Big fat failure

A year ago I impulse-bought some sale yarn. Sirdar sirocco is a cotton/linen blend which I thought would make a lovely summer top. Indeed, I bought two packs and made my sister something first.

I’d seen this Dolan Beret on Ravelry and wanted to try to recreate the top that was probably “model’s own”. I couldn’t find a pattern that I felt was close enough (and here’s where the alarm bells should start ringing) so I decided to try to create my own pattern.

shape swatches

I wanted the vertical “folds” of the button band to blend seamlessly with the slight shawl collar at the back. I devised a “clever” construction where the top is knit up one side, round the neck, then down the other, making the front knitted across from the middle out, and the back top-down. I even swatched to try to get the angles right for where it opens up at the neck (see above), then straightens out to go over the shoulders. I was happy with how to do the square neckline at the back. Basically, my plan was to knit the button bands and collar as one, then fill in the fronts to the side using short rows.


Aside from the ridiculously long rows this plan generated – akin to the last few rows of a shawl – the plan otherwise went well. I did the collar, filled in the fronts, then worked down the back. I had a happy plan for top-down set-in sleeves, having read a description of how this might be done – clearly that’s enough, plus again I did a little swatch to see how it worked in practice. I planned, then executed.

In some ways, I should have known it was all going far too well.

I sewed up the sides, having cast off the rows – I’d left them live in case there was some 3-needle bind-off to be done, but that was clear reasonably early on that that wasn’t going to work. Still, it meant I didn’t have to plan how many stitches the sleeves would cover until I did them, so it wasn’t *such* a silly idea. I made ties to be able to pull the top in under the bust – garter stitch, and not too long. It looked rather good, although I managed to drop a stitch along the way…

dropped stitch

And then I tried it on.


Oh dear.

Can I point out, because I know some of you will be thinking this, that I measured myself and I swatched before getting my calculator out and working out how many stitches to cast on and have between increases and decreases.

However, this top is pretty much a failure on every level.

It’s not big enough round my boobs. This is not a surprise, but given that I measured and allowed for my matronly rack, it’s a little disappointing. See how I’m having to place my hand to avoid the site being dubbed NSFW.


Rather than draping flatteringly over the folds of my stomach (I’m working on getting rid of them, please refer to my runkeeper account, however, still very much a work in progress) it clings to and accentuates them.

And, in a manner least pleasing of all, it slides off my shoulders like I was cone shaped.


I’m clearly missing a fundamental principle of knitwear design somewhere. I could fix the width problem by knitting more width. It would mean re-working the sleeves which I’m not sure I’m up for, but I can see how it could be done.

The neckline on top of that, though, is something of a deal breaker. I have no idea how to fix that. The top and the remaining yarn are busily gathering dust in the corner of the living room while I come to terms with the situation and come up with a plan. It saddens me, because looking at these pictures, I can see that the top has some potential.

However, one of the possibilities remains “bin the lot, and move on”.