Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Leaf Lace Bamboo Top, Hand Knit

It's the height of the spring thaw in the Colorado mountains. The days are warm and the snow is melting away and rushing down the rivers. Pretend for a while that you are sitting with me on the balcony of the Boathouse Cantina which hangs over the rushing waters of the Arkansas. You can sip your favorite drink, enjoy the cool breezes and the sunlight filtering through the trees, and listen to me as I blather along in great detail about my new summer sweater. While you listen and look at the details I point out, it is possible that the soothing sound of the river may distract you. That's ok. I realize sweater details are boring.

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.

No such luck. You can see in this photo (maybe) that there is a line of darker color at the top of my bustline. I'm hoping it will fade out, but I have no idea what to expect, actually.
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.


Bron said...

Wow - that is really beautiful. And on size 4 needles! Yikes. I'd never have the patience for it.

It looks comfortable and the fit is perfect. :)

theminx said...

Wow - that's great! I love the lacy bib. basically Frankenstein everything you knit. Why not sell your patterns? It's obvious you know what you're doing. :)

I don't think the color change is that obvious. Not on my monitor, at least.

Sam said...

Whoa this top is stunning! Great colour and flattering fit. Plus what a beautiful design.

Patricia said...

The tee looks great. I don't see the line that you write about. I understand the concern having taken look at that orange water. Did you keep agitating the sweater? Just wondering. Bottom line, its looks great as most of your sweaters do. Don't you wish though, that you could pick up the needles and just fly through a pattern, no trip ups, no mods, sew it up and put it on,voila, perfect?

Sonja said...

That is beautiful. I love the color and how you mixed those two patterns. This is also a good example of how the yarn really 'makes' a project. It wouldn't look as good in cotton IMHO.

Wool Enough said...

Beautiful pattern, beautifully executed. I think my favorite part is the lace on the sleeves. Or maybe it's the color (I love all shades of orange.). But, then, that waist shaping is pretty nifty too.

I've only worked with bamboo yarn once before and it did bleed like crazy in the wash. Still does, even with cold water and vinegar. But that only means that over time the colors have become somewhat more muted. Not a problem.

Jenny Girl said...

This tee is beautiful! I didn't notice the line until you mentioned it. The tee looks great in this color though.
You are one crafty chick!
Great job.

Laura said...

What a perfect marriage of yarn and pattern! the color is gorgeous and on photos at least, the slight variation looks very harmonious. I think the placement of lace motifs on this top makes a lot of sense and would make this a very easy-to-wear garment, see-through just where one wants it to be.
The garter st edging is a great substitute, it makes the bottom edge flow nicely.

Renée said...

Love that last picture of the sleeve. The lace detail is so pretty. Beautiful sweater.

sydney said...

This is a beautiful tee! I didn't really notice the difference in dye. I don't know if it's more noticeable in person. I like the color and the lace on the sleeves.

Marjorie said...

That is beautiful, and it looks wonderful on you.

I never would have noticed any color changes, had you not pointed it out. The yarn seems very subtly variegated, and I would have assumed that was what it looked like.

Lien said...

Oh, it's gorgeous! Well done.

I do admit to an unnatural fondness for short rows.

Anonymous said...

The sleeves are exquisite!

Amanda said...

You are one talented lady! The color is beautiful (I would have been worried to see all the color washing out while soaking) and the fit is amazing. I really enjoy reading about the process of modifying existing designs and love what you did with this one. Please don't cover those beautiful sleeves with another shirt when you leave the house! They are too beautiful not to be seen.

Corwink said...

Alchemy Bamboo is one of my favorite yarns! The color you chose it to die for! I am in love with that top. It looks amazing!