Victory is Mine

THREE YEARS after I started it, my Ribs and Lace Tank is finished! As you may recall, I attempted to knit it way back in 2007 when the pattern came out, before there was a Ravelry and before I had a blog, and I got 3/4 of the way through before I realized that I had drastically miscounted the number of stitches I’d cast on and it was way, way too small. So I hid it in a dark corner for two years, unraveled it last summer, and this summer I finally knit it again.

And hey, it looks pretty good!

Waiting 3 years to knit it again was actually a blessing in disguise, because in the meantime Ravelry came into existence and I learned about Svetlana’s modification of the bra top, which makes the garment much much more flattering. I abandoned the pattern entirely when I got to the ribbing, and followed Svetlana’s directions, except that I knit in straight ribbing for 5 inches instead of 4 before starting the shaping, because my bustiness demands more coverage.

Here I am embracing nature or something. The midriff holes mean I won’t exactly be wearing this in front of classrooms, but I’m actually very happy with the amount of midriff venting — it’s not so much that I feel uncomfortable, but it makes this breezy enough to wear on hot days despite the fact that it’s knit out of worsted weight cotton (Karabella Zodiac, to be precise). I originally thought of this as something I’d wear mostly to Burning Man & similar festivals, but I think it’s more real-world-appropriate than I anticipated.

Totally plausible. Obviously voting in favor of legalization this fall, but I would not assume that she is stoned right now.

I knit the whole thing on needles a size smaller than the pattern called for. The pattern recommends that you knit the skirt with US 10s and the top with US 4s, but I used 9s and 3s — I figured going down a needle size on top would give more boob coverage, and going down a size on the skirt would save it from being too loosely knit. My recommendation to you is to go down at least TWO needle sizes on the skirt — even knit on 9s, the lace looks sloppy, and since it’s cotton there’s not much blocking can do to help. Plus everybody on Ravelry complains that the skirt is too big. Mine is definitely bigger than I need it to be, but it’s not so big that I feel like it’s a problem. Oh, and definitely believe them about the negative ease — the ribs make the top really stretchy. My bust is 40″ and I knit the 37 1/2″ size (on smaller needles, too!) and it’s perfect.

I was frankly apprehensive about knitting this again; the reviews on Ravelry are so mixed, and cotton is not really my friend, but I’m very glad I did. This knit up very quickly, and came out surprisingly well!  But most importantly, I did not let my knitting beat me. And I cleared out space in my stash drawer! Victory is mine.

Ribs and Lace Reboot

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before I had a blog, I tried to knit the Ribs and Lace Tank from the Spring 2007 issue of Interweave Knits. This was before I had any substantial experience knitting lace, and was near the beginning of my shift to knitting in front of the TV, so the bottom lace part was quite difficult for me and took quite a long time. But when I finally got to the bust shaping in the ribbed bodice, the numbers started failing to add up in a pretty drastic way, and after checking and rechecking I discovered to my horror that I had cast on the wrong number of stitches by a fair sight (like, 20-30 stitches fewer than I needed to knit my size), but by some terrible terrible accident, whatever number of stitches I’d cast on was still a multiple of eleven, so the bottom lace part worked out just fine and I never noticed my mistake. In thorough denial, I took the piece off the needles and attempted to try it on to see if it could be salvaged, but no. Not at all. Way, way, WAY too small.

So I screamed and raged and threw the thing into the corner and didn’t look at it for two years. Last summer, I had finally gotten over this tragedy enough to frog the piece to salvage the yarn and try again. What you see above is the yarn, all kinked up from being knit into a garment for, you know, two years, and tied off into skeins. I figured I’d document it for posterity, since by this time I had a blog and I knew that eventually I’d post about it. I gave these skeins a good soaking to get the kinks out, hung them into the shower to dry, and twisted them onto themselves into sad little approximations of the sort of skeining you’d buy in the store:

Apologies for the incredibly dark picture — I didn’t think to photograph these guys until when I was about to wind them up into balls to knit from, and it was late at night and the flash looked even crappier. The two balls on top are the ONLY TWO BALLS for the project that I hadn’t knit into the unwearable tank top by the time I noticed my mistake. Sigh. But I got all this wound up, and I’ve been back at it after triple checking the size, and I’m all the way through the lace skirt now and about to start the bodice:

Yaaaay. Before I cast on again, I wondered idly if the lace would be charted — and when I actually looked at the pattern, I laughed at myself, because of course both of these lace stitches have only ONE row of actual lace patterning to them — the other rows are straight knits or purls. I breezed through the whole skirt in just a couple of days, the skirt that I struggled over and swore about three years ago. Progress! Growth! Hooray!

Now, I’m a little skeptical about this pattern for a number of reasons. With the greater knitting experience that I now have, I’m not sure that I would have chosen to knit this pattern — but since I had the yarn for it and everything, I figured I may as well. For one thing, many Ravelers have complained that the “skirt” part of this pattern is too wide in the larger sizes, and I feel like mine is looking too wide, too. But I really didn’t want to do the math involved with knitting a skinnier skirt and a larger bust, so I’m just knitting it as is. For another thing, I really don’t like the “dartboard” effect that the bust shaping results in, but fortunately Svetlana has posted alternative directions for the bodice on Ravelry that eliminate this effect.

Basically, if I end up with any kind of wearable tank at the end of this process, I’ll count it as a victory over my past demons. This pattern has literally been at the top of my Ravelry queue since I first joined the site, because at that time the only thing I knew I was going to knit at some point in the future was this damn tank top again. I’m excited to finally conquer it!