Skirts

Profile of a Gradient Skirt

As many of you know, I’m somewhat obsessed with knitted skirts. There are currently 11 of them hanging in my closet, knitted from fingering, sport, DK, and worsted yarns. So far, I’ve uploaded patterns for six designs (Lacy Pleats, Putting On The Pleats, Putting On The Worsted Pleats, Take-Two Skirt, Tavia, Traveling Pleats, and Velvety Pleats) on Ravelry. There seems to be no end to the stitch patterns and yarns I want to try, which brings me to the topic of this post.

When I was teaching at a retreat hosted by The Bazaar Girls yarn shop in Port Townsend, Washington, this past March, I purchased a gradient kit from Schmutzerella Yarns. Talented owner and dyer Nancy Torrence has managed to dye gradients that circumvent the entire color wheel. A bit of a self-proclaimed geek, Nancy also has colors and gradients based on characters in Harry Potter and the board game Clue.

I was so enamored with the Sweet (fingering weight; 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon) gradient kit named Professor Plum’s Demise (six 20-gram/92-yard mini skeins that shift from purple to black) that I decided to knit yet another skirt, based on my basic Putting On The Pleats pattern (but I made the waistband only 1 1/2″ wide instead of 2″ as stated in the pattern). I used size U.S. 2 needles for a gauge of about 7.5 stitches/inch.

 

To ensure that I’d have enough yarn, I purchased two packs of the gradients (184 yards total of each shade) plus a 100-gram skein of basic black (colorway Nox) for the waistband and upper portion of the skirt.

Somewhere before the beginning of the pleats, when I had at least 7 grams of Nox remaining, I switched to the mini skeins, beginning with the darkest shade and grading to the pure purple. To soften the color transitions, I alternated one round each of the darkest mini skein with Nox until I had used up about one-third (about 60 yards/12 grams) of the darkest mini-skein color. Then I worked the mini skein alone for another one-third of the yardage (12 grams), then alternated one round each of that color with the next darkest shade until I finished the first mini-skein color. I continued in this manner, alternating one-third (about 12 grams) with the previous color, one-third (about 12 grams) alone, then one-third (about 12 grams) with the next color, ending with pure purple.

The result is a beautiful skirt with a subtle gradation from darkest at the waist to lightest at the hem. To ensure that the “pleats” stretched out fully, I used blocking wires to stretch the width aggressively when I wet-blocked the finished skirt.

If you’d like to knit a skirt for yourself, use the code SKIRT! to get 20% off the Ravelry price of Lacy Pleats, Putting On The Pleats, Putting On The Worsted Pleats, Take-Two Skirt, Traveling Pleats, and Velvety Pleats between now and midnight Friday July 12.

A New Skirt

I’ve uploaded a new skirt pattern on Ravelry. Velvety Pleats, another version of my basic pleated skirt pattern, is worked with two strands of laceweight Shibui yarn held together: Cima (70% alpaca, 30% merino) and Pebble (48% recycled silk, 36% merino, 16% cashmere) in the Fjord colorway. You really have to feel the fabric–it reminds me of the softest velvet, hence the name.

The skirt is worked in rounds from the top down, beginning with a casing to accommodate waistband elastic. Four darts shape the taper from the waist to the upper hip circumference, then purl stitches are added in “gores” between mostly stockinette stitch “pleats” to provide ample fabric across the full hips and seat, as well as flare in the lower skirt. Each pleat is decorated with traveling-stitch chevrons and is bordered with twisted stitches to sharpen the boundaries between the pleats and gores. A simple bind-off produces slight scallops around the lower edge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worked at a sportweight gauge of 6 stitches/inch, this skirt knits up a bit quicker than others I’ve designed for fingering weight yarn.

Because the upper part of the skirt relies on negative ease for a good fit, you’ll want to choose a size that measures 2″ to 3″ less than your actual high-hip circumference. (Measure your high hip across your pelvic bones.) You don’t have to worry about your full-hip circumference (that’s your widest circumference) because the gores add several inches by the time that circumference is reached. Instead of hugging your bottom, this skirt is designed to skim over the top, then hang freely to the hem. So, if you’ve thought that a knitted skirt isn’t for you, think again. Even curvy girls look great in this classic design!

Use the code VELVET to receive 20% off the $7 pattern price between now and midnight Friday, April 27.

 

Velvety Pleats

For this version of my Take-Two Skirt (available at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/take-two-skirt), I used one strand each of two laceweight yarns (Shibui Yarns Cima and Pebble) held together for a gauge of just under 6 stitches pre inch and decorated each “pleat” with traveling-stitch chevrons.

Four darts shape the taper from the waist to upper hip circumference, then purl stitches are added in “gores” between the mostly stockinette-stitch “pleats” to provide flare in the lower skirt.

Twisted knit stitches are worked on both sides of the each pleat to sharpen the boundaries between pleats and gores.

A simple bind-off produces slight scallops around the lower edge.
Worked in a combination of two luxury yarns held together, this skirt has a velvety feel.

