Knitting Workshop: The Swirl Skirt


A Note from Kathleen: I've never knitted a skirt before, but they're popping up all over the place now that it's summer, and I've been wondering about the practicality of them: how they would wear, how to keep them in shape, and how lengthen or shorten and still keep the pattern intact.

Eunny's here to answer all my questions, in the latest workshop from Interweave Knits. Here she is to discuss the Swirl Skirt!

It's summer, and I'm itching to get some simple knits off my needles and into my wardrobe.

I think AnneLena Mattison's Swirl Skirt from the Summer 2011 issue of Interweave Knits is next on my list: It's a fresh, flirty piece constructed in a clever way that's going to be tons of fun to knit. Let's take a closer look at it!


Yes, really! Knitted skirts are just peachy for the summer—knitted fabric breathes well and moves easily with the body. It releases wrinkles easily. Really, they're the perfect pull-it-on-and-go item for hot days.

Or would be, except for the dreaded word: SAG. Yes, skirts knitted in inelastic summer fibers—cotton and linen—have a tendency to take on the shapes of the body beneath them during the day, sometimes leading to a droopy derriere and a stretched-out waistband. The Swirl Skirt, however, gets around this in a clever way. Read on for more!


The Swirl Skirt attacks sag from two directions:


Fiber: This skirt combines two yarns, one cotton and one wool, for the perfect blend of stability from the cotton and elasticity from the wool. Both yarns are knitted tighter than usual for a firm, stable fabric that fights distortion. The wool lets the skirt spring back if it does get stretched out. And don't fret that the wool will be too warm in the summer—it's used only in garter ridges that stand away from the skin.

Construction: The Swirl Skirt is worked as a long parallelogram in stripes of stockinette and garter. It makes for a dense, springy fabric that can snap back as you sit, stand, and walk. When the parallelogram is put together, the knitting runs on a bias, creating a swirly, stretchy fabric that skims over curves.

This diagram shows how the Swirl Skirt is knitted; the provisional cast-on is grafted to the last row of knitting to create a seamless skirt.
Bias-knitting construction
Bias-knitting when turned on its side, as it is in the Swirl Skirt


Bias knitting is an interesting technique that works the knitting as normal—in straight horizontal rows—but adds at one edge and decreases by the same amount at the other edge on every row or every other row. The result is a piece of knitting with edges that are tilted, relative to the rows of knitting.

When the work is turned to make the edges straight, the knitting is tilted. Bias knitting can be useful for showing off color changes or to create skimming fit, as in the Swirl Skirt.

The flounce on the Swirl Skirt


The Swirl Skirt takes the fun even further with a sweet, flippy rippled edge. This is created by inserting wedges in between stripe sections at the bottom edge only: Worked with short rows, these little wedges turn into small godets, adding circumference and weight just above the knee. This is one skirt that does, indeed, swirl!


This is a fun skirt to customize. It is easy to shorten or lengthen the skirt by however much you want—micro-mini or maxi length skirt, it's up to you. Simply cast on more or fewer stitches, remembering that the bias gauge of the knitting will be different from the square gauge. As a general rule, in the gauge given in the pattern, every 20 stitches equals about 3.5" in skirt length.

The Swirl Skirt knitted short, knitted mid-length with wide godets, and knitted long with long godets

As you raise or lower the skirt, consider making the godets longer, or shorter, or wider. A longer godet, worked by just working more and longer short rows, could create a very dramatic fishtail kind of look.

Shorter godets could create a very small, very flippy flounce. And wider godets, created by just working more short rows (try mirroring the existing pattern for a godet twice as wide) would result in deep, lush volume.

The choice is yours! At Interweave Knits, we love projects that are fun to make and fun to wear-subscribe now to make sure you won't miss an issue.

Happy knitting,

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