Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Vest

It started with an innocent share of an advertisement from Craftsy a sale on a class for a Fair Isle Vest.  Admittedly I'm not a vest person, however I am fascinating by the process of knitting Fair Isle, and even more fascinated to cut knitting!

Elizabeth was up for signing up for the class and we'd spend Saturday afternoon / evening having a couple drinks, watching the lessons and going through the steps to create this Fair Isle Vest.

Fair Isle is a type of knitting technique used to create patterns with multiple colors.  It is named after Fair Isle, a tiny island in the north of Scotland, that forms part of the Shetland islands. Traditional Fair Isle patterns have a limited palette of five or so colors, use only two colors per row, are worked in the round, and limit the length of a run (at most 7 stitches) of any particular color. And have limited if any, ends to weave in.

This differs from Intarsia 

Intarsia is a type of knitting technique used to create patterns with multiple colors in blocks of colors to create patterns, such as checker boards or argyle and have a bunch of ends to weave in.

Ultimately with Intarsia you end up with a single layer of wool and with Fair Isle you end up with a double layer of wool and a much heavier (and warmer) fabric.  

In the lovely chilly temps of December 2012, Elizabeth and I started swatching.  To make sure we had gauge for our vests.  

Swatching is like flirting with the yarn and the needles you intend on using to find out if they meet the pattern specifications.  Because the final product is knit in the round and not back and forth the swatch needs to be knit in a similar fashion, doing a 4" swatch in the round would be best, however who has time for that when there is real knitting to be done!!  So the swatch is knit always on the right side, which means that you break the yarn at the end of the row and start the next row on the right side and knit to the left, break the yarn and start on the right and knit to the left and so on, in pattern until you reach 4".

Mine is on top Elizabeth's below
I went with the recommended colors and wool, Elizabeth went wild!
Once you are done with the swatch you measure to make sure you are at gauge, the number of stitches per inch, you may need to swatch again if you are not on gauge or take a risk and go up or down a needle size and hope that meets gauge.

The next part is casting on for the bottom ribbing.  This is knit in the round so you knit 1 purl 1 all the way around to make that band.   Always being careful to join so you don't twist.  If you twist you get a?  Yes! A Mobius strip!

I wasn't careful and guess what!  A math majors delight!

And this time it is correct.  The wool looks a different color due to the background.

 Once the band is done the fun starts!

I couldn't be more pleased with my even and smooth knitting.

And occasionally you have to take a good look at  your work and you realize you screwed up, again.

One of these box rows is not like the other. 
Look at the top!

So I TINKed 6 rounds.  TINK - KNIT backwards,  ha ha ha, even knitters have geeky humor; it's also called "frogging"rip it rip it rip it, sounds like a frog... yeah I'm losing you on that one.

Ah Much better
 And we are back on track!!

We were also nearing the point where Elizabeth managed to get herself a new job in NYC and was going to be leaving and there would be no more Saturday night knitting, which really did kind of suck because we were just getting to the steeking part and after that would be the cutting part.

Steeking is knitting about 8 stitches in alternating color of the round you are working on, this gives the knitter a line to cut down and with Shetland wool, it is very sticky and it sticks to itself and kind of felts together.  Setting up the steek was pretty easy.  It was deciding when to start the steek I struggled with. 

We are Steeked!

Admittedley this is a little hard to figure out what is going on in these pictures.  Mine (top) shows the armhole steek started.  This allows for the garment to continue to be knitted in the round, two arm holes and the V neck steek.

As the knitting progressed the steek looks like this:  See the double column?  That is the middle where the knitting will be cut. 

The inside

All in it looked like this:  (it was this way for well over a year before I mustered up the nerve to cut the steeks)

The steeks were reinforced, probably not necessary and then cut. Kind of exciting cutting the knitting!

Once the knitting was cut the shoulder seams (the stitches on holders at the top) were sewn together.  I should say that I did this incorrectly 3 times... I have no idea why, I managed to not once, not twice but three times sew the front shoulder seams together...  

Pretty cool!

The shoulders sewn and neck and arm bands knitted in

And I really liked the detail of the miter in the neck band

The whole thing was soaked and stretched and pinned and I waited for it to dry to try it on and see if I made it long enough. 


I have to soak and re-stretch it with a bit more vigor to add on about 2 inches.


It is wool, it will stretch and once upon a time sweaters were made in one size and stretched to the final size on a blocking board.  I do not have one of these boards.  I'll figure it out.

Beth, still not able to report a completed knitting project! 

1 comment:

  1. Nice work. Being able to make clothes is a great thing.