the shocking! skirt

I’m smitten. Why?

Because my skirt is totally awesome, that’s why.

i may be silly, but my skirt is awesome

I was walking on air all day long today, suffused with the knowledge that I was wearing a skirt I made, and it came out completely perfect. All I could think to myself all day long was “I made it myself!”

It’s not often that I’m THIS excited about an FO. It’s also not often that I finish something and can wear it the very next day for all to see–lately I’m knitting all socks or baby toys.

I whined the other day about my troubles with the hem. Thursday I went straight home, eschewed making dinner, and instead opted for a quick Subway sub (a comfort food–and with minimal flirting on my part I was charged for a 6-inch when I got a footlong) so I could buckle down. And buckle down I did. In just two+ hours I had both the waistband and hem finished, and I had a completely steam-blocked skirt.

shocking! skirt

Pattern: The Shocking! Skirt from the Winter 04 Interweave Knits
Needles: US 7
Yarn: KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in gray, black, and “iron ore”
Size: Small (Too lazy to measure; I’m a US size 4 for clothing, and the pattern’s smallest size was perfect)
Started: Monday, April 2
Finished: Thursday, April 19 (Finished all but the waistband and hem on Saturday, April 14)
Notes: Let me first say, unequivocably, that I recommend this skirt pattern to anyone considering making a skirt. The A-line shaping is really forgiving, and the orientation of the stitches means little to no vertical drooping. It’s also a very straightforward project–the ticking row (the red) is perhaps a little hard to grasp if you’re a beginner, but if you put faith in the directions it’ll come out fine. (I made some modifications to the ticking row; see below.) The only other thing that’s tricky is that you knit the whole thing around sideways in one piece, and then you Kitchener the beginning to the end. If you’re not comfortable with Kitchener, well, it’ll kill you to do it over 108 stitches (and that’s for size small). I actually love Kitchener stitch, but it was a pain for me, too, because I did it without looking, and when I was about a third of the way across I realized that I’d been counting the wrap+turn stitches incorrectly, so I was off–I was going to run out of cast-on stitches way before I’d used up the final row of stitches. So I had to take that all out and be a bit more smart about it. (Lolly was with me for this, and she watched me start to crumple when I realized my error, but I was able to fix it that night without much strife.)

shocking! skirt

Modifications: There were several modifications, and I’m not entirely sure if they were useful or necessary. Useful modifications included spit-felting all joinings of new balls of yarn and even spit-felting some of the color changes (just from gray to red, not at evey gray-black color change! I carried those yarns along the same side, and was careful to wrap them in the same way at every color change.). Here’s one thing I learned: Spit-felting actually works better when you use SPIT. I’d in the past had a little dish of water handy for the felted join, but I’ve since read that enzymes help the felting process, and then when I was on Greyhound to MD last Thursday I had a cherry coke instead of a water, so I used spit instead. I was shocked (appropriately enough) at the results.

Another modification that I personally like is that the bottom hem doesn’t have that purl turning row. I hate the purl turning row on turned-down hems. I much prefer it to look as if the knitting just continues around. Otherwise, it just looks like a cast-on, and I don’t really like the way most cast-ons look. I also made the bottom hem a tiny bit shorter than called for–the pattern says to knit 3 rows, then do the purl row, then 3 more rows for the inside, and you’re done. I did a total of 4 rows (knit) and then sewed it down. (I did the waistband exactly as the pattern specified.) Oh, and I thought about doing something tricky like knitting down the hem and waistband but that was just too precious a technique, so I eventually whip-stitched the damn things down, and they’re FINE.

A big “modification” was my interpretation of the transition from panel to panel. The pattern doesn’t actually say so, but I think one plain row in gray is necessary to work all the wrap+turns, and if you knit this skirt you’ll know why. I think the pattern is a bit vague on this point.

the shocking! hem

Modification that may have been useless? The extra row of the ticking row. I’ve thought about this for a long time, actually, and I have come around to the fact that my modification was a good decision–I wanted to be able to spit-felt the red to the gray and have the gray begin at the side of the work where the red ended, and the only way to do that was to knit an extra row of red and do the actual ticking with gray on a knit row. (This only makes sense if you knit the skirt, but I hope someone does, so I’ll persist in my explanation.) I found that performing the ticking on a knit row was much easier than on a purl row, as the pattern expected, so the extra row made for easier work, too.

