Second time’s the charm

Midnight Vineyard vestLook what I (finally) finished!

After the slightly traumatic frogging episode, I didn’t bounce back as fast as I’d planned. If I’d actually gone back to working on this after I finished the first Larch shawlette, I suspect I’d have finished it in February sometime. But in procrastinating on Midnight Vineyard, I finished the Basket Stitch Sampler which had been in limbo for far longer, so I’m not going to be too hard on myself. And the reknitting was mainly tedious, not complicated. All I had to do was narrow the shoulders, and other than that, the shaping was exactly as it had been the first time around. I’m going to blame some of the procrastination on the pattern stitch. Half-linen stitch shows these two yarns off nicely, but it doesn’t grow quickly, and I have a comparatively short attention span for projects. Anyway, the vest is done now, and I’m already starting to forget the boring, repetitive parts of the project. The final proof that frogging and reknitting the upper body was the right thing to do? The vest fits.

Midnight Vineyard Vest being worn.This was my first project with shaping in it for fit’s sake. Nothing fancy—I’m still a beginner at this!—but I narrowed the waist. Okay, more accurately, I gave it a waist. It didn’t seem like much on paper, but all the little decreases added up to losing 12 stitches between the hip and the waist and adding all 12 of them back in on the way to the bust, and that was a difference of almost 2½ inches (6 cm). I’ve been wary of close-fitting garments because so many of the ones I’ve bought from stores haven’t fit me all that well, and then they’re confining. But in giving Midnight Vineyard waist shaping, all I did was take away excess fabric—less to knit!—and when I’ve worn it, I didn’t find it restrictive or binding. The only change I’d make on this pattern if I were to do it again would be to loosen the bottom ribbing, mostly to minimize strain and wear on it. I started knitting Midnight Vineyard months before Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter was published, but it’s encouraging me to see how many of her tips I can incorporate into future patterns.

Reset and diversion

Sometimes you don’t post about the knitting because you’re just knitting along and there’s nothing much to say. Sometimes you don’t post about the knitting because you made such an elementary mistake THAT YOU CAN’T TRUST YOURSELF TO WRITE COHERENTLY ABOUT IT FOR A WEEK—

[takes deep breath] Sorry about that. Let’s try this again.

Last Saturday, I finished knitting the body of the Midnight Vineyard vest. Armed with T-pins, a tape measure, and my schematic, I began to pin it out for blocking, starting with the shoulders. Sixteen inches (41 cm) wide, good, just stick another pin in over there and pause a moment to imagine what this will look like with the ribbing, and…

Ribbing. Oh…frak. I forgot to allow for the ribbing when I calculated the shoulder width. Sixteen inches was supposed to be the finished width of the shoulders; add ribbing, and now the shoulders will be eighteen inches (46 cm) wide, meaning they’ll either flare or drape oddly, and…and…

[insert the quiet sound of frogging wool here]

Did you know the upper body of a vest is about 40% of the total?

[rip, rip, rip]

In other news, here’s what I’m working on right now. Having just learned that I was being invited to a friend’s birthday party, a gift seemed in order. Since there is a minute chance that the friend might see this post prior to her birthday, I will say no more about it, but merely tantalize with a small detail photo.


The birthday in question is in early January. We will not go into any detail as to how much frogging I’ve had to do on what is pretty much basic garter stitch—I have got to put down the knitting needles when I find myself yawning. But to get this done in time, I’m going to have to be more or less monogamous with it, which means the Midnight Vineyard Vest and I will have a decent cooling-off period before I tackle it again. Which will probably be healthiest for both of us.

Knitting quietly

The Midnight Vineyard Vest is coming along nicely. I finished the back last week and cast on straight away for the front, lest I get distracted or have an attack of startitis and suddenly have another UFO on my hands. I had wondered if the half-linen stitch would consume more yarn than the original pattern stitch for the Very Luminary Vest, but I’m a few inches into the front now and still haven’t used up the first balls of either color, so never mind. (New worry: this could mean I have a lot of leftover yarn when I’m done. Then what?) I’m not saying I haven’t been tempted by other projects, but since this project has been growing noticeably, it’s kept my interest. Yes, I realize that since it keeps my interest, I continue to knit on it, which is why it’s growing noticeably, which is why it keeps my interest…it’s a non-vicious cycle.