Note: This skirt is designed to be worn with about 2” to 3” (5 to 7.5 cm) of negative ease around the high hip (across your pelvic bones), located about 3” (7.5 cm) below the bottom of the waistband for most women. Choose a size that measures 2” to 3” (5 to 7.5 cm) less than your actual high-hip circumference.

The waist circumference can be customized by adjusting the circumference of the waistband elastic during finishing.

The length can be adjusted by working more or fewer inches after the last pleat increase round. Every 11 rounds added or omitted will lengthen or shorten the skirt by 1” (2.5 cm). You may need more yarn if you plan to make a significantly longer skirt.

Dueling Skirts

Two of the vendors at my Knit For Fun Retreat in Vancouver, Washington, last September were Blue Moon Fiber Arts and Shibui Knits. I’ve turned into a sucker for knitting skirts and walked away with yarn from both vendors.

From Blue Moon I chose Socks That Rock (100% superwash merino) in the Antiquated System colorway that’s a subtle combination of greens, blues, and browns. Honestly, it will go with everything I own. How could I resist?

Because this yarn has so much color interest, I decided to knit another version of my Putting On The Pleats skirt. To account to a slightly different gauge (7 stitches/inch instead of 7.5 stitches/inch), I’m following the smallest size. I’m also adjusting for 1.5″ waistband elastic instead of the 2″ elastic called for, starting the “gore” increases after 3.5″ instead of 4.25″, and I plan to make it a little longer, aiming for a finished length of 21″ from the top of the waistband.

From Shubui Knits I chose to combine one strand each of laceweight Cima (70% alpaca, 30% merino) and Pebble (48% recycled silk, 36% merino, 16% cashmere), both in the most beautiful Fjord colorway, for a luscious velvety fabric.

Because the combination of the two yarns will read as a mostly solid color, I decided to add a simple chevron pattern formed by traveling stitches. For this version, I’m following the basic instructions for my Traveling Pleats skirt. Other than substituting a different stitch pattern, the only adjustment I’m making is to start the “gore” increases after 3.5″ instead of the 4.5″ called for.

It’s out of character for me, but I’ve been working on both skirts simultaneously. I’m in love with both the tweedy colors of the variegated Blue Moon yarn and the velvety feel of the Shibui combo, and I can’t seem to focus on just one. I’ve been trading off knitting on the two fairly regularly and now I’m approaching the home stretch on both. There’s just 2″ left to knit on each!

With my busy travel/teaching season approaching, I think I’ll finish both during upcoming flights! But I still can’t say which I’ll finish first…

 

 

Swatching for Skirts

A few weeks ago I asked which of two skirt projects I should knit first: Blue Moon Socks That Rock in the Antiquated System colorway (left) or Shibui Cima and Pebble in the Fjord colorway (right).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The responses were pretty evenly split and I couldn’t bring myself to make a choice. I decided that if I swatched both I might have an easier time deciding which to knit first.

To begin, I wound the yarn into balls. Because I was afraid that the hand-dyed Blue Moon yarn might form color pools or stripes, I plan to alternate skeins as I knit. I wound three skeins each into two balls and tied small knots in the ends to indicate Skein 1, Skein 2, and Skein 3. I’ll alternate one round each of Skein 1 and Skein 2, then Skein 2 and Skein 3, then Skein 3 and Skein 1, and so on. It’s a little more trouble, but is the best way I know to even out any color inconsistencies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also wound the two Shibui yarns. I don’t have to worry about color inconsistencies in this commercial yarn, but I will be holding one strand each of Cima and Pebble together when I knit.

Then I swatched. I hesitate to show the swatches because they are so much smaller than I recommend in my classes. However, I’ve knitted with both yarns before and have a good feel for my gauge.

I’m getting 6 stitches/inch on size US 4 (3.5 mm) needles with the Shibui combo. That’s close to the gauge I got for Traveling Pleats, so I plan to follow the numbers in that pattern but add a new stitch pattern in the pleats.

I’m getting 7 stitches/inch on size US 3 (3.25 mm) needles with the Blue Moon yarn. I’m going to make modifications to Putting On The Pleats  to allow for the difference between my gauge of 7 stitches/inch and the pattern’s gauge of 7.5 stitches/inch.

Because I love the way all the yarns feel in my hands, I’ve decided to cast on both skirts and work them simultaneously. That’s a bit of a stretch for this monogamous knitter. Want to place any bets on which I finish first?

 

Skirt Choice

Thanks to all of you who gave me advice on which skirt to cast on next. The vote was surprisingly close with 44% of the votes going for a repeat of Putting on the Pleats in Blue Moon Socks That Rock in the Antequated Systems colorway (below left), versus 56% of the votes going for a new skirt pattern in Shibui Cima and Pebble in the Fjord colorway (below right).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem is, I still can’t get myself to choose just one. So, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to cast on both (I certainly have enough needles) and work on them simultaneously. Perhaps at some point I’ll focus on one or the other. For now, I’m anxious to knit with both yarns! I think I’ll call it dueling skirts. Stay tuned…

As for the raffle, the winner is Michelle Brown who wrote:

“That blue is to die for!!! If I had to pick just one, it would be the blue 🙂”.