The reason doing the extra ticking row might have been bad is because at the very end, when you Kitchener, you end up with one extra row of gray. No one in their right mind will ever look at the skirt and identify the extra row of gray. But, naturally, I notice it (helps me know how to wear the skirt, actually). If I hadn’t done the ticking row the way I had, I believe that I’d have not had this undesirable extra row of gray. But it only appears in one spot, and ultimately I think it’s a small price to pay for the convenience of having practically no ends to weave in at the end. So, final verdict: Extra row of ticking worth it despite the flaw it yielded.

shocking! skirt

Now, about the elastic in the waistband. (Pam expressed keen interest in this subject.) Honestly, I don’t have much to say. The pattern called for 1cm elastic, so i got some, and it said to cut it to 1 inch less than the desired waist measurement, so I put the skirt on and then wrapped the elastic around me–I cut it exactly to my desired measurement, though. Ultimately, I probably shaved off 1.5 inches for the final waistband. The elastic isn’t much more grabby than the knitting was, but it gives just a bit of added security. It didn’t pull funny, and it doesn’t dig into my belly. I measured it to ride right around my hips, because I like lower-slung waistlines. I must confess: I didn’t actually sew the elastic to itself to secure it. I just pinned it with a safety pin. (I was afraid I’d wear it all day and discover it was too tight or too loose or something and I’d want to adjust.) So it’s pinned with about 1.5 inches of overlap, and since it wore just fine today, you know I’m leaving it as is and that safety pin is in there for life.

shocking! skirt

Many thanks to Lolly, who took all the photos of me with the skirt today at lunch! It was a delight meeting up for photo shoot and MoMA–seeing her twice in one week was total happenstance. (Shots of me with that rusty background are in the MoMA garden, where this large sculpture was taking up most of the grounds. It was echo-y in that little corridor-like space, and I totally loved the piece.)

75 Responses to the shocking! skirt

  1. Kristen says:

    I can tell why you’re so proud of yourself! Not only did you work hard on this skirt, but it looks absolutely fantastic. It’s so well-finished, with tons of little details, plus it fits great! Kudos!

  2. Penelope says:

    You look terrific in it! GO you! I’m glad the warm weather held off long enough for you to wear it. Did the skirt wear warm like wearing a wool (cloth) skirt?

    On another note–do you know if the sculpture you’re in is a new-to-MOMA Richard Serra piece?

  3. laura says:

    Holy cow, that is one gorgeous skirt! And thank you for such a detailed post! I would LOVE to knit this pattern, and all your notes are so helpful.

    But I must say all this GLOATING about seeing Lolly is not doing a THING for my blogger-meetup-envy. I mean, not only has everyone but me had lunch with you, but some people have done it TWICE. ;)

  4. Lolly says:

    It was great to see this piece evolve over the week: consoling you over the mixed up Kitchener row to the gorgeous FO that it is now. Amazing, E. I absolutely love it. Makes me want one now too. MoMA was great. Thanks so much for going with me – and grabbing lunch with me too!


  5. Annie says:

    Fantastic! It really looks terrific. I would use the extra gray stripe as a way to know what is front and back, too. A mistake that ended up being more comfortable than a tag! Now, after sitting in a knit skirt for a day, how did the toosh hold up?

  6. Kelly says:

    Wow! I love it! What a beautiful skirt (and photoshoot). I have a feeling this skirt is going to pop up all over blogland now!

    That’s so funny that you used to knit with little dishes of water next to you for spit-splicing. Do you just think spitting is dirty? Are you a convert now?

    PS – Your speediness always amazes me! I can’t believe you knit this a little more than two weeks!

  7. stacey says:

    Excellent job! I love the skirt – it doesn’t look like a knit skirt from far away but a funky structured material. I may have to look back at that issue of IK…:) Thanks for sharing your success!

  8. Ashley says:

    WOW. Just wow. It looks so amazing on you–it’s easy to see how much you love it :)

    I think this DEFINITELY qualifies as getting your knitting mojo back, yes?

  9. Jenn says:

    It looks great! I think that would quickly become one of my favorites. I was wondering too if that rust sculpture was a Richard Serra – we have one similar to it at our Modern and it is a marvelous piece.
    Congrats on a wonderful project!

  10. Jessica says:

    Totally gorgeous!!! I never thought a knitted skirt would work on a real human and you have totally proven me wrong. Something about the boots with it really makes it fun. Great job!! :)

  11. Micki says:

    I’ve always been lukewarm about knitted skirts, but wow! Your skirt is making me rethink my position. I love the supermodel photos too. Well done!

