Thursday, June 18, 2015

New pattern: Colina

With a flattering draped neckline, Colina is the uptown cousin of the recently released Lina tank. Designed in Sparrow, Quince and Co's fingering weight organic linen yarn, both Lina and Colina are worked from the top—without a single purl stitch between them. Garter stitch worked flat makes up the bodice, and stockinette in the round the skirt.

Colina begins with the neckline drape, a long garter stitch rectangle. Stitches are picked up along the short ends of the rectangle for the back shoulders, and more stitches are cast on between them to form the back neck. The back continues in garter, with shaping at the underarms, and is worked to the underbust.

With the upper back complete, the drape stitches are returned to the needles and the shaping of the front begins. Decreases are made at the sides of the piece, gradually reducing the stitch count until the desired cross-front width is reached. Underarms are shaped as for the back, and the front is worked to the same depth as the back. Front and back are joined, and worked in the round to the hem.

Lina is a similar construction. There's no drape, so the upper back is worked first, to the underbust, then stitches for the front are picked up at the shoulders, and the front worked to the underbust, too.

Lina, Colina and that magic line

So where exactly is this 'underbust'? When I knit the prototype for Lina, I assumed that the best place for the garter bodice to end was at the Empire line—the narrowest part of the upper ribcage, just below the bust. I found, however, that unless you have a very small bust, like the model in the photo above, it's actually better end the garter a bit higher up. Somewhere about halfway between the fullest part of the bust and the Empire line seems to be about right. Here's why:

Lina and Colina have an A-line shape that skims the body. This means there's no underbust shaping, so the dividing line between bodice and skirt does not have to correspond to actual anatomy. The lower you place this line, the larger (and visually heavier) the upper torso will appear. If you raise the line a little, it gives a sort of visual 'lift' to the bust line.

Both patterns have instructions to work the upper bodice to a certain number of rows below the underarms, but obviously the ideal depth for the garter section will differ from person to person. When I knit my Colina prototype, as I approached the point of transitioning to the skirt, I tried it on frequently, pulling down on the fabric to simulate what happens after washing and blocking the linen fabric. When I reached a depth that looked good, I began the stockinette skirt.

More visual aids

On each side of the skirt is a faux seam, created with slipped stitches. These 'seams' divide the front from the back, and end at the split point of the hem. As you work the skirt, increases are made to the back panel only, shifting the line of the 'seams' slightly towards the front on the garment. This makes for a more flattering line, visually narrowing the front panel.

You can find Lina and Colina here on Ravelry.


  1. Hi Elizabeth--love the elegant simplicity of this top. I would like the draped neckline to go all the way around. Do you have written instructions for such an option?

  2. I love the pattern, and I plan to make it with Sparrow. One important question: what is the ease along the bustline? I'm guessing it is a negative ease, but how much?
    Thanks in advance!

  3. Yes, because the garter fabric has a lot of lateral stretch, you do want to wear it with some negative ease. I'd recommend choosing a finished bust measurement that is smaller than your actual bust circumference by at least at least ½" [1.5 cm], or as much as 2½" [6.5 cm]. The model in the photo is wearing Colina with 1½" [4 cm] on negative ease.

  4. Thanks very much. I'll go with 1.5", like the model. Do I need to concern myself with lateral stretch with linen? I know it will stretch lengthwise, but I'm not sure about widthwise. Thank you again for your advice.

  5. You don't need to worry about widthwise stretch—gravity will take care of that!