Are you craving a slinky sexy show-off-your-assets silky top to banish the winter blues (or, if in Australia or anywhere else where it is summer right now, to prance around with at the beach)?
If so, do I have the tutorial for you!! Well, perhaps not “tutorial” so much as “half-assed step by step ramble on how to put together your very own custom fit Moebius-bosom top” (and if you’ve tripped across this tutorial by accident, check out the original blog post for more pics!
Legalistic type bumf: Please feel free to print out for your own use and to share with other knitters or link from your own blog. However, kindly do not repost in full without crediting me. All rights reserved. Moebius technique is the work of Cat Bordhi and is not reproduced here. The idea for the beaded bodice is adapted from the River Rock scarf by Sivia Harding.
Secondary warning… this post is very, very long. It has some technique photos and that’s my excuse.)
1. Get one of the Treasuries of Magical Knitting by Cat Bordhi for instructions on the Moebius cast-on technique.
I know, I know – some tutorial when I’m telling you to shell out cash up front (unless, of course, you already have one of these wonderful books!). However, you won’t regret it.
(And please note that I can’t vouch for any other techniques to accomplish this effect, which is basically knitting a short scarf in the round which is attached at both ends with a half-twist in it. Except that Cat explains it far better than I. Get the book. All page references given here are for A Treasury of Magical Knitting.)
2. Do a tension/gauge sample.
Now, as you might have gathered, I’m not a big fan of swatching in the ordinary course. However, for a top like this it was necessary because even a couple of inches differential over the whole Moebius would mean that it would be sagging on me.
The yarn I used was Svale of Dalegarn (a DK/worsted with cotton/silk/viscose blend – 50g=108m). I got a tension of 20 sts and 28 rows over 4″ / 10 cm using 4mm needles.
Oops – this step assumes you’ve picked yarn! How silly. You see the specs above. The Svale is very nice to work with, and results in a soft fabric. Some good subs would be:
– Ella Rae Silkience (cotton/modal/silk/rayon
– SWTC Oasis (soysilk – but caution, it might sag)
If you don’t want the silky sheen, I’d go for a light cotton. If you want ultra clingy, try Cascade Fixation. And of course there’s always Handmaiden Silken… STOP!!
Oh – you will need circular needles of 47″ length for the Moebius. For the rest of the top, if planning to knit in the round, pick whichever needles best go with your body size. I used 32″ circulars, which would work OK for a medium or large as well.
3. Decide what size you want to make for yourself.
I should note that in the pattern for myself there were several inches of negative ease. This means that for a 34″ bustline (my bra size is 34C) I elected to make a smaller top to ensure a close fit – 29″ or so.
Cat Bordhi makes this very easy by providing a chart of how many stitches to cast on for a Moebius Scarf (at p.20). For my purpose (because I wanted something very closefitting) I erred on the side of caution and came up with a number partway between “my” size and the next smallest – 144 stitches.
For your purpose, you’ll need to decide if you want the bust piece super tight (like mine) or less tight (as would work out with Cat’s recommendation for the scarf size).
– my stitch tension was 20 stitches per four inches or five stitches per inch.
– I wanted a 32″ circumference.
– at my tension, to get a 32″ circumference, I would have to cast on [32×5=] 160 stitches.
– however, I wanted it a bit closer fitting so elected to go with 144 stitches or approximately 29″ circumference (my sample was quite stretchy).
If you are not as much of a showoff as I (which I imagine is quite likely!), I’d go with two or three inches of negative ease.
You will also need to know how wide you want to make your Moebius strip. For this, I suggest measuring yourself wearing a comfortable bra (by which I mean, one which provides good coverage, mind you). Take the measurement right from the bottom of the cup to where you think you want the Moebius to cover up to:
NB. One suggestion (which Cat kindly gave me in an Email) to double-check all of this: cut up an old t-shirt in the approximate length and width and try it out to see what works for you… then calculate your stitch tension per inch and multiply by the number of inches you want. (And… follow the time-honoured adage “Do as I say, not as I do” because I was too
foolhardy lazy free-spirited to do this, but it is a good idea.
Clear as mud?
FAQ: How many skeins of yarn will I need for my top?
Well, I don’t know if you’ll be any wiser at the end of this question: but if you’ve got a similar tension to me and use the same or a similar yarn, I can give you a rough guide.
My moebius strip took 90g of yarn and contained 6,400 stitches (25 rows x 256 sts) plus cast on plus cast off = approximately 6,800 stitches worth for a seven inch wide Moebius.
The ribbed portion took 180g of yarn and contained 9548 stitches (77 rows x 124 sts) for an 11 inch length. With casting off, I approximate 9,750 stitches.
