Lopes, the second garment pattern in my Full Body Trio mini-collection (after Tionne), has been released! (On ravelry here!) If you follow me on social media at all, you saw plenty of peeks a couple months back when I was making the first sample – I was posting all kinds of close-ups on instagram, revealing things like the sleeves (and the fact that it was an item that had sleeves), the seed stitch edge, the drop-stitch wedges…
But the BIG REVEAL when the pattern was released last Thursday night was that it’s a cardigan that can also be worn as a skirt!! TAH DAH!
It’s a springy/summery, drapey, flared, airy, swingy wrap cardigan, with short sleeves which can be turned in and laced closed, turning them into the functional pockets of the wraparound skirt!
I made a video showing you how it works and some different ways it can be worn:
That was fun! (Many thanks to Pete for whipping up that background music for me!)
So, here are things about the pattern… It’s written for any yarn weight/gauge, though nothing heavier than worsted is recommended, and working at a loose gauge for maximum drape is ideal. (I made a prototype to figure out shaping/construction/size stuff, in bulky weight, and it is totally ridiculous and unwearable. Part of it is that the sizing is all wrong, so that all got fixed in the pattern, but the bulky weight is really not a good fit for this item.)
The samples were made with Hazel Knits Lively DK, the beautiful Sedge colorway (which very much shifts colors depending on light!), knit at a very loose gauge (size US 8 needles on the shorter sample, US 7’s for the longer sample), and it was a fantastic yarn fit. Hazel Knits is an awesome yarn company, local-ish to me in the Pacific Northwest (based in Seattle), and they do dye-to-order if they don’t have the color you love in stock – turn around is two weeks (or less!) on custom dyed orders – there are so many gorgeous colorways, it was really hard for me to choose just one, but I really love the Sedge so I made a good choice!
Lopes is custom sized to your body, using your own measurements, and you can make it shorter or longer, as you prefer. You’ll need to make a good gauge swatch, take a few measurements on yourself, then fill out a worksheet with some math (very easy with a calculator app) to find your custom pattern numbers. (This is the same as how Tionne works, except Lopes is much simpler than Tionne, fewer sections and fewer numbers to find.)
The measurements of the piece are based on the measurements of your upper body, so the cardigan fits nicely around the back/shoulders, and around your waist, so the skirt fits. The fronts of the cardigan are therefore usually wide, overlapping quite a bit, for a double-breasted kind of wrap style sweater.
The cardigan flares out a lot, which makes it nice and swingy and fun to wear…
…but, as you saw in the video above, you also have the option of using ribbons/laces to cinch it around your body for a more form-fitting look.
The piece flares out with short row wedges, worked with a drop-stitch pattern – the fabric is already meant to be light and airy, so the dropped stitches make it more so, and the garter stitch borders add some texture. Of course, the skirt is designed to be worn over another skirt layer, or opaque leggings, or as a beach coverup, etc. Even if the fabric wasn’t see-through, it would still be scandalous to wear it without something under, since it’s open in the back!
That wraparound, open-back design makes for a very comfy, moveable skirt, as you can see in the shot below where I guess I’m being a dinosaur? Photoshoots are silly.
The sleeves/pockets are in garter stitch, giving them nice stretch while functioning both ways, and they have braided cables running down the centers, matching the braided cables along the bottom edge. And eyelet holes around the bottoms, for lacing up the pockets.
They are worked last, out from live stitches left in the body, in the round with short row shaping. Here’s a closeup of the sleeve cable joining the body:
(Side note: I had originally designed this with plain garter stitch sleeves; the idea to add the cables came to me as I was knitting up the sample, and I’m SO glad it did! Test knitters agreed that the sleeves are one of the best parts of the pattern. Love them!)
The short sample has very short sleeves, which makes the pockets not very functional, only meant for putting my hands in; the longer sample has sleeves about an inch longer, making the pockets more functional, but they still can’t hold very much. If you want really functional pockets for holding stuff, it’s recommended that you go about another inch or so longer than these sleeves.
As you see, the sleeves can be worked in a contrasting color for a nice effect, especially when worn as pockets (I think). These sleeves are Hazel Knits Lively DK in Low Tide (the leftover yarn from my Warren hat – those skeins are big!) – I love the subtle variegation just on the sleeves. I think the whole piece is best in a solid/semi-solid, but that contrast works very well to my eye!
And you can play around with some other color pop ideas like I did in my longer sample – the beginning and ending edges are in a contrasting dark grey color (Anzula Cricket in Elephant), and the last panel is in a contrasting lighter green yarn (Anzula Cricket in Key Lime).
As for yardage, my shorter sample used just under 3 skeins of the Lively DK – approx 730 yards / 670 meters total, and my longer sample used 3 full skeins plus all the contrasting bits, totaling up to approx 1100 yards / 1000 meters used. I normally wear a size large; you can see my very approximate yardage estimates for all yarn weight and sizes here.
Let’s see, what else about the pattern? Oh, buttons! Buttons are always fun, of course. Let me show you mine! My yellow button came from an amazing little button shop in York, England. I’d been saving it for just the right project, and I think it’s a perfect fit here!
And the second button there was found in my stash – I don’t know where it came from but I’m assuming a bag of old buttons from a thrift store, or from Knittn’ Kitten, since that’s where most of my random stash buttons came from. There’s a deer on it!
The back side buttons on this sample are yellow as well, also random stash finds.
The other sample features antler buttons, bought at Paxton Gate in North Portland. Love them!!
