Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Knitting a Dress in the Round: Upper Bodice

N.B: the working edge is nearer the bottom of the garment, so this  is 'upside down'

After all my protestations of feebleness after (barely) knitting the Hurricane Hat, I've begun to knit a dress in the round.  My logic was as follows:
1) a dress is just a very wide tube with sleeves.
2) some dresses do without sleeves, making them even more of a tube.
3) My mother just showed me how to do a 'picot hem', which produces an even row of holes all the way across/around a garment.
4) A picot hem makes an excellent way of threading colourful ribbon around an edge, to gather and tighten a garment at the bustline or waist.
5) If I measure myself, and work out where to increase and decrease at the right points, I could make a widening and narrowing tube which gathers ribbon-taut around ma bazongas.  This would be impressive, and warm.
6) If I did the lower half in lace, it would be less warm and less stuffed-caterpillar-looking, and have more give in the fabric to get a good fit.

I have never swatched so much as I have swatched to design this project.  Swatching is when you make a little square of fabric with your chosen wool on your chosen needles, and measure how many stitches per inch you come out with.  This is your gague.  If it's too many compared to your pattern or the count on your ball of wool, you need bigger needles; too few, smaller.  I also used my swatches to test different kinds of increase and decrease out, trying to find the most appealing.  The incredible TechKnitting blog (linked at the sidebar) has been an invaluable help with this.  I recommend you follow it, for the diagrams alone.

Picot and Lace Knitted Dress - Upper Bodice

To generate my dress, I swatched out my white fingering-weight yarn on 3.5mm needles.  I measured myself at key points (vital statistics etc.) in inches, then multiplied those numbers by my gague to find my cast-on number, and targets for increasing and decreasing to.

The first part of the project is the picot hem.  Cast on as above according to your (measurement under the armpit x gague), adding stitch-markers every 20 stitches.  Knit round 3 rows.  On the fourth row,

*knit 1, yarnover, knit two together* - repeat between the ** until you reach the end of the row, and knit any remaining stitches.

Showing two lines of 'picot' and the increased and decreased central diamond

Identify the centre of your garment, opposite the beginning of the row.  Place a stitch-marker there as you knit your next row.
To identify the number of increase stitches you need, calculate the difference between your under-armpit and bust measurements.  Multiply this by your gague.  I came out with 2 inches, or 15 stitches, because I have no bust.
The increases form a triangle at the centre of the work:
1) knit; find marker; increase 1; knit;
2) knit; find marker; increase 1; knit 1; increase 1; knit;
3) knit; find marker; increase 1, knit 3; increase 1; knit;
4) knit; find marker; increase 1, knit 5, increase 1; knit;
5) knit; find marker; increase 1; knit 7; increase 1; knit;
6) knit; find marker; increase 1; knit 9; increase 1; knit;
7) knit; find marker; increase 1; knit 11; increase 1; knit;
8) knit; find marker; increase 1; knit 13; increase 1; knit
etc. for larger busts.

That's enough for now - I'll continue these posts as I work my way down the dress.  The decrease rows are a little more complicated.

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