The Trellis Top: A Simple and Easy Sprang Shirt
I feel I should say something cute or inspiring about how I came to make this top, but honestly, my creative process usually starts on Pinterest, then either I make it right away or it sits on a list of projects I want to make for a year before I even think about it again. A lot of my design process involves badly done sketches in my notebook with dimensions written in and then scribbled out as I try to remember how I calculate sprang dimensions. I am getting better on documenting my calculation process so I can see if it works.
I like the simplicity of sprang, so I rarely design items involving a lot of colors or patterns or techniques. I like to let the yarn and the basic sprang technique speak for themselves. I don't always like what they say, but that is part of the process. Sometimes, like this top, they sing beautifully.
Ok, first the details of this top.
Yarn: Ella Rae Marmel, a cotton/acyrlic blend, I used about 520 yards for this project. I am in love with this yarn after this project. The subtle slub texture to this yarn gives a fun pebble pattern and the colors blend beautifully.
Dimensions: I started with a warp of 51 inches long and about 14 inches wide. I'll explain in more detail how I came up with my warp dimension below.
Time to Complete: I spent about 3 to 4 hours a day on this project for a week. There were a few days that I did not work on it at all. I would say in all I spent about 20 to 25 hours in all on the project. Warping took about 1 to 1.5 hours, working the sprang took about 20 hours and the finishing took about 2 hours or so.
Construction: I worked the whole warp in basic 1/1 interlinking with a narrow stripe on one side of 2/2 or lace interlinking. When I was about 4 inches away from the middle, I stopped working all but 3 inches on each edge. I worked the edges all the way until I could not do any more rows and chained those. I then removed the warp from the loom and cut and tied the middle of the warp to create the neck hole. I crocheted in single crochet around the neck opening for two rows. I sewed up both sides and then added a half single crochet to the bottom edge to give it a more finished edge. I blocked it and enjoyed it!
Now that you have the basic details, let's go a little more in depth on the process for making this top. I made a few mistakes, but overall I am very pleased with my calculations and how they worked out.
Working Out The Dimensions
This is the most vital part of planning a project, in my opinion. There are not a lot of patterns for sprang out there, so you have to start from scratch on a project. Hopefully, this post will give you a good starting off point you can use for your own project.
Here is how I work out the dimensions of my warp:
- I start with the final dimensions I want. In this case, I wanted a shirt that was 15 inches wide and 20 inches long shoulder to hem. Because I was planning on making the entire shirt out of one warp, I doubled the length for my finished warp length. So now I know I want a finished warp of 15 inches wide by 40 inches long.
- Next, I account for take up. I generally calculate 15% to 20% take up on a project. I go larger for a larger project, so I added 20% to the total length of the finished warp. So now I know I want a warp that is 48 inches long.
- I decided to not change the width at all, though I knew it might open up and widen more then my warp. I did however take out an inch for the section of lace sprang. I significantly undercalculated on this, I should have reduced my warp width by several inches. My final shirt turned out a bit wider then I wanted. I don't have a good calculation for lace sprang yet, so I was guessing on this. All over lace will open up a lot. So now I know I want a warp that is 14 inches wide and 48 inches long. I added a few more inches to account for the section in the middle that I would be cutting (you don't want to have to tie short little threads, trust me), for a total warp length of 52.
- I work out the square inches of the warp by multiplying the length by 2, then multiply that number by the width. For this project, the warp doubled was 104, multiplied by the width of 14 inches was a total of 1450 inches. Ok, bare with me for the next part, this might get a bit complicated. You will need the wraps per inch (WPI) of your yarn, mine was 13 wpi. Multiply the total square inches of your project by the wpi. For me, this was 18,850. Divide this by 36 to find the total yardage you will need of the yarn; 523. I don't know exactly how much I used, but I had a total of 546 yards of this yarn and I used just under what I had.
So that is my current process for calculating the dimensions of the project. It's a bit complicated and not nearly as much fun as actually working the sprang, but I've found that taking the time to work this out is worth it.
Now, on to warping!!
Warping the Project
I love warping!
Only a die hard weaver/spranger ever says that. I used to hate warping, but my current set up cuts down on the time it takes to get the yarn onto the loom and allows me to attach the yarn to the loom in such a way that I am able to use the entirety of my warp and have very small end loops
I usually tie my warp onto the loom dowels with thread. When I showed this method to the sprang Facebook group, another member mentioned using crochet to attach the yarn to the loom. I can't recall who or how they did it exactly, but I was intrigued, so I tried out my own method.
