Get this party started
VOLUME 1, NUMBER 1
My question is that I am thinking of making a camisole that's lingerie, not for wearing out of the house, in some very fine silk lace, but I'm curious about how you would design the pattern for the cups. It would be for an A/B cup, so it wouldn't really bear much weight there, but if it were held up by straps halter-style, there would be a kind of crosswise pulling on the cup. I thought I might give this pattern a try, but I didn't really like the angular quality of the little in-between triangle, and I wanted to make a halter. It has the stitches going diagonally. Sorry my question isn't more specific, but I was just hoping for some open-ended thoughts before I start experimenting.
First, I have to give vent to a small rant. Knitted bikinis and knitted bras meant to be worn as real swimsuits and underthings? Are a distintly terrible idea. Handknit fabrics lack the structure functional lingerie and swimwear demand - the wires and seams and hooks and elastic of boughten lingerie are there for a reason, and I'd imagine that there's quite a bit of engineering behind their use and placement. Knit fabrics, without being knit at a VERY dense gauge (denser than most of us care to knit whole garments at), and without clever boning insertions or well-thought-out seams or sturdy facings, are simply too stretchy to make functional bra-tops without looking saggy and sloppy.
But. Your project - a filmy, floaty camisole, in a smaller cup size, that isn't really meant to do all-day duty - is the PERFECT kind of knitted lingerie. Swimsuits, too, that are meant more for sunning or showing off than for swimming, can be wearable and cute. All that said, there are a couple ways I can think of to handle the cups.
The first, easiest solution would be to do nothing at all.
You could just knit the cups as flat triangles, fairly tight across the breast, and let the stretch of the fabric create a supportive fit. If the cups are going to be of lace, this would be my preferred solution - allover lace stretches and opens marvelously, and you could get a skin-tight, peekaboo sort of thing going. In that case, I'd use a motif stacked in vertical columns, or a true allover pattern. An edging would definitely be in order, whether the cups are solid or openwork - you could pick up and knit all around the edges, working whatever edging appeals to you. I'd work it slightly shorter than the space it's meant to fill - this'll create an edge that lies flat across the skin, and a slight fullness to the cup.
Or, you could take this idea one step further, and sew the cups into the body with a shirred or gathered bottom:
Think of how a string bikini top is gathered along the bottom to create fullness in the cup. You'll want only a slight gather for an A/B cup - your flat cup piece should be somewhat elongated, like this:
I'd say start with a triangle an inch or two wider at the base than the space it'll go in, and experiment from there. You could avoid seaming, too, and simulate this with lots of increases all in one row just as the cup begins.
The next step would be a cup with decreases along a line that extends from the base to the nipple.
This, and all princess seam-style shapings, simulate cutting and seaming a piece of flat fabric with a dart to create a contour. Sort of like this:
The knitted fabric is made in one piece, of course, but the same kind of sculptural effect is acheived. You'd want to use centered double decrease, all along one line.
Or, use short rows to create a cup shape.
You can make the short row area as deep as you like, as round as you like, or as flat as you like, just by adding or taking away additional short rows and playing with the length of each one. Start wrapping and turning an inch or so into the cup, making increasingly shorter rows. Then, work across the whole length again, to create a rounded cup.
You can always play with the placement of the short rows, too, for different effects - moving the bulk of the rows to the inner edge, for instance, would flatten the outer edge and create a push-up bra effect.
More thorough instructions for short rows can be found in this nice Knitty article.
Remember that an A/B cup is usually considered to have betwen .5 and 2 inches difference between the measurement of the ribcage (just below the bust) and the fullest point of the bust. Don't go overboard with the shaping...err on the side of slightly-too-small, and the worst that can happen is that you'll look as if your cup overfloweth.
unraveling is an advice column for knitters, with fresh content every Wednesday and Friday. Send your questions to email@example.com.