By Nikol Lohr
With an empire waist, relaxed styling and seed-stitch details to match the summer jacket of the same name, this quick-knitting linen/cotton blend knitted tank is an excellent warm-weather project. Wide straps for bra coverage, extra increases, and short row shaping for bigger bustlines make it as fitting a tank for busty women as it is for their willowy counterparts.
This tank is worked in the round from the top down. Each section is bound off and immediately picked up to add structure and to better offset the seed-stitch details. You can easily shorten the hip-length top to conserve yarn or continue in pattern as long as you like for an A-line sundress. Aside from one side of each strap, it’s completely seamless.
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Materials and Specs
Custom. Yarn estimates given for average sizes XS (S, M, L, XL, 2X, 3X)
4 (4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11) balls Knit Picks CotLin (70% Tanguis Cotton, 30% Linen, 123 yards per 50g ball), shown in Moroccan Red
US 7 24″ circular needles
US 5 needles, any type
4 locking stitch markers
2 medium safety pins
Seed Stitch in the round
Rnd 1 (RS) K1, P1, repeat.
Rnd 2 (WS) P1, K1, repeat (purl the knits and knit the purls), repeat.
Pattern is written with an odd number of stitches in the seed stitch section. In the round, this means that you just continue the pattern without interruption, in a spiral, and it naturally lines up properly.
BO bind off
CO cast on
k2tog knit 2 stitches together as one
kfb knit into both the front and back loops of the stitch (inc)
PM place marker
PU pick up
RS right side
Sl slip stitch purlwise
WS wrong side
Step 1: Measure
Note: If you plan to wear a bra with the tank top, wear a bra when you measure.
A: Measure chest under armpits, above bust.
B: Measure bust at widest part.
C: Subtract A from B.
D: Measure breast from top to bottom, from line formed by A down to bra band.
Step 2: Top Band
CO [A x 3.5]. Add one if it’s an even number.
Example: My A measurement was 36 inches. 36 x 3.5 = 126. I cast on 127.
PM for center back and join in the round.
Work 8 rnds in seed stitch and BO in pattern, leaving last live stitch.
Step 3: Bust
Turn work so WS is facing and PU 1 st along edge for every BO stitch until you have one less stitch than before, including that live stitch. Wrap the next stitch (the first stitch of the rnd) as you would for a short row wrap and turn work back so RS is facing. PM to mark center back.
Multiply the PU number by .35. Place a locking stitch marker that many stitches away from the marker on either side. This marks off your bust stitches.
Example: I had 126sts. 126 X .35 = 44.1, so I placed a stitch marker 44 sts to the left of the center back marker, and 44 sts to the right, with 38 sts in between.
K to first stitch marker. Kfb of all stitches between the two markers (doubling your bust stitches), then K to end.
Extra Bust Increase
If C > 6, add the Extra Bust Increase. Otherwise, skip this extra increase and continue to Upper Bust, below.
Place locking stitch markers 21 sts inside from each bust marker.
K to first marker (original, outside bust marker), [K2, Kfb] over the next 21 sts (7 inc, working up to first new inside bust marker), K to next marker (second new inside bust marker), [K2, Kfb] over the 21 st (7 inc) in that section (up to other original outside bust marker), then K to end.
Knit all rnds until work measures 3 inches from cast-on edge.
Bust Short Rows
(See Short Row Wraps at the end if you’re new to short rows and/or short row wraps.)
Short rows allow you to produce more fabric on the front of the tank (to the right of the blue marker) without making the back of the tank (left of the blue marker) unnecessarily long.
If C = 2 inches or less, you can skip the short rows. Otherwise, work one full short row set for every extra inch of difference after the first 2 inches. (Round to the nearest whole number.)
Example: The difference between my bust and chest measurements is 3 inches. 3 – 2 = 1, so I worked just one short row set.
Bust Short Row Set
Note: Bust markers referenced below are the original bust markers. If you worked the extra bust increase, you can ignore the extra, inside bust markers for this section.
K to 1 st before second bust marker, wrap and turn.
Purl back to 1 st before other bust marker, wrap and turn.
Knit to 4 st before bust marker, wrap and turn.
Purl back to 4 st before bust marker, wrap & turn.
Knit to 7 sts before bust marker, wrap & turn.
Purl back to 7 st before bust marker, wrap & turn.
Knit to end, working in wraps.
