Monday, July 13, 2009

Knit Soaker Pattern

Now that I'm on a knitting binge, I thought I'd take time to write up my soaker pattern for anyone who wanted it. Be warned that this is not a set of notes that I took a long time writing up. There will be a lot of knitter participation required. This is great because it allows for customization both in fit and artistic design. THis may be bad, however, for the novice knitter who does not have another knitter to help them interpret it.

I've knitted this pattern for newborn, small, medium, and large, but never wrote it down. Doh. So, since I'm currently knitting a size Medium and have it on the brain, I will write it down. I'll come back later with the other sizes if I can find time. If not, simply adjust your numbers for each section down a bit until it looks about right.

For worsted weight yarn, I use size 6 needles, for DK weight yarn, use size 4 needles and the pattern size up one or two.


1 200yd ball of worsted wool yarn, not superwash for a soaker or shorts, more if you want pants
16" circular needles, size 6
12" circular needles, size 6 (optional for legs)
size 6 DPNs for legs and crotch panel
stitch markers
2 stitch holders (optional)
tapestry needle

cast on, bind off
increases (optional)
short rows
picking up stitches
kitchener graft

Cast on 90 stitches using long tail method. Cast on one bonus stitch and join the round knitting the first and bonus stitch together as one stitch. For the first three or four stitches of the first round, carry the loose tail along with the active yarn. This will tie it in securely and make weaving in the ends easier and more secure.

Knit in the round in either 2x2 ribbing or 1x1 ribbing, as you prefer, for 1 1/2". You may add an eyelet row halfway through, if you wish, or simply "find" holes to string your drawstring through later.

Mark the beginning of your round, mark also the midpoint. Switch to stockinette stitch (ie knit stitches only). Add 6 stitches over the course of the first half round (between your round marker and your midpoint marker.) You can do this with kfab or any other method you prefer as the increases will be nicely hidden in the transition from ribbing to stockinette stitch.

This next section is somewhat subjective, so please interpret it as you prefer to reach your desired shape. Knit in stockinette stitch to creat the body of the soaker. I like to add a single set of short rows every 1-1/14" as I work my way down the body. THis usually ends up being about 4 short row sets over the length of the body. Some people prefer to stack their short rows at the peak of the bum, right above the leg openings. Do this however you wish. Your end goal for this section is a tubular knit body piece, roughly 10" across and 7 3/4" from top of ribbing to top of leg openings, measured on the front, not the back. The back is usually about an inch longer due to short row additions.

Grab your stitch holders or your tapestry needle threaded with scrap yarn.

Knit to 7 stitches before the midpoint marker.

Place the next 14 stitches on a stitch holder or scrap yarn, tying it off in a knot.

Using a DPN, knit the next 34 stitches onto the DPN.

Place the next 14 stitches onto a stitch holder or scrap yarn.

You should now have 14 stitches on a holder, 34 stitches on a DPN, 14 more stitches on a second holder, and 34 stitches on either another DPN or hanging out on your circular needle.

Using the active stitches on the DPN, knit flat, back and forth, in either 2x2 rib or 1x1 rib, or another rib that you like. You may have to do some math to figure out what rib stitch works for the number of stitches you have on the DPN. I knit with a "rolled rib" stitch that required 3 stitches per rib, but any rib stitch would work as long as it fits the number of stitches. I set mine up so that I had a gutter column of purls, then multiple rounds of the rolled rib, then one more gutter column of purls.

Continue working a rib stitch untl your flat piece measures 9". Kitchener graft this active end to the 34 stitches that remain on the other DPN or your 16" circular. What you have off your needles now should resemble the finished soaker quite a bit. You will still have two stitch holders at the top of each leg opening.

Work your way around one leg opening, picking up stitches on DPNs or the 12" circular. One stitch per row of the rib-knit section, plus the 14 stitches from the holder should put you somewhere in the 50 stitch range. The exact number isn't too important as long as both legs are equal in number. I say that not to anger the purists out there, but as a real life tip for those who know that picking up stitches on the edge of a knit piece can be difficult and you may miss one or two rows on your way around. It's okay, it doesn't matter all that much, it will work out fine.

Knit one row of knit stitches all the way around to secure your leg. Switch to a rib knit and continue on until you have a length that you like. You can, and I have, contintued to knit these all the way out to full-length pants. Alternately, you could knit for 1/2" and then add a ruffle, knit for 1" and bind off, whatever look you're going for, you can add here. Bind off how you prefer. I am liking the double crochet bind off for a slight ruffle on girly soakers, but there are many ways to bind off. Check for videos.

Knit the second leg the same as the first. Be sure to write down EXACTLY what you did for the first one before you even start the second one. Believe me, you wouldn't think it would be so easy to forget what you did, but I do, even if I work them back to back. Sigh.

Weave in ends where-ever they are and tighten stitches as needed to repair the overall appearance.

Create a drawstring in your favorite method: braid, twist, knitty noddy, I cord, etc, and insert it into the waist ribbing if you desire.

The picture at the top is a pair that was knit with DK weight yarn, using the same numbers as above to create a size small, with full length legs, 1x1 waist ribbing, 2x2 crotch ribbing, and a mixed seed stitch and rolled cuff on the legs. I'll upload a pic of my current soaker when I finish it, along with the newborn soaker I have done in the past.

Please let me know if you find glaring omissions or mistakes.

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