Andrea Rangel is the first of our illustrious panel for the Cowichan-style Knitalong to finish her vest — not too surprising since her swatch was two entire front panels of the sweater! She’s answered some questions for us below about how it turned out, and you can see additional photos on her blog.
For more from Andrea, follow her on Instagram and sign up for her newsletter. And I also want to let you know she’s on the brink of publishing a revised, unisex version of her Dude sweater as well as a kids’ version! Would you look at this photo? So keep an eye on her in whatever venue for more news on that!
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You mentioned at the outset that you had chosen a yarn that was “not one bit” Cowichan-y. And you’ve also knitted this with a single strand at bulky gauge rather than superbulky. How do you feel about the weight and character of the fabric in the end?
This is the most important question about this project for sure. I used Rowan Brushed Fleece, which was just this frothy, fluffy puff of a super soft yarn. The gauge is great and the yarn was fun to work with, but I’m still not really satisfied. As I worked I felt increasingly ridiculous for using such an incredibly luxurious, soft yarn for outerwear that I would hardly have against my skin. I’ve decided that, while I do quite like the finished vest, the yarn would be much more suitable for a pullover or neckwear so I could take full advantage of the yummy softness. It would also be more sensible to have a more serious, rugged wool for a vest like this. At the beginning of this project my first impulse was to go with Imperial Yarns Native Twist or Quince and Co. Puffin, and for the next iteration of a bulky vest, I’ll go with one of those (or now that Brooklyn Tweed has Quarry, I might have to try that too). I’ll see how much I end up wearing this vest to determine whether the project was a success or not in the long run.
You were also unsure whether you’d be happy with your color choices — what’s the verdict?
I like how it looks, but I still feel unsure how much it’ll fit into my wardrobe. The colors are so bold! The next vest will definitely be in more earthy or natural colors.
I’m in love with the main motif you came up with — the starburst shape — and they way you’ve positioned it so there’s one centered off each side seam, rather than being centered in the back of the vest. Where did all of that come from?
My husband actually helped me brainstorm that one a bit and then we just charted it out. I figured that since I was objecting to the highly decorative look of the motif in the pattern I’d try something totally different.
The size also looks fantastic — did you hit your target proportions and are you happy with it?
Yes! The size turned out great, pretty much right on the predicted numbers. I expected that it would given my (excessive) swatching — thank you, math!
Tell us what all modifications you wound up making, apart from the gauge/size tweaks and replacing the colorwork motifs.
I forgot to knit pockets, so I decided I must not have wanted them that badly. But I did round the armholes and add short row shaping to give a nice slope to the shoulders. I also worked the edgings, button bands, and collar with a smaller needle after completing everything else to keep them neat. The collar was improvised rather than bothering with the pattern and it’s a bit slimmer, which I like.
For the edgings and button bands, I used a US9 needle to pick up stitches at about a rate of 2 sts for every 3 rows. Then I worked a few rows in garter stitch and bound them off. I made one-row buttonholes, which is my favorite buttonhole method. For the collar, I used the traditional method that I described in the Cowichan q&a. To keep the collar relatively slim, I worked the front collars just to about an inch below the shoulder seam. Then I picked up and worked the back collar with the front flaps. Because this method requires you to join the back collar stitches with front flap stitches until the front flap stitches are used up, the top width of the front flaps (how many stitches you end up with after working the front flaps) determines how tall the back collar will be. If you keep picking up stitches and working the front flaps all the way to the shoulder seam, you’ll have a more generous collar than I ended up with.
I was definitely jealous of the Puffin, Native Twist, and Quarry I was seeing. I just love those wooly wools so much! It’s been really fun to see everyone’s take on this and I’m happy with mine, but not so happy that I won’t keep pursuing this idea in other ways. Bulky vests are fun!
They really are, and it’s already clear to me there there’s another one in my near future. Do you mind if I steal your starbursts?
Not at all! In fact, I just posted my charts on my blog so anyone can use them.
Awesome! Thanks for everything, Andrea!