knitted wool vest, just in time for summer

by longtallyarn

The sweater kit.

I’ve never been one to turn down free yarn.  Especially free wool.  A friend gave me a sweater kit a few years ago.  I can’t be sure of the year that it was assembled, but I would guess it’s at least a decade old, probably more.  I didn’t love the sweater design, and was surprised to find that the sweater pattern provided was not for the sweater on the illustration.  For example, the cardigan I had started possessed double button-holes, and the one in the picture did not.  I don’t care for rib knit bottoms on sweaters anyway (too much like a sweatshirt, poofs out in an unflattering way, and tends to ride up), so I ditched that mysterious project and decided to use the yarn for something else.  Something large enough to let me take advantage of having a whole sweater’s-worth of matching yarn, but small enough that I wouldn’t run out mid-project, because I doubted this yarn could be matched.

I found this cute vest pattern on ravelry and decided to knit it from my sweater kit yarn.  The kit claimed that the yarn was worsted weight, but it seemed a little thinner to me, so I decided to double the strands since the pattern calls for chunky.  I also decided to knit with size six needles because I don’t like flimsily knitted garments unless they are meant to be lace.  I knew I would need to make the vest in a slightly bigger size than provided in the pattern because I am more of a large than a small-medium.

Neck, first increase, and first few inches of shoulder.

The vest was knit from the neck down.  Judging from my knitted gauge, my own measurements, and the indications provided in the pattern, I realized that I should add a few extra inches of knitting at the shoulder, which I did.  When I got a couple inches past the arm holes, I was able to try it on, and discovered that I had not added enough.  The shoulders did not extend to the edge of my shoulders, and the body was too snug.  (The neck fit just fine…)  I ripped back to the yoke, which was an inconvenience because the doubled strands were thoroughly wrapped together and were sticking to each other.

Then I knitted another increase row and a few more inches, which should have solved the narrowness and the snugness problems.  Now, however, I was destined to run short on yarn.  I asked former-art-major, Oso, whether I should start blending in another color from my stash so that I would have enough yarn to finish.  He had a few ideas, but the one I selected was to simply make the vest shorter.

When I was nearing the end of the yarn, I switched from garter to stockinette stitch, as indicated by the pattern, which was to form the non-rolling band at the bottom of the vest.  I ran out of yarn before I knitted enough rows of this, though, and once I finished and tried the vest on, I found that it had a tendency to roll up from the bottom.  A strong tendency.  So I ripped back again, into the stockinette, and knitted more rows in garter.  Would that I had simply had more yarn…  However, now the sweater is solidly knit and finished.  Seems like half my projects end this way (prematurely, that is).

I ended up blocking the vest to stretch the bust area, because the left and right sides easily meet at the top and bottom of the vest, but not in the middle.  Should have added more increases in that last increase row, I guess.  After blocking, it does fit me better.

The pattern for the sweater was easy and pleasant to knit, resulting in a cute and sturdily constructed garment.  There were not seams to sew up.  The large yoke is flattering.  I heartily recommend the pattern– but only to a woman of smaller frame who will not have to guess at modifications, because guessing was where I experienced most of my frustrations.

What I am getting at, here, is that I’m not good at modifying a pattern to fit my needs.  Random changes made by guess instead of calculation are only sometimes successful.  So when Oso took me to the bookstore yesterday and offered to buy me any book I wanted, I chose Sweater Design in Plain English, reviewed here by someone else.  I skimmed it at Barnes and Noble, and decided it appeared well-written and useful.  It purports to be useful for modifying existent patterns as well as making all sorts of calculations.  I don’t know if a self-designed sweater will be my next project, or even my next sweater since I have knit fairly few large items.  However, I feel the urge coming on to design a garment and hope to report success within the next year.