Shakerag Top: The Triumphant FO
Out here on the internet, there are so many finished knitting projects popping up all the time that a person can forget how much sheer strength of character it takes to take even the simplest knit all the way across the finish line.
Here’s the truth about me (that you already know): If we didn’t write about our knitting on this website, I’d specialize in making almost finished projects. I’d have a whole stack of sweaters needing just their shoulder seams, ends woven in, and/or button bands. I’m a process knitter, dammit, and the process that I like is the knitting-and-watching-TV part.
There are so many shiny objects that get in the way of me doing those last little things that make a project wearable.
So I’m very grateful to present: a completely finished Shakerag Top.
I love this soft and sturdy, budget-friendly cotton yarn: Summerlite 4ply. This shade, Navy Ink, was created especially for me. (Narrator: It was not created especially for her.)
Just like with my last one, as I was making it, I had doubts about the depth of the armhole, which for my size is 7 inches (18cm)—which doesn’t seem deep enough. But I followed the pattern, and just like with my last one, when I tried it on, I absolutely loved the depth of the armhole. It provides plenty of comfort and ease of movement, yet covers the armpit region. It’s a magic armhole!
This is my second Shakerag Top, but not my last. I still dream of a linen version of the Shakerag Top. I’ve seen a few of those in the wild, and they are deliciously cool and drapey.
Thoughts on Stepped Shoulders
The Shakerag Top’s shoulders are shaped with a stepped bindoff that occurs over 14 ever-shortening rows. I recently heard from a knitter who doesn’t like stepped bindoffs, who wondered whether it wouldn’t be better for the shoulders to be sloped using short rows.
Maybe it would be better, and I think if one is confident with short rows, it’s probably an easy modification. To me, there’s a tradeoff, though, because I like the ease of working the bindoffs, and also the way the stepped shoulders make it easy to nail the mattress stitch seam on the first try.
My faithful friends, Clover Wonder Clips, are always there for me.
I clip each step of the seam before I start, and then unclip as I go. This way, the shoulder seam gets broken down into 6- or 7-stitch units, thus neatly avoiding a problem I sometimes have of my edges getting out of alignment on a longer mattress stitch seam. Thanks to the steps, and the clips, I was able to seam each shoulder in one go, no do-overs.
Shoutout to our brand-new baby, the Skill Set video app: I watched the mattress seam videos on the Skill Set App before I started, even though I made miles of mattress stitch seams in my Mitered Square Blanket days. But seeing the Magnificent Hands of AllisonTM work those seams so neatly gave me a moment of clarity and got me in the mood for mattress stitch.
The neckline is wider and roll-ier than on my first Shakerag Top, for this reason: I didn’t do the pick-up and bind-off edging as instructed in the pattern. For summer wear and layering, I like a bigger neck opening—not the full Flashdance, but wide. To loosen the neckline, I worked single crochet all around the opening, using a sawed-off crochet hook keychain that I keep in my bag for picking up dropped stitches. This was hilariously awkward, but there were no witnesses, and it worked out fine.
P.S. Don’t yell at me for not having a modeled shot—it’s just me and Olive at home right now, and she is no help. It’s not so much lack of opposable thumbs as her attitude, frankly. I’ll post one as soon as I can, and for now just trust me: it fits just great.