Sachiko Burgin’s Open Back Bias Tank

Throughout production of knit.purl Spring/Summer 2015, I became more and more drawn to the Open Back Bias Tank by Sachiko Burgin. It’s feminine, fun, and (no surprise here) perfect for the spring and summer!  I picked this to be my next project, and I just cast on in a light peachy color of the Catania Denim yarn used in the pattern. I don’t have any tops in this style, and since my personal look is pretty casual and modest, I’m going to play around with fun ways to style it that are comfortable for me. In the meantime I wanted to get some more insight about this project from the designer’s perspective. Here’s Sachiko:

The recent past fashion seasons have seen some interesting things happening at the bottom of sweaters and tops. Hemlines featuring curves, angles, slashes and points—I loved them all! Um, fashion victim? Maybe. But a shaped hemline is flattering for many reasons, as it breaks the horizontal line that a straight hem creates around the body and it draws the eye upward creating vertical emphasis. Plus, it opens the door to so many design possibilities in knitwear and can instantly transform an otherwise plain garment into something stylish and elegant.

I knew I wanted to incorporate this feature into a design, but I also wanted to make a piece that wouldn’t be overly complicated or fussy to knit. I myself seldom take on complicated knitting projects and can’t deny the gratification of quick, clever designs that are not only satisfying to knit but are also enjoyable to wear!

Image courtesy of Sachiko Burgin

So the question remained, how could I create a fun summer tank with an interesting hem without the use of finicky short rows or shaping?  Hearken back to a day I was playing with my knitting machine, and mistakenly used the same decrease throughout the whole portion of an eyelet raglan yoke, thus creating a horrible rhombusing mess. Although the whole project ended up in the frog pile, I stashed this new finding in my mind for later use. What a learning curve! (No pun intended.)

In my knitting infancy I was both intrigued and mystified by how stitch patterns could create beautiful edges and shapes all on their own through the use of directional decreasing and increasing. Feather and fan lace creates a wonderful undulating line, while a 4-row Arrowhead lace makes a great chevron pattern. These are concepts that many a knitter understand and has used to great effect, but at that time as a new knitter, I easily accepted this as the “magic” of knitting without giving much thought to the technical aspects of these stitches.

And so, there it was—the seemingly straightforward answer I had been in search of. Through the use of a particular stitch pattern, in this case, a simple biasing lace, I could achieve some pretty neat effects with minimum effort. The idea of having opposing slopes as a back feature, while keeping the front clean and minimalist materialized in my mind’s eye.

Knit all in one piece from the bottom up, the only actual manual shaping is done at the front armholes, neckline and shoulders—the bias lace stitch pattern takes care of the rest. It’s a design I would wear myself, and since I can’t wait until the sample is returned, I’ve already knit up two more! I think it’s definitely a look that could take you right through the spring and into the summer.

Photo courtesy of Sachiko Burgin

If you’ve ever worked with the regular Catania, and appreciated it for its smooth, rounded texture, great stitch definition and softness, Catania Denim is like the new and cool rendition. It has an edgy, acid washy vibe, and creates all these neat little vibrational patterns that are subtle enough so they won’t be distracting when using a textural stitch pattern.

I’m so thankful to the folks over at knit.purl magazine for giving me the opportunity to share this design with Interweave readers and knitters. It’s such an honor to be included in such a fabulous collection of knitwear!

Thanks, Sachiko!

Happy spring and summer knitting,


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