The straps took approximately 25 grams of yarn total (this is a high estimate – I didn’t actually weigh it) and were 840 stitches (70 rows x 12 stitches) – with casting off let’s say 880 stitches worth.
total stitches = [6,800 + 9,750 + 880=] 17,430 stitches (wow! Don’t let this put you off! My Curve of Pursuit had something like 90,000 stitches in it…)
total grams of yarn = [90 + 180 + 25 =]270
total yardage: this yarn had 108m per 50 grams or [108 / 50 =]2.16 m per gram. So – the total is [270 grams x 2.16] = 583 metres.
This worked out to just less than six skeins of the Svale. Now, I don’t vouch for the math, but if you know how long you want the top to be and how big the Moebius, AND you have a swatch, you can work it out for yourself! See why swatching is important?!
End of speech.
Stressed out yet? Fear not. This was the hardest part by far. Trust me. And I’m not even good at maths!
4. String some beads onto your yarn.
For this pattern you will need to put the beads directly onto your working yarn. Here’s how: You will need dental floss threaders (available at most drugstores):
Anyway, put a long tail of your yarn through the “noose” part (and if you want to save yourself a lot of effing and blinding, make it at least nine inches or so. You really don’t want to be picking up beads off the floor, do you?! I learned this from bitter experience).
As a rough guide as to how many beads to start with – I used 2 skeins (100g) of my chosen yarn for the Moebius and placed 342 beads in it. So – if you want a similar amount of beads, go with 170 or so beads on the first skein to be safe.
You might want to push groups of them down further into your skein before starting to knit, to avoid them all bunching up. But – it’s good exercise! You should see my biceps!!
4. Find some stitch markers.
If you’re as lackadaisical as I tend to be, you may well not even know what these are. So, just in case:
The ones on the left side are removable (and I will confess that I didn’t know what these were until I saw them mentioned in a crochet book a year ago or so). The other ones are the regular kind. Removable stitch markers in particular are your friends. Use liberally.
Since I left this note rather late in the tutorial, you may not be in a position to go out and buy removable stitch markers. Waste yarn and a tapestry needle will give the same result. Just take at least six inches of the waste yarn and thread it through the live stitch with the tapestry needle, letting both ends dangle.
6. Start knitting!
Finally!! you say!!
Cast on the appropriate amount of stitches using the Moebius technique.
An alternative… you could, I suppose, just knit a long strip in the appropriate length and width then just fold over and sew together. I believe Elizabeth Zimmerman did this. It will not be a true Moebius strip but could well work.
Start to knit, placing a marker at the beginning of the round. If you are planning to use beads, you should place another marker midway through your stitches (so as to distinguish between the front and the back). Note that while you are knitting this it doesn’t matter which is which… just that half your stitches should be marked off as “front” and half as “back”.
I would encourage you to experiment with this. However, if you really want to go with mine, here it is (mine was done over 25 rows and 72 stitches – half of 144 for the total – for an approximate width of seven inches). You could use stitch markers to divide off your sequences. Mine was done over a nine stitch sequence and repeated eight times, knitting all rows – you could choose to knit, purl or alternate – up to you!):
Row 1: knit.
Row 2: place bead (PB) between 7th and 8th stitch; repeat
Row 3: PB between 6th and 7th stitch
Row 4: PB between 1st and 2nd stitch
Row 5: PB between 3rd and 4th stitch
Row 6: PB between 4th and 5th stitch
Row 7: PB between 5th and 6th stitch
Row 8: PB between 6th and 7th stitch
Row 9: PB between 2nd and 3rd stitch
Rows 10-12: knit (or purl) all rows
Rows 13-20: repeat Rows 2 through 9, but backwards. That is, start at Row 9 (which is now Row 13) and end at Row 2 (which is now Row 20).
Row 21: knit (or purl) one row.
(time to scrap the nine row repeat!)
Row 22: PB between 1st and second stitch and then every third stitch after
Row 23: PB between 2nd and 3rd stitch and then every third stitch to the end of your front piece
Row 24: PB between 3rd and 4th stitch and then every third stitch after
(this results in little left leaning diagonal slashes.
Row 25: Knit (or purl) one row.
After this (or after you’ve finished the number of rows you need to get the width you want!), it will be time to cast off.
FAQ: How do I place beads?
Simple! Knit to the stitch just before where you want to place the bead, then insert the needle into the back of the next stitch (k1b) and shove the bead right to the base of your working yarn.
…then slip the stitch off the needle. Voila! (Oops – the photo for that one didn’t turn out. Oh well.)
