After my previous post about this yarn, I got to thinking about why most projects have some area of angst or turmoil about them. If I can see that turmoil through by letting it be, leaving it for another project and coming back to it, or trying something else entirely new, then generally something inevitably ‘clicks’ and there’s magic in the end. I wrote recently of my struggles with too much texture and matching a suitable pattern with my vanilla shawl. Same thing: Some turmoil within in the creating process and eventually, harmony. I am beginning to accept this as part of the process every.single.time, on every.single.project, as I was starting to with the Snoqualmie Valley spin and shawl.
The turmoil and angst was early in this project, which I wrote about at length here. The interesting thing about that is once I had set the spin aside and came back to it a few months later with a new set of expectations and ideas about the project, the rest of the creative process was so smooth that I almost can’t stop grinning from ear-to-ear about the whole thing.
The rest of the spin was pure enjoyment for me (Norah pretty much sums it up in the above photo) – the finished yarn washed and fulled beautifully. And picking a pattern, which I had chosen in early 2016, fit perfectly with the finished yarn (I find I don’t really know for sure until I knit with the yarn whether a pattern is going to work or not). I swatched, obtained gauge and cast on. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am — after the dance in spinning this yarn, the knitted project felt like a waltz. Smooth, controlled and wonderful. A tad dramatic to say but I had a knitted vest complete with brioche collar in under 2.5 weeks (16 days to be exact). The kicker? I didn’t actually work on this a ton – it was a fast knit due to gauge, racer back increases and decreases, and no sleeves.
Needles :: 4.5mm Addis (40″ circulars for body and collar), 4.00mm Addis for i-cord armhole finishing
Below :: The early moments of swatching and wondering if this would turn out.
My initial swatch for this yarn was quite coarse, which I had been a bit concerned about knowing that the collar of this vest would be right against my skin. I soaked it in Eucalan wool/delicate wash for about 20-30 minutes to evaluate whether it would soften the swatch enough to be next-t0-the-skin soft for me*. It dried and I was shocked at how much the yarn softened. Even my Fibre Study group was surprised when they compared my knitting to the washed swatch. The difference was amazing
*I should put in a caveat that I have a very high tolerance to ‘coarse’ yarns and while I don’t enjoy wearing Lopi next to my skin, I can tolerate and enjoy most yarns. If you are a particularly sensitive person to wool, this would probably still be quite ‘coarse’ – it certainly is for my husband who’s exact comment was, “It’s quite rustic, eh?” Yes, honey, yes, it is.
Most of this project was knit at the park during the past two weeks. We have been having unseasonably warm, sunny weather and the kids have been enjoying the days digging at a local ‘digger’ park near our home. It’s about a 5 minute walk to get there so I load the stroller with snacks, diapers and wipes, Tonka trucks, and they ride their scooters. When they get tired and crotchety, we head home but in the meantime, I have been able to accomplish a lot*! As well, when there are racer-back increases and decreases to work, no sleeves and little shaping, it’s amazing how quickly a sweater can be knit. I’m tempted to only knit vests from now on …
*All of April’s fibre club for Sweet Georgia Yarn’s was spun on spindles at this park!
One major modification I made was to add substantial shaping to the lower waist and hips. After taking Amy Herzog’s Sweater Modifications class on Craftsy and reading several of her books, I have been able to easily and simply modify my sweaters to fit me properly. I have actually found that seamless sweaters still fit the best (raglans just work on me) but the measurements and accuracy of that fitting has been really valuable for me. I left the stitch count as was until my natural waist, then increased every 4 rows until I had enough room for my hips at the back. This meant that I added about 4 inches of fabric to the back in darts and not surprisingly, the fit is way better than what it would have been otherwise. I also lengthened (per usual) the total length to 19″ from under arms to bind off.
The large brioche collar in the pattern is what makes the vest, in my opinion and I waffled about my choice to leave it in the natural colour, choosing not to add the second colour. I’m really glad I followed my initial choice and stuck with the one-colour brioche for this. It think it’s rustic and natural – there can be two-colour brioche collars in my future! I used a stretchy bind off to accommodate the stretchiness of the brioche, which wasn’t in the pattern but has made a huge difference in the collar shaping post-washing and blocking, I think.
My only ‘regret’ with this knit is that I picked up too many stitches around the collar for the brioche. Brioche is so full and lofty that picking up at a rate of 1 stitch per 2 rows of knitting (a 50% rate) would have worked better than the 2:3 (60-70%) that I did. As a result, the brioche ‘grows’ past the bottom of the vest, which the sample does as well. It’s a design feature but the extra stitches are just not needed. Thankfully, the collar is warm and cozy so really? It’s totally fine.
Lastly, I’m thinking about adding pockets to this – I have about 200 yards of yarn left and I use my pockets on my cardigans a lot (Where are my keys again?! Oh right.). It would be nice to have them on this as well. I’ll let you know what I decide to do! ETA :: So …. I added pockets! I cast on 22 stitches and knit straight for 26 rows, then knit 6 rows of 2×2 ribbing, casting off on the RS. This worked beautifully and I lined them up on the button band to ensure they would be equal on each side. I’m so glad I added pockets – the wearability of this vest just went up ten-fold!
I love mattress stitch – the seaming is invisible but functional. Perfect.
Until next time,