I have finally finished my knitted T-Shirt! I had the idea that I wanted something that I could wear in the summertime, and since I spend most of my non-working hours in a t-shirt, I wondered if I could knit one. That led to a search for the right yarn, and I knew I wanted to use cotton, but I was also concerned about the drapiness of cotton, so I decided to look for a yarn with some elsatic in it. At Jimmy Bean's Wool, I found this Crystal Palace Panda Cotton Yarn on sale in the Granite color and I thought that would look cool. For the hem on the collar and sleeves, I used Queensland Bamboo cotton in Navy, which was also from Jimmy Bean's Wool, but they no longer carry it.

The Crystal Palace Panda Cotton yarn is actually more bamboo (50%) than cotton (24%), and it has a substancial amount of elastic nylon in it (21%). I have to confess that this project was a real challenge for me - first because I had never knitted a t-shirt, second because I had never knitted with cotton before, and third because I had also never knitted with elastic yarn. At first, I put my guage and size into the Sweater Wizard software that I use, and just specified a sweater at my size with short sleeves. I started knitting that, and actually had about half of the body done when it became very apparant that the result was going to be much too large and drapey. I started twice more, reducing the size each time, until I finally decided that the only way the elastic yarn was going to work for this was to knit a sort of muscle shirt almost exactly to fit. And in fact, that's what I ended up doing - taking my exact measurements along my torso, and knitting exactly to fit with no ease.

At the bottom of the shirt, at the collar, and at the sleeves I have used a knitted hem. To do this, I did a provisional cast-on, knitted the length of the hem in stockinette, then did one round of purls, and knitted the length of the hem again before then removing the provisional cast-on and k2tog those sts with the the ones on the needle to connect make the hem. Along the V neck I had a bit of an issue because the hem line kept wanting to turn outwards. To tame that, I ran a length of the elastic yarn inside the hem around the neck line, and that seemed to solve the problem.


The body of the t-shirt was knit in the round, and originally I had choosen set-in sleeves with the Sweater Wizard software. But the sleeves turned out to be a real challenge of their own. At first, I tried just configuring the software for really short sleeves, and I knitted those and actually attached one to the shirt, but they turned out too long (evidently there is a limit to how short you can go with set-in sleeves using the software), and they bunched unacceptable at the arm pits. Undeterred, I did the only thing I saw left to do. I took a commercial t-shirt that fit similarly to the body I had finished, traced the arm onto some paper, and worked out how to reproduce that. I ended up knitting the sleeves flat, and doing short rows along the center just after the hem so that the outer part of the sleeve came down to the right length. With some planning and good luck, I finally ended up with a sleeve circumfrence that adequately matched the arm holes in the body, and I sewed those in with a darning needle and the body yarn.

Even with all the frogging and reknitting, in the end I'm pretty happy with the results ... it feels good on, and it fits like a t-shirt. The yarn is sock weight, and I knitted with size US 2 needles. I was a little afraid that even with sock weight yarn, that the result might be a little too thick to pass as a t-shrit, but in the end I think it works ok.



WillyG's picture

Jon, this looks great! I'm stunned by your diligence and perseverance. I really like touches with the hems in navy, too. I bet it feels very nice. Thanks for walking us through your process; it empowers the rest of us as we explore creating our own garments.

2manyhobbies's picture

Thank you so much, Will! I'm looking forward to seeing you this year at the MKR... hope you're making it through this snowy winter ok, and hope to catch up with you soon.

I could make this one loooooooooong message, but FEW words would suffice just the same as many. YOU are amazing! The shirt is absolutely handsome. You did quite well grasshoppa! And, the color is perfect on you. Do I see more T-shirts in your future? Hmmmmmmm? :-)



2manyhobbies's picture

*blush* ... Thank you! You know, I just might try a few more T-shirts, particularly I'm interested in how other yarns with different fiber content would work. I'm thinking that 100% cotton may have issues at a DK or higher weight, even though "real" t-shirts are made from that.

Tom Hart's picture

Beautiful! Great story too. What a process! You are the wizard...

2manyhobbies's picture

But the software does help :) I do enjoy the figuring out part as much as the knitting though. Thank you for your comment!

Bill's picture

BRILLIANT!!! I'm so proud of you for all the problem solving, for persevering and not letting the difficulties get you down, and for having the intelligence to realize what your problems were and how to figure them out! That is a very wearable garment!

