Rowan Calmer Tank

Happy Bastille Day!

Happy Bastille Day! Oh, how I love the pomp and ceremony of the annual July 14th military parade down the Champs-Elysées. Highlights: The French Foreign Legion with their traditional long beards, La Garde Republicaine riding their horses at a slow gallop while playing trumpets and drums, the sailors with their pompom-topped berets and my husband's dead-on imitation of President Chirac, complete with stiff beauty-pageant smile showing both upper and lower sets of teeth. I'm not patriotic, but tears actually came to my eyes [don't make fun] when I saw more military women marching in the parade. I also shed a tear when I saw the members of the fire department marching with their dogs, and the dog marching at the very front had a medal around its neck. That dog has saved lives. Pass the tissues, please. (But it's a good cry; don't worry.)

Another highlight from the parade:

like Julie Andrews, but tone deaf
The hills are aliiiiiiiiiiiive...


Knitting with Rowan Calmer makes me want to burst out in song, complete with skipping through green hills and the von Trapp children dressed in recycled curtains. This yarn is now among my favorites - it's soft, springy, doesn't split and wonderfully lightweight. I actually hesitate to take breaks when I start knitting with it, and I knitted a great part of what you see in the photo above while watching the parade. Notes:

1) So glad I swatched! I had to go down in needle size, from size 5 to 4.5mm. Calmer is a cotton blend, so others might feel that bamboo needles work better, but in my case the bamboo needles slowed me down. Metal needles [addi turbos....vrooooom!] are working better because the lycra content in the yarn makes the stitches cling to the needles.

2) As is the practice of Kim Hargreaves, this sleeveless tank - notwithstanding its ribbed pattern that travels all the way to the seams - was designed without selvedges, and that's pretty obvious in the less-than-beautiful seam of the tank shown photographed in the Calmer Collection book. So I added selvedges, of course. Reverse stockinette stitch selvedges. When it comes time to seam, I know I'll be happy I added them. (Especially since sewing is always such a great, big party for me. Righty-o!)

Why, it's another tank!

summer2003_calmer3.jpg
Hello. Please block me.


We are rolling, rolling, rolling! One piece of the Calmer tank is knit and blocked, and the second piece is underway. If we knit a few rows on this piece every evening we'll have a strapless, sleeveless tank to add to our list of tanks by the end of the week. And why did I suddenly switch to the royal "we" in this entry? Sorry about that. No one here but me and my keyboard.

As mentioned above, the tank is strapless. Nothing to hold it up but a somewhat modest set of "bubs" [look, Ma! I'm using Flapper lingo] and the sincere hope that the blasted tank won't fall down. Been there, done that. Don't want to go there again*. Rowan Calmer does have enough elasticity to ensure a snug fit, but I'm not leaving anything to chance. So I'll probably weave elastic thread through a few rows at the very top of the tank before seaming. That'll show it not to fall down, good and proper.

*Yes, I have several embarrassing bub flashing stories. But the most humiliating one happened in Acapulco when my brothers, sister and I approached the crashing waves of Puerto Marquez. I got pulled in by a wave, tossed around, and then thrown back onto the beach like a rag doll. I sat on the sand rubbing my eyes trying to recover from the embarrassment of looking like someone who shouldn't approach the water without wearing a pair of water wings, when I suddenly heard my sister scream out my name at about 1,000 decibels and loud enough to soar across the sunny skies of all of Acapulco.

Apparently, during my frenzied flapping around while underwater, my bathing suit top had gone south and was wrapped around my waist like a belt. Hello, world! Might I also mention that this is Acapulco in conservative Mexico, not Saint Tropez, and spying a topless woman on the beach is sure to bring maximum shock value. To further add to the humiliation, my sister, who thought she was doing a favor by screeching out "BEEEEEEEEEEECKYYYYYYYYYY!" like a banshee, actually did me a disservice by bringing the attention of every single beachcomber within a 5-mile-radius my way. Everyone there got quite an eyeful. If I were an exhibitionist, I would have been in heaven.

Sigh. On to seaming.

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It's a seaming party! [Serves kirs royales all around.]


I finished knitting the second piece to the Rowan Calmer tank! Tomorrow I'll seam it, and I already weaved elastic thread through the top row on both pieces in case the bind-off edge loosens up with use. Notice how it's a bit gathered at the bind-off edge? That's the elastic thread. Looking at it reminds me of a pursestring closure. Thankfully, the elastic doesn't show when the piece is stretched so the elastic won't show when the tank is worn. It's just one strand of thin elastic thread and probably isn't a very good way to keep the tank up if big gust of wind sweeps by, but I sure feel better knowing it's there! We can leave the peek-a-boos for the girls at Mardi Gras.

I'm pretty busy in non-knitting activities right now, but I'd really like to finish this tank quickly so that I can 1) sew in one of my knitting labels on it [it's the simple pleasures, I tell you] and 2) finish up my son's vest because we're leaving on vacation soon and I'd like for him to wear it. Now the question I keep asking myself is: What knitting project will I take on vacation? I'm not even sure if I'll get that much knitting done* but I'd still like to take a small project to work on occasionally.

P.S. I'll be in Paris from August 4-7th, I think. I know there are some French knitbloggers who live there. Want to meet up for coffee, maybe? We don't have stick to English. Se habla español. Français, aussi. Or all three. (I'm rhyming again! Will stop now, promise.)

*Every time I leave on a long vacation I take 4 or 5 books and I end up reading, oh, maybe one chapter out of one of them. I'm lousy at vacation reading. I'm no better at vacation knitting, either. Recall what happened with the first sleeveless vest I once took as vacation knitting? I think I knit a total of two rows every 5 or 6 days. It must have been Disneyland. And the visit to Sea World. Oh, those whales with their entertaining antics :-)

Bon voyage, little tank.

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Bon voyage, little tank.


And now we close our summer o' tanks with a seamed and lightly blocked Rowan Calmer Tank! You don't have to be Isaac Newton to know that one needs more than a thread of elastic to keep this strapless tank up. The tank doesn't fall down when worn, but doing the limbo while wearing it with nothing underneath is not something I'd recommend unless one wants to give a burlesque show. Despite the shapings at the edges, seaming this tank was easy (include selvedges, even though Kim Hargreaves tells you not to) and did I already mention that I'm soooooo glad I added that elastic? I also recommend that minimal blocking be done so that the tank retains its elasticity. It's a good fit, and when I tried it on I danced around in it to see how it would hold up. It did slip down a bit, but not low enough to earn me a beaded necklace at Mardi Gras. All in all, I'm happy with the way it came out, and it's now winging its way to my sister complete with "hand knit by skinnyrabbit" label sewn in.

That's right! As much as I like this tank it was never intended to be for me. I knit it for my sister, who saw this design in January and mentioned to me that she liked it and the way the model wears it with the lacy top underneath. Enjoy it, little sis!

As is the custom chez skinnyrabbit, action shots are obligatory and the ones for this top may be found here. However, this tank is very body-hugging, and while it does look good on its own I personally would wear it only if I could wear it layered. As this is not something I'd wear on its own in public for no reason other than I'd feel self-conscious [oh, to be 25 again and not give a rat's arse!], the action shots of me modeling the tank are not available for the whole world wide web to see but limited to viewing by people I know and frequent visitors who comment regularly [which always gives us a chance to get you know you]. Registering is required, but I'll grant access quickly. *Update: Registering is closed and these photos are no longer available for viewing.