photo copyright Tom Moore Studios
The process I used to design the Bellingham Tank was very unusual for me! But then it's also quite different from the other designs in Knitted Tanks and Tunics: I love to use cabled, lace and textured stitch patterns, and I prefer to work in the round, but Bellingham is worked only in stockinette stitch, and it's worked flat.
For Bellingham, I knew I wanted to end up with a top that wrapped around both sides and then narrowed into pieces (I thought of them as wings) that crossed to the opposite shoulder. I was hoping to end up with a top that could be worn with the crossed pieces on the front as well as the back (more on that later). So the first step was to come up with knit-able shapes for all of the pieces, or even better, a single knit-able piece (I think I had a vague mental picture of something that resembled the Bat-Signal).
To do this I enlisted the aid of Ofelia, my mannequin. Instead of muslin I used old T-shirts, to better approximate the weight and drape of knitted fabric; I cut them into large pieces, draped, overlapped, and pinned them on Ofelia. I trimmed the edges away until what remained was close to what I wanted for the final top. Then I unwrapped everything and laid it flat on the floor, ending up with a single large piece with a wide, curved bottom edge and two curved wings; the spaces between the center and wings would form the armholes.
But when I tried to figure out how to knit this shape in one piece, I quickly decided that not only would it require complicated shaping with decreases and short rows, but it would also be very difficult to grade and size accurately. After measuring various parts, I decided that the center section could be worked as one piece, with the lower part worked in several identical wedges and the upper part shaped with additional decreases, while the side sections could be worked separately. Instead of seaming these pieces together, I opted to pick up the stitches for each side section from the side edges of the center section, leaving the only seaming at the shoulders. This also allowed for some customization of fit, since the side pieces can be easily shortened or lengthened.
I was delighted to find that the yarn I had chosen, Fibra Natura Good Earth from Universal Yarn, was the perfect match for this design. It's a worsted-weight cotton-linen blend, and I worked it on slightly larger needles than suggested, so the fabric has a nice drape, with enough weight to give the flared bottom edge of the top a little swing. It also comes in a pretty range of colors,has a lovely subtle sheen, and is rather inexpensive (and it's machine washable!).
As for being able to wear Bellingham with the crossed pieces in front? I'm not sure I succeeded in pulling that off. I think the issue was making the armholes deep enough so that the side pieces could be pulled across to the opposite side without pulling too tight under the arms-- this created enough wiggle room that the top doesn't necessarily stay put in one position on the body, perhaps leading to too much exposure here or there (definitely less of an issue with the crossed pieces in the back). So I was able to arrange the finished tank on Giulia such that the front coverage was skimpy but adequate (see above photo), but if Giulia were walking around in a windstorm, there would certainly be potential for a wardrobe malfunction! In conclusion, I would say, try it on that way, but whether it can realistically worn with the crossed pieces in front will depend on individual fit.