Monday, January 19, 2009

Completion

It's been a long journey to get to this point, but now I can officially say that I've completed my first stranded garment and cut my first steek.

Pattern: Ivy League Vest by Eunny Jang, winter 2007 Interweave Knits
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette (100% Peruvian Highland wool), colorways Twig, Bark, Mist, Fog, Blue, and Navy, one skein or less each
Needles: US 3 (3.25) and US 1 (2.25) circs
Started/Completed: November 29, 2008/January 14, 2009

There are so many things to love about this vest. Above all, I love how well the colors ended up working, especially after dithering over my choices for so many weeks. In the end, I decided to go with two shades of three colors -- brown, blue, and gray. It turned out exactly as I wanted.

I also really liked working with this yarn. In the skein, it felt a little scratchy, but it didn't feel at all rough when knitting with it. It is rather loosely plied, which gives it a lovely lofty look, and has just enough "grip" to it to give the finished fabric a smooth appearance after blocking; that little bit of fuzziness fills in any spaces between stitches. Although my color decision took so long, I'm rather glad that I weighted so many options, because now I have plenty of shades with which to knit some pretty stranded mittens and gloves and things!

The most difficult part of knitting this pattern (aside from taking scissors to my knitting) was following the chart and keeping track of my start and end point as I completed increases and decreases. Eventually, I was able to read my knitting and judge where I was based on what I'd already completed, but it took some time to adjust.

Cutting the steeks turned out to be not nearly as scary as I was expecting. I would not have done it without reinforcing the steeks on my sewing machine -- but, in fact, getting the vest under the machine in order to sew those reinforcements proved to be more difficult than doing the actual cutting. While the idea of purposefully cutting a hole in my knitting still seems a little bit like sacrilege to me, I don't think I'll ever purposefully avoid patterns that have steeks in the future.

In addition to helping me get over that fear, this pattern also helped to practice and perfect my continental knitting technique. I do colorwork two-handed, with the main color in my right hand and the complimentary color in my left. While I'd managed to knit left-handed before, I could never quite get purling down. This vest has faux purled seams along the side and corrugated ribbing around the neck that forced me to purl with the color in my left hand, and I've now mastered that skill. It's still much less comfortable than knitting and purling with my right hand, but it's good to know that I can do it with both hands for colorwork projects.

For the most part, I'm very happy with how the vest turned out, but there are a couple of minor issues. The bottom flips up a little bit, as you can see in the side view above, but I think that can be combatted with some additional blocking.

The larger issue (no pun intended) is that it's a bit big. I knew that the finished size might not match the pattern when I started out, because I decided to go with the needle size that gave me the fabric I liked rather than the size that gave me gauge and went up a size to account for the difference. I also probably exacerbated the problem by blocking rather aggressively to counteract another problem -- puffing of the fabric on either side of the neck (probably caused by a difference in gauge when I went down two needle sizes for the neck band and because I misread the directions and didn't pick up enough stitches). Clearly it's not so big that it's unwearable, but I would have liked a little less ease had I been able to make the numbers work.

You know the most amazing thing about this vest? It took a skein or less of each color of the yarn to knit -- no more than 230 yards of any one color. The blue took the most -- I had only a yard or two left when I was done -- but there's a good half skein left of both shades of gray. I had two skeins of each color to start, so theoretically I could make this again if I wanted to.

Finally, what would a post on a fair isle garment be without a shot of the guts?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bravo! It looks terrific.

choo choo knits said...

A-MAZ-ING! I love it!!!

Jenn said...

That looks amazing, you did a great job!

Julie said...

What an awesome job! It looks fantastic (even the inside looks great).

Virtuous said...

Wonderful work!! It came out great!!

Pat said...

WOW Sarah!!! Your vest is beyond gorgeous!
(I've never steeked anything...yet)

Jen said...

Gorgeous! It looks great on you!!

Walden said...

Wonderful job! I have yet to do anything that intensive with color-work. The colors you picked do work very well together.

wordtapestry said...

Beautiful color choices. And now I'm tempted to go put the pattern in my queue.

marirob said...

like so many others, the first thought I had when I saw your vest was "AMAAAAZZIIINNGGG!" It really is. I really think you did a great job, from color choice to execution. Woo hoo!

Anna said...

The inside is as beautiful as the outside - the sign of a true master!

Jane said...

Very nice! I love your color choices.

Kenny said...

Wow, that is really really nice! Good job. Steeking and all, and all your stitches are so even, no puckering at all!!! Bravo

Octopus Knits said...

Lovely! Your color choices are beautiful, and you did a wonderful job with the stranding (the inside is lovely, too)!

I will have to try steeking sometime soon...

bockstark.knits said...

WOW WOW WOW AMAZING!!!!

DPUTiger said...

That looks great, and your color choices are perfect. If I ever become a size conducive to knitting this garment, I may steal your color scheme!

Rachel said...

The vest is amazing and I really think the three colors in two shades worked so well. the color variations are interesting without being too busy. Had you picked 6 very different colors, I think it might have been too much.

weezalana said...

Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous! Fab colors and just lookit that amazing colorwork, stunning!

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

Such an accomplishment, it looks fantastic! Next up for you : Autumn Rose;)

Rebecca said...

Sarah! I LOVE IT! I'm behind on blog reading and so missed your post on this until now. You did a fabulous job! Your floats look wonderful, your tension looks wonderful and the pattern really pops. Now, isn't this addicting?

I also think the fit looks fine on you even though you are thinking it looks big.... it is gorgeous! Congratulations on a job well-done.