This sample is special, by the way, a first for me as a designer – I hired a sample knitter to make it! Local knitter Chantal knit the whole body of the piece, and I just added the sleeves and did the finishing. It was so weird and cool to have an almost finished pattern sample handed to me! Hours upon hours of work that I didn’t have to do myself. Not that I didn’t love knitting Lopes, because I really do love this pattern and I (mostly) enjoyed making the first sample, but, two in a row? With tons of other deadlines and work projects on my mind? The pattern would have been delayed a month probably if I’d done it myself, not because that’s how long it took, but because I’d have had to wait till I finished other deadline projects first before finishing it… Anyway, that made me feel like I took a new step as a professional designer, and Chantal did a great job, so hooray! Thanks Chantal!!
And many thanks to my test knitters as well, but super especially to Megan, of the Stockinette Zombies video podcast! (She shows her Lopes test knit in this episode, keeping the fact that it’s a skirt a secret since the pattern wasn’t released yet – thanks for that, Megan!) I had a too-tight deadline for testers on this project, since I was eager to release it asap, and Megan is the only one who actually finished it 100% so she’s awesome. (Don’t worry, other testers tested all the parts of the pattern, and the pattern was also tech edited – thanks Ashwini! – so it’s been fully checked and is up to my quality standards!)
Okay now I’m going to get into a lot of detail about the design process for Lopes, so if that doesn’t interest you, just check out the pattern on ravelry and thanks for reading this far! ;) Here we go…
For my first garment pattern, Tionne, I blogged all about how I first got the design idea, and my design process… once I had that design concept in my head, I decided I wanted to do a trio of garment patterns, so I started casually thinking about other garment ideas, and the idea for Lopes just came to me. I don’t have any kind of story about it; I don’t even remember how I first thought of it. I just had a thought one day, something like, what if I made a really simply shaped, flared piece, in three panels, and there are sleeves which can fold in and become pockets, so it can be worn as a cardigan and a skirt? Hmmmmm… and then eventually Lopes was born!
Oh but, my original design concept was for the three parts (the two sides and the center, between the sleeves/pockets) to all be the same width across, and I stuck to that all the way through completing the first sample, which is why this happened. When it was done and blocked, it was WAY too big. Horrible fit. I was in denial the whole way though until it was completely finished, partly because the gauge stretched A LOT with blocking, and I’d measured my swatch without stretching it so much, so that was my fault and it really did get much larger than I expected it to… and part of my denial was just not wanting to frog and re-knit because I was in a big hurry to get it done and out to test knitters. So, when it was almost done, only partially blocked, with the needles still in one half-done sleeve, I took some quickie photos to send out with my call for testers, and I really did think the fit was going to be okay at this point:
Looking back at these shots now, blech, it’s so obvious to now-me that the fit isn’t okay. The sleeves are so droopy, for one thing. Anyway, then I finished it, wove in all the ends and everything, and blocked it completely. And then I did another quickie placeholder-photos shoot. It was during this shoot that I reluctantly came to the conclusion that it was NOT OKAY and something needed to be done. As you can see, I tried playing around with making it look cool as it was, but it just wasn’t working.
At that time was when I re-did my original math based on the actual post-blocked gauge, and posted this panic-y instagram, when I was still thinking the pattern was okay as it was, but that the whole thing should have been smaller. After lots more measuring, calculating, etc, I realized that actually that wasn’t true, and most of my sample was actually okay as it was (yay!) but the pattern needed to be re-written. It just wouldn’t work for all three sections to be the same width. So I re-did all the worksheet/numbers stuff, re-wrote parts of the pattern, and figured out how to go about fixing this sample.
I decided I could make the whole thing sized correctly by significantly shrinking the two center panels, and the sleeves; I tweeted about this and Kirsten suggested the excellent idea of grafting first, cutting second, so I could make sure the new sizing was good before doing anything permanent. That turned out to be a REALLY helpful idea, because I did indeed need to unravel and re-graft the first panel!
So I grafted, un-grafted those stitches, re-grafted, it was good the second time, so I cut and unraveled. Unfortunately, even though I was trying to be super careful, I cut the wrong strand (I thought it was the right strand! It was hard to tell what was happening!) and made a new hole next to the grafted stitches, so I had to graft that closed too.
For the second panel, I cut first, grafted second. So then the center section was the correct size, fit to my body.
The other major re-do was to completely frog both sleeves, graft up the armpits several stitches to make smaller holes, and re-knit them. Here it is after the first was finished, for comparison; of course, the bigger one is post-blocking, and the smaller one is pre-blocking, knit with kinky frogged yarn. But I made the sleeves MUCH smaller, which really gave the entire sweater a much better fit!
So that was that – I re-blocked the center and the sleeves, and it fit perfectly! Phew! I was so relieved when I tried it on and it actually fit right, unlike the first time when I tried it on and kind of convinced myself that it was okay before finally admitting that it was not. And the pattern got all fixed up and written to work for all sizes, and to fit right for everyone! Hooray!
So, overall, even though it was an annoying process, I learned a lot, I ended up with the best possible pattern/sample, and it all turned out for the best!
Okay I think that’s everything I have to say about Lopes. The third garment pattern in the Full Body Trio (Chilli) will probably be coming near the end of the year; I’ve got to spread out these garment patterns, they are exhausting for an accessory designer! There will be some exciting non-garment things coming soon, though! Happy knitting, everyone!