Now this is a story all about how, my poncho got flip turned upside down. I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how it became a vest that would let in the air…
Ok, enough paraphrasing 90s TV themes… This post, if you haven’t deciphered my gibberish, is all about how the Summertime Hangout top flew off my hook.
After the complexities of designing It’s Just Not Cricket, I really felt the need to design something simple. Something where I, and you, could relax into it a little.
I wanted to shake off the perfectionism that came with my previous design. Whilst it was required to get that one right, it’s not always an essential part of the design process.
I’d actually got the idea for the Summertime Hangout top from the process of designing It’s Just Not Cricket. When trying the tank top on, before having properly seamed it, I realised I really liked the look of the open sides. I decided I wanted to try making a summer top in a similar style. Plenty of ventilation for warmer days!
Here’s a peek at the selfie I took when trying the sweater vest on just after I’d jumped out of the shower (hence the wet hair vibe!). I often take photos of things that inspire design ideas, though most of them fall into the depths of my camera roll!
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The choice of yarn started with a poncho. More specifically one I had made several years ago. I never wore it because the neck opening was a bit too big for me. It slipped just that bit too far off my shoulders. It was relegated to the back of my wardrobe, then, last autumn, to a vacuum bag with my summer clothes.
A few weeks ago (during the week of summer we had in the UK!), I retrieved said vacuum bag. I was thought back to when I bought that yarn. I remembered being excited to find the linen blend Rowan yarn on sale in my local craft store. Not one for waste, I decided that now was the time to re-use it.
I dug around in my box of ball bands and, with a feeling of glee at my odd need to keep such things, I found the original band!! Everyone needs some validation for their hoarding tendencies now and again!!!
Anyway, I can confirm the yarn is called Rowan Creative Linen and is still available. (Though I could not see the same shade as I used here).
Linen is such a summer fibre and I knew it would make a quick and easy lightweight top. It was perfect for that idea I still had buzzing round in the back of my mind!
The two ideas bumped together like it was meant to be. Sometimes designs take a lot of coaxing to come together, sometimes they just leap out at you.
I’m listening to an audio book at the moment called the Runaway Species. It’s all about where human creativity and innovation comes from. Blending of existing ideas, which is kind of what happened here, is one of the 3 B’s which lead to invention (along with Breaking and Bending).
A tangent I know, but I love learning about how the human mind works, I find it fascinating!
Back to the crochet!
I set about a Sunday afternoon frogging session (I had used over 400g in that poncho!) and set about swatching.
The design process
I knew I wanted a flat opaque fabric that was relaxed and would allow lots of drape. Extended stitches are one of my go-to stitches for garments. Great for when I want something lightweight and simple, so that’s where I started.
I find that linen can play havoc with my tension as the natural texture of the fibre adds some friction to the yarn. So I decided the design should be very forgiving with gauge and easy to adjust. Something that would embrace the ‘go with the flow’ look. Perfect for the casual beach vibe!
After some playing around, I came up with the stitch pattern you see below. One side is flat and smooth and the other has a ribbed effect. I decided that I would make the top reversible, just to squeeze every last ounce of utility out of the yarn!
I did an unscientific poll on instagram stories to see which people preferred. It was 60-40 in favour of the ribbed side, but I still prefer the flat texture!
Here’s an unpolished peek at what the ribbed side of the fabric looks like from the construction tutorial.
I used a lot of the lessons I had learned from the cricket sweater to create the deep V-neck. So the shaping and the rest of the design (it’s just two panels) came together really quickly.
Once I had the basic shape, I started by working a small side seam, but it lost some of the shaping I liked. So I just added a waistband and went for the slightly more risqué open sided look. I mean, it’s meant to be worn on the beach or at the ‘Summertime Hangout’, over the top of a bikini so I think the airflow is appropriate!
That said, you have to option to add side seams if that’s your preference!
And lastly to the name…
Both a literal description of the design and a tribute to the classic song Summertime… (The Fresh Prince’s definition, not the George Gershwin classic made famous by the legendary Ella Fitzgerald).
Did you spot the song lyric? It looks like a car show… There’s an air of love and of happiness… I’ll let you google it if you’re not familiar. Either way, I hope the opening paragraph of this post makes a bit more sense now!!
Sadly I don’t live close to the sea and my summer just holiday got cancelled because… well 2020… but here’s me donning a bikini for the photoshoot nonetheless. Trying to create the nostalgic summer vibes!
And here it is… a poncho… slightly transformed… just a bit of a break from the… okay, I’ll stop now!
Click here to check out the free pattern or download an add-free printable version from Love Crafts, Etsy or Ravelry
Here’s to those of you who will get to the beach this summer; Make the summertime hangout and let it do what it was designed for! And don’t forget to tag me on instagram so I can be excited for you, and a little jealous at the same time!!
In the meantime, I’ll crack on with trying to put lavender in my hair and soaking up the summer feels… if only on my mind…