hello everyone, now the Shetland Wool Week 2021 Annual is available and making its way to people I thought I’d do a post about my Roosty Tank Top design.
I always struggle with trying to explain my design process, mainly because it’s not as airy-fairy as you would think. I kind of make a decision colour and motif wise, then take it from there.
I was asked firstly to design a garment – usually, I design accessories or yokes, all-over Fair Isle is not my customary design style mainly because of how hard it is to do a pattern in multiple sizes. But I decided after knitting a few tank tops last year that I was willing to give it ago, I also was asked to use these kinds of colours.. ie blues and rusts. I almost always instantly regret agreeing to certain colours because one of my unfortunate personality traits is hating doing what I’m told.. but anyway I persevered.
Luckily because I work at J&S I have access to every colour of jumper weight – this is handy because sometimes in Fair Isle knitting it’s not always necessarily the colours you like that you might need to use. initially, I was going to use navy, here is an early swatch:
The colours are pretty much the same except I changed the main colour and added an extra background colour behind the peeriest patterns. Yes for these kinds of designs I always swatch – I did a video for J&S at Wool Week about how I swatch which you can see here (as an aside I don’t claim this is the ONLY way you should swatch etc, I do wonder about some of the people who leave comments..) Now I didn’t mind this but.. I wasn’t blown away, so I decided to move away from Navy and more towards tealy blue, and added another background colour:
Which left me with my final swatch, this made me excited and I felt I couldn’t better it. so I dived in. I only had to make one size as the pattern was to be professionally graded – something which is both good and scary as a designer. Good because they are doing the hard work to make a pattern in multiple sizes but scary because you are relinquishing control over some aspects.
I made sure my motifs were centred (something Shetlanders are very picky about) and fully charted out how I was going to knit it once I got to the oxters (armpits). I use Adobe Illustrator to make my charts, its quite manual and can be tough going but it’s how I learnt so I just stick with it.
Motif wise I knew I wanted the top to be quite cropped so I stuck with smaller traditional Shetland motifs, editing them to fit and balance each other, this is just a process thing that takes time and usually, I know when I’ve cracked it.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to do plain rib, corrugated or even what shade to use so I cast on with waste yarn, I then got knitting, I really hate the beginning of a project when it feels you are not getting anywhere – so I always take pictures, just to show my progress even to myself.
This sample was knit in January/February 2021, which seems so long ago now.. hence the dark and gloomy pics, soon I was adding my steeks for the arm and neck holes, once I get to this stage I usually start knitting really fast… wanting to get to the next stage and feeling the end in sight!
Above you can see the steeks and here it is just before being cut open, I also decided to go for plain twisted rib in my main colour FC41 so before I did the arms and neck I did that on the basque:
This point is always scary, you can’t really make any changes once you cut the steeks so basically you hope for the best. You prepare the steeks (i like to crochet either side of the middle stitch) cut it open then work the edgings:
Thats it with just one more armhole to go, you can see my tubular bind off too, this is my favourite way now to finish off edgings, its stretchy and looks really professional.
Then you wash and board it and look at it a lot to decide whether you love it or hate it..! I think it’s just when you look at something so much when you are knitting it by the end you don’t know what to think, and when it’s your pattern there’s only yourself to blame for any issues. but luckily there were none and I did love it, even more so after seeing the professional photos for the annual taken by Susan Molloy:
So, that’s the story of the Roosty Tank top, knit during some of the worst part of 2021 in many ways. I’m proud of it, my first all-over Fair Isle design. You can find the pattern in the Shetland Wool Week 2021 Annual, always an excellent purchase if you are interested in Shetland and Shetland Knitting.
I hope this has been interesting in some way, thanks for all the kind comments as always – I appreciate it so much. Speak soon. x