Category Archives: Suede Tee


[ported repost of material appearing on 12 June 2006]

My version of Joan McGowan-Michael’s White Lies Shapely Tee – a semi fitted tee shape with a shaped waste and bust darts, used with the optional set-in sleeves (excellent pattern, and most graciously on Joan’s part – available free). Completed April 24th, 2004 and blogged about extensively here. Berroco Suede ribbon yarn, featuring two rounds of B. Walker’s Indian Cross Stitch around the gently contoured bottom hem, one turn of it around the scoop neck collar, and one at the bottom edge of the short sleeves:


Compare this from the latest issue of Knitters. Tee shape, ribbon yarn, two rounds of B. Walker’s Indian Stitch around the hem, one around the crew neck, and one around the sleeve hems. Plus a texture stitch in the body that’s almost invisible in the photos.

Mine fits better.


It’s the last day of the year, and like everyone else I should be looking back over the year past, and ahead to the year future.

Lessons Learned for 2004

First and foremost – blogging is fun and (I hope) less of an imposition on people than is?writing interminable posts to the knitting-related mailing lists. At least the audience here is self-selected. Plus I’ve never kept a knitting-specific journal before. I find myself going back and looking up what I’ve written before to see how or why I did something in a specific way. Who knew?

I learned a lot this year about the periodicity and use of variegated or hand/dyed yarns. Although the projects on which I employed them aren’t completed yet (Crazy Raglan, Entre deux Lacs Tee, and Birds Eye Shawl), I did spend lots of time figuring out how to get the color effects I wanted given the color cycle repeat lengths. This remains a fascinating topic for me, and as each skein of hand-dyed offers up new challenges, won’t be an area that becomes boring any time soon.

Filet crochet. I’ve done piddly little things in crochet before. Even blankets count as "piddly little" because they are generally very simple in motif and technique. Snowflake ornaments, a table-topper round cloth of simple design, several blouse yokes in the ’70s, a couple of ill-conceived faux Aran style kids’ sweaters, but nothing as complex as the filet dragon curtain. It turned out to be an even bigger project than I thought, and consumed the better part of five months. Lessons learned include the fact that no two companies’ crochet hooks are the same size (even if so marked); the effect that near imperceptible differences in hook size can make on gauge; how to do a near-invisible join on adjacent strips of filet crochet; and how well the old graphed patterns for Lacis and other Renaissance needle arts can look in filet.

Along the way to the filet crochet project I learned that none of the methods of filet knitting I tried worked particularly well, nor were they fine enough in gauge to handle the complexity of the dragon graph. I’m not through with this subject yet. I did do some experiments in alternate techniques that were less cumbersome than the methods I had read about. I’ll probably revisit this in the future.

Entrelac is much faster if you can force your fingers to knit backwards. I’m still no speed demon at left-to-right knitting, but I’m faster at it than I am at knitting and flipping at the end of each mini-row. Especially when those rows are only six stitches across.

I also learned (via my Suede Tee) that novelty yarns can bring a world of interest to a simple, well-drafted pattern, but at the same time can be a *(#@ to knit. Side note:? I am also not that pleased on how the Suede is wearing. The microfibers do tend to be grabby, and catch on even the slightest roughness.

I learned several methods of knitting a lace edging directly onto a piece, rather than making it as a strip and sewing it on later. The most fiddly but most satisfying came via the Forest Path Stole. I used it again on my Spring Lightning Scarf:

Under "miscellaneous," I learned a nifty I-cord trick that applies a band of cord to both sides of a strip of knitting (apologies for the blurry photo):

I also used?a highly trendy but extremely boring to knit kiddie poncho to experiment with double width I-cord treatments to help tame edge curl in large stockinette pieces.

And finally, I learned an important lesson about something to avoid in the future. If any of you have ever looked at a loosely plied yarn like the Paternayan’s normally sold for needlepoint, and thought about how nice only one or two of those plies might be for lace knitting – take heed. Spare yourself. The yarn for the Larger Kid’s simple drop-stitch rectangle poncho took longer to de-ply than it did to knit up. For this one, I still bear the scars…

Next year?

Who knows. If you’ve been reading along, you’ll have noted that I’m more of a whimsy knitter than a planner. Projects leap up and seize my interest. Sometimes that interest wanders before I finish, but I (almost always) go back and work to completion. Eventually.

