Here's Charles Victor!


Presenting the Charles Victor Morine Tunic, fresh from his stint on the lovely island of Oahu.


And, to reinforce Charles's multi-gendered quality, here I am wearing him as well:


After observing island dress at first hand, I am pretty pleased with my interpretation. The bright colors were out in force during our visit, and if one thing struck me about Hawaiian street fashion, it was that it's even more casual than what you find in Portland. (Which is really saying something, as Portland is a pretty darn casual place as well.) I think Charles Victor has a sort of lived-in, laid-back quality that accurately reflects both the man and his environment.


One of the things I learned in the process of designing this tunic is that an open bottom edge requires multiplying the ease by many times the amount I would normally desire. I was going to allow three inches of positive ease for this on David, but I quickly decided to double that. The finished garment has six inches of ease on him, which I would normally consider ample for drape and "room to move around." But, due to the open hemline, I wouldn't want it any smaller and in fact, I think the eight-plus inches of ease when I wear the tunic is actually more flattering. In some of these photos you can see how it tends to gap on David:


On me, by contrast, it hangs straighter:


So, for anyone making this in the future, I might recommend a minimum of eight inches of positive ease. Alternately, you could easily add more buttons or space them more widely apart. The buttonholes are crocheted on after knitting, so it's easy to experiment and find the configuration that works best for you. I considered putting buttons all the way down the front of Charles Victor, but David and I both thought that limiting them to the upper right balances the asymmetry of the lower-left pineapple motif in a pleasing way. And speaking of the buttons:


I'm quite pleased with the ones we found. As always, David was invaluable in picking these out. They're carved horn, and extend the tropical theme while also breaking up the visual field a bit with a different color and texture.


Another thing I'm happy about with this design is the subtle differences in texture. The denser basket-stitch on the bottom and cuffs is heavier than the stockinette, and makes for a nice drape and a lovely texture to feel. The linen/merino yarn is delicious to wear, even in the muggy weather we were having during these shots. Linen is, of course, a tropical classic, and I understand why: it really breathes, and the merino content cuts down on unsightly wrinkles and gives it some softness and bounce. I'd definitely like to work with Louet's MerLin again; I'm especially curious about the worsted-weight version of this yarn.


I'm also pleased with how the pineapple motif ended up working in the overall garment, and designing it taught me a ton about combining cables with texture stitches, and decreasing around a semi-circular motif of denser fabric to maintain a straight silhouette. I was thinking while working on the pineapple how many applications this general principle could have: a person could use a section of denser fabric to create garment shaping (we do this with ribbing all the time, but this kind of built-in shaping needn't be limited to ribbing), to create weight where it's needed, or for a brocaded all-over effect like stripes, polka dots or herringbone. Vertical stripes worked in textured stitches would be much easier than vertical colorwork stripes. The possibilities are endless!


Overall, I'm happy with Charles Victor, and happy he was done in time for these on-location photographs. One in particular could not have been taken anywhere else.



  • While this is definitely not my style, I am flabbergasted at how gorgeous this is. On David, it's very relaxed; on you, flowing and graceful. I am tremendously impressed. Well done.

  • Wow, this is SO NICE. Those buttons are absolutely The Thing. Good job!

  • Lovely. The on-location photographs make the garment look especially great, but I have several friends who would love this tunic. If only my knitting skills were up to trying it!

  • To be honest, I wasn't completely sure what I thought about this when you first posted WIP pictures, but the finished product is gorgeous and much more wearable than I would have expected! Although it's probably not what you had in mind, I'm imagining it in a navy blue without the pineapple worn with skinny jeans for a more urban, but still casual look. I'm always amazed at how well you interpret such different styles!

  • Emily, this tunic is amazing. I agree that seeing it on you as well as David has helped open up the possibilities of this garment for me. But more than whether I would knit it or not (and I too am thinking of it in a denim blue...) I just think it's the most beautiful example of a designers interpretation and skills. The posts you have written about doing this for the design lessons and challenge etc rather than to make a marketable garment make me want to say to you rather loudly 'ALWAYS THE CHALLENGE! ALWAYS THE CHALLENGE!' Because the results are not only awe inspiring to we non-designers, but are more true to you as a designer. And you never know where it will lead you, but staying true to your instincts will always pay off. Always. I feel really strongly about that.

    Anyway, applause again and again not only for this design but for the whole trunk. It's coming along to be an amazing collection full of incredible knitting surprises.

  • What a beautiful design! I love the Maxine too, and am busily working on a story to share with you. :)

    I love your site. What an inspiring concept, and great job!

  • I think the eight-plus inches of ease when I wear the tunic is actually more flattering. In some of these photos you can see how it tends to gap on David..

  • This is a very charming and informative - and a lot of good information available! Thank you!!!

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