Congratulations Michelle. I’ll email you personally to find out which skirt pattern you’d like.

Decisions, Decisions…

I’m in a quandary and need your help deciding which skirt to cast on first. Yes, I already have eight skirts, but I find I wear them everyday, especially when the weather is cool. Besides, skirts are much easier to fit and knit than sweaters so they’ve become my go-to projects when I’m traveling (which is a lot of the time!).

 

On the left is Blue Moon Socks That Rock in the colorway Antequated System. I plan to use this yarn for a repeat of my Putting On The Pleats skirt — there’s too much going on colorwise to add any decorative stitch pattern.

This will be a relative quick knit for me because once I get the gauge of 7.5 stitches/inch, all I have to do is follow the existing pattern.

 

 

 

On the right is Shibui Pebble and Cima, both in the Fjord colorway. Because the fabric will be a uniform color, I can add a stitch pattern to the pleats, as for Take-Two Skirt, Lacy Pleats, or Traveling Pleats, or add a stitch pattern to the gores, as for Tavia.

Either way, this skirt will take longer to complete because I’ll have to design a new pattern.

 

Please help me decide by responding to this post with your vote! Respond by midnight November 4, and I’ll enter your name in a drawing for a free skirt pattern.

Putting On The Worsted Pleats

This skirt is a worsted-weight variation of the Putting of the Pleats skirt (available at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/putting-on-the-pleats). For this version, I used Craftsy’s Cloudborn Highland Worsted yarn at 6 stitches per inch for a firm, but drapy, fabric. Designed to have about 2” (5 cm) negative ease around the waist and hips, this skirt stretches as necessary for a slimming fit. Four darts shape the hips, then purl stitches are added in “gores” between stockinette-stitch “pleats” to provide flare in the lower skirt. Twisted knit stitches are worked at each edge of each pleat to sharpen the boundaries between pleats and gores. The simple bind-off produces slight scallops around the lower edge.

Traveling Pleats

This skirt is a variation of the Putting on the Pleats skirt (available at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/putting-on-the-pleats) and Take-Two Skirt (available at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/take-two-skirt). For this version, I used Halcyon Victorian 2-Ply Wool at 6 stitches/inch and decorated each “pleat” with a zigzag of traveling stitches.

Designed to have about 2″ to 3″ (5 to 7.5 cm) negative e3ase around the waist and high hips, this skirt stretches as necessary for a slimming fit. Four darts shape the taper from the waist to upper hip circumference, then purl stitches are added in “gores” between mostly stockinette stitch “pleats.” Twisted knit stitches on both sides of each pleat sharpen the boundaries between pleats and gores. A simple bind-off produces slight scallops around the lower edge.

Choose a size that’s 2″ to 3″ (5 to 7.5 cm) less than your actual high-hip measurement–about 3″ to 3 1/2″ (7.5 to 9 cm) below the bottom of the waistband.

The waist circumference can be fine tuned by adjusting the circumference of the elastic added to th4e waistband during finishing.

The skirt has eighteen “pleat” panels, each consisting of 12 (13, 14, 15, 16, 17) stitches. Purled gore stitches are added between these panels; the flare at the lower edge is created by progressively increasing the number of stitches in each gore.

The skirt length can be adjusted by working more or fewer inches after the last pleat increase round. You may need more yarn if make a longer skirt.

Celebrating Skirts!

Most of you already know that I’m smitten by handknitted skirts. I have three patternson Ravelry (from left to right:Putting On the Pleats, Take-Two Skirt, Lacy Pleats), one through Quince & Company (Tavia), and another soon to be published by a yet-to-be-disclosed yarn company, and one on my needles.

All of these skirts are knitted from the top down, beginning with the waistband facing (to hold waistband elastic), followed by four darts to increase to the high-hip circumference, then the introduction of purl stitches to create “gores” between the “pleats.” The skirts are designed to have about 2″ of negative ease around the high hips so the skirt hugs you from your waist to high hips, then the pleats begin well before the full-hip circumference so there’s no awkward “bucket-butt.” Because they’re knitted from the top down, you can customize for the most flattering length. The result is a tailored fit that hangs gracefully and looks good on all body types. It’s a little-known fact that skirts are easier to fit than sweaters and take less time than a sweater in the same weight yarn.

Next Saturday Jeane deCoster of Elemental Affects yarn and I will teach a workshop on designing and fitting a custom pleated skirt at Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins in Boulder, Colorado. The class fee of $210 includes a skirt’s worth of Elemental Affects Cormo yarn (your choice of fingering or sport weight), discussions on the best length and styling for you, personal body measurements, help filling out a custom pattern for your measurements and gauge (pick up sample yarn for swatching at Shuttles ahead of time), an 8-week knit-a-long that details all the steps of knitting the skirt, and ends with a follow-up party where you can show off your completed skirt or progress.

There are a few slots left. Call Shuttles at 303-494-1071 to register and join the fun.