|Susan Crawford's "A Dashing Little Swim-Suit"|
Many, many patterns use a cotton finger weight yarn or cotton blend, primarily Cascade's "Fixation." In Debbie Stoller's second book Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation, pg 140, Zoe Sargent offers an "Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Purple Polka-Dot Tankini" that calls for Cascade's "Fixation" yarn which is about 98% cotton and almost 2% elastic. Cotton is great for dishcloths because you can bleach and wash in warm water, but for a bathing suit, I would think it wouldn't hold shape and possibly deteriorate quickly. Technically cotton fiber loses strength in water and the yarns become heavy when wet. I searched for yarns made of or blended with spandex and several new sock yarns contain spandex but are blended with wool. Wool is basically water resistant, it will wick, but not as well as synthetic fibers. Wool is more elastic and holds it's shape better than cotton, but it will absorb water eventually.
I didn't want to crochet a bikini in a bag rather make a pretty vintage looking suit with a nice comfortable yarn that is less likely to lose it's shape in the water. Plus you don't want saggy ass from all the water it might absorb, ie the butt hangs down over your cheeks dripping rivulets of lake water down the back of your legs. I don't think a knitted bathing suit would work for a chlorinated or brominated pool situation as most fibers are going to be broken down and destroyed by the chemicals. Spandex and nylon is really the best option for pools, but even these fibers break down after a lot of exposure to chemicals and sun. I searched for a nylon spandex blend available to consumers for home knitting and there is no such blend available.
|inspiration from Ruth's Valley blog|
I scoured the internet and Ravelry for actual vintage patterns from "back in the day," and found a couple of websites that offered patterns and/or a discussion on updating them. To search Ravelry, I typed both "swimsuit" and "swimwear" into their search engine, "swimwear" producing the results I wanted. There is everything from wraps to bikinis to one-piece suits, including mens vintage knitted swim suits. There are two 1930's patterns which are old Patton's yarn offerings which were knit in their DK weight cotton. Other websites offer reproductions of vintage patterns: Pam McKenzie at "In Stitches" already wrote a discussion on the same topic with links. I found knit and crochet vintage patterns available at Knitting Iris. Beautiful pret-a-porter inspiration at Ruth's Valley blog. 1930's bathing suit patterns at Re Knitting. Being a DD cup I remembered Knitty had offered a pattern to knit a lingerie top in a full range of cup sizes from A-DD and thought it might make a great bikini top or possibly knit an attached bodice to it for a one piece. It's called "Zaftig" and available in their 2004 Summer issue which is actually chock full of vintage-style lingerie patterns.
|Susan Crawford's "Sea Waves & Sunny Days Ahead"|
I narrowed my choices down to creating a suit out of Knitty's "Zaftig" pattern or Susan Crawford's revamp "Sea Waves and Sunny Days Ahead!" A serious third contender is Annie Modesitt's "Esther" from her book KnitKnit: Profiles + Project's from Knitting's New Wave. It's lusciously knit in Cascade "Fixation" cotton blend with delicate straps, beautifully rendered bustline, and cleverly shaped sides in rib knitting for fit. As I develop this crazy project I will update and work through problems so other knitter's wondering how an actual knitted swim suit works out in process and in the water goes. Wish me luck!
|Annie Modesitt's "Esther" vintage beauty|