Introducing: Belle Isle Sleeveless Summer Top

Almost as soon as I dove into designing garment patterns back in April, I decided I needed to be disciplined in my approach if I ever wanted to finish anything. Balancing a job and a family is hard enough, and I knew that piling knitwear design onto my ever-mounting to do list could end disastrously. So I made a plan. I gathered together sketches and swatches and figured out what I wanted to publish through the end of this year. Things started off smoothly; I published Pattaconk a little ahead of schedule and I was getting ready to begin a summer sweater (more on that one later). Then this yarn happened.

Over Memorial Day weekend I’d stopped by my LYS to pick up a button for Cedar Lake Baby. It was all I intended to leave with, but before I made it to the register, a gorgeous tonal yarn with the most perfect shades of green beckoned me. I foolishly heeded the call and before I could talk myself out of it, I was walking toward the register with one button and clutching the last two hanks of the green yarn. My kryptonite (on that visit) was Sweet Fiber Merino Twist DK, a super soft machine washable yarn, in the temperate colorway.

Typically, I’d pet my new yarn for a while and then add it to one of my already over full yarn baskets, but the Sweet Fiber refused to be stashed. And so began the undoing of my pattern publication schedule. When I should have been working on the summer sweater, I was instead swatching that glorious green, and then casting on for a tunic not too dissimilar from Pattaconk.

After a few days of work I realized my eagerness to start knitting – without careful planning and without completing my grading spreadsheet – was a bad move. The sideways-knit garter stitch yoke with leaf lace at the neck turned out too big and too floppy, and I knew my initial idea was not right for the yarn. Not to be discouraged, I spent a couple of days brainstorming, and then another couple of days hunched over my keyboard, working through a grading spreadsheet.

When I finally began knitting again, Belle Isle flew off my needles. I think it took me three or four days from start to finish. I might have gotten a little less sleep than was ideal, but I couldn’t wait to see the finished top. I’m pretty happy with the finished design – the Eiffel Tower Eyelet on the bodice is my favorite element, but I also really love the gathers at the back and the somewhat fitted neckline.

Though I used wool for my version, many of my test knitters chose cotton and cotton blends, to make it even more appropriate for summer wear. The pattern works well with both, but those who knit with cotton found that purling tightly across the round where the gathers are made and then purling the stitches over the gathers through the back loop on the next round helped the back maintain a neat appearance.

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  4. Design Diary: Learning Knitwear Design with Craftsy
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  6. American Wool: Brooklyn Tweed Giveaway
  7. Sweater Weather and Selfish Knitting
  8. Design Diary: an ode to spreadsheets (and my first patterns!)

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