The Roanoke Tank, another design from Knitted Tanks and Tunics, is unique in its design and construction, but also showcases a very special yarn: Claudia Hand Painted Yarns' Drama. Drama is 100% linen, sport weight, machine washable AND dryable (more on that later), and it also comes in some absolutely stunning colorways, from subtly to boldly variegated. For Roanoke, I chose one of each type of colorway: the body of the tank is worked in Silver Shimmer (subtle shades of white), while the front and back panels are worked in Collards and Grits (love that name!), a gorgeous combination of blues, greens, neutrals and white.
I have to admit that the yarn did not inspire the design. I had been playing with the idea of building a garment around an upper front medallion of some sort, decided it would be a nice way to showcase a variegated yarn, then decided to use a more subtly colored yarn for the body, and went looking for a yarn that had those colorway options. I also wanted the body to be light and flowy, so that narrowed my choices, and then I found the perfect yarn!
The front and back diamond panels are worked first, and then stitches are picked up from the lower two sides for the body, and from the upper two sides for the straps. I used a smaller needle size for the diamond panels, to keep the garter stitch fabric from getting loose and sloppy, while for the body I used larger needles, to create that light and airy feel. I made several different sizes of diamonds, trying to find the largest size that would work for the design: If it was too large, then the upper point of the diamond would extend up into the neck area, and the body wouldn't start high enough to be extended around the sides, but if it was too small, it wouldn't look right.
Like with the Bellingham Tank, I used Ofelia, my mannequin, to help me figure out some construction details. I used some strips of a lightweight knit T-shirt for the straps, to fine-tune the placement of the diamonds on the front and back (see above photo-- in fact I still like the look of the fabric so much, I'm wondering if this could be turned into a mixed media top....). I was happy to realize that I could fit a larger diamond on the back, but when I started to work on grading the pattern for different sizes, I unhappily came to the conclusion that I couldn't make the design work for bust sizes larger than around 45" (114 cm). The body stitches come from a combination of stitches picked up from the diamonds' edges, increases, and stitches cast on for the underarms, and I just wasn't confident that the sides of the tank would stay up high enough in sizes larger than 45".
If you haven't worked with 100% linen yarn before, I'll be frank: it's not pleasant. It doesn't stretch and it feels rough. But the finished fabric is lovely-- with time and wear it gets much softer-- especially if it's machine washed and dried. So for this pattern, the gauge actually specifies to do just that!
(1st, 2nd and 4th photos, copyright Tom Moore Studios)