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Today we welcome Angela Hahn to the blog to share her process and thoughts on creating Prickly Pear

The Prickly Pear sleeveless tank pattern is now available at Twist Collective! It's a great quick knit for warm weather, and can be worn on its own or layered over another top. The hem hits just above the hips, but since there is no waist shaping, it is easy to change the length. The stitch gauge of the lace is smaller than the stockinette stitch gauge (fewer stitches per inch), which means that for most sizes, the bottom edge of the top is 3-4 inches bigger in circumference than the bust. According to the Craft Yarn Council Woman Size Charts, this means that Prickly Pear can be lengthened to hip length, and the hem will still be wide enough to clear the hips with well over 2 inches/5 cm of positive ease in every size except XS (1/4-1"/.5-2.5 cm positive ease).

The yarn chosen for this project, Classic Elite Hanako, is a blend of cotton and linen that works wonderfully: it has great stitch definition, showing off the lace nicely, and has some drape but also some body, so that it doesn't cling. It should also get softer with wear.

The lace pattern is an adaptation of the "Candle of Glory" stitch pattern from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. For maximum impact as a border, I made each "candle" bigger, and set them in a single row instead of staggering them. The construction of each lace motif is interesting: on one row, eight stitches are increased in a single stitch, and then on every right-side row after that, two stitches are decreased, until the original number of stitches is restored. Theoretically, the size of each motif is limited only by the number of stitches you can squeeze into a single stitch on the increase row!

The other main feature of this top is the scooped neckline. I decided to make one side a shallower scoop than the other, so you can wear the deeper scoop in the front or in the back, which adds a little versatility. The shoulders are shaped with short rows and the shoulder straps are wide enough for bra coverage. 

(Surprising how different the color of the yarn looks in my photo; the true color is somewhere in-between the bright yellow-green of the first three photos and the pea green of the fourth.)

But even if the shoulder straps of a tank are wide enough to cover bra straps, that doesn't guarantee that the bra straps will stay covered! I have a few tops that came with bra strap holders on the inside of the shoulders, which I think is a great idea. They are simply snaps where one side is sewn to the inside of the garment, and the other is attached to a short cord or tape, so that it can be closed over a bra strap, holding it in place.

Sometimes I use a small safety pin as a DIY strap holder: I pass it through the inside of the shoulder seam, making sure that it doesn't show on the right side, and then close it so that it encloses but doesn't pierce my bra strap. It actually works well enough that I just leave the safety pins in place on a couple of my tops, but the bra strap does tend to catch on the safety pin closure, so I'm thinking I should sit down one afternoon, and just make bra strap holders for a few of my favorite knitted sleeveless tops.