Our second Cowichan-style Knitalong panelist with a finished vest is Amirisu editor Meri Tanaka, with her sprightly colored interpretation. Below she talks about what worked out for her, what didn’t, and how she embraced it all. For more from Meri, follow her on Instagram and the Amirisu blog. And if you missed our earlier Q&A about how to read a Japanese knitting pattern, make sure you check that out!
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You knitted your vest with a single strand of Puffin (bulky) to get the size of the vest down. How did you like doing the colorwork with Puffin, and how do you feel about the fabric for this pattern?
Oh, I love the fabric! If I had been knitting in a tighter gauge, or in the round, it would have been much easier. Because I wanted to maintain the puffiness of the fabric, for the yarn to bloom when blocked, it was very challenging to keep the stitches even on the wrong side.
You mentioned you were struggling a little bit with the stranding from the purl side when swatching and I wonder whether you got the hang of it over the course of this vest. Were you trapping your floats Cowichan-style, i.e. trapping every other stitch? Or how did you do it?
I did get used to it toward the end, but it required a lot of trial and error. I knitted the back panel in Cowichan-style trapping, about half of it, but was not very happy with the result. The stitches tend to get uneven this way, because of my moderate/loose gauge. Before I blocked it, I ended up pulling yarn from the wrong side here and there to make the stitches look more even. You can see the difference clearly when you look at the front panel. If you look at the red leaf-like pattern, strands are trapped on the right front, but I didn’t do it on the left front. I figured that it looks so much better if I don’t bother doing it.
In addition to knitting at a finer gauge to get a smaller sweater, you modified the motifs to affect the row count. Tell us about the changes you made in that regard. And are you happy with the motifs you came up with?
Yes. I wanted to make this vest very fitted with zero or negative ease. To avoid looking like wearing a kid’s vest on a women’s body, I made it longer, which is about the same length as the original pattern. I added 10 rows to the lower body, by adding a triangular dot motif and a red line, as well as replacing one of the main patterns. I wanted to replace the geometric box-line motif with something more organic, so I did a lot of Google Image Search to find one that I like. I charted the motif on graph paper, which took no time at all. I am very happy about the result!
Did you make any other mods to the pattern?
When I began knitting the back panel, I was shocked to realized that some parts of the armhole edge (solid color stripes) require intarsia, and to avoid it I needed to trap the main color all the way across to knit the second armhole. The same situation happen for fronts, all the way from the bottom to the end. I didn’t like the idea of doing intarsia on the front band, where I will be pulling hard all the time, nor trapping the MC yarn where there is nothing else to knit on the other side like the upper back. Which is why I knitted the front band separately, in ribbing.
I was a little nervous whether it would work out, but it turned out to be quite easy. I picked up 2 stitches per 3 rows on the straight edge, and a stitch per every row on the neck edge slope (19 stitches). From there, the front collar was shaped by Wrap & Turn — work in rib for 15 stitches, W&T, work in rib to the end, turn, work in rib for 13 stitches, W&T, etc.
The other mod I did was to add pockets on the sides. To do this, I left about 4″ unsewn where I wanted the pockets to be, and picked up 22 stitches (11 on each side), worked 18 rounds (4″+), and grafted it together in Kitchener Stitch. It was easy, and I love how it turned out.
Watching everyone else knit their vests — both on the panel and in the larger community — was there anything you saw that made you wish you’d done something differently?
When I decided to knit the front bands separately, my initial intention was to attach a zipper instead of buttons. To do this, I figured that knitting the front collar by itself then crocheting on the straight edge was the way to go. But that meant I would need to recalculate the front collar. The biggest reason I abandoned the idea was that the body was more fitted than I had expected (though my gauge was spot on — I guess my hips are bigger than I imagined!), and I needed the button band to add a bit of width.
I saw what you did with your vest — I cannot wait to see it finished!
If I should knit it again, which is very likely, I will change the main motif entirely, so that changing the size would be more flexible and easier. Perhaps one big motif on the back, and something smaller on fronts. The idea excites me, and I’ve already started thinking about which colors to choose!
It seems like we’re all bound for at least one more vest! Thanks so much, Meri!