I’m finishing up a couple more unanticipated last minute gifts right now – more socks, and a pair of quickie Coronet hats from Knitty (one hat = one evening). Then it’s back to the Birds Eye shawl and the Crazy Raglan. While I don’t as a rule knit to deadline, the Raglan is for The Small One, and the one thing certain about 6-year olds is that they’re a moving target growthwise. The shawl is a present that I really should finish by the summer. Unless another killer project like the dragon curtain ambushes and drags me off first…


A few zillion ends later, here’s the result. My Shapely T done from Berroco Suede.

Overall summary – a @*)% to knit, nice effect though. A bit spongy andheavy (meaning weighty) for a summer T, but living in Massachusetts that shouldn’t pose a problem. I sewed up using the yarn itself, in mattress stitch, so the seams are invisible. I used this method to sew on the sleeves (page down the PDF for the English text). Because the yarn is all nylon, I didn’t bother blocking it first. I’ve been warned thatSuededoes stretch a bit in the wash, so I will probably stick to dry cleaning for this piece.

The pattern was excellent. I had no problems using it as a point of departure, tarting it up with additional trim at hems and neckline. I like the lay of the body, the shaping makes it quite comfortable and flattering, but I’m less pleased with the way mysleeves turned out. I did make them longer than the directions specified, but they seem baggy inthis rather un-drapey yarn. Perhaps if I use this pattern again I’ll use one size smaller sleeves. For the record, I knit this following the size 44 directions, so there’s plenty of scope for people who wear larger sizes to use the Shapely T pattern.

What am I going to do next? I’m not sure. I’ve got the Cursed Socks to tuck away, but that’s only a couple of evenings of work. I did indulge myself last week and get some Mountain Mohair Wool Crepein the color "Alpine". It’s listed in the yarn review collection as being a bulky, at 2 stitches per inch for the manufacturer’s gauge, but that seems wildly off. Although my label stats match the entry in the collection, the stuff I havelooks quite fine. Allowing for the boucle texture, it looks like it would knit up at sport or DK weight.

Perhaps the 2spi is a recommendation for lace, as this yarn is most often used for lacy shawls. I plan on making another short-sleeve pullover (I should have just enough if I’m frugal with the drape and keep the sleeves short. I want a more opaque look. I’ll be swatching over the next several days. One thing I want to do is to play with the hand dyed color. (Yes, the blues are as intense as the photo shows.) I’m thinking of knitting something where the colors bounce back and forth in narrow strips, perhaps body-wrapping diagonals or straights.Here are some sources of inspiration from one of my all-time favorite knitting sites (no patterns available):

Off to swatch and stew.

On the house front? We’ve accepted an offer on our place, and have signed the purchase and sale agreement on the new house. We’re on track to move come early summer. And here’s proof that for one brief and shining moment in my life, my desk (wiseNeedle Central) was clean.


It’s spooky quiet here, waiting for the phone to ring to announce another round of house-viewers. Even our pets (such as they are) feel the stress of the moment.

The kids have two hermit crabs. They’ve named the crabs Punchy and Crunchy, (or Akebono and Fujitake, depending on whom you ask.) We’ve had one crab for almost three years now, and the other for almost two. Both have decided tomolt their old carapacesin the past ten days. Not just change into newshells, which they do withamusing frequency, but to shed their own hard parts. This leaves a little "ghost crab" of discarded claws and legsbeneath them, like a naked toddler standing on a pile of shed pajamas. Perhaps it was all the strangers schlepping through the house, perhaps it was just the season for it, either way the timing seems **suspicious**.We’ve posted a noteon the cage thatreads, "Vicious Attack Crabs. Do Not Tap Habitat."

Aside fromproving oursedentary crustaceans are a bit more interesting than house plants, about the only good thing I can say about being in the deep hush of waiting is that I’ve finally had a bit more time to knit. The front and back of my Suede T are finished, and as you can see, I’m almost done with the sleeves. I knit both at the same time so that no matter what, atthe very least they always match – but I only photographed one for the sake of clarity:

So far the pattern has been spot on. I did have a gasp-and-remeasure moment when I thought the back had ended up severely under length, but then I remembered the short rows in the bust. I have to admit I’ve got more topography to cover than some, so I added another iteration of the short row sequence above and beyond what was recommended for size D.As a result, when measured down the center, the front is quite a bit longer than the back. But when side seams are matched, they are exactly the same length, as are the armscye halves, front and back. My T should sew together with no problems.

