The Peplum

I think I made a mistake instead of progress!

I have a number of post-its on which I made various calculations for the side-ways knit peplum.  I wanted a peplum 9″ wide with a  50″ hem circumference.  My peplum is 8.5″ wide. That’s close it maybe I can block it close to 9″.  Also, I know the hem will require a finish because stocking knit  rolls into the circular tube seen above.  Point is, I may be able to gain the total 9″ needed through blocking and adding a hem edge-trim.

But the 58″ circumference is not going to work for me. This knit will have some drape. At this point I can’t really tell how much, but it will hang closer to my figure. I fear it will still ruffle and protrude when I desired a soft, close-to-body flare.

Fortunately, I have an electric yarn winder. Not the expensive one. I bought the Boye Electric Yarn Ball Winder by Simplicity…


…a few Christmas ago (and for a much lower price than shown on Amazon). I had the yarn rewound and resting in just a few minutes.

Since I spent so much time doing the peplum calculations and still failed, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t just find a Plan B.



Usually I like to be working on the current project while planning the next. Not that hard to do as I’m always look for inspirations.  Must say Pinterest is great for that. I look at the new pins nearly every night, usually during commercials, and save the ones that are interesting.   I can’t say that I choose a project based on the yarn as I am just as likely to find a neat project and then source the yarn. Yeah, even with a personal store-like inventory of yarn, on occasion, I still need to buy new to fit my project .This yellow almost green,  mercerized cotton named Limoncello,  crossed my eBay search for yarns earlier in the year. I bought because of the unique color (it’s not quite yellow and not quite green) and the fiber (100% cotton). I do think cotton is more comfortable than just about any other fiber during summer. Based on the project, a tank top,  I had decided to use this yarn when I was about half way through the previous project.  Weeks ago, when I started thinking of another project, I thought another summer garment could be completed and worn several times before winter. I doubt that now but I really don’t want to work with fall and winter yarns -even at the machine- while the temps are still hitting upper 90’s and triple F digits.

I think most of my projects go through a growth period. I mean, I rarely do a swatch and knit a garment from start to finish without any deviations.  I used to try to knit that way when I had only those long written out hand-knitting patterns to follow. I learned rapidly, I needed to be ready to adapt when things did work as expect especially since my hand yarn and hand knitted gauge never matched that of the pattern.  I started this project with a tension test.

That’s just cast on 10-20 stitches; 10-20 rows  then change the tension (up or down) and knit another 10/20 rows. Repeat.It is very quick. No pattern needed at this point. As the old-times (wait I think I am one of them now) told me, you are discovering how this yarn handles at your machine and for you. Even if you’ve knit with the same yarn previously, this little swatch will save your sanity by telling you not only when it knits smoothly and as expected but when the quality is off or environmental effects have taken over and the yarn knits terribly.  You also get a really good impression of the best tension for the best appearance.  I often change the tension  numbers by 2 instead of .  I can see the differences much better with a leap between tensions. I started at T8  and cranked the tension down (8 to 4) with each 10 rows. I decided  although I liked the looks of T4, it was a bit too tight for easy knitting.  I made a full swatch at T5

I’m using 60 rows, 60 stitches because I have had issues with achieving an accurate guage over a large piece of knitting when I used 60 rows 40 stitches.  Anyway, I liked this swatch. Really liked it. As soon as I finished the variegated yarn, I sat down at the PC and had Sweater Maker calculate a pullover sweater for me. Well wouldn’t you know, at T5 I have more stitches than needles. Must rethink.

A few days later I do a 2nd full swatch at T8 (made sure to bump that T up high enough to make a difference!)

Took care of needles problem but, I don’t like this swatch. It is wimpy and see how it wrinkles compared to the T5 swatch. Same yarn. Same machine. The difference is the tension at which it is knit. Hate the swatch. Need to think some more.

Reluctantly, I decide a paneled garment is the best choice.   I know you can barely tell the variegated yarn was a paneled garment. That’s because  the changing colors and stitch pattern hide a lot. I am wanting a simple knit  so that I can get this done before summer is a distant memory. Unfortunately, stocking knit stitch + solid color fine yarn means errors will show.

Before I even begin telling what I’ve decided to do, be warned that my final garment will hardly look like my inspirations.  I will be borrowing elements from

For starters, my peplum will be knit sideways and will be about the proportion seen in the Connie Crawford pattern to the right. Butterick B0456 (I believe that has been renumbered but the insides are all the same) is a favorite sewing pattern of mine which I fit last year.  I know the proportions  Connie used are most flattering to me. IOW I will not have a horizontal join across my middle. My peplum will join at a low empire.  I will use more of a tank top for the other portion. I’ve made a new garment in Sweater Maker, especially to change the shoulder width. I made the shoulders 1″ narrower because my variegated top just extends past my shoulder maybe 1/4″.  Course while I’m at it, I raised the underarm 1/2″ to be sure my underwear stayed out of sight.   With changes input, I printed the front and back schematics Sweater Maker so nicely and started figuring out the peplum.  It will be 9″ wide.

