The pattern: Cowichan-style Geometric Vest by Pierrot Yarns (free pattern)
The schedule: Start now or whenever. Knit at your own pace!
The hashtag: #fringeandfriendskal2015
Ok friends, here it is! The pattern pick for the Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2015 is the Cowichan-style Geometric Vest from Japanese yarn and pattern company Pierrot. In true Japanese fashion, it’s simply a chart with a few annotations — by which I mean every stitch of the vest is charted, not just the colorwork motif. There are no written instructions — you simply knit what the chart depicts. It’s like the paint-by-numbers version of knitting, and this is an ultra-basic example. (Beginner-friendly, even, if you skip the colorwork.) The pattern is a free download right here — go ahead and take a look.
BIG FUN AHEAD
So raise your hand if you guessed this year’s pick was a Cowichan-style sweater? Congratulations, you were right! Now raise your hand if you guessed it was a Japanese pattern for a men’s vest. … (waiting) … Nobody? Ok, I warned you it was kind of a kooky pick. But give it a minute to sink in. First off, it’s not really a men’s sweater. It’s perfectly unisex in the way that Cowichan sweaters (real or -inspired) are boxy, unisex shapes. It just happens to have a 39″ chest circumference, which can be altered by adjusting the gauge. Think of it: Boys and girls, knitting together! Second, don’t let the Japanese part scare you. What we have here is an incredibly simple vest (very versatile as a wardrobe piece), knitted at superbulky gauge, that can be done with or without the colorwork. To demonstrate these points, I knitted a solid colored one (in O-Wool Balance held triple) at pattern gauge and dimensions, and modeled it above. Cute, right? That’s about 6″ of ease on me, and it would be also be cute with less ease.
So it’s not a whole lot of knitting but it does present some interesting challenges (knitting from a chart instead of written instructions, knitting colorwork flat — or not) and gives us lots to talk about while we knit. We’re going to talk about Japanese patterns, about Cowichan sweaters (and their being co-opted by other cultures), about ways to work that collar, and whatever else comes up along the way.
On Monday I’ll be introducing you to this year’s illustrious Panel of Knitters and their swatches, but I’ll tell you now that we’ve already got a bunch of very different sweaters about to happen from this one pattern. This is going to be a blast.
If you’re perfectly comfortable with the pattern and want to dive right in, go for it. If you have any trepidations at all, I would recommend holding off until you read all of the thoughtful notes from the panelists about how they’re (we’re) each swatching and approaching the sweater — what yarn we’re each using (all drastically different, but all good options), what we’re doing with gauge to change the dimensions, what modifications we might be planning to make, etc. Lots of good food for thought in that Meet the Panel post coming Monday.
And I’ll also have a Hot Tip for you on Tuesday about a way to make it a whole lot easier to swatch with yarn held triple, if you go the DK-held-triple route. So there will be a lot of useful information at the beginning of the week that you might want to read before starting.
YARN / YARDAGE
The vest is knitted at superbulky gauge of 2.5 stitches per inch, but the recommended yarns are not superbulky yarns. They are Pierrot Yarns Soft Merino Bulky (a bulky gauge yarn) held double, and Pierrot Yarns Soft Merino (a DK yarn) held triple.
If you’re substituting, you can use any yarn with which you get your desired gauge. You could knit it all with a single strand of superbulky, or with a bulky held double, or a DK held triple, or any combination of these things. You just need to get your gauge right. I’ve done the math for you, but make sure you round up from these numbers to be sure you’ll have enough; yardage does vary from one knitter and one yarn to the next—
MC (brown) :
pattern calls for 12 skeins x 44 yards = 528 yards of bulky (held double)
= 264 yards superbulky
= 792 yards DK (held triple)
CC1 (red) :
pattern calls for 3 skeins x 104 yards = 312 yards of DK (held triple)
= 104 yards superbulky
= 208 yards bulky (held double)
CC2 (black) :
pattern calls for 2 skeins x 44 yards = 88 yards of bulky (held double)
= 44 yards superbulky
= 132 yards DK (held triple)
I repeat: These are approximate numbers. Please buy more than you think you need, just to be safe!
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
There is no sign-up form or deadline (or Ravelry group to join) or anything like that. To knit along, simply knit along!
Ask questions and share your progress in the comments here, and/or use the hashtag #fringeandfriendskal2015 wherever you post. It was lovely to see so many friendships forming on the hashtag feeds on Instagram and Ravelry over the course of last year’s event, and I look forward to the same kind of community forming around this year’s sweaters.
I will be awarding prizes in late October sometime, rather than taking the WIP of the Week approach like last year. There will be a few categories, and I’ll post those down the line a bit when it’s all sorted out. But yes, there will be prizes.
Just like last year’s Amanda knitalong was more broadly a fisherman knitalong, this year’s is more broadly a Cowichan knitalong. While the panel will all be knitting some version of the vest noted above, you might opt to knit a different Cowichan or Cowichan-inspired sweater or accessory altogether. Here are a few possibilities:
TOP LEFT: Nehalem by Jared Flood (See also: Rockaway)
TOP RIGHT: Yetsa’s Bolero by Sylvia Olsen
MIDDLE LEFT: Takoma by Julia Farwell-Clay
MIDDLE RIGHT: Cowichan Jacket by Pierrot Yarns
BOTTOM LEFT: Cowichan Snowflake Vest by Pierrot Yarns
BOTTOM RIGHT: Tokul by Andrea Rangel
Photo of me by Kathy Cadigan