Sep 15, 2016 :: by Leila Raabe
Whether it's fit, style, or other considerations, knitters tend to shy away from the idea of taking on a knitted skirt project. Our release today of Ann Budd's Tavia, worked in fingering weight, 100% American wool Finch, may have you rethinking your stance on adding a skirt to your knitted wardrobe.
Ann joins us on the blog today to talk a little bit about her newest design—we hope you enjoy our Q&A.
What was the inspiration behind the design?
I've been on a bit of a skirt knitting craze the past couple of years and wanted to add texture in the "gussets" between the stockinette-stitch "pleats." The "gussets" are made up of stitches that are added one the high-hip circumference is reached. I can't remember how I got the idea for the alternation of stockinette stitch and reverse stockinette stitch that I used for Tavia, but I love the look!
What considerations did you keep in mind when you chose Finch for a skirt like this? Do things like yarn weight, target gauge, spun structure/plies factor in to the plan ahead of time, or do you choose the yarn and design from there?
I suspect that the best results require wool yarn because it has such elasticity and holds it shape well—both important considerations for a skirt. I also like to use a plied yarn. I worry that a singles wouldn't have enough strength to hold up to the abrasion that a skirt has to withstand (pulling on and off, friction of hands and handbags, bouncing back after stretching to sit). My previous skirts (Putting On The Pleats and Take-Two Skirt, both available on Ravelry) were knitted with 100% wool fingering weight yarn, so Finch was an easy choice. I was particularly drawn to the heathered colors that add to the skirt's "classic" look.
That said, I think this design would also be beautiful in Tern. There's still enough wool to maintain the elasticity and resiliency but the silk would add interesting color texture and drape.
Skirts are often considered a less than ideal choice for a knitting project due to knitted fabric's tendency to stretch out in certain areas, and cling to others. Tavia seems impervious to these potential drawbacks. How did you perfect the shape and fit?
I put a lot of thought into how to make the skirt fit well without bagging or producing a "bucket butt", which led me to think about how seamstresses construct "fitted" skirts with darts from the waist to the high-hip circumference. I thought back to the pleated skirts I sewed for myself before knitting took over. Knowing that knitted fabric is elastic, I planned for at least 2" of negative ease between the waist and high hip so that the upper portion of skirt will "fit like a glove ." At the high hip, stitches for the gussets are added between the "pleats" every 2" so that plenty of increases have been worked by the time the full-hip circumference is reached. That means that the fabric doesn't have to stretch when you sit down--there's more than enough skirt circumference at that point.
It's important to choose a size that's a couple of inches (or even a little more) smaller than your actual high-hip circumference; the waist circumference is fine-tuned with the elastic that's put in the waistband after the knitting is completed.
The skirt is designed from the top down so that it can be tried on to determine the optimal length.
We can't get enough of how great it looks on the body. What makes this design so flattering?
The skirt is flattering on a variety of body types because it has a "tailored" fit around the waist and upper hip, then flares over the full hip. Even plus-size women look good in tailored clothes. Like many, I don't like tight-fitting clothes around my middle and I'm self-conscious about my belly, but the elastic waistband and stretch of the fabric make the skirt very comfortable to wear. I typically wear a top that hangs out and covers the darts between the waist and high-hip. What shows are just the lovely pleats; not every bulge in my belly.
One of our favorite designer questions: If you had to design it all over again, is there anything you'd change?
I'm already making plans to design another skirt. I want to try one with heavier weight yarns, such as sport, DK and worsted. I think I'll be able to get an equally satisfying look and fit with different gauges.
Any tips for knitters, or things to avoid (fit, color, yarn substitutions, etc.) when deciding to cast on for this beautiful skirt?
If you want to substitute a different yarn, be cautious about multi-color and variegated skeins. The colors can pool into somewhat horizontal or diagonal bands that will interfere with the vertical lines of the pleats.
Thanks so much for joining us on the blog today, Ann!
We hope you're inspired to think about knitting a skirt for your next project—as Tavia shows, it's all in the tailored details and versatility in creating a version that suits your particular fit and style preferences.