So anyway, nothing’s wrong over here in Knitting Land, but with nothing starting or stopping, there hasn’t been anything to report. Knitting monogamy: one of the top reasons knitting blogs go quiet.

Plan B

I am not knitting the Very Luminary Vest.  Everything was going fine until I knit the first gauge swatch. (Which is to say, everything was going fine until I actually tried to start the project.) There were two problems:

  1. The pattern stitch for the Very Luminary Vest turned out to be a variation on seed stitch. If I wanted to knit seed stitch, I’d have continued knitting on the Summer Sampler.
  2. Although I made sure that my solid yarn (navy blue) didn’t pick up any of the colors in my variegated yarn (green and purple), the two yarns were still too similar to show the pattern stitch off to any advantage. The gauge swatch managed to look both boring and muddied. This wouldn’t have been a Very Luminary Vest so much as a Very Tenebrous Vest.


Not the Very Luminary Vest.

This has not stopped me from wanting to knit a vest, but it has taken me more effort to get to the starting point than when working from a published pattern. Since my two yarns are never going to work as originally intended, and may or may not go with another pattern, I’m designing a vest for them. I’m calling it Midnight Vineyard because of the colorways I’m using. The two yarns are from Blackberry Ridge, their Traditional Colors Medium Weight (the navy blue yarn) and their Kaleidoscope Medium Weight in a colorway called Grapes on the Vine (the green and purple yarn). This is one of those projects where the yarn will be doing most of the work, so I’m going for a simple pattern, a basic crew neck pullover vest. After poring over pattern stitches, I decided to use half-linen stitch. Sally Melville praises the traditional wrong side of this stitch, and I think that side worked well in the Slip-Into-Color Pullover, but with these yarns, I think the traditional right side works the best. I’m hoping working the navy blue yarn in will mitigate any pooling from the Kaleidoscope yarn.

Nothing left at this point but the knitting. May the urge to knit this vest lasts as long as the project does.

Cold snap compulsion

I have an irresistible compulsion to knit a vest.* This craving was set off by several factors:

  1. I am not in the mood to knit a summer sweater. This is relevant because I currently am knitting a summer sweater: the Summer Sampler. I started it last month, once I recovered from the state fair, and overall, it’s been going well. Okay, every time I hit one of the seed stitch bands, I feel as if I’m slogging through molasses, but eventually I make it to the end and progress has been made. The thing is, it was warm last month. Yes, I know I just spent most of the summer knitting a heavy, warm, winter sweater (interrupted by a selection of shawlettes) without any apparent cognitive dissonance, but for whatever reason (the name, perhaps?), the Summer Sampler wants to be knitted in warm weather. Warm weather vanished on October 4 this year, and now I’m having to force myself to knit on this sweater. Of course, that might be because I’m in the widest of the seed stitch bands and will accept any excuse to take a break from it.
  2. Our office has no heat. Oh, our building has heat, but apparently the heat registers in our office aren’t working. (Yet a room within our office has heat. Go figure.)  This has led me to work my way through my stock of vests, and I’m feeling inspired to add to it. I can justify putting the Summer Sampler on hold because this is a matter of survival.
  3. I want to knit the Very Luminary Vest. I can start it right away: I have both the pattern and the yarn in hand.** It’ll offer a bit of a challenge as well. Although the stitch looks simple enough, in looking over the pattern, I think I’m going to want to tweak the armhole and back neck measurements some, plus maybe muck around a bit with the gauge since the size I want falls in between the sizes offered. I hate being forced to choose between a slightly-too-small vest that may gap between the buttons when worn and a way-too-large vest which will have all the charm of a beautifully-knitted potato sack. You know, I may be almost completely rewriting the pattern before I’m through, a Very Luminary Vest in name and general appearance only.

It’s a dreary fall day here in Minnesota. Perfect for a cup of hot tea, a comfy sofa, and an evening of knitting gauge swatches. Vest, here I come!

You can see the vest in this yarn, right?


*Well, it might be resistible. I haven’t actually tried.

