But although I have a lot of pictures to spruk I haven’t finished blocking it yet so I’ll hold that in reserve. But it’s done!
I’m really glad I decided to do this particular vest and even more pleased I bought the yarn suggested from Jamieson & Smith!
Considering I live in Australia this was no small thing! But it all came, no problems and I was so interested to see what this fabled wool was really like. Admittedly, after all the soft, soft yarn you can buy; this yarn was what you’d call “robust”. But not too bad and I thought I would just knit it, trusting that since countless generations of Shetlanders have managed to keep themselves warm and cosy, then surely one Australian, more used to merino than anything else, could manage to make a passable article of clothing too.
So I cast on in June of 2014.
The colours were lovely and the colour changes almost hypnotic. Because I wanted to savour this project I didn’t rush. I’d do some rows and then move on to something else, finish it, then a few more rows of the Alcott Vest and then something else. There was no urgency and I could read the instructions carefully instead of skimming over them like I usually do and relying on pictures instead!
And I might have continued on in this lazy, self-indulgent manner if one of my other character flaws hadn’t weighed in. Procrastination!
My eldest son is a mad Monty Python fan and I found a great pixilated poster with many characters from Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. I turned it into a cross stitch pattern and decided I would complete it for his birthday (December 2015)
…On fine gauge cloth…
…With 2 strands per stitch…
This seemed like such a good idea at first. But because of the smallness of the stitches I have to wear a headlamp to sew at night because I don’t have a daylight lamp for my table. So I’d sit at the table, looking like some demented coal miner, blinding everyone when they tried to talk to me because I’d look up and hit ’em with bright LED light right in the eyes!
So, with the (poor) excuse of sparing my eyes I put it aside after 5 characters and picked up the Alcott Vest instead.
It grew quite quickly when I concentrated on it alone and I steamed ahead until I got to the part where you cast on the steek stitches. I’ve never done steeks. I have heard a lot about them but never had an opportunity to experience it myself. Now that was all about to change!
I was interested as I continued the Fair Isle pattern and watched the shape of the vest change dramatically. The rows that look like rib stitch are the steeks.
They continued the rest of the way up the body of the vest until I bound off the shoulders, joining them as I did the three-needle bind off. Then came the preparation before cutting.
It didn’t even look like a top any more! Just a really weird shaped bag! I did a crocheted edge around the middle steek stitch so there was an easy-to-see ladder to cut between them. This was really exciting and worrying because I knew intellectually that it should work, but it seemed to go directly in the face of everything I’ve ever done with knitting. Cutting up the material like it was fabric!
Eeek! First cut!
But after that, it was surprisingly easy. And nothing unravelled! And soon, I had something laid out before me that looked more like a vest!
Awesome! Okay…and now, the actual knitting up!
That was slightly less fun only because it’s difficult picking up stitches of a certain number when there just seem to be threads going off anywhere! But with a helpful knitting app on my android called Knitting Pattern Database which has a brilliant calculator for increasing or decreasing stitches or rows, I did finally figure it out so I didn’t end up with floppy edges or too-tight ones.
See? Stitches picked up…
…And now here’s the new completed neck. Isn’t that neat??
The steek stitches become like the interfacing you would use on a top made in fabric. I can not adequately expressed how immensely pleased I am with this project! Although the vast quantity of photos probably gives it away.
If there was anything I wish I’d done differently, I kind of wish I’d done the body longer. I don’t usually wear anything at my waist. It only tends to make my hips look enormous! But I wasn’t sure if the wool would stretch to doing an extra pattern repeat I might have added so I decided instead to make it as instructed. Which is still good. This was pre-blocking and I’ve noticed since I washed it and stretched it onto the mannequin that it was increased in length a bit. So we’ll see how it goes!
But I have learnt about steeks, how they work, how stable they really are and how EASY they are! I’ve done a heap of stranded knitting and have developed a way of knitting with both hands that suits me. I’ve enjoyed this knit very, very much!
I’m so glad I was brave and decided to give it a go. Does anyone else do that from time to time? Challenge themselves in a technique they may not have tried in a craft they love?
Tell me, go on!