I warped in a figure eight and then added a simple half single crochet around bunches of two threads using crochet thread. After catching all the warp threads in the crochet chaining, I laid my dowel on top of my warp and threaded the same crochet thread through a yarn needle and passed the thread through the loop of the crochet chain and around the dowel.
This took a bit longer then my usual method, but I was very pleased with the consistency and I also liked how the chaining looked as an edging after I was finished working the warp.
I suspended my loom on my large pipe frame and got to work spranging!
Because this project was so simple, just row after row of simple 1/1 interlinking with a short bit of 2/2 lace, it was very meditative.
Well, most of the time anyway. There were a few times when it got tedious. This is a great time to binge on your current favorite show. I watched a lot of Star Trek Voyager during this project.
On any project, but especially a large one like this, measuring both sides at regular intervals is very important. I always tend to pack my lower side more then my upper side, so I have to be careful of this.
This is where I made a mistake on this project. I measured this project several times at the beginning, noticed a discrepancy and changed up how I was packing my rows to accommodate. However, I slacked on my measuring and my sides became uneven. I was near the middle at this point.
I had the choice to either try and even out my rows, or continue as I was and allow one side to be longer then the other.
Because this was to be a shirt and my middle was the area around the neck, I should have just continued on and allowed one side to be longer then the other. I would have just made the longer side the back side and that would have looked just fine.
Instead, I decided to try and even out my rows by packing the longer side tighter and the shorter side looser. Because these rows were around the neck area, this caused an unsightly looseness around the neck. Fortunately, the crochet edging around the neck helped to fix this problem.
I realized a few rows in that I had made an error on this, but it was too late at that point to fix it.
When I got to the middle, I sectioned off 3 inches on each side of the warp to continue working. I put a short dowel into the remaining warp to hold it in place while I worked the remaining rows on the edges to form the shoulders of the shirt.
I worked the edges until I could not fit any more rows and then chained the meeting, two threads at a time.
At this point I removed the warp from the loom and laid it out on my desk to cut and tie the middle threads and create the neck hole.
This was mildly nerve wracking. I actually expected it to be much worse, but I was pretty confident in what I was doing, and so it wasn't so bad. I cut the front threads and tied two together in a double overhand knot. Then I turned the work over and cut and tied the back threads in the same manner.
At this point, when I picked the shirt up the neck area was much too large, in large part to the loose rows I made in an attempt to even out my sides. I made a constructive decision to not freak out that the shirt was ruined and wait until I had crocheted the neck opening and see how it looked after that.
I added two rows of single crochet around the neck edge, working into the front of the interlinkings, about two at a time. This would be about four threads in total. This sufficiently gathered the neck together to the correct size.
I then trimmed down the warp threads I had tied together so they would lay better inside the collar.
I sewed up the sides using an invisible seam.
Don't forget this very important step: I modeled the shirt for my sister, who is also a fiber junky, though she only really knits ( tried teaching her nalbinding, it isn't her thing, not even going to attempt sprang). We mutually decided the bottom edge needed some finishing, so I added half single crochet with the same yarn as the project, working two threads together..
So, would I recommend this project to a beginner?
If you're confident in your ability to make neat, even rows in basic interlinking and are familiar with how to create 2/2 interlinking (what I call all over holes pattern), then I think you could try this project. Here are my requirements for this project:
- Patience; not only to make it through the many rows of interlinking, but also to not give up when it seems like your project isn't turning out right.
- Use nice yarn; I know this sounds strange, but it's helped me enormously. If a test project in scrap yarn doesn't turn out how I wanted, I toss it aside and move on, but a project in a nice yarn, I make every effort to fix it and make it turn out well. You'll learn more if you use yarn you are willing to go the extra mile on to make sure the project turns out well.
- Know or learn how to change from 1/1 interlinking to 2/2 interlinking. Collingwoods book gives several examples of how to recognize when to change if you are trying to create an even line between the two, but I was being lazy and just sort of figured it out as I went along. I know my edge between 1/1 and 2/2 was not perfect the whole way, but I figured it out and didn't worry too much if it wasn't perfectly straight. Carol James' book on sprang lace patterns should be able to help you work this out appropriately.
I hope you enjoyed this project, let me know if you try this cute top!