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THE SKIRT ISSUE

Surely you have knit a sweater, but have you ever knit a skirt? 

It can be fun and rewarding to aim for something different for a change. How about hitting below the belt?

Whether you choose to work in the round, in pieces, or in panels, a skirt is less fussy to knit than are most sweaters. Sweaters require armholes, sleeves or armhole bands, neck shaping and collars, and sometimes button bands. All that requires a certain amount of picking-up stitches, shaping, and seaming. Not to say that a skirt might not also use these techniques, but a skirt usually requires less knitting, less shaping—and less yarn. 

This issue features many different silhouettes constructed in a variety of ways: in one piece or in multiple pieces, panels, bands, or sections. You will find some easy approaches, a few that require a bit more skill, and a couple that use specialized techniques. Feel free to alter the length of a skirt—because you know best what length you will wear and enjoy. 

Fit finesse

The most crucial measurement for any skirt is the hip. We suggest you pick the size you make based on the hip rather than the waist measurement. The skirt must fit around the hips with some ease—how much depends on the silhouette. Visualize a tube, straight, A-line, or full skirt—the amount of ease is different for each. We suggest the ease required for the hip be achieved above the widest point of the hip, so that the skirt skims the hips and continues to drape gracefully to the hem—no cupping under the derrière.

We all know that the waist opening must slide over the hips. In woven skirts, a fitted waistband and zipper option make for a sleek fit, and one of our skirts is finished with a zipper. But most knit (and some woven) skirts use elastic or a drawstring casing to bring the waistband into check for the desired waist measurement.

Finally, hemline requirements are straightforward: a non-curling hem with enough width to accommodate your gait—the shorter the skirt, the narrower this circumference can be. Kick slits or pleats are also an option, although none of our skirts require either.

Swing into short rows

We offer Wheat skirt with panels full of short-row shaping worked as Swing Knitting, in which the standard “wrap and turn” of short rows is reworked as a “turn and double stitch” manipulation. Pioneered in Europe and brought to us by Brigitte Elliott, it forms a discreet turn. Here is an opportunity to place a color pattern and texture within the background, as well as to shape each panel into a wedge for an A-line skirt. For this design, the sizing is based on the number of panels needed to circle your hips with slight ease. 

Round and round

Circularly knit skirts can be so simple and allow you to create any silhouette—tube, straight, A-line, flared, tiered, or even swirled. The benefit to knitting in the round is that there are no seams—some skirts could even be worn backward or sideways if the shaping allows. 

Zigzagger, with its vertical lines of color and texture, is sleek, snug, and short, so you can maneuver easily in it. The eggplant stitches in Trompe l’oeil seem to create large knit stitches on the background of blues and green. This straight skirt with a steeked zipper opening assures a smooth waistband. Both of these skirts start at the hem, adding dart shaping as you approach the waist. 

Flip out

Should you choose to knit from the waist down, increasing as you go, we have you covered. Tweed & trellis starts out simply in stockinette, with four increase points on select rounds until you reach the Fair Isle hem. This hint of colorwork is all the skirt needs to make it unforgettable. Chocolate swirls increases in the same way. We use a yarn-over/decrease combination rather than purl stitches to create a ribbed fabric. The contrast colors appear as slightly tilted bands of dashes. For more tilt, Chevron tweed merges ripple and slip-stitch patterns—the resulting giant herringbone forms panels with no seaming and provides a perfect setting for placing your increases. Who could ask for more?

Our swingy, trumpet-shaped silhouette is also easily knit from waist to hem. Six or eight gores are shaped on either side of 4-stitch ridges. And once the Lattice pyramids begin, the skirt flares even more dramatically. For a longer version, purchase extra yarn and add more rows before you begin the gores. 

Mummy swirl is a 4-row repeat that grows and shifts to form swirling bands without any seams. Okay, so there’s one seam: the skirt is attached to a purchased yoke (the top of a pair of tights, leggings, or running shorts) to avoid the labor and bulk of a knit casing. For added drama, choose the optional contrast points at the hem. Verve offers a fitted yoke and then adds tiers of subtle color and volume. A couple of great I-cord accents make this piece a special knit. 

Ruffles make the grade when you work lattice-lace panels and place them onto a circular skirt at slight angles, thanks to short-row shaping. A little tulle at the hem offers playful and flirty movement.

Piece movement

Certainly you can knit a skirt in pieces! Front and back, mult-iple panels, even pieces that are unmatched or worked in different directions. 

Helix, diamond-rope, and scallop cables come together with seed stitch in Helix twist. This bulky knit is like a favorite Aran sweater meant for cool, casual days—in fact, the prototype was made from an oversized Aran. Add boots, tights, and a turtleneck, and you are all set! The front and back are identical, joined with side seams just like a regular sweater. Tidal blues begins with a center front panel knit from waist to hem. The side panels are then picked up and knit to the center back. Because the colors in the yarn stack so beautifully, the choice of simple stockinette was a no-brainer. The 4-panel Cranberry points skirt is elegant, with a mock-pleat front panel combined with three gored sections. 

United we strand

A patterned yoke flows and grows into Panels & points’ stunning openwork. We doubled a lace-weight yarn for a weightier fabric, and as a bonus the monochromatic colors blended even more. Finish your confection with a ribbon drawstring at the waist—and maybe one or two more through a vertical column of lace for added hemline interest.

Fall in love with textured squares in a colorful tweed fabric. Two yarns worked as one create the Shaggy squares skirt— a wrap style with fringed borders. Paired with the jacket of the same name and techniques from our last issue, you can create a suit that rivals any designer ensemble.

How about a little intarsia on the side? Gilded green capitalizes on sparkle with basic intarsia and short rows. The simple 2-row rib pattern—using two strands worked as one—creates the tweed-effect fabric.

If for some reason you don’t want to make a skirt, Majestic moss makes the best of a rayon and mohair double-stranded yarn. A quick knit, we offer this tunic to wear over your leggings or tights. 

Cover ups

A second layer is always welcome during cooler weather: try a tunic with attitude or a luxurious shrug.

Red velvet and Waves tunic are sister pieces—similar silhouettes: one with a velvety texture, the other with luster and a slight halo. Their simple shaping makes either perfect for any cocktail or evening event, but over a turtleneck or basic dress they provide even more fashion mileage.

Simple stockinette, attached I-cord, and join-as-you-go seams make Ruby shrug a rewarding knit. This classic style is worked in one piece in a luxurious fiber for elegance, great fit, and light-as-a-feather warmth. Glints of glamour is full of sparkle and color. We love the double-cuff accent and butterfly-ribbon tags at the edges. Either choice cries out, “Holiday party!”

Does your little princess like a party? Bands of color at the neck, hem, and armholes are taken from the colors in the body of Rosie’s rainbow. Simple shaping in stockinette, with garter and rib trims, makes this jumper perfect for her.

Take a casual approach and work the Mod tunic. This topper is worked in two pieces, shaped and constructed along the blocks of the fabric for a fun exercise in geometry. A couple of pleated and seamed pockets add volume at the hips without extra bulk. Layer it over a T-shirt in the warm months, or over a turtleneck to chase the chill. So modern, and so fun!

As you pick projects to knit, remember: skirts may be your answer. 

Rick Mondragon,
Editor