Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Wonderland Tank

It's time for a new release!  I've been in percolation mode with Cheshire Cat yarn every since my local yarn shop started carrying it quite a while back.  More recently, they started stocking Mad Hatter, which is the sport-weight line from Frabjous Fibers.  I was all-in on the Mad Hatter because it is such a soft, smoothly spun yarn and comes in a number of rich colors.  Ravelry users seem to love it, too....the Ravelry yarn page has 71 people who have rated it, and it's got a solid 5 out of 5 stars!

So because it's such a soft yarn, I wanted to create a garment that could be worn without anything underneath.  And because I was also loving the colors in the mini-skein packs (I picked "Mice in the Tea"), I wanted to incorporate the colors from that collection.  I had been kicking around the idea for this tank top for a long time, and this yarn seemed like a good fit.

This top is based on a favorite store-bought tank top that I got maybe 10 years ago from New York & Company.  I've worn it so much that it has a few tiny holes in it from getting bitten by the washing machine.  The original shirt has a color pattern across the yoke that's made from beads, and I was thinking about using beads in my knitted version.  But once I saw the Mice in the Tea color pack, I knew that doing a bit of knit color work would approximate the design quite nicely.  Say hello to my sister who is with me in the picture on the left.  And, if you were wondering, in the photo on the right, I'm throwing an atlatl spear.  (I'm not a hunter...we were at an Amish tourist community.)  Hopefully these pictures give you a decent idea of what I was going for with this top!

Anyway, I was very happy with the way the knitted version came out as a good approximation of the well-loved store-bought shirt.  And now I won't have to gaze sadly at the store-bought shirt that I kept in the closet for once-or-twice-a-summer use (because I was afraid to wear it more than that for fear that the holes would get bigger and it would be completely unwearable!)

As luck would have it, I caught our flowering crabtree in full bloom on the day I needed to take pictures for this pattern.  We call this our daughter's "birthday tree" because, when we have "normal weather", the tree is bloomed out on her birthday.  Last spring it warmed up, then we had a week or so of cold temps that killed all the early blooms, so the tree didn't get to flower at all last spring.  And a couple years before that, we had 70º highs starting in February (not normal for Central IL), so the tree bloomed out 6 or so weeks early.  This year it was perfectly timed to her end-of-April birthday, so I'm hoping that means it will be a good year for the garden!

Anyway, back to the tank top!

This design has a lot of ease, but it's all in the front of the body.  The back is more or less fitted, which keeps the whole thing from looking like a tent.  The upper chest / shoulder area is also fitted.  What this means (if you're a lady like me who has had a few babies and is not a big fan of the fitted waist / abdomen because it clings in all the wrong places) is that this top is very comfortable to wear.  It clings in the right places (upper chest), and is very loose in the places that don't need any attention drawn to them!

This style is very flattering on people with a small-to-medium bust.  In the photos, you're looking at a 32 C/D cup size (remember, cup sizes on smaller band sizes are smaller than the same cup sizes on larger band sizes.  So while a 40D might qualify as a "large bust", a 32 D is firmly in the "small-to-medium bust" range.)  Through test knitting, we found that people with larger bust sizes might prefer to 1) go up a size from their actual high-bust measurement, 2) drop the neckline a couple inches so it cuts into the bust line rather that sitting high atop it and highlighting the large bust with a large swath of stockinette, or 3) both.  If you are a larger-busted woman who wants to give this a try, just know that specific instructions for these modifications are not included in the pattern, so I wouldn't recommend this project for large-busted knitters who are not experienced at making pattern modifications.  There is a detailed schematic though, so if you are comfortable making modifications, you should have all the information you need on the schematic to be successful.

When choosing a yarn, please keep in mind that Mad Hatter,, the yarn used for the sample, is on the heavy side of sport-weight.  It contains 344 yds in each 113g skein, which is the same as a 100g skein that's 304 yds or a 50g skein that's 152 yds.  To compare, I filtered yarn on Ravelry to "sport weight" and clicked on a few random 100% merino yarns.  They were listed at 328, 335, & 340 yds per 100g. So while all 3 examples are more or less within the 10% weight-to-yardage ratio I like to stick to with my own projects, they were all slightly thinner yarns.  This was a bit of an issue during testing, as I had a couple testers choose yarns that had a significantly different weight-to-yardage ratio than the Mad Hatter.  They absolutely could still get gauge, but yarn usage is going to be quite different when you're using a yarn that isn't within about 10% of that weight-to-yardage ratio.  So take a tip from the testing pros: make sure to buy extra yarn if you're going to use something that has more than 304 yards in each 100g skein!  Speaking of testers, shout out to the fantastic ladies who helped to work the kinks out of this pattern!  Icyflames, REJ, karenlwallace, & chau7 - I appreciate all the work you put into your projects and the great pattern suggestions you gave me!

Skills needed for this tank are very basic: knitting flat and in-the-round, VERY basic chart reading (pattern is written, but colorwork section is charted), VERY basic color work for about 11 rows, decreases (K2tog, modified SSK - explained in pattern), Kitchener Stitch at shoulders (you can use a 3-needle-bind-off if you're morally opposed to Kitchener), and picking up stitches around arm holes & neckline for finishing trim. That's really all there is to it!

This project would also be a perfect one to take along for summer travels since about 80% of the top is nothing but stockinette stitch in the round.  By the time you get to the colorwork, you're almost finished!

Buy now on Ravelry.  Frabjous Fibers yarns are available at a number of local yarn shops, many of which will ship orders to you!

Also, to celebrate releasing my 60th design, I'll be paying attention to my Ravelry "user activity" feed today. Every 60th person to favorite, queue, link to, comment on, create a project for, or post a photo linking to any of my patterns will receive that pattern in their Ravelry library! Feel free to share so more people can have a chance to win a free pattern today!

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