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How to alter a knitted pattern to add a personal touch

by Cindy O'Malley

This week, I’m knitting with Fibra Natura Lina, which combines the softness of cotton with the durability and luxury of linen. Pleasant to work with, Lina is light, lovely, and luscious, and makes the perfect summer knitwear.

Today, I’m adding a personal touch to the very cute Sprout Tank top for little girl made with Lina. I’m a big advocate for using materials that are washer and dryer safe when it comes to children’s knitwear. I know the hope that this project is destined for is not one that will hand wash and lay flat to dry. That makes Lina the perfect choice with its ease of laundry care. Sprout Tank is a free pattern that you can download.

The Sprout Tank – a free pattern

Yesterday, I made a swatch using a US 5 [3.75mm] needle and achieved a gauge of 22sts and 30rows without blocking. This pattern calls for 21sts, and 29rows. I know that blocking is not an option in the destined household, but I’m comfortable with 22sts gauge as the recipient is tiny and 1 stitch over 4” will not be an issue.

I mentioned customizing this project. As cute as this tank is, I’ll make some minor adjustments to the neckline and shoulder straps as I envision it falling off her shoulders as she runs around like little girls with tons of energy do.

For this project, I’m using Fibra Natura Lina in color Fern and a US 5 [3.75mm] circular needle with a sharp tip as there are many psso’s to do in the mock cable section. And yes, Fern is green and very close to the color in the picture. I know what I said on Day 1 about using the pattern color, but in my defense, I can justify it twofold:

  1. The pattern calls for 2 skeins and I only have 2 skeins of Fern, more than 2 of the other colors.
  2. I’m not the one wearing it.

Lina Fern is a lovely green that will look great on my little blond niece.

I’m making a size 8 and Finleigh (the recipient), who’s mom claimed she wore a size 6 last year, was actually a very petite size 6. Since my gauge will produce a slightly smaller than size 8, I figured she could get some wear out of it this year and next, that is if summer ever comes to this part of the world.

This tank is worked from the bottom up, and the Front and Back are knit separately and seamed together. So, off I go, casting on the appropriate number of stitches (in this case 86), work the garter stitch edge and begin the Mock Cable Eyelet pattern, which I love. I’ve used the Mock Cable pattern many times before, but not offset like this one does. How pretty is that! I foresee using this stitch pattern again on another project.

I foresee using this Offset Mock Cable pattern on other future projects.

I followed the pattern instructions as written until I got to the Left and Right Fronts and Inner Neck Edging/Shoulder Straps sections. Here’s where I deviated from the pattern to add my personal touch.

I decided to finish the neckline with a pattern set of the Mock Cable before the garter edging. In order to do that, I needed a multiple of 6 stitches in total. Based on the size I’m making, I’m 2 stitches short.

In each of the Left and Right Front sections, I eliminated the first decrease on the neck edge by taking a stitch from each side and allocating it to the front neck. Now I had the 24 stitches I needed.

The Inner Neck Edging/Shoulder Straps section instructs you to pick up the required number of stitches and work 2 rows of garter stitch, then cast off. Instead, I worked 4 rows of the Mock Cable Eyelet pattern, then did two rows of garter stitch and cast off. That raised the neckline, just a bit, and widened the shoulder straps just a bit, and tied in the Mock Cable Eyelet pattern from the bottom to the top.

The integrity of the pattern wasn’t compromised in any way. All I did was to add my personal touch that no one else would have should a classmate of Finleigh’s happen to sport the same tank top.

Now that I’m finished, it’s time to measure. The pattern finished width at the bottom is 16½”. Before laundry, mine measured 15½”. If you remember, my gauge is 22sts over 4” and the pattern calls for 21sts. The difference in size is directly attributed to the difference in gauge. The pattern calls for the width at the underarms to be 13” and mine is 12½”. After running it through the washer and dryer, the measurements really didn’t change much at all. I actually achieved the size I wanted … between a size 6 and 8. That should fit little Finleigh just fine.

The mock cable pattern is fantastic and needed no blocking to look great. However, there is one thing I may change … I want to pull out the garter stitch rows around the neckline and add a couple more pattern rows at the front only, just to raise it up a little more.

An adorable little tank top for an adorable little girl made with Fibra Natura Lina in color Fern.

To summarize my personal touches:

  1. I adjusted the width, hence the size, by using a smaller gauge; 22sts vs. the 21sts called for by the pattern. The length is just fine.
  2. I added the pattern detail at the neckline, to not only raise the neckline a bit but to tie in the beautiful offset mock cable pattern from below. I also added this detail to the straps to widen them a little.

This concludes today’s minor alterations. I hope you join me tomorrow when I make changes to a t-shirt that will truly make it my own using a standard free pattern and Fibra Natura Lina.

This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: You can achieve gauge without knitting tightly

Go to part 4: Customizing the Miss Molly Tee knitted pattern using Lina yarn

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