Knit next round, working in remaining wraps (the wraps on that side will be a bit harder to knit in).
Be sure to measure at center front (between the bust markers), which, depending on your short rows, could be much longer than center back.
Knit all rnds until bodice measured at center front = D.
Work 1 more inch if your D measurement is 8 inches or less, or work 2 more inches if it’s over 8 inches.
Extra Bust Decrease
NOTE: If you worked the extra bust increase set above, add the Extra Bust Decrease as well. Otherwise, skip the extra decrease and continue to Bust Decrease, below.
Sl 1, work 2 sts in seed, K to first stitch marker, [K2, K2tog] to the inside bust marker (you can drop the inside marker), K to second inside bust marker (you can drop as you pass it), [K2, K2tog] across to second stitch marker, K to 3 st from end, work 2 sts in seed, K1.
Sl 1, work 2 sts in seed, P to 3 sts from end, work 2 sts in seed, K1.
Knit to first marker, k2tog across all stitches between markers, knit end.
Knit 1 rnd.
BO loosely, leaving 1 live stitch at the end.
Step 3: Empire waistband
Picking up the stitches from the wrong side produces a neat ridge between the gartered stockinette section and the seed-stitch band.
Turn work so WS is facing and PU 1 st along edge for every BO stitch until you have one less stitch than before, including that live stitch (so you’re back to an odd number). Wrap the next stitch (the first stitch of the rnd) as you would for a short row wrap and turn work back so RS is facing. PM to mark center back.
Work 9 rnds in seed stitch and BO in pattern.
Step 4: Body
Turn work so WS is facing and PU 1 st along edge for every BO stitch. Wrap the next stitch (the first stitch of the rnd) as you would for a short row wrap and turn work back so RS is facing. PM to mark center back.
[K4 Kfbl] across row.
Next round, count your stitches. Based on the number, count out and place markers to mark either side.
Knit all rnds, increasing on both sides of both markers every 8th rnd.
Continue, knitting around and increasing on both sides every 8th rnd, until stockinette portion is about 1.25 inches shorter than the final desired length. The sample shown had 9.5 inches stockinette.
Seed Stitch Hem
Work 1 rnd in seed. If you have an even number of stitches, kfb of last stitch in rnd (with an odd number, you can just work around and around), then continue around in seed for 9 rnds and BO in pattern.
Weave in ends.
Step 5: Straps
Try on the top with the bra you’ll wear, making sure the top is not askew (look for the increases just under the top band), and fastening the optional button(s), if using. With locking stitch markers, mark the center of each strap, front and back. This is easiest with a helper, but if you don’t have one, guess at initial placement, then try on the top, using a hand-held and wall mirror to verify and adjust as necessary.
If don’t plan to wear a bra, you have a bit more freedom with your strap placement – you can crisscross them and position them where you like in back. A good spot for front placement is just at the start of the bust increases on either side.
With WS facing, PU 9 sts, centered evenly over one of the back markers. If your chosen bra straps are extra wide, widen your tank straps accordingly.
Work strap pattern all rows until 12 inches long.
Sl 1, [K1, P1] to 2 sts from end, K2.
Transfer stitches to safety pin and repeat on other side.
Try on top and see if straps are correct length and continue if necessary (the top shown has 13.5-inch straps). When they’re the right length, BO in pattern and sew them down just inside the front edge, centered over the marker.
Short Row Wraps
Making the wraps
Work the desired number of stitches (pink). Slip the next live stitch purlwise from your left needle to your right needle.
Bring your yarn to the opposite side (front, as shown, if you’re knitting; back, if you’re purling).
Slip that stitch back onto the left needle, where it started. Your yarn is still where it moved in the previous step (shown front, as this sample is knit).
Return your yarn to its original position (back if you’re knitting; front if you’re purling).
Knitting in the wraps
Look for the purl-like wrap every 10 sts as you work the next-to-last row of the short row section.
Insert the right needle through the wrap from below, lifting it.
Still lifting the wrap, insert your needle into the wrapped stitch as usual. It will look like you have 2 stitches on the needle – almost like working a decrease.
Knit them together as one.
About the Author:
Nikol Lohr lives at The Harveyville Project with her partner, 2 cats, 7 sheep, and 7 hens. She’s the author of Naughty Needles & founder of Yarn School. She blogs at The Thrifty Knitter, is cupcake on Ravelry, and queenievonsugarpants on Flickr.