I wanted to knit something that the elves would wear. I have been trying for this last age to knit this top, now that it is done and my quest is complete, my time in middle earth is over.
This has been an epic quest for me. I can’t recall how many lacy underthings like this I have tried to make. And after so many attempts at following patterns that were close to what I wanted but not quite, but close enough that I thought I could alter them to get what I did want, I knew exactly what wouldn’t work.
So where to start? I tried a bunch of different yarns. Silk or bamboo yarns seem like a good fit a first for this sort of project, but the lace seems to lose its structure in a slinkier yarn. And I had a hard time getting a good fit without a lot of negative ease. The instant I got a skein of the Madelinetosh Prairie, I knew it would be perfect for my tank top. It was soft enough to wear against the skin, and the single ply has a lovely sheen to it without being slinky at all. And it comes in really stunning colors as well.
I knitted up swatches of a dozen types of lace stitch from “A Treasury of Knitting Patterns” before I settled on this one. I found it light and airy without being too busy or weird.
But the big thing for me was the structure. There’s a reason why lace is often relegated to shawls and the like -- it doesn’t really lend itself at all to shaping. And there’s nothing satisfying about a lacy underthing that’s loose and floppy. If you make it tight, that stresses an already delicate garment. And trying to shape inside a lace pattern -- that’s just a nightmare! Knitting this in the round was no good either; side seams were very helpful in keeping the garment squared.
I don’t know how I came up with the idea for ribbing at the sides, and doing all the waist shaping in the ribbing. I think I had originally tried garter stitch (cause that’s what you use with lace, right?) but all the increases and decreases really stood out and looked awkward. Once I tried the ribbing on a swatch I realized I’d hit on something, and lo and behold the thing all came together.
XS S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL
shown in size S with less than an inch of positive ease.
Bust: 29 32, 36, 40, 44, 49, 53 inches
Length: 15 16.5, 18.5, 21.5, 23.5, 26, 28.5 inches