If you’re purling, the same principles apply. Do not worry if the bead doesn’t look like it’s sitting normally. This will correct itself. I promise.
7. Cast off your Moebius then pick up stitches to knit the body of your top.
I recommend the applied i-cord castoff that Cat Bordhi favours (and displays very well with photos in the book at p. 28-29). The technique can also be seen here. It is a bit tedious to my view, but worth the result.
Put a removable stitch marker on the first stitch. This will form the centre front of your top.
Why a removable marker? I just want to save you the heartache that comes from your flinging stitch markers under the couch by accident in the deluded belief that the stitch marker will not go missing from the needles…
#$&*@#($*#@&$(*#$. I believe that the underside of my couch is Toronto’s biggest graveyard for stitch markers. I should note that I don’t really know, as I haven’t
evercleaned under the couch in some time. But I’m digressing.
Cat also describes how to pick up stitches beneath the i-cord (in the hat pattern at pp. 66-67). Pick up the stitches as if to knit on the right side, but inside the moebius itself. It doesn’t matter which side you select – trust me!).
The trick here – you only need to pick up HALF the bound off stitches (in my example, 144 instead of 288 – the Moebius technique results in your knitting double the amount of stitches in each round that you have cast on. All will make sense when you see the Book.). The other half will form the top opening.
Now, if you decide to try on the tube top at this point and find it to be loose and hanging down on the top, fret not. I did, and it wasn’t worth it. All will work out.
8. Knit the body of your top.
The number of rows you knit will depend upon how long you want the top.
First row: join work to knit in the round, marking the first stitch (which is at the centre and front). Knit to just before the last stitch in a round (that is, the stitch before the marker). Slip that stitch to your right needle, remove the marker, replace the stitch you just slipped to the left needle, then knit the next three stitches together – this decreases two stitches from your total. Place a removable marker on your right needle just before the resulting stitch (new first stitch of the round).
I did all of this to eliminate a little gap that had formed at the base of the moebius fold. If you need to repeat it on the second round (as I did), no problem. Just make sure you factor in the reduced stitch count.
After this, what you do is up to you, really! I had initially decided just to do a plain stockinette – and I still think that would look very good with the Moebius at the top. However, I had some beads left and so I elected to pay honour to Sivia Harding’s lovely River Rock scarf pattern with a similar pattern.
I used a 4×4 rib for the entire base. Beyond that, I don’t feel comfortable sharing how I placed the beads because it is very highly derivative of Sivia’s pattern (which I would recommend that anyone try – it’s in the No Sheep for You book or possibly available through her website. Check out her blog while you’re at it for some of the most beautiful lace patterns I’ve ever seen!).
The rib has the benefit of not needing any waist shaping (which I find to be a pain, although I like the end result enough to go for it).
All this to say – go wild and do whatever you want! It’s your top! A little flared “skirt” at the bottom would be lovely too – or cables – or whatever your little heart desires!
9. Come up with some straps for your top.
I would encourage creativity here… having said that, I kind of chickened out and went for
rather common or garden knitted straps.
I had actually thought about using a necktie to sew in some straps…
… but didn’t really have anything in the right colours (this was the closest. Must go to Goodwill soon!). JJ has one which would have been perrrfect, but I value my life and I don’t know what quality it would have if I took scissors to his favourite necktie!
Other ideas include:
– wide grosgrain ribbon
– x back knitted straps (check out the X-back Ribbon Tank on knitty.com for instructions).
I went with a 4×4 rib (like in the bottom of my piece) and placed one “bead rock” on each strap:
Whichever method you choose, here’s a trick to figure out the correct length. If you’ve got someone to help you out, try on the top and hold up the Moebius to the point at which you want it to rise (or fall, depending upon your mood…!). Then get your friend to measure from point to point over your shoulders.
If you don’t have anyone to help you out, or are impatient to get it done… take said favourite bra, try on the top over it, and mark with safety pins where you want the top to fit. Then measure.
(You may have noticed that in both photos with the measuring tape I have measured from the end of the tape. I tell JJ that this is because I want to practice my maths skills. The real reason is that it came wound up like that, and I’m too lazy to rewind it all. Sigh).
Anyway, I then picked up stitches in the appropriate places and knit the straps on. To bind off, I picked up an inside stitch under the i-cord on the opposite side together with my live stitch and bound off that way.
10. Find your fanciest hat and go to town showing off your fabulous new top!
I hope this tutorial has been somewhat useful, or at least marginally amusing. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop me a line!
PS. I do realise after the fact that this tutorial jumps from point 4 to point 6. I’ve made an editorial decision not to change it to the proper numbering as I think this boo-boo goes with the tone of the post… 🙂