5/15/2014 – Pochette: Knits That Breathe Project Particulars

Pochette (poe – shėt, from the French for “little pocket”) has long, lean lines with gentle set-in waist shaping that accentuates, yet skims gently, over a woman’s curves. Its airy sheerness looks beautiful worn over a camisole, but maintains its cool breathability when knitted up on US Size 5 or 6 needles.

With elbow-length sleeves, a flattering V-neck and color-blocking to add visual interest, this tunic goes from the office to a night out with ease.

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Although it’s elegant enough to wear with a long, minimalist necklace as shown here, Pochette would also be spectacular with a patterned silk scarf draped around the neck.

Curved pockets grow out of the color blocking, and are achieved with Short-Row shaping. To my eye, the colors “Apple” and “Tar” sang in perfect harmony when combined. I love this serious shade of gray next to the chartreuse; each color becomes its best self when edged with the other.

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The lovely linen yarn used in this project is Shibui Linen. Softer than your average linen, it nonetheless has the lovely dry, crisp hand that we associate with linen fiber. Airy and light, this is a quintessential summer yarn, with a unique chain ply structure that is an absolute dream to work with. Never splitty or rough on the hands, it slides through the fingers and has just enough texture to stay put on the needles.

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While the tunic is a natural over leggings or jeans, it would dress up beautifully worn belted over a long, floaty skirt.

Knits That Breathe – Haven Project Particulars

I designed Haven with multiple purposes in mind. There’s nothing like a “versatility challenge” to get me thinking, swatching, sketching, and swatching some more. One of the great things about living in Chicago is that in the summertime, several lakefront beaches are a mere 15-minute walk from my apartment. With a book and a cold drink in hand and my toes in the cool lake, I can’t think of a better way to laze away a weekend afternoon than on a sandy beach.

But it would feel a bit odd to me to stroll around downtown among the business professionals and the tourists without some kind of cover over my bathing suit. And if I can also wear that cover as a casual top, or an oversized, comfortable layer over a camisole, so much the better.

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Haven began with a fetching zig-zag lace pattern in one of my Japanese stitch dictionaries. I was so taken with it that I swatched it ages ago, well before beginning the designs for Knits That Breathe. Ever since then, it has been pinned to my inspiration board where I could look at it every day until the right project came along.

Once I had sketched out a plan for Haven with an asymmetrical lace motif, sloping shoulders, and breezily open sides, the lace swatch started shouting (metaphorically, of course) “Pick me! Pick me!” It would have been cruel to refuse. Not to mention, it’s perfect.

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Berroco’s Linsey yarn, a 64% cotton and 36% linen blend that is soft to the touch yet offers wonderful stitch definition is also, as Berroco describes it, “colored in the sun-weathered shades of summertime.” That subtly tweedy color variegation    is part of its appeal.

An additional feature is how marvelously cool it feels against the skin. Cotton and linen are two stalwarts in terms of moisture wicking and absorbency. The linen content gives Linsey’s knitted fabric a judicious hint of the crispness we associate with that fiber, making it truly perfect for a hot day.

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See you at the beach!

Knits That Breathe – Pacific Coast Tunic Project Particulars

While I await this year’s minuscule (i.e. I could buy myself and a friend fancy coffee drinks, maybe) tax refund, let’s start our discussion of the Knits That Breathe Project Particulars with the Pacific Coast Tunic. This design not only made the cover of the book, but was the first one I designed for it.

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I confess to being kind of a geek for garment construction techniques that look rather complicated, but are actually quite straightforward in execution. The Pacific Coast Tunic is a perfect example of this. It’s made of four pieces, but not in the way you might expect.

Raised seams certainly focus the eye on the tunic’s front and back center panels, but they also add wonderfully flattering vertical lines to this garment. That distinction is important because the tunic’s fabric is worked in a stitch pattern that includes subtle, graduated horizontal “stripes,” as you can see below:

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Short-Row shaping at the hem of the side panels serves two functions; while the curving hem gracefully covers what some wearers might consider a surplus of generous hip, it also provides soft drape and movement with every sway of those hips.

Pacific Coast Tunic Rear Smocking detail

Pacific Coast Tunic Rear Smocking detail

The smocking detail at the top of each center panel is both a stylish detail (and one that calls for some really special buttons!) and a subtle technique to accentuate the A-line shape of the tunic – another way for those important vertical seams to provide flattering lines where we need them the most.

The yarn used in this project is the wonderful Tencel Tape by Prism Yarn. 100% Tencel (a lovely fiber with origins in wood pulp, but definitely no splinters here!), it glides smoothly through the fingers and is a pleasure to work with. Easy to care for, it’s got plenty of shape-holding body AND a soft hand, and absorbs dye well for beautiful color saturation and retention. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Prism Yarn Tencel Tape

Prism Yarn Tencel Tape

I adore this tunic, and can’t wait to wear it this summer (although after last night’s snowfall and this morning’s temperature of 32 degrees, I’m seriously wondering if summer will ever come to Chicago this year!).

I’ll also wear it with a tissue-weight white tee shirt underneath. When I wore it that way to Chicago’s YarnCon, I couldn’t take ten steps without being stopped by someone asking where she could find the pattern. The good news is, the pattern is in Knits That Breathe, and the book is available for purchase now. Make one of your own and soon you, too, will be getting stopped everywhere you go by knitters wanting to make their own Pacific Coast Tunic.