Friday, July 18, 2014

Zen Tunic

My knitting pace is definitely a lot slower in the summer but I still value partaking of meditative, restorative, plant-based knitting sessions.  This past spring, I placed a big order of cotton and linen yarns from Webs.  My stash is mostly animal fiber and I knew I would need some good hot weather knitting options if I was going to enjoy my projects this summer.  Included in that order were 12 skeins of Classic Elite Katydid, which is a 100% organic cotton tape/ribbon yarn.  Sadly it is now discontinued.  I say sadly because it turns out I was a bit short on yarn for the pattern I chose and because I like the yarn and want to knit with it again.

Before placing my order, I worked hard to pair up patterns with the yarn I was buying.  It is always tricky when you substitute cotton yarns in patterns written for animal fibers.  Fortunately, I think I made a good choice with the Zen Garden pattern.  Obviously, I opted for the tunic length which adds a bit more of an A-line shape than the shorter version (Ravelry project link).  I had a bit of a challenge matching my yardage with this garment as I ordered what the pattern called for and ran a bit short.

My strategy was to stop working on the body when I got near the end and knit up the shorter sleeves following the sweater version instead of the longer tunic sleeves.  Then, I went back to the body and worked until I felt like I had just enough left for the hem.  In the photo above, I have the trimmed bits from the joins in my left hand and what was remaining of the last skein of yarn in my right hand.  So close!  Ideally, I might have wanted the tunic length an inch or two longer, but the result I got is wearable.  I have to admit, as I was futzing with things in order to stay within the yardage I heard Tim Gunn's "Make it work!" advice on repeat in my brain.

The yarn is dense enough yet light enough that the drape works well.  Cotton has a reputation for stretching and drooping, but I think this yarn might avoid the worst of that problem due to its woven ribbon-like construction.  Only time will tell on that front.

The flowing design on the front of the tunic was my main attraction to the pattern.  I wasn't happy with these stone buttons on my February Lady Sweater, so I eventually swapped them out.  This sweater is the perfect fit for them!

The folded over hem instructions in the pattern didn't seem to yield the results I wanted so I played around with some other ways of sewing it to the body.  I ended up using a darning needle and the end of the live yarn, grabbing a live stitch from the needle, then a stitch from the finished body and then back to a live stitch from the needle.  I am not sure if there is a name for that technique but I like it best out of the options I tried.  It was the right balance between firm and stretchy and seemed to minimize the fabric's desire to flip outward.

I think this tunic has good layering potential which will mean it will be able to span the warm and cool months.  I wore it to a casual, campground wedding last weekend and it was a bit too hot for that humid summer day, especially with the high, sculptural neck area.  I hope to wear it again soon a milder summer day.  And there you go, my first knitted dress!  


  1. Beautiful and beautiful color. Your co-model is also very beautiful!

  2. Super cute Trinity. I think that is a good length!


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