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  • FO #8 / 2023: My Grassland Tee

    June 13, 2023 7 min read

    Hi lovelies! What is that, two FO blog posts back to back? It seems I'm on a roll - a roll to knit (and finish!) summer tees, apparently!

    Grassland Tee

    Today, I'd love to introduce you to the latest member of my summer wardrobe: My new Grassland Tee!

    Grassland is designed by Susan Schädler, and was originally published in our Issue 6. (It's now available as an individual PDF too!)

    It's - like my last FO, the Blossom T-Shirt - a drop-shoulder short-sleeved tee, but with a dramatically different construction and look. Let's get into it!

    The pattern: A refreshingly different construction, then easy-breezy

    Grassland's shape is - on paper - quite similar to the one of the Blossom T-Shirt I recently finished: Drop shoulder, short sleeves, boxy and cropped.

    So I was delighted to discover that the construction was completely different! Not that I would have minded another knit-in-pieces bottom-up project, it was just such a great testament to how creative our craft is. You can arrive at a similar shape through a thousand different ways, and I was curious to discover which path Susan had chosen for Grassland.

    You start by casting on the back stitches, which immediately get a bit of short-row treatment to shape the shoulders and neck. While I didn't necessarily love knitting short rows in linen yarn (I knit my Grassland in De Rerum Natura's Antigone) as my purl tension is different than my knit tension, I also didn't mind terribly as they are really quickly done.

    Grassland Tee

    Left: A new beginning! | Right: The first part of the back is almost done

    You work the back piece until the desired armhole depth, put the stitches on hold, and then the fun (yes, really!) starts: You pick up stitches along the cast-on edge for first one shoulder that gets gently shaped with increases and short rows, and when you've done that, you do it again for the other side. I loved this part! It was delightful to see the T-Shirt slowly become a garment, and because both fronts are done quickly, I got to see a lot of progress in a short amount of time.

    When you've completed both fronts, you join them together - and now you get to knit that gorgeous lace panel as well! Again, so much fun! (Yes, lace on the wrong side, but do not let that deter you - it's really simple, and intuitive.)

    Once you have reached the armhole depth at the front, you join it to the back, and then it's easy-breeze - knitting in the round, soothing stockinette, only broken up by that fun-to-knit, yet not-too-difficult lace panel. The pattern has instructions for bust darts which I've come to love - our bodies all hold different shapes, and bust darts are great for full busts! I didn't add them to my tee this time, but am curious to try for a future garment.

    Grassland Tee

    Left: Joined in the round, knitting away on the gorgeous lace panel | Right: Almost done with the hem!

    You continue knitting your merry way in the round until you've reached the hem, at which point you change up your needle size, get your stitch counts in order, and work a nice, deep 2x2 rib.

    You're almost there! Hold on to that 2x2 rib - you now get to pick up sleeve stitches around the armhole edges, but immediately tuck back into that soothing rib rhythm again as that's all that's left to do for each sleeve.

    Last, but not least, you pick up the stitches around the neckline and work the now-familiar ribbing again for a handful of rounds. (I really like that the neckline is picked up and knit afterwards here - for my linen yarn, that construction detail gave the tee really great stability!) And you're done!

    Grassland Tee

    Left: Done with the body - on to the sleeves! | Right: All done (pre-blocking)

    The yarn: Don't tell me knitwear can't be hot (or yes, it's see-through, but I'm okay with it)

    Susan used a combination of two yarns for her design, a wool / silk blend held together with a mohair / silk lace yarn. I chose a dramatically different route that I knew would lead to very different results than the sample pictures: A 100% linen yarn, the sport-weight Antigone from De Rerum Natura.

    That's one of the things I love most about knitting, this craft of ours: You can play with the same pattern endlessly and get very different looks in the end! An acknowledgement here: I feel comfortable and confident making these calls now - but I didn't for a very long time. Yarns, and how they would knit up, were like magic to me - magic that I loved, but didn't understand. Getting to know yarns and which ones lead to what kind of fabrics and how they drape and all those things took years for me, countless hours of knitting and swatching and trying. So if you don't feel ready to make such a call yet, it's okay! (Also, we're always here to help you! If you have a yarn idea for a pattern of ours and are not sure whether it would work, email us.)