Wish I’d figured that out before printing. Because now, I changed the measurements to indicate the top wide will be 5.5″ and there will be no shaping.  It will be a straight 20″ from cast on to armscye.  Back to SM to input the new dimensions and this time I added the place for my RBA (Round Back Alteration).  Usually I need to add ease for my tummy, often referred to as a FTA or full tummy alteration.  Because the peplum extends above the waist, far above my tummy, I do not need to add the FTA.  Schematics for the top portion of my garment:

(Somehow my printer is a little off and is starting the pages further down on the page than it should. Something I will ferret-out when my mind is not thinking “knitting”)

That does leave the peplum to be charted.  I’m make a sideways knit peplum, 9″ wide, with regularly spaced short-rows to add a little flare to the hem side. Calculation is simple  (9 * stitch gauge) for stitches and 20 (the bottom edge measurement ) * row gauge.  I just sketched it out by hand on a piece of copy paper.  Added instructions on the bottom, which I revised and expanded on the back of the page

…and I’m almost ready to cast-on.  I want to let this sit for just a day or two. Sometimes I remember something else, important. I’d really rather do that before the garment is half knit.


and She’s Finished!

Finished just in time for the hottest weather.   Once I realized the planned 1″ ribbing would not satisfy me, I started and kept looking for ideas that wouldn’t add length but would nicely finish the lower edge.  I selected a knitted on I-cord hem. If you want an I-cord hem, I strongly recommend knitting the cord; hanging on needles and knitting upward from there.  I had cast on my garment using ripper cord and waste knitting which meant my hem stitches were live.  Picking them up now was not easy.  Over the weeks of knitting, they had tightened and shrunk and it was difficult to discern loops from bars. Tell you, I was relieved after this slow, headache-inducing tasking was done. The I-cord hem worked better than expected. It added a little weight and curls just slightly to the inside.

The earlier try-on had told me that I might need just a smidge more room for my hips. So when joining the sides, I left about 4″ open to form a vent.  I worked around the ‘edges’ when adding the I-cord hem. It really was a nice finish.

I love the Woven-FI technique and especially how this variegated yarn looks knit in this manner but the finished garment is  and probably a littler warmer for the hottest weather.  I probably will wear this top mostly in the spring and fall along with early/late summer. Triple-diget days are out-of the question.  If I had not used Weaving-FI, the yarn and style would have been mostly fine for summer.

Mostly? The armscye is a little too deep. It lacks just 1/4″ securely covering my supporting garments. OTOH, I’d prefer the neckline just a little more plunging. For summer. Neckline depth is fine would have been fine for the rest of the year. I’m making a note to myself to raise the armscye 1/2″ next for  year.

That’s not the only note I’m making. I keep telling myself to take the DAK courses at Knit-It-Now, but haven’t done so. Whenever I want a new garment, I sit down and knock out a pattern with Sweater Maker.  I am really quite happy with Sweater Maker. SM met my expectations with both the set-in sleeve and raglan style knits. After a bit of play, I was able to determine the best measurements. But, I still have little things I need to change after-the-fact. So I made the note about the TRT Sleeveless Top, but I also started a page for general SM notes. It will contain suggestions for the things I need to do if I want to adapt the ‘canned’ patterns to something more specific; more personal; couture.  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Sweater Maker: Things to Consider

  • Plan finishes before creating/printing the pattern; to include depth, number of rows/stitches
  • The side length includes the hem.
    •   If I’m going to hang a hem, I need to add or otherwise account for the rows needed before the turn.
    • If I’m going to make the hem like ribbing at the end (picking up live stitches), I need to subtract the rows needed for the hem.
  • Neck width/depth noted on the pattern is the finished garment.
    • If changing to a new stitch, or adding a band later, rows must be subtracted.  Consult the gauge printed at the top of the pattern.
  • Add hip ease/width at hem; decrease between hem and waist to offset added stitches. My best fit resulted when the pattern was calculated for my bust and not the hips. Adding an inch is enough. Easily determined by looked at the gauge printed at the top of the pattern.
  • RBA
    • Eliminates back drag lines and makes the top more comfortable during wear
    • Execute about half way into armscye
    • 3-5 rows is enough
    • Consider the effect of the short rows on the visual pattern and executed stitch.
      • It may be better to skip the RBA or choose a yoke style.
  • Full Tummy Alteration
    • Levels the hem
    • Repeat the RBA about 2″ below waist on front.
    • Consider the effect of the short rows on the visual pattern and executed stitch.
      • It may be better to add a short rows just above the hem which adds CF length but not the comfort you’d get by short-rowing across the tummy.



I’ve joined the side panels to the front, then picked up stitches around the armscyes and completed the ribbing. Very nice, if I do say so myself.

This is an excellent time to check fit so I clipped the sides together and slipped it on.

It is a bit closer than desired.  I will give it a good press sideways but I think I need to a few extra stitches to my pattern for the future.  My others were also just a bit tighter too.

