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.
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
Who’s it for?: Mr. HelloYarn
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.
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!