Web-Letter, Issue 87 Allegoro Simple Summer Top
Given the proliferation of knitting books, I think it’s a fair guess that knitters are also booklovers. As knitters, we buy books for the patterns in them, as references for stitch patterns, and to learn more about our craft. The books that teach us something about knitting are invaluable and timeless. I regularly go to my original copy of Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting Patterns, a paperback given to me by my father in 1983 and now held together by a rubber band around the middle.
In the echelon of knitting writers who are generous with their knowledge and expertise is Ann Budd, author of many knitting books, among them the prized Knitters Handy Book of Patterns and the Knitters Handy Book of Sweater Patterns (Interweave Press, 2002 and 2004).
Ann Budd’s latest book is Simple Style (Interweave Press, 2009). Read more about Simple Style below, and then get out your needles, collect a few balls of CEY’s Allegoro, and get to work on her Simple Summer Top.
The books in the Style series are themed around a knitting technique or type of garment. They offer a collection of patterns by various designers followed by an in-depth discussion of the technique or garment structure around which the book is organized. The nineteen projects in Simple Style base their design interest on simple shapes and basic knitting patterns, ribs, garter stitch, and stockinette, used in ingenious and pleasing ways. There are a few cable patterns (I especially love the small cables in Kat Coyle’s Guernsey Skirt), a bit of placed colorwork, a round-yoke pullover that uses a self-striping yarn for patterning, a few simple yarn-over eyelet patterns, and a little embroidery embellishment on an otherwise unadorned pullover. Among the contributing designers are Katie Himmelberg, Veronik Avery, Therese Chynoweth, Cecily Glowik MacDonald, and Deborah Newton.
The book’s design chapter is a meaty discussion of what makes a ‘simple’ project. I love to read what knitters have to say about the creative process, and it’s interesting to see the criteria Ann used to determine what sweaters fit the book’s theme. She lists, among other things, a limit on design elements (one focal point is sometimes stronger than many), the use of simple knit-and-purl stitch patterns that are easy to memorize, and eliminating seams. She also talks about finishing techniquesa good finish is essential in a simple garment with little to distract from elements of construction. A smooth seam and clean, even edges are imperative. Ann also reviews the importance of a good understanding of basic knitting techniques, such as paired decreases, which themselves become design elements in a simple sweater.
There are lots of photosfront, back and detail shots. Instructions are thorough and blessedly, as you might expect, they’re short. Fiber-wise, there’s a little bit of everything: wool and wool blends, cotton, bamboo, and alpaca.
Ann’s simple tank topthis week’s free patternuses a few columns of purl stitches and crocheted edges for interest. It’s worked in CEY’s Allegoro, the perfect blend of soft organic cotton and crisp linen.
70% organic cotton, 30% linen
Allegoro, a smooth, lightweight, multi-ply summer yarn is 70% certified organic cotton and 30% conventional linen. Soft, buoyant cotton fiber pairs beautifully with linen’s long, strong fibers. We chose this particular blend and its structure for several reasons. First, we wanted cotton from organically grown plants. (We’ll talk more about ‘certified organic’ in upcoming web letters.) Second, because the linen component was still identifiable in the yarn. Linen is a crisp, somewhat coarse fiber that softens over time and washing. Too many cotton/linen blends treat the rustic qualities of linen as negatives and work hard to obscure them in a ‘soft’ yarn. I like Allegoro’s pleasantly crisp hand that distinguishes it from cotton and prevents it from being too cushy. Instead, the long strong linen fibers contribute to Allegoro’s great stitch-pattern definition and a beautiful, even stockinette. And finally, we chose Allegoro because unlike many multi-ply cotton yarns, Allegoro’s plies are cabled and won’t separate or split while knitting.
Allegoro is great for transitional garmentslittle cardigans and tops. If you’re inclined to make something outright summery, like a tank top or camisole, Allegoro will keep you cool and comfortablein the knitting and the wearing. It comes in 10 soft colors.
Here is the free downloadable Allegoro Simple Summer Top pattern.
If you have difficulty downloading or printing the PDF pattern above, try these:
page 1, page 2
Ann's Simple Summer Top uses an easy crochet technique to add a touch of elegance to the neck and armhole edges.
Learn how to crochet a picot edge.
The cast-on technique used in this pattern also adds a simple touch of elegance. Ann goes into detail, describing the Channel Island method in her book, Simple Style. If you're eager to begin, and don't have access to this book, use your favorite cast-on method, then work the picot edge around the lower edge of the sweater too.