  12. Rachel says:

    Dude, I didn’t think anyone or anything could make me want to knit a skirt, but that skirt looks amazing. Plus, you look totally hot in it! (I think that now that we’ve revealed to the world how we almost hooked up in my hotel room I can feel free to make comments like that.)

  13. Mom says:

    Congratulations on a wonderful job! You have such great knitting talent and I’m so proud of all your achievements. I’m happy that Mother Nature held Spring off so you could wear and show off your skirt! It looks lovely on you. It was also nice that Lolly had an opportunity to celebrate the skirt with you!

    XOXOXO Mom :)

  14. kelp! says:

    The skirt really, really gorgeous. And it looks smokin hot on you! It’s certainly turning this disbeliever into a knitted skirt fan.

  15. Katy says:

    Whoa, you are such a superhero in that skirt–Knit Girl to the rescue! It’s utterly fantastic.
    Give us a report after a few wearings about the sag factor, will ya? That’s always been my big fear with knitted skirts.

  16. caitlyn says:

    Erin, your skirt it *totally* gorgeous!!! So very trendy! I didn’t believe that knit skirts could really look good until I saw yours. Great job!

  17. carrie m says:

    this is, hands down, my favorite knit skirt ever. when i saw the first picture, i assumed that you’d sewn it, which is a compliment since so many knit skirts look saggy and frumpy. this has so much structure! really, a true success.

  18. Olga says:

    Yay! Good for you! It looks fantastic on you. I love it when bloggers knit things that very few others have made. Thanks for giving us such beautiful pictures, and such great tips and advice from your experience.

  19. Brittany says:

    That skirt is positively beautiful. It’s inspiring! I never thought a knit skirt could work, but now that I have seen yours, I’m going to have to take another look at that pattern.

  20. Num Num says:

    Just a question on how quickly you knit. Do you get so much done because you don’t lose the momentum by going slow? I think you’re going to inspire me.

  21. Specs says:

    Holy crap there are a ton of comments on this one. You’re so popular! :)

    The skirt, of course, looks fan-freakin’-tastic. I’ve never liked knitted skirts before but this one looks tailored — something I never thought possible from a yarn-based skirt. I’m still worried about stretching and sagging in the butt-area though. Can you let us know how the material’s holding up a month or so down the road?

  22. pamela wynne says:

    DAMN! This skirt is smokin hott.

    I’ve always been a little wary of the knitted skirt, but you have clearly brought Sexy back to what I thought was a dowdy grandma garment. I am converted. Now to choose a pattern…

    Also, yay! for real spit (though I like to get a feel for the room before splicing in front of non-knitting friends. It can get ugly).

  23. Meg says:

    oh my goodness. If I ever come to NYC and meet you, can you please wear some really old hooded sweatshirt and jeans because otherwise I would have to throw myself at your feet and shout We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!

  24. alison says:

    Never before — not ever! — have I believed that knitting a skirt would be a good idea. Until now, that is. I’m blown away. You and your skirt look super-fabulous! Brava!

  25. Jody says:

    I love the skirt! I first saw it on Lolly’s blog and had to come check it out here. I am very impressed. I didn’t think I’d ever see a knit skirt I actually liked – well now I have!

  26. marianne says:

    I tried to download the zokni and anastasia sock patterns but they come through in squares instead of language – the only thing readable is the charts – which is ok for me but probably not sufficient for many of your readers — thanks for the great patterns!

  27. Amanda says:

    You rock the knitted skirt! Knit skirts have been on my mind lately and this is really one of the most flattering and wearable ones that I have seen – it looks amazing! Gotta love an A-line!

  28. Sarah says:

    I just came here from Lolly’s and I have to tell you how pleased I am to see someone finally knit the Shocking! skirt. That issue of Interweave was the one that was out when I first started knitting, and that outfit really opened my eyes to what was possible with handknitting. I haven’t knit the skirt or the jacket yet, but I really want to some day. Beautiful work, and thanks so much for the re-inspiration!

  29. Liz says:

    Yay! I Love this skirt that you made! It looks fantastic on you.

    I also love your Mom now as well… what a sweet comment she left!

  30. sharon crowley says:

    awesome skirt. i want to make one! i’ll probably have to go to the library to get the pattern at this point, but maybe they have a back issue or can send me the pattern separately or something. seeing your skirt convinced me to subscribe to interweave knits…

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