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Wrap your mind around this

FINALLY! The over-clothed Northerners have caught up, or maybe I should say gotten down, with our cousins in the South. It is summer! We are sleeveless and wonderful, just like you’ve been for months!

One of my favorite holidays was spent on Ocean Ave. in a restored deco hotel on South Beach, Miami. Miami, where you take your clothes off. Strut a spell. I took off for a weeklong trip at the end of fall in the Midwest when freezing rain blows whatever memory you might have had of our brief, warm summer right out of one’s brain. I needed to be healed!

Within 10 minutes of checking into the Penguin Hotel, I’d thrown on my bathing suit, a tank top and a pareo and just ran to the Atlantic. The warm breeze on my skin almost made me cry! For those of us not used to any skin exposure for most of the year, it is a special treat to bare our arms and show a little cleavage.

Stop knitting in the hazy crazy days of summer? No way! All of the wonderful cotton and cotton-blend yarns out there beg to differ. Keep those needles flying on some shells, tanks and halter tops. Double your output! Not only are hand knits tres chic this season, they take less time and money to craft so you get out on the catwalk SOONER. With all that skin and limb open to the air, fit in your fashion is more important than ever.

The most frequent questions to La Bonne concern fit and sizing. Many of you also want to learn how to change existing patterns to accomodate different yarns or upsize all those pencil-sized but cool, knitted garments gracing the mags.

Let me tell you, these are not topics for the faint of heart...

But...if you’ve made it this far in the Mighty Mighty Issue 4 of Knitty, you are not the faint of heart!

And if you’ve knit a scarf to the width and length that you intended, you are half-way there.

It’s the other half that’s gonna need some faith...

Here’s a sampling of the mail I’ve been getting from you shapelies out there:

From Jennifer:
"I'm a busty gal and I've heard of doing short row shaping to eliminate the weird fit around my armpits. How do you modify an existing pattern to add short row darts?"

From Patricia:
"My question is: Can you explain how to add short row shaping to an existing pattern to help out those of us who could use a little ease in the chest area? I could do without that unflattering underarm wrinkle. If you could answer this question, you'd be doing a great service for the anti-Kate Mosses everywhere."

What the ---- are short rows?

Ahh, a wonderful technique that no knitter should be without. Short rows make curves or soft angles on the mostly straight-edged, flat-paneled knitting landscape. They accomplish this by partially knitting an existing row to a pre-determined stitch count, then turning the work and working back to the same (or another) count, and turning again. So really, you are adding shaped rows within the body of the garment without increasing stitches, or casting-on more stitches. Most importantly, you're not changing the overall shape of the exterior of the garment.

Short row shaping can eliminate the step effect you get when you bind off shoulders. Or they can make sock heels elegantly curved. OR, and this is where we are going to live for a while, short rows can add some curve if you got the nerve.

A little cuppage created right into your garment might just be the difference between gaping armholes, an un-intended ride-up by your belly button, or having to make a size larger that fits your chest but sags on your hips and shoulders, because the garment is just too big. This is an easy, sophisticated, non-obtrusive technique.

From Barbara:
"I think I have a major learning disability here with short rows. I've tried them in the past and I just can't wrap my mind around them. I can't stand it when I can't learn from a book but I don't know anyone who knows how to do this either and I can't seem to break into the clique at the local yarn shop when all I have in my basket is a couple of balls of sock wool."

Ah, my poor neglected online knitter – Knitty is here to the rescue! And joining us for this marvelous exercise in body-sculpting is prima designer Joan McGowan-Michael from White Lies Designs.

She has most graciously given us permission to deconstruct her wildly popular (and free) Shapely Tank Top Pattern that has short row shaping on its curved hem AND in the chest area to add a custom-fit according to your shape.

White areas show short row shaping at the bust and at the hem of the Shapely Tank.

When used at the hem, they provide extra fabric that, when blocked, creates the shirt-tail like bottom.

When used at the bust as shown, they create something of a pocket for the fullness of the bust to fit into without disturbing the side seams.

©2003 White Lies Designs
used with permission

So: go get the pattern (look for "FREE from website, click for printable pattern"), yarn and a cold drink and meet me here when you're ready!

After following the pattern for the garter stitch hem, I worked one row of St st on the WS of the work. Now we can start short-rowing on a RS...

1. Ready to short row wrap -
we've knit up to the last 3 stitches.

2. Insert right-hand needle into the front of the next stitch (purlwise) and slip onto the right-hand needle.

3. Bring yarn to front of work, then slip stitch back to left needle.

4. Turn work, bring yarn to front (or wherever it needs to be, depending on whether you are knitting or purling), completing the wrap.

Finish working the row, short-row wrapping the next indicated stitch.

5. Continue as pattern directs until
all short row shaping is finished.

Here we see all six stitches wrapped at the side of the garment. Notice how an angle is formed by only partially knitting a segment of the garment.

6. On the final 2 rows, when you knit or purl across, insert needle into wrap first, then knit/purl as appropriate together with the wrapped stitch.

7. This is the bottom - curved hem - that is formed by the technique.

Blocking flattens the area thoroughly.

8. Here you can see how the short row shaping forms cuppage for the top of the garment.

That's all there is to it!

After you finish the hem, keep following the pattern to where it refers to the bust shaping.

The pattern says:
"Note: If you wear a C-cup bra or larger, here is the place to put more short rows as worked at the bottom edge. Repeat those instructions once for a C-cup, twice for D, etc. After all short rows have been completed, work one final row across all sts, picking up wraps."

So: for a C-cup you would short row until 6 stitches on each side of front have been wrapped.

For a D-cup, you would short row until 12 stitches on each side of front have been wrapped.

For a B-cup with ease, you could short row until 3 stitches on each side of front have been wrapped, which would solve the armhole gaping problem many of us have.

The possibilities are endless - think it out.

The wonderful thing about this concept is that you can do this on all your designs that have tightness in the front - short row a custom-fit in the area about 2-3 inches below any armhole shaping.

If you still are having trouble wrapping your brain around this, try this technique out with some scrap yarn first on a swatch using about 30 stitches. Once you get the hang of it, it is like truly a eureka moment. Very easy to do, very tricky to explain.


Good luck in your design endeavors!

Until next time, La Bonne Tricoteuse bids you well.