August 31, 2020
The pandemic has definitely been good for my knitting. Only a month after finishing the UFO socks, I’ve completed another project, this one from start to finish rather than picking up sometime in progress. I worked on it while watching baseball (Mr. and I decided that buying the MLB package from DirecTV was worth it this year since we’re not going out and paying for other entertainment) and while on Zoom meetings with family (the annual reunion went online this year, and there were a couple smaller practice sessions leading up to that).
I decided what to make starting with the yarn I had most easily accessible to me in quantity, two cakes of Lion Brand Mandala I’d picked up on clearance at a big box store some time ago. I looked on Ravelry to see what other people had made with this yarn. There were a lot of scarves and shawls and hats, but I eventually focused on tank tops and sweaters because I felt like it was time I made another garment, something I could wear soon unlike having to wait for winter for scarf and hat weather. I figured if I manage to lose some weight in the future and whatever I made no longer fits, so be it. I would still have had the relaxation of the knitting process and some enjoyment out of the finished piece. And who knows, maybe I could learn to cut and seam it to a smaller size in that case. Since I only had the two cakes, I decided on a tank top. None of the patterns I saw in the Mandala projects section on Ravelry seemed quite right for me, so I went to the pattern database there and after some filtering and poking at different patterns, settled on the Get in Line Knit Tank, which Iooked like something well within my skill level that wouldn’t take more yarn than I had to work with.
I did a proper gauge swatch since I hadn’t worked with this yarn before and fit is important in a tank top. I found that with my yarn and the needle size recommended for it, I got more stitches per horizontal inch than the pattern called for, so used that information to decide what size to make (Large, as it turned out). I also got fewer vertical rows in my swatch than the pattern gauge, which didn’t affect anything right away. After I’d settled on a size, I decided to make the short length, since a) I didn’t want to run out of yarn and b) the pattern doesn’t have any waist shaping, so if I made a longer length, I’d have to make it wide enough to go over my hips which would mean it would be too big around my bust (unless I adapted the pattern to add shaping, but I wasn’t going to do that because I don’t think that’s in my skill set yet, especially since the vertical stripes in the pattern would need to be dealt with).
It took about two weeks of knitting in front of the tv to get the front done, even with all the times I had to go back and fix places where I messed up the pattern. The shoulder straps, unlike the body, didn’t have any instructions about how long to make them, just a number of rows. Between my different gauge and my generous breasts, I ended up adding somewhere around 26 rows to the two called for in the pattern to make the straps what I thought was long enough based on draping the piece over my body and comparing it to a tank top from my wardrobe that I know fits a bit snug in front. The other slightly tricky part was figuring out how to make the stripes match on each side. When I got to the split for the neck in front, I measured the amount of yellow left on the ball and cut it in half, reserving the second half for the second side of the neck. I did the same with the yellow orange. I’m pretty happy with how the sides mirror each other.
I decided to knit the back from the outside of the ball so I could start with purple, same as on the front, but move through a different color progression than on the front (which I had to to regardless of where I started since the two balls didn’t have exactly the same mix of colors in them). When I got to the yellow orange section, I extended it from what was on the second ball in order to have the yellow stripe on the back start as close to the same place as the one on the front as I could manage, since yellow is such a strong color. I didn’t make that decision until after I’d completed the yellow orange stripe and was well into the yellow â€¦ I happened to hold the back up to the front and noticed how close the yellow stripes were to lining up and decided that’s what I wanted to do. I extended the yellow section, too, because I wanted to make sure I’d have enough of the right colors left to end on orange to match the front shoulders. To get there, I had to mirror the lime and yellow stripes so they didn’t match the progression in the ball but I was okay with that. When it came time to decide how long to make the straps in back, I didn’t count rows but just knit until they were as long as the tank top I used for the comparison when I did the front.
I’d left the shoulder stitches live instead of binding them off as per the pattern, in part because I wanted to have the option to easily make them longer (or shorter) if needed but also because I wanted to do a three-needle bindoff rather than seam them. So after draping the pieces on my body one last time, the binding off the shoulders was my first finishing step. Then it was on to the side seams. I did the yellow stripes with yellow and all the rest with the dusty green, since that blends with most colors. Then voila, a new top in my wardrobe.
I’m happy with how the front and the armholes fit, but the back seems too roomy. That makes sense now that I think about it; more than half of the circumference of my chest is in the front. If I make this pattern again, and I might since it went quickly and I like the look of it, I will probably adjust the back to have fewer stitches than the front. I’ll also make it longer, as I feel it’s just a touch short (though I haven’t washed it yet, so that may change things). All in all, though, I’m very happy with how this turned out.