    Antigone is a fantastic summer yarn, and it's only gotten better this year as De Rerum Natura has changed up their production line for it: Now, the flax for the yarn is grown in France, by an agricultural cooperative that's part of a project to return to ancient cultivation practices aimed at preserving the soil and producing high quality fibres without chemical inputs. (Isn't that amazing?!) The raw fibers are then transported to Lithuania, wet-spun into singles, and sent back to France where they get twisted into the final 10-ply shape and dyed up.

    I knew going into this project that I was going to either have to knit with very tiny needles or get a somewhat see-through fabric if I wanted to get the drape that I liked. I swatched Antigone on a few different needle sizes and ultimately settled on a 4 mm / US 6 as I loved the drape I got in that swatch.

    The colorway that I fell in love with for this tee is Marsala, a beautiful brownish red (or reddish brown) that leans on the cooler side of the color spectrum. At 260 meters / 284 yards per 100g, Antigone is very much a sport-weight yarn. I knit a size 4 (more on that below), and used 227g, i.e. 2 1/4 balls of it.

    I really, really liked this particular yarn for this project. I know that the see-through look is not for everyone, but I love how airy and lightweight the fabric is - great for those summer heat weeks we're going to have here in Berlin.

    I also enjoyed knitting with it! I know that linen yarn is a bit scary for some of you (If you are intimated by it, don't be! We got you!), so hopefully seeing how it knits up and hearing that I really loved working with it both in lace and stockinette helps a little with any trepidation.

    The finished object: A match made in heaven

    I really, really, really love my finished Grassland Tee. It's a little different than the other tees in my summer wardrobe, and then also not (hello lace panels). It looks great half-tucked into high-waisted jeans and will also make for a wonderful throw-on-over-a-bikini tee at the beach.

    Grassland Tee

    Left: WIP with the matching bra | Right: Done, blocked, worn, loved!

    I knit a size 4, with my gauge being completely on point after blocking. My finished tee has a bust circumference of about 116 cm / 45.75", which means that it sits with about 16 cm / 6.25" of positive ease on my body. A little more close-fitting than Blossom, and just perfect for this design!

    Speaking of gauge: Definitely measure your swatch before and after blocking! Mine had 18 stitches on 30 rows before throwing it into the water, and while my stitch gauge stayed the same, the row gauge changed to 25 rows after the swatch was dry.

    Which should have meant that I should have calculated backwards how long I needed to knit the armholes and body for, but, honestly, I couldn't be bothered :D As the swatch had less rows on 10 cm / 4" after blocking than before I knew that I was setting myself up for a finished object that was going to be a little longer than intended, but I was perfectly fine with that.

    And I'm so, so glad that I chose that route because I absolutely love how the finished object turned out and how it sits on me!

    Before I let you go, I want to touch on something that was important to me with this project, and it might be important to you too: When I realized just how see-through the T-Shirt would be, I immediately knew that I needed the right bra to wear with it, otherwise it would just languish in my wardrobe. I don't love the look of white, nude or black bras under a see-through garment (unless the color of said garment is white, nude or black), but prefer to have a bra that is quite a close color match to the tee.

    Luckily for me, my favorite sustainable underwear brand Erlich Textil (not sponsored, just have been buying and wearing their bras for years now) had just the thing: The Ophelia Bralette in Pflaume (plum). It's not a perfect match to the yarn as you can see above, but it comes close, and looks great underneath the finished tee, I think.

    So! Hot tip if you're a bit on the fence when it comes to adding something to your wardrobe that's slightly of your comfort zone: Ask yourself what you need to actually wear it. Maybe it's a color-coordinating bra, maybe it's a "help, how do I tuck shirts" session with your sister (thank you, Marit!), maybe it's a session with the other things in your wardrobe to see which outfits you can come up with. Play! Don't be afraid!

    And with that, I'll leave you to it. Onwards!

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