Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Modest Accomplishement

I present to you my first Fair Isle Project:

The pattern is the Man's Fair Isle Waistcoat from Traditional Knitting. I modified the pattern to use steeks at the neck and armholes. For some strange reason, the pattern was written up flat. Not very traditional, eh?

I believe this was a pretty good first time Fair Isle project because the color designs were quite simple. The diamonds were the hardest part, but they were alternated with an extremely easy section. No sleeves also make it a short project.

I had a huge learning curve to surmount with this project. Yes, I've done stranded knitting, but never on this scale. I've done mittens at a fine gauge and I've knit sweaters at a larger gauge. But this was a cat of a different color.

Yes I've cut a steek before, on a medium sized swatch. It didn't prepare me for the shaping that goes along with an actual garment. Or what happens at the tops of the armhole where you cast off. I never tried finishing those swatch steeks either. Obviously, I had to neaten the steeks on this vest. I used button hole stitch around all the edges. Tedious work.

Yes, I've done button bands, but it's been a while. I don't think I'd ever attempted a moss-stitch button band. Thanks to the advice of many, I switched to a pick up of 3 stitches to every 4 rows. Ted's way of doing it sounds like the sanest and most precise method but I just couldn't do it. I think knitting for me is a right-brained activity and I seem to want to make it an intuitive process. To compensate for my lack of precision, I used Mary Jane's tip of using k1, p1 rib for several rows, and then switching. Mary Jane recommended 4 rows, I, in my pigheadedness, choose 3. It works anyway. The stretchiness of the rib compensates for any minor difference between the buttonhole gauge and the sweater's edge.

I sound so formal about this. I don't know why. I'm very tired because I pushed to get this done. I was supposed to do some shopping this afternoon, but I knew I wouldn't be very good at it because the vest was weighing on my mind.

The socks I started last weekend are done:

They gave me the break I needed from the vest. I guess I had to get my feet under me. (get it,? my feet? ha!) The yarn is Austerman Step, and the pattern is my own. Figure 8 cast on for the toes, a flap heel, and then some calf shaping leading into baby cables in the ribbing. I liked working with the Austerman Step but I don't think I'd buy it again. The yarn was a birthday gift and much enjoyed because of it.

I still intend to work on the gray cardigan for myself, but I'm getting to a tricky point where I need to make some decisions as I knit. I'm going to leave it for next weekend, because I don't always think very clearly in the evenings after work.

This means I am now a free agent. I can knit whatever I want this week. I wonder what I'll choose. Maybe I'll go stash diving this evening.


  1. Anonymous9:46 pm

    What a beautiful vest! I haven't mustered up the courage to do steeking! More power to ya!

  2. Whoa! Modest - nothin'! That vest is fabulous, girl! Great job! I'm very impressed with your mad knitting skillz.

    I also love the socks. I am curious, though -- why would you not buy that yarn again?

  3. As for the vest? WOW...what amazing work, not only for the fair isle work but the steeks? Really I only dream about attempting them. Well done.

  4. Wowza -- that vest looks fantastic!

  5. That vest is a beauty! You are a brave soul - steeking is just too much for me, yet, anyway.

  6. Steeks???? Haven't had the courage yet....but, those socks....nice!

  7. Wow! Steeks and fair isle make me cringe - you've done a wonderful job!

  8. Do you have any idea how happy I am to see a reference to Fair Isle that actually includes patterns and peeries and steeks?!!! Ah, bliss. It's lovely!

  9. Modest? No way. Its awesome, congrats :)

  10. Let me clarify my terms "modest accomplishment".

    For me, this vest represents a goal that I have achieved and I am proud of it. But I also want to be modest because recognize that many others have created such works and plenty of them were bigger, fancier and more beautiful. I don't want to belittle my accomplishment, but I do want to be realistic about it.

  11. Hi Laurie -- I love the vest. Could you provide more details about the book containing the pattern? Thanks!

  12. Absolutely stunning vest. So impressive!

  13. I will help you be realistic about it: IT is AMAZING! much more than a modest accomplishment! Give yourself a big pat on the back!

    ...and the socks rock too!