It seems only fitting to end 2010 with one of the first projects I began it with. This is my design for a vintage-style lace tank, which I started during the lace knit-a-long challenge voted in by The Official Sexy Knitter’s Club at the beginning of this year. I put it aside to fulfill a test-knitting commitment, and then found it almost impossible to get up the nerve to put it back on the needles again. I can't blame it all on the designing process, as it wasn’t even entirely my design. I used a Vogue knitting pattern for inspiration--#11 Lace Tank by Nancy Cassells. Looking at all the different lace patterns in Nancy Cassells’ design, I experimented with how to combine one of them, the large, circular pattern, with the simple vertical pattern used in the midsection of the top. I’m not sure in retrospect that I would use that much of a vertical lace pattern in a tank again, as the stripes over the bust make the girls look more prominent than they need to be. My goal in using so much of the pattern was that it was relatively easy, and would minimize the difficulty of making an entire garment in superfine merino yarn. The lana oro yarn, super fine lace weight from Italy, was wonderful to work with, and I extremely pleased with its supple strength, which allows me to pull the tank over my head with only one strap of the tank fastening using tiny black snaps.
The circular lace pattern looks just as cobwebby and “antique” as I could wish, conjuring up images of a trunk full of frothy lace undergarments from yesteryear. This was meant to be a tribute to the delicacy one only finds in special, handmade things, the kind of treasures produced by the labor of a needlewoman, slaving over her work with a lit candle in some attic upstairs. No doubt the lace would have been destined for some countess living in a drafty mansion, who wore nothing but floor-length gowns made of yards and yards of taffeta and Indian silk. All of my heroines in my Regency novels get to wear such clothes, I reasoned, so why shouldn’t I?
I have to admit that making such fine lace by hand was not quite as romantic an experience as I had imagined, and there were moments when I wanted to give up in despair, such as when all the tiny stitches snagged on my bamboo needle and refused to move at all. It took me an entire hour that night to knit half a row. For a moment, I considered throwing the wretched thing on the fire, but saner thoughts prevailed. For one thing, I had promised to my entire knit-a-long group in The Official Sexy Knitter’s Club that I would finish this tank by the end of the year. Besides, I had in my stash a trusty pair of Addie turbos. After the agonizing process of using my fingernails to inch the stitches off the bamboo needles, they slipped like butter over the Addie turbos and knitted up like a dream.
Unfortunately, living in 2010, there is a decided absence of balls, routs and fine dinners where I could justify wearing this outfit. But that never stops an imaginist from wanting more! Clearly, this lace top demands a skirt made of some sumptuous silk flowered print, in the style of Dolce & Gabanna’s fall line:
I am also fantacizing about knitting an accompanying black cardigan to wear over the lace top, inspired by this Dolce & Gabana look:
I have just the pattern to use for the belted sweater, a cashmere cardigan from Filatura di Crosa’s golden line:
Imagine this belted cardigan, in a black cashmere blend, worn over my black lace tank! In the meantime, I will be experimenting with pairing my lace top with jeans and a velvet blazer to see if I can hit on a look that works remotely for modern times.