I paused. Not sure of how I want to finish the hem.  My original intent had been to use 1″ ribbing at the neckline, armscyes and hem. My mistake, I did not adjust the length of the garment to accommodate the  hem ribbing. Adjusted for the armscyes and the neckband but forgot about the hem.  I don’t want to make my top any longer. This is my preferred length. OTOH, the hem has to be finished. I know this but just can’t seem to decide should I do ribbing eve though I don’t want to add length? Should I use and I cord which would add very little length? Knit a hem turning it up totally to the inside?

Neckline Finished

I’m doing the ‘ done, done, all the way done’ thing. Never heard of it?  It when you have a series of tasks to complete before the project is finished.  In my case a knit summer garment which requires many steps before being wearable. Today I’m checking of the neckline:

Apologies for blurry photo, this often happen when I hold camera.  Usually at least one of my several pics will be OK. Not this time. But you do start getting a feeling for how the final garment will look. I panicked at the last second and did not cut the neckline as deep as planned. I can see now, I should have trust my initial calculations.  The neckline depth decision was made by measuring my body to the depth I wanted for a summer neckline and subtracting 1″ to be filled in by the ribbing.  Should have trusted. Oh well. I used the ‘ribbing’ all new MK’ers are taught, ie  pick up the needed stitches by hanging the neck on the needles, wrong side facing self. Knit the number of rows required for the neckband at T-2.  Knit one row at T-4. Knit the same number of rows required for the neckband again at T-2.  Hang a hem by picking up the first row of knitting; and bind off.  I used my GC to bind off (also called linking), again.  I am so glad  realized the GC could do this.

I rehung the shoulders and public side of the neckband to be linked off.

When the GC completed the bind off, I cut off a long, long piece of yarn.  I used that to invisibly close the private side of the neckband and also tack down the shoulders.

See, all my life, at least since age 14, I’ve had very narrow sloping shoulders.  In the last few years, I’ve added a rounding back to that upper body combination.  I’m someone who benefits greatly from a little bit of padding on the shoulders.  I never shape the shoulders.  Just knit them straight up and bind off.  When I join the shoulders, it is at an angle; ie the shoulder seam forms a dart. I at least catch the 2 dog ears at the shoulder’s edge in the sleeve or for this garment the armscye band. I tacked both sides down this time but could just as easily pressed them open and in place before adding the binding.  Either way, I have nice neat, and slightly padded shoulders.


Well that’s the update for today.

Knitting in a string

I actually learned this technique from a weaving magazine but I am sure knitters use it if they were not the ones to originate the idea. The idea is simple, wherever you have pieces that are nearly equal in width and therefore number of needles required, do not cast off at the end of the first. Instead add a row ripper cord a few rows of waste knitting and then another row of ripper. It is quite easy to cast on any additional needed stitches for the next piece. I use the e-wrap in waste yarn.  I also prefer ripper cord, waste yarn, ripper cord, more waste yarn and finally ripper cord before starting next piece. That allows me to separate the pieces as needed when assembling or my preferred point, when blocking.

I mentioned before my current knitting is based on the Tabula Rasa sleeveless T-shirt. So it contains a front, back and 2 sides plus the typical hem, neckline and armscye finishes.  I could have knit the front and back in another ‘string’.  Did not because I was anxious about my stitch and row gauge.  Been having issues with that lately, so stopped after the back to block and check finished dimensions. When I subsequently blocked the sides, I also cut the necklines. (I am using standard cut and sew techniques for the necklines.)

I am ready to assemble   …

…and knit the necklines, armscye finishes and oh yes got to finish that hem.

Making Progress

Above is the front and back.  To say I am pleased, is an understatement. Truly I didn’t expect to be making progress,especially this much in only a few days.  I was able to knit these two pieces in the evenings while watching TV.

They are straight pieces and practically mirror images. The difference is in the necklines.  I am still not totally confident in my swatch-to-gauge calculations. I am planning a cut and sew neckline.  Instead of the modified cut and sew I usually do, I’ve opted for the more traditional method with another exception.  When Sweater Maker said to start shaping, I hung a marker yarn.  Hopefully you can expand the pics and see the green yarn outlining the necklines.

At first glance I thought  “These are too long. I don’t have the row gauge correct.”  Well both row and stitch gauge were verfied for me by simply measuring the pieces. They finished the expected width and length.  The error has to be somewhere else AND it is.  I am planning a 1″ ribbing at the hem. I should have reduced the length of the side from hem to underarm by the amount of the planned hem.  Usually I do that by looking at the row gauge and beginning with the row count set to equal 1″ of knitted rows. Didn’t do that. Definitely my bad and now an issue for me.

I could serge off 1″ from the bottom and add my hem. I don’t particularly like the looks of that, but it is possible.  Another option is since I am already doing cut and sew of the necklines, I could mark and stitch another 1″ lower from the top edge, then serge an additional 1″ off the top. Which is probably what I will do. It makes for a rougher finish at the top. Neither choicea are entirely objectionable to me but I will be disappointed that I am using RTW rather than the really professional knit finish I had envisioned.

Still have the sides to knit (I am using the Tabula Rasa Tee as my shape) and of course the ribbings/bindings/edge finishes after I decide how to handle them.