Monday, May 6, 2013

Dernhelm: a battle corselet for Eowyn


Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest.  It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel.  "But no living man am I!  You look upon a woman.  Eowyn I am, Eomund's daughter.  You stand between me and my lord and kin.  Begone, if you be not deathless!  For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him."          J.R.R. Tolkien

Dernhelm is a straightforward pullover/vest with shaping achieved through ribbing and travelling stitches.  It should fit fairly closely as it is designed to flatter feminine contours.  Knitted here in a firm 100% wool yarn, the close texture gives a reassuring strength to the fabric. 

As this is my first attempt at pattern-writing, I hope it will be easy to follow: as yet there has been no test-knitting other than my own attempt.  Please let me know if you spot any problems or would like to test knit!

To fit: 
Bust size 36" [ 92cm ].  Length of body adjustable.
3 x 100 g balls of Cushendale Double Knit, shown in Jade
Circular needles - 3mm x 100cm (or 80cm) , 3.75 mm  x 100 cm (or 80cm) for body, 3mm x 40 or 60cm for sleeves and neck opening  [Dpns could also be used if preferred]
Cable needle
Stitch holders or spare yarn
24st and 36 rounds to 4" in st st on 3mm needles (unblocked swatch)
k - knit
p - purl
st st - stocking stitch ( all rows knit in round or k1 row, p1row in flat kniting)
ktbl - knit through back of loop (knit in back; twisted knit stitch)
twisted rib - *k2tbl, p2 *, repeat
NB all knit stitches in ribs and pattern panel are twisted stitches (knit through back of loop)
tl - travel left  - place next stitch on cable needle and hold at front of work, purl next stitch from left needle, ktbl stitch from cable needle (2 sts worked)
tr - travel right  - place next stitch on cable needle and hold at back of work, ktbl next stitch from left needle, purl stitch from cable needle (2sts worked)
M1 - increase 1 st (k in front and back of stitch or pick up and knit 1 loop between stitches
K2tog -  right-leaning decrease by knitting 2 stitches together
Skp - left-leaning decrease by slipping 1st, knitting the next and then passing slip stitch over [or ssk if preferred].

Cast on:  Using 3mm x 100/80cm needle, cast on 204 stitches using an elastic method, e.g. long-tailed cast-on, place a marker and close for working in the round.  Work in twisted rib as follows
 - k1tbl, *p2, k2tbl* ,repeat to end of round, k1tbl. 
Continue rib for 1.25" [ 3cm ] or required depth.

Change to 3.75 x 100/80cm needle and continue in st st until work measures 7" [18cm] or required depth to begin waist-shaping (about 1.25" or 3cm below natural waistline). On final round place a marker after 102 stitches (half-way mark).

 Return to smaller gauge needle and work in twisted rib as given at start.  Continue in rib for
 9 rounds.  ( Tweak!  See additional note at end of pattern.)
Next round: Travelling round A - *tl, tr* repeat to end of round.  
Keeping rib correct work 6 rounds.
Next round: Travelling round B - *tr, tl* repeat to end of round.
Keeping rib correct work 6 more rounds.

From here on, work only in twisted rib between the markers for the back (see picture on left). 

 Between front markers, (see picture on right) continue travelling pattern as follows:
Next round: Travelling round A between front markers (rib only at back)
Keeping rib correct work 6 more rounds.
Next round: Pattern continues only on central 36 sts.  Work as follows across front - rib 33sts, work travelling round B for next 36 sts, rib 33 sts, slip marker, rib across all back stitches.

Keeping rib correct work 3 rounds.
Next round: Rib 33sts, work travelling round A for next 36 sts, rib 33 sts, slip marker, rib across all back stitches.

Keeping rib correct work 3 more rounds.
Next round: Pattern continues only on central 32 stitches.  Work as follows across front - rib 35 sts, work travelling round B for next 32 sts, rib 35sts, slip marker, rib across all back stitches. Pattern on back is now complete.

Change to larger gauge needle to continue body.
 Next round: k36, keep rib correct over next 30 sts, k 36 to marker, k across back. 
Repeat this row twice more.

