Friday, July 20, 2012

Martini Knitter to the Rescue: A Graceful Top



I have been on the hunt for a pattern this summer that is sleeveless and will look nice on me as well.  I think I spent 2 hours one day just looking around on Ravelry for such a top.  I eventually found this free pattern from Lion Brand Yarns, called the “Graceful Top.”  But the comments from the “project” page were turning me off from knitting it.  Then I thought, why not print it and see what all the fuss is about?

First of all, when you click on the link to take you to the free pattern it says right off the bat “experienced” for the level of knitting.  I would agree with this as the instructions are difficult to read, but with some time and patience this could easily move down to a medium level knitter if not a good 3rd project for a beginning knitter.  And then I thought this, if I can do this, so can anyone else!  So I took this as a challenge:  to help other fellow knitters decipher this pattern! 

Here it goes …

Gauge:

I did my gauge swatch with my choice of yarn:  Lang Yarns “Olivia” (silk and rayon) --14 stitches equals 4 inches on US size 9 (5.5 mm).

Cast on

I cast on for a size 38-bust because a Ravelry user said, “choose the size where, on the pattern, the ribbing and the lace work start” (under your breasts).  That was great advice and my help instructions will coincide with this size.  But I am hoping that this will help other knitters with their choice in size as well.

Charts:

I read several comments about the charts being a huge problem in this pattern.  I agree with this, but I also found that I didn’t need to print all of the charts.  I only needed the charts that went with my size. 

The size of the printed chart was an issue too.  But I copied the chart I needed and pasted into a word document as a picture.  From here I was able to adjust the size of the chart.

Another tip I got from a Ravelry user was to “color code” the stitches on the chart.  I made a “purple” dot on the K2togs and an “orange” dot on my SSKs.  This helped immensely.

I also drew lines representing every 10 stitches on the chart.  Then at the bottom of the chart I wrote what color my stitch marker was so that if I had to put down my knitting for a moment, I knew where I was when I returned to my knitting.

So I would knit a right-side row, placing color markers as I knitted and then on the wrong side (the purl side) I would remove the markers as I came to them.   This is because on the next right side row the stitches would move together forming new 10-count stitches on my needles.



I also used a ruler to help me follow along the row




Also, as the decrease stitches started to occur as I travelled up the chart pattern, some of my color stitch markers on my needles were no longer needed. 

Slip Stitches:

I "slipped stitch" the first stitch at the start of every row.  Right side -- slipped knit-wise with the yarn in the back.  Wrong side -- slipped purl-wise with the yarn in the front.  This looked especially nice along the sides of the lace worked bodice edges. 

Back:

When printing the “back” sections of the chart, I made mine larger and then taped them together – creating 1 piece of paper to work from. 

I worked the ribbing pattern as suggested and then worked the chart to Row 24.  On Row 25 I bind off (knit-wise) 4 stitches, worked to the end; on Row 26, I bind off (purl-wise) 4 stitches and purled to the end.   

When I started the charts, it looked as if I would have to do decrease stitches at the start of the rows.  But I didn’t – in the rows there is an extra decrease stitch in the pattern to compensate for this decrease along the sides.  (If you match up to the K2tog’s/SSk’s with the YO’s, you will see there is an extra decrease).

On Row 55, I knitted the stitches to the neck opening; then I bind off 20 stitches and then finished the row.   I took the first set of stitches before the bind off, the right-back side, and placed these stitches on a stitch holder.  I then completed the left-back side. 

Back Left Shoulder:

Also on Rows 57 and 59, I bind off one stitch at the neck opening side of the chart because there is no extra decrease stitch in the lace pattern work. 

Back Right Shoulder:

When starting the back right-shoulder, start on Row 56, the wrong side, and work these stitches as stated (purl) and then continue on with the chart.  But I bind off one stitch at the neck opening on Row 56 and 58 – the wrong sides, purl stitches.

Now the pattern says to bind off all stitches.  Instead I placed these stitches on to stitch holders.  Then once the front was completed I grafted the front and back together using the Kitchener Stitch method to graft the pieces together.  I know that the Kitchener Stitch can be difficult but I really do like the way the seams just magically come together neatly.

The back

Close up of the back


Front:

I worked the front the same as the back, from bottom to the top, with the knit 2, purl 2 ribbing; omitting the one row of knit and one row of purl that the back instructions say to do.  And, I also kept track of how many rows I knitted  - I did 48 rows on the back, so I did the same amount of rows on the front; this helped with seaming the seams at the end.

I followed the directions to the “Divide for Left Front” and using the “cable cast on method” I cast on the 30 stitches as the pattern stated.  This is a matter of preference as well – I just like the way the stitches lay.

At the bottom of my chart it says “48 stitches.”  Yes, before starting Row 1 I had 48 stitches on my needle but at the end of the row I had 47 stitches  – an extra decrease had been performed. 

Row 11 (on my size) has an extra decrease made.  It’s stitch number 9, shown as a SSK.  I took this as a mistake in the chart and worked stitch, #9, as a regular knit stitch.  Once I made this change, I had the same amount of stitches that the pattern says to have on the needle.

Another Ravelry user remarked that Row 25 is missing a K2tog stitch – I did what they suggested:  I bind off 4 stitches, then knit 3, k2tog, did a yarn over.  This is stitch #4 on the chart (after the 4 bind off stitches have been performed). I finished Row 25 by continuing on along the chart to the end of the row - the result being again, the right number of stitches on my needle.

I worked the “Left Front” chart to the end, but did not bind off.  I placed these stitches on a stitch holder so that I could graft them to the back.  However, I would like to say, whatever method of seaming you like to use, please use it, as in this pattern there is no right way or wrong way of doing it.

I knitted the “Right Front” with no troubles/alternations in the pattern.

Front
Seaming:

As you may have learned, I am not fond of seaming.  I am challenging myself to do this more and more in my knitting and to no longer limit my pattern choices.  

I have read several opinions about seaming … this being the one that is just like gauge swatching … you must block the garment first before doing the seaming work.  So that is what I did, I blocked first before seaming.  Ok, I did the Kitchener Stitch first then I blocked the rest …

Olive brought me “Debbie Bliss’ Knitting Magazine, Spring/Summer 2012” on her last visit.  On pages 28 and 29 there is a “workshop” on the different ways to seam.  I obviously used the ”ribbing seaming” to seam my sides.  I am happy to say that I am pleased with my seaming.  I do think that by paying attention to the number of rows I knitted in the body helped with the seaming.   

After seaming and blocking




I hope this helps …

Cheers!
The Martini Knitter


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