Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Leaf Lace Bamboo Top, Hand Knit
I bought the yarn on half-price sale last spring. It is Alchemy Bamboo, which retails for big $$. What I bought has 150 yards to the hank. (What they sell now has 136 yards to the hank.) I bought 6 hanks of the color I liked best; there were only a few color choices left. The color is Persimmon (05f), but there is no dyelot. There's some variations in color in each hank, and distinct variation between hanks. I think these color imperfections will become less obvious with each wash. I got a lot of bleeding whenever I washed this yarn. There was no problem with the dye coming off on my needles. However, I mostly used size 4 Crystal Palace ebony circulars which would not show discoloration since they are black. I did use Brittany birch and Clover bamboo needles for the flat pieces, but they did not discolor either. Dyelot or no, the hanks were different shades. I hoped that a long soak would blend the color and eliminate the obvious lines where I joined a new hank.
That's the yarn and needles. Now for the pattern. I originally bought this yarn for the Lace Nightie in the Spring 2007 Interweave Knits. However, I thought the backless nightie was too revealing and planned to knit a more modest version. As I looked at finished versions of the nightie (Rav link), I decided that it wouldn't do. I searched Ravelry and selected two possibilities: the Pintuck Tee(Rav link) and Rosalind. I loved the lace in Rosalind, but prefered the simplicity of the tee, thinking that the empire waist and exposed midriff of Rosalind were not age-appropriate for me.
I began swatching, knowing the swatches would help me decide. The first thing I learned was that Rosalind's purl dot pattern did not show up well in the bamboo. Rosalind is a cotton knit, and the tee is bamboo. I knit the sleeves for Rosalind, planning to meld the two patterns somehow.
I cast on for the tee, starting with six rows of garter stitch instead of the ribbing at the bottom. (Ugh-ribbing, ribbing is very tiring for this English-style knitter). Then I began the short rows that shape the curved hemline. "That's different", I thought, using short rows instead of increases, and it lets you keep knitting in the round. The short rows are more visible in the smooth bamboo than they would be in a fuzzier yarn, but they work well enough. The waist shaping is placed along two lines in the middle of the shirt rather than at the side seams, and provides a nice detail in the plain stockinette of the front. I cruised along, decreasing and then increasing while knitting plain stockinette in the round. Then I reached the point where I should bind off for the armholes. I had made notes about the sleeves because I knew the armsyce had to match the sleeve cap. However, the tee instructions called for short rows to shape the armsyce. I was a bit baffled, but I knit on through, knowing that if the armsyce was the right size, the shaping in the drapey bamboo would be a minor point.
The back was easy, then came the front. This time the armhole short rows were combined with more short rows to shape the bib inset. I was so distracted by the short rows, I didn't give a thought to the bib placement. It is too high for my taste. I just didn't realize it at the time.
Next, I picked up stitches to knit each side of the bib. I wanted to use the same lace pattern I used for the sleeves, which required charting each half and then altering it to fit the bottom curve of the bib. I was knitting the first half, finishing up the sixth leaf, when I began to wonder how the neckline was shaped. All I had on my lap was my chart--I hadn't looked at the pattern for a while. I decided to check and, !suprise!-- more short rows, starting about 20 rows back from where I was. I frogged back, grateful there was a way to end the leaves at the point the pattern called for short rows. I'm glad the yarn frogs well.
The rest was easy. I joined the shoulders with a three-needle bind-off and tried it on. It was way too tight, so I soaked it and hoped for a blocking miracle. If you have heard that bamboo stretches a lot--it's true.
I executed a sewing miracle, and made the sleeves fit the armholes. They were close, I just had to ease the sleeve into it a little. If you heard that bamboo yarn is clingy, well, as you see, that is absolutely true. This yarn would be perfect for a sexy nightie. If feels as though it will make a very cool and comfortable summer tee. However, I think I might be reaching for a shirt to wear over it when I leave the house.
At this moment, however, my fingers are itching for my Crystal Palace dpns. I cast on for those Monkey socks, at long last, using more of that brown Koigu I had stashed. Along with it, I'm knitting and loving the Sideways cardi in Pakucho cotton. I'm so glad I decided to use the sage color. It will make a great Fall sweater.