2manyhobbies's picture

To be honest, the difficulties did get me down a bit, but I would leave it for a while, and then motivation seemed to come back. I'm very happy that you said it was wearable, because that's what I was hoping for ... with experimental projects like this you're never sure if what you end up with is going to look within the realm of something you would actually wear, regardless of how much work you put in it.

Kerry's picture

Well done Jon, great T-shirt. I knitted one last year in Cotton Fine based on one of my t-shirts, it was so ugly I ripped it out when it was finished.

2manyhobbies's picture

I know where you're coming from - I ripped this one out enough times! I would be interested in your experiences with trying to knit one in 100% cotton, since I think the composition of the yarn was a big factor on this project. Thank you for your comment

purlyman's picture

I love this T-Shirt! Don't know that I've ever seen a knitted shirt like this. I'd love to try one. It looks terrific on you, both the fit and the colors. You did a super job on this!! Congrats!


2manyhobbies's picture

Thank you! I've given some thought to trying to write up the pattern, but that's harder work than the knitting, in my opinion. If I get around to it, you're welcome to have it, although I think the choice of yarn probably influenced this a whole lot. Thank you for your comment!

potterdc's picture

Really great - I'm really taken by the amount of undoing and redoing that you did - and it paid off big time!

Think less, enjoy it more.

2manyhobbies's picture

There were some times I had to just put the whole project aside for a day and give myself time to readjust to the idea that I was going to need to rework! I guess that's why so many people have two projects going at the same time. Sometimes if I get too frustrated with the knitting, I just spin for a while, and that readjusts my attitude. Thank you for your comment

smalltownknitguy's picture

Jon the shirt looks great. It is so nice to see a fitted men's garment. Great job. Wear it as much as possible to show off !

2manyhobbies's picture

We have 3 inches of snow this morning in Philadelphia ... I'm thinking I might not get to wear it for a while yet! Thank you for your comment

steve kadel's picture

really nice and unique

we won't just get a cat, nubby nu nu, will manifest a kitten from our love...and lint from our hemp socks

we put birds on things

2manyhobbies's picture

thank you!

Serge664's picture

Very cool - it looks great!

Please remember: I have a collection of needles and a history of violence

Please remember: I have a collection of needles and a history of violence

2manyhobbies's picture

Thank you! Cool (literally) was what I was aiming for :)

You really scored big with this one Jon. It seems like I'm in good company here with all of the other guys that like your knitted T - shirt. I had been wondering about trying something similar in a DK wool/cotton blend, but I've just been putting it off. I've been trying to find sources for color photos of men's sportshirts from the 1940's and 50's in neat, retro geometrics or stripe combinations. Thanks for posting some great pictures and for sticking with it when you felt like chucking the whole thing. The end result was well worth your efforts. Best to you in Philly.

hsfg's picture

Great !
As a retired patternmaker, I know the challanges in that particular sleeve. You did well. Low, flat sleeve caps are not easy with that particular software. I find that I am much closer to what that sleeve has to offer if:
- I mirror decreases that are done in the body on the sleeve
- then bind off the remaining stitches.
I may look very flat...but it does work
- the number you decrease(in the flat section), when added to the
decreases in the underarm areas should equal the total armhole.
- in some cases you may want to "short row", to get the sleeve length you want...
Maybe we should have pattern making ideas on this forum.....(ha,ha)

Steve, if no one else needs you, I sure do. LOL Thank you for the mini-lesson. And, you only look flat on cloudy days. :-) It is good to see you are still among us and well. Try not to work too hard.



2manyhobbies's picture

Thank you for the pointers on the sleeves! I'll keep this in mind when I encounter a sleeve like this one again. It's really nice to have a patternmaker's perspective.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

That is a stunning T-shirt. I could never pull off wearing one so have never attempted it. great job. - Also, Kenknitter, Elizabeth Zimmerman has a pattern for a sport shirt that comes out similar to a polo/golf shirt in "Knitter's Almanac". You might want to check that out. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

2manyhobbies's picture

Thank you! I've seen EZ's shirt that you mention, but I seldom wear a polo shirt, so I've never tried it. Polo shirts are legal casual friday wear at work for me, though, so maybe I'll give that some thought too...