Just remember that when it comes to garments, I hate writing exact patterns for one reason: It limits you. Everyone is a different size and shape, along with having different tastes in style. Want a higher neckline? Your stitch count will be different. Don't want to use taller stitches? Maybe you won't have to adjust the size due to the stretch, like I did. So, I hope it doesn't get too confusing when I throw in all the extra information... Perhaps it would be helpful to take notes along the way. I'm really excited to see how many different creations you all can make. Let's get started!
The beginning (again)
Even though we already covered this in Part 1 of the tutorial, I'd like to share a little more information... For beginners, you may want to start with a regular chain like I did for this top. If you're more advanced or just adventurous, I really recommend starting with the beginning I used for Version 2.
Chain 2 to begin, and make a half double crochet in the farthest chain from the hook.
*Chain 2, DO NOT turn, and make a half double crochet in the space between the chain-2 and half double crochet of the previous "row".*
Repeat * to * until you reach the desired length, make sure the rows are not twisted, and slip stitch to the beginning space.
This makes for a super-stretchy neckline that's more forgiving of mistakes in size. If you get it a little too small, it will stretch. And if you get it a little too big, then it's easy to make some decreases without the stitches bunching up. Also, it's easy to adjust if you want to use a stitch that has different multiples. Replace the chain-2 and half double crochet with a chain-3 and double crochet for a bigger space, or work chain-1 and a single crochet for tighter stitches.
Because the beginning of the top has to fit over the bust, you'll want to increase rapidly for the first round. Try to make enough stitches so that they bunch together, but don't make it so dense that the fabric ruffles.
Using a size J/10 - 6 mm hook and worsted weight yarn, I started with a chain of 80. (I'm a size extra-small / 0.) Each side of the first round is made with 9 granny stitches (3 double crochet, chain 1) across, which equals a grand total of 45 stitches. 45 x 4 = 180! That's more than twice the number of stitches in my beginning chain...
You can spread the beginning chain out into a square shape to get an idea of how many stitches you'll need per side.
For those who work the super-stretchy beginning, you don't have to increase so much. Working too few stitches into a regular chain will cause it to be uncomfortably stiff and dig in around the shoulders. I'll repeat what I said in Part 1: BIGGER is better when you start the neckline, especially if you're using the plain-chain beginning. If it fits too loosely or rides too low when the top is finished, you can always rejoin around the neckline and work some decreases to tighten it up. I'm quite pleased with how I was able to incorporate another color change into the design because of the work I had to do to tighten it up...
So give yourself a little *room* for mistakes, and you may find yourself looking forward to color details or fancy borders instead of fearing an improper fit.
Now, the rest was covered in Part 1 up to those taller stitches. (I worked this first design all in the granny stitch up to the bottom of the bust.) But after you join the armholes, your joining seam will now start to travel around the top...
Help! What do I do?
In Part 1, I said I that I like to join with a single crochet stitch so you can avoid having to slip-stitch over for the next round... But sometimes, you'll want to slip stitch over a little. I like to keep my joining seam along the side of the top, too. After you join for the armholes, end one round with that single crochet join, but end the next round with a chain-1 and slip stitch. If you're using a stitch (like the granny) with multiples and chains, then here's how to begin and end that slip-stitch-joined round:
Don't start the round with the entire multiple! Instead, begin with the last stitch of the first multiple in the round:
When you reach the end of the round, work the rest of the stitch, join, and slip stitch into the next chain space.
And when you join the following round, do it with the single crochet. Continue alternating, and your seam will be straighter than mine... Forget and change it up every few rounds? As long as the seam stays near the side of the top, I promise nobody will ever know. ;-)
The do's and don'ts:
I want to end Part 2 of the tutorial with the things I wished I had done differently and parts that turned out better than expected... Although I do love this top, I know I made more work than I needed to do in this first version. And to be honest, the sleeves turned out a bit wider than I had wanted because of the fixes I had to apply for a proper fit. But hey, maybe my mistakes can help make your top even better:
If you're working the plain-chain beginning, DO work your stitches into the middle of the joined loop, and not into each individual chain. 1) That's always easier. 2) It lets the stitches ride freely so you can better adjust the fit if you need to. If you don't have to make any adjustments, then the stitches will settle into place when you wear the top. This is how I left version 3, and I like how the stitches stretch out over the shoulders but group together around the neckline. To me, it just adds to the design.
DON'T try to work the square exactly to your desired width for sleeves. Plan to leave them slightly thinner, and join with an increase in stitches as I showed you in Part 1, or just chain over as far as you need for the armhole. The increasing (and later decreasing) I had to do would have been unnecessary if I had made an increase or chained over before joining.
On that note... DO increase along the sides if you need extra room over the bust. And DO use stitch markers to help you work them evenly! I know, you would think you want the increases over the place that needs the room, but they blend in better on the side and provide more stretch for the material. Otherwise, you could end up with a front that bulges.
And on that note, DON'T drive yourself nuts if the shape looks off when you have to increase. What matters is if it fits when you try it on! Personally, I went half crazy doubting the shaping because it seemed to bulge around the armholes while it was flat on the table. And that's because technically, it does bulge out around the armholes, when I'm not wearing it... This stretches out around the bust when worn, versus an increase over the bust that would be less form-fitting and more made-to-fit. DO have confidence in your work. Try it on: If it fits, then it fits!
And DO have fun! If you just don't have the confidence to begin the larger project of an adult top, maybe consider making a smaller version for a child or even a doll. You won't be out much yarn or time either way. DO NOT try to practice by making a sweater for your cat... You're not the same shape! (But you can still make a sweater for kitty if you want.)
I made this version with a "normal" size hook (J / 6 mm) and worsted weight yarn, and was able to finish with scrap left in a 7.1 oz / 200 g ball of Caron Cakes. Version 3 was created with a large size N / 10 mm hook and a ball-and-a-half of DK weight Hipster yarn... And I made it waaaaay too long! Had I known it would stretch in length once the stitches relaxed from washing, I might have ended it at just one ball. After a second wash and wear, it's hanging to my knees and I'm thinking of ripping a few rows out.
For lacier Version 2, I used some scrap of worsted-weight Simply Soft from my stash, the same size hook as Version 3, and I did NOT make it to fit smaller-than-average-me. Using even more taller stitches in an open lacy design, I was able to make a waist-length top for The Kid with just 3 oz / 85 g. I was surprised to finish a size medium top with so little material, but this is greatly due to the large hook and lacy stitches. Unlike the part-wool Version 1, the acrylic yarn and spaced out stitches make a nice, breezy summer top. But if you wanted to work up a denser fabric and add sleeves for a fall sweater, it will take much more yarn.
Until next time...
We're going to get to those taller stitches in the next part of the tutorial. I wanted to cover them right away here in Part 2, but I didn't realize how many tips I wanted to share! After making three different versions of this top, I think there are so many ways you could alter this format to make your own design. I hope you can use my advice to produce the perfect vision of your creativity. And this really is as much as you need to know in order to take it from here!... But like I said before, the rest of the top will still be continued in upcoming tutorials.
PS - Now can you see why I was doubting that shape? Besides this yarn holding up to the washer and dryer, I should have mentioned that it probably went through about 200 fittings!