sometimes all we ask of our projects, isn’t it?
The only other near brush with disaster I had was after I finished the armhole shaping, got mesmerized by the striping sequence, and almost forgot to measure my length to the neck shaping.
Luckily, I was still two inches short of the target length when it occurred to me to measure. Phew! I would not have wanted to rip back because I knit it too long.
There it is in all it’s glory.
Are you wondering about the stitch markers?
Well, since the stripe sequence is so regular I haven’t been using a row counter for this project. I can just look at or count the stripes to track my progress. However, there are key points I wanted to highlight without constant counting.
Starting at the bottom: the first marker is the row on which the decreases stop. The second one is the row on which the increases start. The third one is where the increases end. And the fourth one (the blue flower) is the row on which I started the armhole shaping.
You know how patterns some times direct you to measure from where the armhole starts and that’s always hard to figure out? Save yourself some hassle by placing a marker in the middle of the row on that first cast off row. It’s important to put it in the middle of the garment because then you (probably) won’t have any shaping interfering with your ability to measure accurately.
For the record, it wasn’t an issue on this pattern because it instructs you measure from the cast on row. I decided to leave the marker in anyway.
I cast on the front last night and am already a few rows into the decrease section. If I keep this pace up I’ll be finished my new top just in time for the warm weather!
Are you making a project from this issue of Debbie Bliss Magazine? Share a picture with us on Facebook. I’d love to see your project.