**Indeed, I have had them in hand for over four years now. I really must reduce this stash someday.

August round-up

August is not the best time to keep a crafting blog up-to-date. August is both the month in which state fair entries are due and the month of my family reunion. It’s not that I’m not crafting; I just don’t have time to write about it. This year, I managed to combine both sources of pressure in my life by hauling state fair entries along with me to the reunion. This was going to be the only way I could finish them in time since I was going to be out of town up until the last 24 hours in which entries could be turned in. Plus, knitting would be a fine way to pass the hours of a six-hour bus ride across the Upper Midwest. So here’s all that’s been finished in the last month.

Lexington vest
Lexington Vest
Lexington vest (fair)
The Lexington Vest at the fair

The Lexington vest has been in my life since 2008. This is the project that taught me that I have no patience for intarsia. As you can see, the design is simple enough, but I instantly lost interest in wrapping the yarns on each and every row. It ended up being shoved from one place to another in my apartment, and I would work on it in occasional bursts of guilt before dropping it again and gratefully finding something else to work on. I unearthed it again in early August and impulsively vowed to get it done for this year’s fair (there was still half of the front left, plus finishing). Chances are, if I hadn’t set myself that deadline, it could have languished in my closet for another three years. I was just using the fair as motivation for this project; I didn’t seriously expect it to win anything. I probably figured if I didn’t like it, no one else would like it either. And then much to my surprise, it took third in its category.

Sandy Smoke Ring
Sandy Smoke Ring

I’ve called this the Sandy Smoke Ring, mostly to distinguish it from the pink version that I knitted last fall. It didn’t place at the fair, but that’s all right. I have no idea what I’ll wear it with, but I still like it. I am, however, getting increasingly frustrated with Mini Mochi. This was the yarn that had such extreme color variation within the same dye lot when I used the Babyface colorway for the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf. This time around, the colors were quietly restrained—hallelujah! However, the second ball was wound in the opposite direction of the first. Luckily I realized that before starting to knit with it and having the top third of the cowl with colors going in a reverse sequence. Even ripping out as simple a lace pattern as Feather and Fan would’ve been a nasty challenge.

Peaceful Pastels afghan (fair)
Peaceful Pastels Afghan

The Peaceful Pastels Afghan placed second in the round crocheted afghans division.






Marble Throw (red)
Marble Throw (red)

What with working in a chilly office, I’m developing quite an appreciation for wraps, throws, afghans, shawls, and anything else that can make work bearable. This is the second time I’ve made this lap blanket. This time around, I went down a needle size, from 11 to 10½. At this tighter gauge, I was able to knit the entire blanket as the designer intended without running out of yarn, and the blanket just feels better at this gauge. I’m still taken enough with the yarn to want to make another one, so now I’m figuring that this one will stay home (I already gave it a workout at a strongly air-conditioned Starbucks a couple of nights ago) and I’ll make another one for the office.

The laws of anatomy

When I first saw the Bookworm Vest in Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Vests, I liked it. It was simple without being boring, and it looked like it would set off Cascade 220 Quatro quite nicely. The only drawback was that even the smallest size, Size A, was larger than I wanted. Maybe this should’ve rung an alarm bell, since this is not a problem I normally have with women’s patterns. But after I looked over the stitch pattern, it seemed that resizing the pattern would be really easy. All I would have to do is make the slightest of alterations to the pattern stitch, and most of my work would be done. So I plunged in.

Much, much later, when I had finished the back, it became clear to me why this pattern doesn’t go below Size A.

Bookworm Vest

I suppose it’s not all that obvious when the vest is lying flat, but the upper back is much narrower than my actual upper back or most women’s. Somehow I completely forgot that your shoulder width has nothing to do with how much you weigh. Or to put it another way, most women’s shoulder widths fall in a much narrower range of sizes than their waists do. So when I went for my < Size A vest, the shoulders shrank in the same proportions as the rest of the vest, becoming ridiculously narrow. No reasonable amount of armhole edging is going to make up for that.

So sometime along, when I’m feeling destructive, this vest gets frogged. Yes, there’s probably some way to reknit the back to more human proportions, but I’m just not interested enough to do it. The Quatro 220 can become some other vest or be donated to charity or something, and I can stop suffering feelings of obligation every time I see the project in the closet.

But drat, I did want to see how those pockets were going to turn out…