Sweater Workshop: The Hexagon Petal Tee

    
The Hexagon Petal Tee by Maria Leigh

A note from Kathleen: It's time for one of our favorite features: the Sweater Workshop! Interweave Knits editor Eunny Jang is here to deconstruct the lovely Hexagon Petal Tee by Maria Leigh (featured in the Spring 2011 issue of Interweave Knits). This sweater is the perfect garment for spring, and knitting it is a fun and unique experience.

Here's Eunny to tell you more.

 The Hexagon Petal Tee

I love modular knits. I'm intrigued by any knit that turns established knitting convention on its head—or, in the case of Maria Leigh's Hexagon petal Tee, its six sides.

Maria's sweater is a riff on the classic knitted doily, repeating and tessellating a simple lace pattern for maximum impact. The hexagon shape is a classic for tightly-fitting modular units—paper pieced quilts, Roman tiles, and natural honeycombs come to mind—and it's especially useful in knitting because of the ease with which even, symmetrical units that fit closely without gaps may be made.

What makes the Hexagon Petal Tee so much fun to knit?


1. Interesting construction

Full hexagon
    
Half-hexagon
Two-thirds hexagon

There are three shapes used in the Hexagon Petal Tee:

—The full hexagon, worked in the round from the outside in (top right);
—The half-hexagon, worked flat in rows from the outside in (middle right);
—The two-thirds hexagon, worked flat in rows from the outside in (bottom right).

In combination, these three units create all the angles needed for a garment that fits well. The identical front and back necklines are the edges of a missing center hexagon, and the armholes are created with half-hexagons that act as shoulder straps. The two-thirds hexagon acts as the bottom of the armhole.

An exploded view of how all these elements fit together looks like this:

Exploded view of the Hexagon Petal Tee

And the fully joined pieces create a shape like this.

Joined Hextagon Petal: Dotted lines represent pieces that are folding or wrapping to the other side of the body.

Pretty nifty!

   
A Hexagon Petal motif

2. A lovely lace pattern

Each hexagon unit of the Hexagon Petal Tee can, of course, be further divided into six segments, each with the same lace motif. When repeated six times, the simple motif becomes an intricate flower blooming from the center of each hexagon block—and it's much easier than it looks.

3. Clever joining

The Hexagon Petal Tee may be made of many parts, but there's almost no seaming. Instead, hexagons are picked up and worked off one another, growing into a complete cylinder as they are worked and joined. The "keystone" hexagon joins units from front, side, and back for a finished piece without a single seam.

To minimize ends to be woven in from all those separate pieces, Maria offers a great tip: Use the tail of the old block and the working yarn to pick up alternate stitches for each new block. Weave the tail of the old block for one or two stitches as you work, then snip and think no more of it.

4. A refined fit

Maria has two fine options for armhole fitting: For those who like higher armholes with more coverage, the two-thirds blocks can be added to fill in more fabric at the side. For those who like looser, deeper armholes, omit the two-thirds blocks entirely. In both cases, a garter stitch edging that acts as a small cap sleeve finishes the piece.

The two options for armhole fitting: higher armhole at left, looser armhole at right.

The Hexagon Petal Tee is also graded in a clever way: The hexagons actually grow in size for each larger size, meaning that armholes, necklines, and length all grow proportionally. To refine it further, knit smaller or larger hexagons by going up or down a needle size. This makes the garment very flexible—if you need more room at the waist, simply knit those hexagons a little bigger on a larger needle. If you need more room at the bust, ditto! If you'd like a waist that curves in instead, work those hexagons on a smaller needle! 

Change the size of the hexagons to change the size of the sweater!

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Happy knitting,

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