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The Quest for the Perfect T-Shirt

June 2, 2011

I recently decided that I just MUST knit a t-shirt. I am not exactly sure how this happened.  I was having a conversation with some friends about knitted skirts (I talked one friend into knitting Sidewinder), and it got me thinking about what one wears with a knitted skirt. I have my eye on #12 Skirt (Ravelry link), but before I can choose what color to knit it in, I have to decide what shoes will go with it, and what on earth I will wear on top!

This led to me deciding that not only do I need to knit a skirt, but I need to knit a coordinating top.  And I should do that before Sock Summit, because what better place to debut a knitted skirt-and-top combo?  For those of you who are rather less obsessed with all things sock knitting related, Sock Summit will be taking place July 28-31 of this year, just under two months from now. I have a full-time subbing job through June 17th, a husband and a condo that lately needs repair after endless repair. I have job applications to fill out and submit, job searches to perform and cover letters to write. I have a 16-day vacation to finish planning, pack for and take.

I am very grateful to friends who pointed out that perhaps knitting a knee-length skirt and a top between now and Sock Summit was not the *best* idea I’ve ever had.

However, the t-shirt bug bit. I started digging through my stash and came across some beautiful Three Irish Girls McClellan DK, in Hydrangea (a beautiful semisolid in blues and purples) and Delphinium (a variegated yarn ranging from pale blue to violet).  A blend of bamboo and merino, this yarn is a great summer yarn and I decided it would be perfect for my top.  I decided to just use the Hydrangea, which required finding some extra skeins – again, friends came through and I now have enough yarn for a t-shirt!

Delphinium Swatch

The next step was swatching. I recently finished my Tributary Pullover (it’s not seamed yet – I’ll be getting to that this weekend, I hope!), so my favorite US 3/3.25mm circulars were free.  I swatched with the Delphinium since it was already balled up and got a great fabric. After knitting several inches in stockinette, I did a test section in cables and lace.  My swatch gave me 23 sts and 34 rows to 4″ before washing, and after washing it settled out to 22 sts and 32 rows to 4″. I love the stitch definition in the lace but wasn’t as enamored by the cable, so I decided to look for a pattern with a bit of lace or just knit/purl texture rather than cables.  (Apologies for the photo quality – my husband’s computer broke, so he’s using mine and I’m using a loaner, which doesn’t have a built-in card reader, so I’m stuck with camera-phone pictures until his new computer arrives!)

Two days of searching later, I was about to resign myself to designing something. I just couldn’t find the perfect pattern. This one was too loose, that one too fitted, this neckline was too high, that neckline was too low, these sleeves too short, these sleeves too long, this one was too lacy, that one had too much plain stockinette. My friends all suggested pattern after pattern, but nothing was right. I fell in love with a pattern only to discover it is only available in Italian – not currently within my capabilities!

Finally, I found the right pattern. A combination of Ravelry’s advanced search and looking at patterns favorited by people who knit things I like led me to the Pintuck T-Shirt (Ravelry link).  It has everything I was looking for – some waist shaping, but not too fitted; stockinette, but not exclusively.  The neck detailing is interesting and the use of short rows appeals to me. The sleeves are almost exactly what I was hoping for.

I cast on last night and have just started the short row shaping at the hem. So far, I’m liking it :)

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