Alongside my desire to make a cardigan I have wanted to make a skirt for a while.
Mrs Zimmerman’s skirt pattern
Here is Elizabeth Zimmerman’s take on it.
i make very few skirts, as not having the figure to wear them without embarrassment, I am not too interested. But they are really very simple, being just a tube made on a circular needle, straight or flaring as you wish. (Knitting without tears)
Most pics of the lady are of head and shoulders. Shall we presume she wore trousers? Or maybe skirts, just not knitted ones. Here she is in a nice dress with Swedish botanical prints or similar.
Her method is simple. Measure your generous waist (a) and hip (b) measurement and multiply by gauge. Cast on the stitches corresponding to a), then at 3.5″ down start to increase to the number of stitches required by b). Continuing straight or flaring until you get a skirt that is about 3″ shorter than you want. Let it settle on a hanger for a week to see if it stretches out to the length you want. Otherwise knit a few more rounds, then do the hem finish that we used for the Elizabeth Zimmermann jerseys. She doesn’t bother with explaining how the waist-line is finished, but we can guess that it is folded down and some elastic is threaded through.
It doesn’t sound very appealing does it? Maybe in a very chunky yarn, or something stretchy? Or with a good bit of texture such as cables down the CF? Anyway it’s a simple process if you want to knit a skirt and don’t mind it clinging around your hips and thighs.
Mr Fassett’s skirt pattern
Kaffe Fassett includes a skirt pattern in Glorious Knitting.
Starting at the lower edge with 3.75mm circulars, cast on 330 stitches. He creates a hem by doing 13 rounds of stocking stitch, then a purl round. He goes up to 4.5mm circulars working 220 rounds, change to 3mm needles and decrease every 10th stitch (300 stitches). Then Mrs Z’s “brutal decrease” K1 K2tog to the end, leaving us with 200 stitches. Finally its 24 rounds of K1P1 ribbing. The top is turned down and elastic threaded through, and the hem is turned up.
But not that nice. The Kaffe Fassett skirt certainly includes some pretty colours but the idea of having gathered knitting around my waist is enough to make me come out in a sweat. It is hard to see but the bright pink, grey, red and blue is the bulky waistband.
The other skirt pattern I had considered is in one of my old Vogue pattern books.
Carolyn Smith’s skirt pattern
But I have to say to Vogue, Elizabeth and Kaffe – Australian blogger Carolyn Smith has come up with a skirt that I prefer! It’s colourful, yes, retro, yes, involves crocheting and knitting, yes. Looks cool. I especially love Carolyn’s colour scheme – she who suits the richest, warmest colours. The length is nice and there is no horrible gathering around the waist, She has made a small yoke with 1×1 ribbing and used elastic to keep it up. All the details of how to make this skirt are on her blog Handmade by Carolyn.
I will be using up small pieces of left over yarn, so my colours maybe a bit more mixed up than hers, which works well as a patten. I will be using dark green DK to pull it all together – yarn kindly donated by my friend Jo.
The other reason I chose this project is that it involves crocheting. I did learn the basics from Mopsa when making the wig for my Dalston Dolls.
But just because I am a Granny doesn’t mean I knew how to make a Granny Square!
Although Carolyn provides very accurate and always helpful information in her blog about how to do things I tried following the recipe and made a bit of a mess of it. In part because the Americans and the British call the stitches different names. In the end I reached out to my friend, tenant activist and Board member Linde Carr. On the way back from a meeting I thrust some yarn and a crochet hook into Linde’s hand – before the train even arrived. She also showed me a baby blanket she was crocheting and how the pattern is made up. Looked very complicated, but there is always more to learn.
My first attempts were a bit poor as I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I changed down to a smaller crochet hook. While the squares are smaller, and more will be needed – 144 compared to Carolyn’s 78 – I think it will look nice. If I can find the time. Each square takes about 20 mins. 48 hours just to make the squares. That’s a lot of box sets. Thankfully Game of Thrones, Narcos, Orzak, Happy Valley, Narcos, and Dr Foster can sustain me for a while. And a couple of marvellous podcasts – Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, and This is Criminal.