Finished Object: Saddle Shoulder Aran Vest

This was an absolute pleasure from start to finish. This is my first cable project in awhile, but it is most certainly not my last.


The Stats:

Yarn: 11 skeins Classic Elite Skye Tweed in color # 1272, an extremely hard-to-photograph pale greenish brown
Pattern: Modified Saddle-Shoulder Aran Cardigan from Wool Gathering #63, by Meg Swansen
Needles: size 6 US with size 4 US for garter stitch edgings
Gauge: 5.5 sts. per inch, in pattern
Size: 40″ chest, 25 inches long from shoulder to hem, zilch ease
Started: 1.12.08
Finished: 2.9.08
Who’s it for?: Mr. HelloYarn

The Yarn:

I freaking love this yarn. I wish I had 100 skeins. The coloring is gorgeous and it washes up into this nice, dense, soft, felty fabric that is both pleasing to look at and touch. Mr HelloYarn is quite a bit more sensitive to the scratchiness of wools than I am, and he’s fine with this one. I’ve heard some complaints about the lack of softness in this wool from other knitters, but we think it’s scrumptious.

The Knitting:

This pattern is for a cardigan, but was super easy to change into a vest. All I had to do was skip the sleeves (how refreshing!), put the underarm sts. on a holder, put a steek in where the arm would be, and let the yoke shaping (at the 4 points where the sleeve would be meeting the body) shape the top of the vest. The shape is perfect! Instead of the saddle coming from the top of the sleeve, I just cast the saddle stitches on, attached them to the top edge of the armhole, and worked them back and forth, attaching them to the front and back of the top vest edges as I went, just like in the pattern.

This whole vest was knit in the round with steek stitches where the front opening, arm holes, and front neck would be. I used Meg Swansen’s crocheted steek-securing instructions that are in the pattern and wonderfully illustrated by Eunny Jang on her blog. I’d never done crocheted steeks before, but they’re holding well and look very nice. I am totally sold. I love those red stripes created by the crocheting yarn! Both the yarn used in the vest and the securing yarn (Peace Fleece) are nice and woolly and grippy, lending to the success, I’m sure. I used a 7 stitch steek, which is a nice, safe number and makes a nice facing on the inside, as well. I haven’t done anything to tack the facings down on the inside and I don’t think I’ll have to.

This pattern begs for cable substitutions, but I left two out of the three used in the original. The Fishbone and its friends the Ram’s Horn, etc., are favorites of mine, and the Sheepfold is one of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s great inventions, so in they stayed. While looking for a third cable to round out the design, I stumbled on the Banjo Cable in Barbara G. Walker’s A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns and my mind was made up for me. Mr. HelloYarn’s one true passion is playing the banjo. He approved the swatches and off I went.

To keep the vest from riding up in the back, I raised the back of the vest in the shoulder area by working short rows across the back, from steek to steek. I added about an inch and a half there, and another inch in the garter stitch bottom band, which I picked up after cutting the front steek and worked back and forth. So far, the vest hasn’t ridden up at all. After much failure in this department, this one seems to be a total success.

The garter edgings, including the bottom band, were knit on after with a needle two sizes smaller. For the bottom band, I picked up one stitch for each stitch, and then decreased by 10% on the first row. The bottom band is nicely in line with the shape of the vest. For the vertical bands, I picked up 2 for 3 sts. For the back neck, I picked up 1:1 and then decreased about twice as many stitches, slowly, over a few rows, as instructed in the pattern. This and the raising of the back of the neck a bit with short rows keeps the neck from riding low, which is something I noticed about this cardigan while looking at ones others have knit. Mr. HelloYarn likes his back necks high and snug. The decreasing and raising worked very well.

The arm edgings were mitered at the bottom corners like the neck is in the pattern, and I decreased 6 sts. across the top 25 or so sts. to keep the edging snug on the shoulder. That works like a charm, as well.

