So, let's bring this HMS Surprise (Her Majesty's Sleeveless Surprise) top to an end. I have been writing down the instructions as I was knitting along and I will post the pattern onto Ravelry for download.
Here is what I have done so far:
Body - Front:
Cast on 95 stitches (long tail cast-on)
Knit uneven rows (RS), Purl even rows (WS) = stockinette stitch
(Optional - slip first stitch of each row respectively knitwise or purlwise = selvage stitch)
At 17in/42cm (ending with a purl row) start armhole decrease:
Continuing with RS - bind off 6 stitches at beginning of next two rows.
Continue decrease as follows (on RS):
Sl1, k2, ssk, knit across to last 5 stitches, k2tog, k3
Next row: purl
Continue decrease as above another 8 times (decreasing 30 stitches total - including the 2x6).
At 4inches/10cm from beginning of armhole, start the neck shaping.
RS: knit first 26 sts, bind off 13 sts, knit last 26 sts.
Continue with left side of top (resting the right side stitches on your cable).
Purl return row, decrease once at beginning of every knit row (RS) as follows: 1x 4 sts, 1x 3sts, 1x 2 sts, 1x 1 st. (remain 16 st) continue to knit remaining stitches until you have reached 9in/22cm from beginning of armhole.
Bind off remaining 16 st.
(Optional: or give the shoulder a slight shape by binding off on the purl side (WS) 1x3, 2x2, 1x9)
Now to the right side of top, RS facing start knitting the 26 sts with remainder yarn. Neck decreases are the same, but we will decrease on the purl (WS) side.
1x 4 sts, 1x 3sts, 1x 2 sts, 1x 1 st. (remain 16 st) continue to knit until you have reached 9in/xcm from beginning of armhole.
Bind off remaining 16 st
(Optional: or give the shoulder a slight shape by binding off on the knit side (RS) 1x3, 2x2, 1x9)
Body – Back:
Knit exact same piece as front.
After assembling front and back pieces by sewing the sides and the shoulder seams, I turned the top inside out and picked up 135 (approx) stitches all around the neckline with a 26 inch circular needle in a fun contrasting novelty yarn, that could be any kind of frilly, colorful yarn as it should be an obvious contrast to the bland cotton yarn. When I turn the top back right side (RS) facing out , I want this colorful part to fall over the neckline like a round collar. After knitting about 3 in/7.5cm bind off loosely. (Actually I have not reached that part yet.)
Around each armhole I will crochet one or two rows single crochet (sc) just to give it some stability.
Sew in loose yarn ends and try on. I am a size 12/14 and this tops fits perfectly. (even in the unfinished stage). It will be a nice summer top.
And now on to the other three projects.