Athena Tunic Finish line

Reaching the Finish-Line

Finished Tunic.  It looks good on, it still needs to be washed
Finished Tunic. It looks good on, it still needs to be washed

My Athena tunic is complete.  I was working on the straps, the pattern called for five pattern repeats.  I was nearly done with the fourth repeat and thought I should try it on.  It seemed like the straps were almost perfect, so I nixed the last repeat.  I quit two rows before the end, like you should when grafting two rows of live stitches.  I found a great tutorial on “grafting in pattern” online and got to work on it.  The only downside to this grafting in pattern is that it skips a cable row and while you could graft it perfectly, the cable pattern will jog a bit.  Still I think this is the best way, as the Kitchener stitch will graft stockinette stitch.  My pattern has a mix of knits and purls.

Matching my live stitches up for grafting
Matching my live stitches up for grafting

The tutorial for grafting in pattern can be found here.  She does a nice job explaining it and has written out directions in a way that make it easy to reference.  The first thing you need is two sets of identical live stitches.  The other thing you need is a moment or two of peace.  It’s very easy to lose your place in the pattern, if you have screaming kids at your heels or a ringing phone, you’ll be scratching your head in no time.  I found it challenging, it’s easy for me to confuse my knits and purls.   I’m a continental knitter and the two are so similar for me that sometimes I have to look back to see if I did them correctly.  It looks like my grafting leaves a bit to be desired, practice, practice, and more practice.  Since my strap’s first and last three stitches are in stockinette stitch, I did my initial set up as for Kitchener stitch.  With my yarn threaded through a tapestry needle, I inserted it through the first stitch on the front needle as to Purl, and left the stitch on the needle.  Then I inserted it through the first stitch on the back needle as to Knit, and left the stitch on the needle.  These first steps set up the stitches and are done only once, then I simply followed the instructions below to work off the rest of the stitches. Here are her instructions for you to reference:

(F = front needle, B = back needle)

2 (or more) k sts on F
(Stockinette grafting)
F: knit off, purl on
B: purl off, knit on

1 k st, 1 p st on F
F: knit off, knit on
B: knit off, purl on

1 p st, 1 k st on F
F: purl off, purl on
B: purl off, knit on

2 (or more) p sts on F
(Reverse stockinette grafting)
F: purl off, knit on
B: knit off, purl on

Setting up my stitches for grafting
Setting up my stitches for grafting

 Since the front and back have large panels of stockinette stitch the tops curl.  A good friend and expert knitter advised me to work a row of single crochet, then a row of the crab stitch to counter the curl and give it a decorative edge.  I finished the single crochet stitches all around the arm holes and neck opening, but when I began working the crab stitch, I felt like it was a bit heavy, so I left it with the single crochet, and I like the way it looks.  It calls for pleat in the center front and center back.  I marked and folded the pleats, but instead of sewing them in, I locked them down when I worked the single crochet edge row.  The row of single crochet left the edges of the neck and arm holes looking a lot more even and clean.  I did however break one of my wooden crochet hooks.  It was one of my “E” hooks that I almost never use.  I was forced to finish with a metal hook, so disappointing.  

Row of single crochet will tie down the pleat and create a clean edge
Row of single crochet will tie down the pleat and create a clean edge

I like my tunic.  I was going to give it a good soak and lie it flat to dry, but the yarn care instructions tell me to machine wash and tumble dry.  I already have my laundry done, so when I have a few more clothes in the basket I think I’ll throw it in and cross my fingers.  I’ll do it when I have a small load so it will be easier to keep an eye on it, and it won’t get as beat up.  The easy care was one reason I chose the yarn I did.  There are a few changes I would make if I did this again.  The bottom has a band of seed stitch that’s rolled over and hemmed, I think it’s too heavy.  I think I would work an eyelet row, then turn the hem in the middle of it, creating a hem that shouldn’t roll, and the small decorative picots would be a big plus.  I would work a different stitch pattern for a couple of rows at the top to prevent the stockinette curl.  Since the word tunic is part of the pattern name, I know that it should be long, but now that It’s complete, I think I would have been happier if it was shorter.  If I remake it, I’ll omit a couple of pattern repeats while working in the round on the body of the garment.  Making it shorter would take less time too.  I think it will look good with a pair of jeans and maybe a decorative belt.

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