Yes, I know I’m about 4 or 5 days early, but can you really blame me? It’s been so long sine we’ve had a couple weeks of consistent weather that I have to believe that summer will arrive as planned on June 20/21. Just in time for summer as well is a post from Knitfinder on Facebook about a beautiful summer top that they found in a store. It just so happens that in one of the knitting groups I go to we have been talking about reverse engineering a pattern for a few weeks now. I don’t believe in coincidences, so when Knitfinder posted a picture and link of this blouse, I thought I had to give it a try. So now the plan is to try and reverse engineer this top in a week or two at the most so that you’ll have a pattern and time to knit it before summer is over. Looking at it from the pictures I’m also thinking of doing a few variations that you could use for spring/fall as well. But before I get ahead of myself …
First of all, here’s a picture of the top … as you can see, nice and light and summery. The first step when reverse engineering something is to see what it looks like. I know this sounds obvious, but you have to have a good visual of what it looks like – whether it’s from a picture or a description. The website that has this picture – Summer Cowl Top – has two other angles and a magnifier that comes in handy. When you mouse over the smaller picture a larger detail of it shows up. This is very handy when trying to see smaller detail. Unfortunately for this particular item, seeing the detail shows us our first big obstacle. It’s obvious from the pictures that this garment is made from linen – actually linen fabric. It is extremely fine – I would guess somewhere in the range of 40+ stitches to the inch. Yikes! Not since the days of Elizabethan England have knitters readily tackled such a fine gauge heartily. So what are we to do?
Well, the obvious answer is to modify it. We won’t get the same light, wispy texture of the manufactured fabric, but we could get something just as appealing and possibly even better by choosing carefully. The first thought that comes to mind is fingering weight yarn, in a linen or cotton, possibly even a silk blend. Looking at my stash I don’t have linen or cotton that fine and the only silk I have is pure. While the gauge of the silk would be perfect (I got it from Bali Silks), the weight of it wouldn’t give me the drape I needed – well, it would initially, but over time it wouldn’t retain it’s shape. I can maybe try and combine it with a very fine wool?
My second thought comes from looking at a ball of Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn that I have. I know, sock yarn?? This one is different in that it is composed of wool/silk/nylon/and kid mohair in 40%/25%/25%/10% amounts. It would work but not for the summer version – maybe the modified spring/fall version. Even though this wouldn’t work, I am thinking that I will either use a sock yarn with a bamboo component instead of wool, or make a trip to the yarn shop looking for a suitable gauge linen or cotton. I also have some Melody by JoJoland that is a very subtly shaded blue and perfect gauge. The only problem is that is is a 100% merino. Oh well, we’ll have to work this out in the next day or two … I’ll keep you posted.
The second piece of this puzzle is to try and get a look at a completed garment. Pictures are nice, but not the same as seeing it on somebody and being able to look at every detail. I read some of the reviews, and discovered that there are a few problems with the garment, making a model fitting even more important. The first one was that the armholes were too big. So big in fact that the entire side of your bra shows through. I had already solved this problem even before I knew it was one. I had planned to have a ruffled short sleeve. I immediately thought the addition of a short sleeve with ruffles would really add to this and complement the cowl nicely.
Another comment was in the length of the top and yet another was that it was too boxy. That is easily remedied again by adding an A-line shape to it and then noting where the length can be modified in the pattern (between the waist and bust line in this case). Even though those aren’t huge issues, I would still like to see this on someone. I for instance am unsure how the cowl is attached, if it is. Maybe if it is it would be better made separately, giving you the option of wearing it or not. Or making one in a complementary color? As you can see there’s a lot to sort out before the first swatch. So if anybody in my neck of the woods reading this would like to be my guinea pig, please send me a comment and let me know. I’m planning on going to check it out in the store tomorrow – so let me know fast! Yeah, when we’re done you’ll get to keep it – it probably wouldn’t look as good on me anyways!