Monday, July 26, 2010

Chelsea skirt

I had never had the slightest desire to knit a skirt, but that all changed when I saw this one.  Meet the Chelsea skirt.  Here's my version.


This skirt is from a book called New England Knits, which just came out and has been getting a lot of hype since before its release.  When I first looked at the pictures from this book that had been posted on ravelry, few of the patterns jumped out at me, but some of them have been growing on me since.  This skirt really caught my eye, however, and was available as a free download from interweave before the book release (as it still is now.)

The bulk of this skirt is done in a simple herringbone pattern that is easy to do and not at all annoying.  For some reason, I came into this thinking that herringbone patterns must be annoying to do, but that was not the case here.  It was the second project that I was working on at that time that made heavy use of the pick-up type increases, the ones where you knit into the stitch below.  (The other project is Poplar and Elm, which is still in the works.)  You start at the bottom and use smaller and smaller needles, switching to ribbing at the top.  The top ribbing is also done holding elastic thread along with the yarn.  Then there are button bands and that little strip of lace at the bottom.



Perhaps I should talk about my feelings about tweeds.  I have complicated feelings about tweeds.  Sometimes, I see them and they just call to me.  But I rarely have a good time using them.  I find that the neps make it difficult for the yarn to slide against itself so my tight knitting habits require me to use an unusual amount of force.  Also, I often dislike tweed colorways.  Either the neps seem to cover all the colors of the rainbow with no sensitivity, as in Valley Yarns Williamstown, or they are flat and unimaginative, as in Knit Picks City Tweed.  The City Tweed uses the same neutral neps for each colorway, no matter what the main color is.  The colorways I really enjoy are those for which the color of the neps seems to have been carefully and artistically considered.  Blackstone Tweed, which I used for this skirt, seems to have this property.  This colorway (Concord) was mainly a very dark purple, with neps in navy, pink, and light purple.  I loved this almost as much as the Queensland Kathmandu DK I used for Riding to Avalon, which was off-white with neps in white, pink, and maroon.  Lovely.  But yeah, I have complicated feelings about tweeds.  And I hate seaming with them!  They always break.  Fortunately, this skirt didn't require any seaming.

For the lacy bit at the bottom, I used some leftovers of Yarn Chef Mulligatawny that I used a long time ago for the Wine and Roses mitts.  I had to block the main part of the skirt, knit most of the lace, block that, see how long it was compared to the edge of the skirt, and then knit and block the last bit.  Because of that, I was able to take this excellent picture in which you can see the blocked end and the unblocked end:


Blocking works, people!  At least it does when you're using non-washable wool.

Then I sewed the edging on.  Oh, I guess that was a seam.  Well, I did it with thread, so it doesn't count.

Then there were the lovely buttons and the thing was done... but the top is nowhere near tight enough.  As you can see, the bottom part of the skirt fits me nicely, but slightly small needles, ribbing, and elastic thread were not nearly enough to keep the skirt on me at the top.  Right now, I can't wear this thing unless I buy some suspenders.  I don't really know what happened.  Maybe I was supposed to pull the elastic thread tight as I knit with it?  That would be weird though.  I'm thinking of taking the leftover elastic thread and sewing it around inside top of the skirt.  Do people think that would work?  I am open to suggestions!

One more picture for good measure.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Abby said...

I think elastic along the top edge is totally reasonable - just thread it on a yarn needle and run it through several rows of stitches at the snugness you want.

Another idea might be sewing un-stretchy ribbon along the top (since it doesn't need to stretch to go on, right, it closes with those buttons?) to give it the necessary stability.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous rachel said...

Another idea would be to actually sew elastic into the inside of the skirt, the size that you need, with a needle and thread. I am thinking that's what I will do ...

9:32 PM  
Blogger Anisa said...

Good ideas all around. Rachel, did you make the Chelsea skirt and also have a problem with looseness at the top? It seems like sort of a poor design feature.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Jacey Mason said...

So this post is years late, but I'm finding your account of the process of making this skirt so useful I figured I may as well add my tiny piece of experience...

I made a skirt using baby cashmerino, similar design but buttons at centre back. I found the best way to keep it from stretching and pulling down was to sew grosgrain ribbon round the top.

Of course that then put the pressure onto the buttons, so then I had to also line the button placket with grosgrain.

Then the space between the buttons began to gape unprettily! So I added small snap fasteners between and as well as the buttons.

Now it stays done up and in place, usually!
=)

5:38 AM  
Blogger Anisa said...

Thank you for your comment, Jacey! Although this post is a couple years old, I still haven't done anything to fix the fit problems of this skirt. The ribbon sounds like a good idea!

8:11 AM  

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