From here only central stitches will be included in the pattern to create triangular shaping (see picture above).  Alternate travelling rows A and B with 3 rows straight ribbing in between each to achieve "honeycomb". Each time decrease the central panel by 4 stitches (2 extra k sts on each side of it) until you are working over just 4 stitches. End on a travelling row, working across the front and stop 5 stitches short of the marker (which marks the right underarm point).
 In the model shown this brought the pattern exactly to the point of the v-neck, but if you wish to extend the body length (waist to underarm) you will need to continue working the pattern over these last four stitches to the desired length, ending on a travelling row, and stopping 5 stitches before the right underarm marker.

Divide for armholes:  Place 5 right front underarm stitches,  all of the back stitches and 5 further stitches after the marker for the left front underarm on a large stitch holder or spare circular needle  (112 sts).  Continue with front of garment (92sts).

Left front: worked flat.
Row 1:  K2tog, k44.  Slip remaining unknit stitches onto a holder for right front.  Turn.
Row 2: P to last 2st, P2tog.
Row 3: K2 tog, k to last 2 st, skp.
Row 4: P to last 2 st, P2tog
Continue in st st, decreasing 1 st at each end of next and every following alternate row until 33 st remain.
 Keep armhole edge straight and decrease 1 st at neck edge on every following alternate row until 19 st remain.
Knit straight for 20 rows (or until desired length to shoulder) then place stitches on holder.

Right front: worked flat.  With right side facing rejoin yarn at inside neck edge.
Row 1: K to last 2 st, skp.
Row 2: P2tog, p to end
Complete shaping to match left side and place remaining stitches on holder.

Back:  Reserve 10 sts on either side of the back on holders or yarn to create underarm.  Rejoin yarn to central 92 sts.  Working flat and in st st, with right side facing rejoin yarn.   Decrease 1 st at each end of the next 5 rows, then every following alternate row (k rows) until 76 st remain.  Work 37 rows straight (or to match length to shoulder).
For back neck, with right side facing, k21, turn.
Dec 1 st at neck edge on next 2 rows.  Purl 1 row and keep 19sts on needle or a holder for right shoulder. 
Place centre 34 sts onto a holder.
With right side facing rejoin yarn to inside neck edge of remaining 21 st, k to end.  Complete to match opposite shoulder.

Join shoulder stitches:  Use a 3-needle bind-off to join the 19 stitches of each shoulder, working with wrong sides facing you.

Neckband:  With right side facing and 3mm x 60cm needle, rejoin yarn and pick up 50 st on right side of neck (approx.  1 st per row, so may need more or less if length adjusted) and 3 at back neck decrease, knit across 34 centre back sts, pick up 3 plus 50 st down left side of neck.  Join.  You will be working the twisted rib pattern as before but need to position the ribs carefully - see close-up photograph of front.  The central 2 stitches of the v-neck continue in twisted rib.  Decreases for the neck are worked on either side of these 2 stitches on every row.  Count your stitches carefully and line everything up before you begin.  (Your total number may need to be adjusted to fit - if so, add in stitches evenly along the slanted neck edges so that you do not over-tighten the neckline.)  Work 1" [2.5cm] in rib, decreasing by 2 st in each round, one on either side of 2 central stitches, or required depth and then cast off [bind off] loosely in rib, or use a suspended bind off to maintain an elastic edge.

Armhole edgings: With right side facing and 3mm x 40/60cm needle, return to underarm stitches.  Place the 5 left-hand stitches on your new needle and rejoin yarn to k across them, pick up and k 12 stitches from decrease edge (1 per row), a further 68 st from straight edge, up front, over shoulder and down back (about 5 for every 6 rows), 12 more from shaped edge and then knit across the remaining 5 st from holder.  Total of 102 st.  NB:  if you have lengthened the pattern you will need more or fewer sts from straight section to accommodate.  Join in round and work 1" [2.5 cm] twisted rib, or required depth, and cast off [bind off] as for neckband. 
Repeat for 2nd armhole edge.

Darn in yarn ends.  Block or steam lightly, taking care not to flatten ribbing and pattern sections.

Let your hair down and wear it proudly, Shield-Maiden!

(Tweak!  Close up view of the front panel shows that in within the first 9 rounds of rib, I "travelled" the 4 central stitches only at rows 3 and 6.  You may choose to do this if you wish, or add in any other variation to make Dernhelm unique. )