Afterthought pockets were the last thing added. Afterthought, indeed. Last Friday night I sewed in the last end, scooched forward on the couch to get up and proclaim the vest finished, and had one thought- “Pockets”. Whoops. So, I snipped a strand and pulled out enough sts. for the opening, and knit the afterthought pockets as described by Elizabeth Zimmermann in Knitting Around. Navigating the twisted stitches while pulling out the strand was a little bracing, but the pockets are great. I highly recommend the method and shaping.

What didn’t work? The buttonholes. They’re too big. Tonight they’re going to get a tightening with some single crochet around the inner edges. As it is, the buttons keep threating to come out.

Did I forget anything? I’ve had quite a week and don’t trust my brain. If you think I forgot something or you have a question, please ask away. Maybe I did cover everything. This is one gigantic post for a little vest!

See all SSAV posts for more info.
Visit the Flickr gallery for even more photos.

34 Responses to “Finished Object: Saddle Shoulder Aran Vest”

  1. Caro

    An absolute triumph – so nice to see all the details, too.

  2. darlene

    How beautiful, Adrian!!! Mr HY is sooooo lucky to have something so wonder as this! Absolutely awesome!

  3. michelle

    I love all the details! so beautiful, I mean handsome. The skye tweed is some good stuff – one of my favorites

  4. Elli

    Fantastic! I wish I could go back and throw some shortrows into my ssac. And I adore those red steeks!

  5. whitney

    It’s such a fabulous vest! I’ve really enjoyed watching it come together here and over on flickr. Love that banjo cable!

  6. David

    Wow! Perfection! I’m so jealous. Those pockets look like they were planned from the start.

  7. michael

    Wonderful, just wonderful! I keep thinking ‘ooh, I need a vest’, even though I don’t wear them much, but maybe if I knit one…

  8. Marie

    How beautiful! I’m in love with those cables flanking the button band and decorating the back. And the yarn! I’m kicking myself for not buying a bunch when I was at Webs this summer (the fiance turning up his nose at it sort of dampened my enthusiasm at the time…boo).

  9. Alice from france

    Wow! This vest is really beautiful! You made an amazing work on it!! You should have been concentred and patient but the result is stunning!!

  10. Guro

    Yum! Mr. Helloyarn is a lucky man. The design of the vest is gorgeous. Great job!

  11. PumpkinMama

    What a wonderful piece. As always, you’ve really got an eye for just the right details that make it special.

  12. Willemtje

    I am simply speechless! Wonderful vest, what a lucky man. Am also grateful for your notes, I’ll certainly try out the shortrows next time I make a sweater or cardigan, as I have the same problem.

    Willemtje, a fellow knitter from the Netherlands

  13. Erica

    Beautiful vest, and I agree Mr. HelloYarn is one lucky guy. I am never showing my husband this. Ha ha.

    It always makes me laugh when you say “it was super easy to change” and “all I had to do was…” then followed by a couple of paragraphs of mods. You have the mad skillz!

  14. Julia

    Beautiful! Uh, I mean, rugged and handsome! Love the Banjo cable, that just totally customizes it!

  15. Jody

    Gorgeous! I usually don’t like vests, bnut this one is just gorgeous! And I’m a sucker for a great tweed!

  16. jessie

    Wow, really lovely! I’m so in love with cables and finishing details – I adore the cable combo and the contrast of the steeks. Fantastic job!

  17. Max

    The buttons are wonderful, and I love how the banjo medallions echo them. This is a really nice piece of work. When I say You inspire me, I mean that literally. I think of you when I am at my own knitting, and go a little further for it :)

  18. merete

    i love the banjo cable. so unusual. and the yarn is the same as i am playing around with right now. and it is just great and i wish you had a hundred balls and were a bit short of money. it is so nice to work with.
    and mr. hello yarn looks great in his vest. it is not a garment for anyone but it looks so great on him. i adore the pic with him and the banjo.
    learned from gillian welch at a gig this summer that back home (in america) they find a girl who plays the banjo sexy. and it may apply for men too.
    great great job. and thanks for any shared advice.

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