Now I’ve got a bit of worry looking at the depth of the underarm bind-off areas, just before the sleeve cap begins. You can see those plateau-like areas above. They seem rather deep,althoughit’s been a long time since I didSerious Sewing or assembled a knitted full-tailored set-in sleeve. But short sleeves are just that – short. I’ll keep at it as written, then do a pin-fit or baste the thing together. If the sleeves seem to fit in oddly, I’ll rip them back, reshape the sleeve capand try again.It’s probably my own unsettlement and nervousness speaking so I am really notanticipatingdoing anything that drastic. I promise to report back as my T takes further shape.

Oops. The phone is ringing. Got to gather up knitting, today’s newspaper and my tea and hightail it out to the back yard to get out of the way of the tour du jour.


O.K. Enough blather. Back to actual knitting…

Progress continues to be made on my Berroco Suede Shapely T. I’m now up to the armhole decreases on the back (this shot shows the front folded in half, and the back still on the needles. The entire front is here):

It’s been slow going however – and not because of the pattern (which is great), or the yarn (which is annoying but I’ve gotten used to it.) I’m afraid life has intruded into my knitting time. We’ve made an offer on a new house, and I’m now in the middle of a cleaning and de-cluttering frenzy, getting ready to put our current place up for sale. Here’s a snap of the new place:

Knitting relevance? This 1912 bungalow has a striking well-preserved Craftsman-style interior and a large dining room. While I don’t have a dining room table yet, I will finally have somewhere to display my now estivating Kinzel Tudor Rose tablecloth. So I better retrieve it from the Chest of Knitting HorrorsTM and finally finish it off. Plus, although you can’t see thehouse’s interior,I think there’s scope here for some knitted lace curtains as well.

So laugh if you will, I’m off to pack up my closet-dwelling stash, and The Chest of Knitting HorrorsTM

Chest of Knitting Horrors(tm)


Progress continues to be made. I have now finished the front (complete with darts), and am starting the back. The Berroco Suede yarn continues to be annoying to knit, but produces a quite pleasing fabric. An additional note though – it’s HEAVY, even compared to a similar gauge cotton. This will end up being quite a weighty T-shirt. Jury is still out on the warmth factor, but the thingbeing 100% nylon, it probably be on thetoasty side.

I’m planning to finish the border around the neck with an abbreviated strip of the same edgedesign I used earlier. I’m also especially pleased by the dart shaping. Being far from planar myself, flat cut Ts never quite fit me correctly. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Shapely T fits.


A couple of people have written afternoticing the origin ofthis blog’s name. They’ve asked if hobbits knit. I’m not a gushing "look what they’ve done in the movies" follower, nor am I aline-by-line memorizer of JRRT’s canon, but I’m pretty familiar withthe books.

I can safely say there is absolutely no specific textual reference in Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit for knitting.

Hobbits do wear mufflers (though obviously, never socks) but how those are made isn’t detailed. This however didn’t bind the imagination of the movie makers.There is considerable debate among the fan-boy/fan-gal set thatdoes costume replicationas to whether or not Pippins’ scarf in the recent filmswas knit or woven. Although most of the other specialty textiles in the series were woven, I thinkthe scarf wasknit, using lozenges of purl weltingin a contrasting color broken up byslipped knit stitches:

The sametexture/color pattern is foundin this Schaefer cardigan. Still, I’m not going to run out and make one myself. I’ll leave that for the truefan-boys/gals.


My T-shirt in Berroco Suede progresses. I have gotten used to knitting with the Suede, but am not loving it. But I do like the look and the Shapely T pattern. Here’s document of my progress:

Suede T - 3 evenings progress

The Shapely T pattern starts off with some garter stitch, and then includes some short-row shaping to make a rounded shirt-tail style bottom edge. I’ve increased the depth of the border below the shaping. I used a row of Indian Cross Stitch (Walker, Vol 1, p. 112), framed by garter stitch ridges and a row of elongated knit stitch (wrap yarn twice per stitch on Row 1; k1, drop extra loop on Row 2):

Suede T edge detail

Because my bottom edge will be deeper than the original pattern, I cast on more stitches than the pattern called for, and hid some evenly spaced decreases in the garter stitch ridges. With luck, my extra width will compensate for wrapping a wider bottom edge around the shirttail shaping on the hem, and I’ll end up with (mostly) straight side seams.