Knitting a Bralette
Listen friends, I am so happy that you all love this pattern as much as I do! Watching new Carols in their early stages in our Knit A Long forum is thrilling and delightful. I put a ton of time into this design, and I truly feel like it was worth it. This post exists to help you find confidence and take that first plunge into knitting a bralette.
I also know that if you've never knit a bralette before (especially with elastic and tiny needles!), this might be an intimidating knit. So, let's talk about it! Scroll on through for tips and tricks that will help you achieve your perfect bralette!
Are you a sock yarn fanatic? For the longest time I couldn't walk out of a Local Yarn Store without a new skein of sock yarn, especially when travelling! And, while I do love knitting socks sometimes, I knit garments far more. I wanted to design a garment that could make use of fingering weight yarn which accumulates in stash so easily. I'm so pleased with the result, knitting a bralette with those beautiful fingering weight skeins was my perfect solution.
The Carol Bralette was designed to work with all of those random skeins of sock yarn! Most sizes do require two skeins, but if you're using a contrast trim you will likely only need one skein of each color. I knit all of my samples with wool blends; but, testers used all the plant fibers without problems!
I'm currently working with an organic cotton version myself which looks like it's going to come together perfectly. Being able to throw your bralette in the washer and dryer is really useful and cotton or superwash versions are definitely going to rank high on wearability. In favor of wool, however; don't forget wool is antimicrobial and stink resistant - you don't have to wash every wear.
No, You Don't Have to Alternate Skeins!
Your favorite hand painted skein has found its time to shine in the Carol Bralette. Because bralettes are smaller garments, and as the stitch count is constantly changing, you can grab that brightly colored skein without the fear of pooling! Just be careful, quite a few of my testers (and myself) have become addicted to casting on Carols so we can have one in every color and fiber.
I've included information about the yarn used by the testers in the gallery, like Jenny above. I encourage you to peruse the tester gallery and look at the beautiful color and fiber variations used. Check out the gallery here.
The biggest advice I have for you before casting on is to check the lengths! Everyone's bust is in a slightly different place in relationship to your underarm. When knitting a bralette, some folks will want to add short rows, some folks may want to remove short rows (or total length to underarm). We are all different and sometimes a few tweaks will turn an okay project into your perfect make.
The schematic will show you the length to underarm for your size. To measure this:
- Start your measurement at your underbust, where you expect the bottom of the band of your bralette to sit.
- Measure up towards your underarm.
- First, see where your bralette would end in the pattern as written.
- If you prefer to add or subtract from this length, figure out how many rounds/rows that translates to by using your row gauge.
Some folks also wished to lower the front neckline of their bralette. This is especially true for bustier people, and particularly busty people who are on the shorter side. The simplest way to lower your neckline if that's you - work fewer short rows in the bust. I am currently working on a version for myself with a lower neckline so that I can have both a full and demi coverage version.
Changing the Band Size
The last modification I'll mention is the band for the underbust. It's not unusual for your upper bust and underbust measurements to place you in different sizes. Compare your underbust measurement to the schematic, you are looking for a size that measures about 90% of your underbust. Since you can easily cut your elastic band a bit shorter, as long as your underbust measurement is larger or just slightly smaller than the schematic, you should be okay.
If your underbust measurement requires a smaller or a bigger size, you can change the band size pretty easily. Choose the band size that makes sense for you and knit as instructed. After the joining round of the band, you can work a round of increases/decreases to change the stitch count . Alternatively, you could work fewer increases at the sides of the bralette, or even through the cup. So long as you end up at the proper stitch count for your full bust you'll be okay through the rest of the pattern. Depending on your shape, either of these methods could work well.
The Knitting Part
To be fully transparent, knitting the band and encasing the underbust elastic is not very fun knitting. The small gauge feels like it's taking forever to progress, and when putting in the elastic your needles will fight you. If you're having a hard time with this process, you may need a shorter cable (or longer) for your circular needles. The stitches being very bunched up or very spread out on the needle will exacerbate the situation.
Hang in there and take your time! Knitting a bralette that really functions is worth it. More than one tester agreed the band is tough, but everyone was much relieved after working the first few increases. When you begin knitting flat after the back neck, it was also reported that this will be much easier on your hands.
On that note, due to the tight gauge and the elastic - I really recommend using metal needles. Several people (including myself) have snapped wooden needles knitting the band. My older metal needles also got bent quite a bit while knitting (that's not unusual for me), and I was able to bend them back easily.
Even though the gauge is very tight, I still consider Carol a "fun" knit because it's so amazing to see her come together. Testers and Knit A Long participants all agree, while some parts of this knit are difficult, it's really worth it in the end!
Ready to cast on for Carol? Find the pattern here. You'll also find links on the product page to YouTube tutorials and resources on creating your Carol.
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