I’m happy to report that my Sail-Away Shawl got me to Nashville and back. I’m almost to the part where you put a bunch of stitches on a holder and start knitting on another bit over here, which will be joined up with another bit over there. (Mere details! I’ll figure it out when I get there!)
Confession: the yarn is kinked because on the plane to Nashville, I ripped the whole shawl back for a mistake that didn’t matter. Why am I like this? But I enjoyed it just as much the second time through.
Meanwhile, a breeze through Cotton Canyon at MDK World Headquarters yielded up my next project: a Shakerag Top!
My first Shakerag Top.
Your first Shakerag Top.
This will be my second Shakerag Top. My first one, in Sylph, is one of my most-worn handknits. It is not, however, a handknit for June in Sewanee, Tennessee. 50 percent cashmere—as lovely as that is—is just a little too warm for the weather.
Sewanee is where I’m headed in 2 weeks time, for one of the most joyful things I can think of: a weekend with a bunch of knitters who signed up back in 2019 to attend the MDK Knitting Getaway at Shakerag Workshops in 2020. We’ve been delayed, by a whole year, but thanks to the determination of Claire Reishman, and a big boost from Covid-19 vaccines, we have not been denied.
I am at the blinking-in-disbelief stage of processing the fact that we are really going to get to do this. I can’t wait to sit and knit with actual physical knitters. Sitting and knitting is back!
Obviously, the occasion calls for a new Shakerag Top. It’s almost summer, and I want something light, so this Shakerag Top will be in the 100 percent cotton goodness of Rowan’s Summerlite 4ply.
(Want to ogle a bevy of beautiful Shakerag Tops on Ravelry? Here you go.)
This Time With a Modification
At least one Ravelry knitter, Nashville’s ever-resourceful Kelley Dew, has improvised a split hem on the Shakerag Top.
That’s what I’m doing this time around. I feel like side vents, and a slightly longer length in the back, will make my Shakerag great on its own, and also make it work better with a longer shirt layered underneath, which is a thing us big-linen-shirt fans like to do. We like to do it a little more than may be strictly stylish, but we like it a lot, and be who you are, I say.
Here’s How to Engineer a Split Hem
The body of the Shakerag Top is worked seamlessly in the round. To split the hem, I’m starting the front and back as separate pieces, each knit flat. The back piece will have one extra repeat of the 2-stripe sequence. If you like a more dramatic high-low hem situation, the back should be longer than that by another 2-stripe repeat or more.
I cast on half the number of stitches for my size, plus 2 more stitches so that I can slip the first stitch of every row to make the edges of the split nice and neat and all intentional-looking.
Here’s the back piece, knit up to the point of the split. Next, I’ll knit the front piece, just one repeat of the 2-stripe pattern.
Navy blue is the hot pink of Kay Gardiner. without backlight, the stripes are subtle, but they are there, by golly.
Then I’ll join the front and back (decreasing the slipped stitches away), and start working in the round. Voilà: split hem. Bonus: I will not have to worry about taking care not to twist the join! Working flat before joining is one of my favorite ways of avoiding that melodrama when an in-the-round project has a lot of potential for twisting the join.
I think I’ll work a little 8- or 10-stitch patch of garter, centered on the split, in the first stripe after the join, but I’ll see when I get there. It is tickling my fancy to think of working those patches in a contrast color, but I’m more likely to keep it sedate—don’t want to scare the horses. (There are actual horses in Sewanee. Not sure how they feel about a pop of color.)
Hot tip: to keep track of those 6-row stripes that are all the same color, use a running yarn marker. Flip it back and forth between the needles at each stripe change. You’re welcome!
It’s going to go fast, as I’ve got many hours of TV lined up for my evenings. (I’m looking at you, DG Strong. You have a lot of TV time to answer for.)
It feels great to have cotton on my needles again. (It’s slippery on metal needles! Switching to bamboo after the join!) I hope to finish it before I leave for Shakerag, so that I can pick up my Sail-Away Shawl again for travel knitting.