Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Big Reveal: Notes and Final Thoughts on My Knit Summer Lace Top

I finished my Drops Design Erica Lace Top last Sunday for the Very Shannon #TTTKAL.  It's taken me a few days to post because I'm not sure how I feel about it.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I went down a needle size to get gauge, and that, in combination with using a linen/cotton blend yarn, meant that my lace work didn't open up as much as the sample in the Drops pattern.  I still like my finished lace top, I just don't love it. 

So I may keep this top, or I may frog it to knit something else.  I'm not sure yet, but in the meantime I do have some notes to share for this pattern:

1.  I've already posted some general tips for knitting Drops Design patterns.   This particular pattern may seem daunting due to the number of charts involved.  But if you want to knit this top, you just need to buckle down for the journey and trust that you won't be asked to do more than you can handle at any one time.

2.  Through most of the pattern, you are working 3 to 4 charts all at the same time.  I find it helpful to put a post-it sticker on each chart to mark the row I'm working on.  Then I just move the post-it up as I knit the chart.  Most people don't seem to think of this, but it's the easiest way to keep track of your place on the chart.

And although the pattern doesn't call for this, I placed stitch markers between each change of pattern/chart as I knit across a row.  This was an easy way to know where you are when working.

3.  Although there are a lot of charts with this pattern, A.2A, A.2B and A3 stay constant and are pretty easy to memorize, so you only need to focus on the chart for the center stitches.

4.  That said, I still used a post-it note on both charts for A.2A and A.2B to keep track of where I was so I didn't zone out and do the same stitch pattern on both sides.

5.  I'd also suggest that you keep notes on which rows you do your side decreases on, so you can do them in the same place on the second piece.

6.  I only did a few very minor modifications to this top:

  • On the 2nd and 3rd repeats of Chart A.1, I did the 4 st decrease on row 11 instead of row 13 so that my k2togs would be completely hidden in the garter stitch.
  • When I knit what I considered my front piece, and I was working my last repeat of Chart A.1,  I omitted the first 4 rows of garter stitch to make the front neckline just a little lower than the back.  I compensated for the difference in length by knitting my front straps a little longer by 4 rows to match the back piece. 
  • Small thing, but when I was seaming the front and the back together, I left about a 2 inch vent at the hem on both sides (which you can't see in the photos).  I just liked it better that way.

7.   If you run into any problems understanding the Drops Design patterns, which can be quite brief, you can always look at the other finished projects on Ravelry.  There are some great finished projects and photos posted there.

8.  And the fun/annoying thing about this pattern is that once you get through knitting the front piece, you get to do it all over again for the back piece :)  Actually, if you don't want to go through knitting all the charts again, you could knit another gauge swatch and do the math to knit the back in just Stst.  Just as an option.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Update #3 - Knitting with Seams vs. Seamlessly

I've finished the back side of my Drops Erica Singlet lace top for the Very Shannon Tees, Tanks, and Tops KAL, and I've knitted about 1/4 of the front side of this top.  I had to go down a needle size to get gauge and as a result, my lace work isn't really opening up as the Drops sample does.  I'm not happy about this and have been all over the place with different ideas to fix it.  I've tried going up a needle size (it didn't really help much).  I've planned to buy a different type of yarn and re-start the project.  I've thought about frogging the back of this top and using this Cotlin yarn to knit another tee pattern.

In the end, I decided to love my top for what it is and keep knitting.  Although my lacework is not as open, I think it is still pretty and there are advantages to using this thinner Cotlin yarn.  My top is nice and light, and very soft.  I think I will enjoy wearing it in the warmer months.  My gauge block with thicker cotton yarn had better stitch definition, but was very heavy.  I think this heavier cotton would make my top quite hot and uncomfortable in the summer.  I don't think I would wear it much.

Erica Singlet by Drops Design
Some knitters might think to knit this Drops top in the round to save time.  At first glance, it might seem like the right thing to do.  The pattern would be quite easy to knit in the round and it would make this project a little quicker. 

However, in some cases, there is a reason to knit a garment in separate pieces and to maintain side seams.  As noted in this great Twist article, side seams provide stability and structure to a garment.  With a close fitting sweater or top, your body provides the shape for the garment.  A fitted top will hug your curves and therefore does not need a lot of structure built into the garment.  And sometimes you want a garment to show off your shape and curves, like this cowled tank from Knitty.

But a loose fitting garment, like this Drops lace top, needs the side seams to maintain its shape, particularly as it hangs away from the body at the bottom edge.  The loose A-line shape of this top was one of the things I really loved about this design, and the side seams are what's maintaining that shape.

Patterns really need to be looked at on a case by case basis to decide whether they need seaming.  Generally, however, if you want your knitted garment to maintain its own shape, or give your body a different shape, that it's going to need some seaming to offer support.  Check out the Twist article for more great information!