Ugh, I am so bad at selfies but I’m pretty good at sweaters! And here she is in all her glory: the smock vest I’d been dreaming of, now with the detail that makes her complete. When I was knitting this pocket, I was convinced I’d gotten carried away. I had only the bind-off to do (took it with me on my northern adventure) but convinced myself I needed to rip it out and make it smaller both directions. When I got it back out on Saturday, I decided I might as well bind off and block it and see. And as is often the case, I was worrying about nothing! My original calculations were spot on. Being a big fan of asymmetry, and as is often the case with me and sweater/vest pockets, I decided to stop at one. I’m totally thrilled with it.
This might be technically more of a sneak peek than a true FO, but this “smock vest,” as I keep calling it, is whole and wearable. It just needs its pockets in order to be fully realized, but I couldn’t wait to show it to you even while I’m still knitting those, as I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out.
Going back to the original idea, I wanted a simple, funky, deep-armholed vest that would slip over absolutely anything and keep the back of my neck warm in cooler months. Without its pockets — and on this dress form, to be honest — it’s slightly more prissy than funky, but it will get there! That may be due in part to my decision to leave off the buttonholes and buttons. I debated with myself about that, but was liking the front edge on the narrow side and didn’t want to make it wide enough to accommodate buttons.
It does look a little funkier in person than it does in these photos, due largely to the slight slubbiness of the yarn — and let me say, I am very happy with my yarn choice here. It’s Mungo by my friend Rosa Pomar, a 50/50 blend of recycled cotton and wool. It could not be more different from the 50/50 Balance I use so often — the recycled fiber just has a totally different (much more cottony) texture and hand to it, and knits up into a lighter fabric. But just like Balance, it loves a trip through the washing machine and even a little time in the dryer if needed. And I straight up pressed the finished garment with my iron. Especially when it’s off-white, I love a garment that can take a washing (without being superwash).
So yes, happy on all fronts. Once I get the pockets on it, I’ll take proper modeled/outfit shots. And I know a lot of you are hoping I’ll write up the pattern — I promise to consider it!
Right after I posted about that pair of bobble berets to which I found myself unexpectedly drawn, I realized I had the yarn for one of them right under my nose. The April Hat (a free pattern) is designed by my friend Courtney Kelley for their Germantown worsted, and I had an almost full skein of it left over, in natural, after my mini Sólbein used so little. So I cast on immediately. And quickly understood that while a good useful stockinette project like my vest-in-progress is the equivalent of a good long walk (with hopefully some scenery along the way), and I love a good long walk, I was desperately in need of an experience more like a gymnastics floor routine — lots of action and fluttery doodads. And this hat nailed it.
The brim is an easily memorized lace pattern that was fun right out of the gate. The floral bits on the body of the hat are a combination of puff stitch and bobbles. I’ve knitted bobbles before but had no idea what I was in for with puff stitch — the puff-stitch rounds were almost comically slow for me, although I did get faster each time. Like anything new in life, it’s awkward until you get used to it, but it’s one of those fabrics where you just can’t wait to get to the next repeat because it’s so fun watching it develop.
I’m rarely one to swatch for hats, especially one I don’t expect to wear myself. Having knitted Courtney’s patterns before, I know that she’s a looser knitter than me, plus the dimensions are a little on the small side and I didn’t want it to come out even smaller. So I threw caution to the wind and went up from the recommended needles to a size US8 for the whole thing (same as I had used on the Sólbein), brim included. After blocking, it clocks in at pretty much exactly the pattern dimensions. And I’m excited to send it off to another of my little nieces, who I feel certain will love it.
The only point of debate for me is the pompom. I imagine she’ll like it, and it is definitely a cake topper to go with all this icing, but I love the way the crown comes together and regret that the pompom covers that up. So as I’m wont to do, I’ve tied it to the inside with a bow, so it can be easily removed by the recipient.
While I debate with myself about which yarn I want to use for the shawl-collar vest idea and which pattern (and stash yarn) for a wrap, I’ve knitted a hat for my beloved. On Christmas day, we had turkey enchiladas with our close family-friends, the elder of which was wearing a hat Bob took one look at and flashed me a face that said “please!” After some investigation, it was established that my pal Jo had knitted it from Alexis Winslow’s pattern called Cabled Dad Hat. And it seemed like a perfect use for some of the leftover yarn from Bob’s sweater vest, so that’s what’s kept my hands busy on recent nights.
If you’ve seen previous years’ posts about hats for Bob, you may recall he likes a skullcap — won’t wear a beanie that comes down over his ears — but we’d agreed he needed one that could at least fold down over them when needed. To arrive at this outcome, and following Jo’s lead, I began the decreases at 6″ instead of 7″, which for me meant 5 repeats of the chart. (If I make it again, I might stop at 5″.) And then I also shortened the crown portion by speeding up the increases and knitting fewer total rows, which I did simply by decreasing on every round starting with crown row 13.
As usual with hats, I didn’t swatch, and it’s a tiny bit big so we’ll make an effort to shrink it just a touch. But overall, we’re both very happy with it — it’s a great pattern that was obviously more fun to knit than his usual stockinette-everything requests, and it’s nice to see some texture on him.
I realized while finishing this up the other night that, as much as I’ve enjoyed knitting for him and my as-yet unspecified niece, it’s officially been too long since I knitted anything for myself. Time to solve for one or the other of those aforementioned cast-ons!
The only changes I made were to leave off the colorwork at the hem and cuffs, and to do the button bands in garter stitch (on US6) instead of ribbing. I had used an incredibly soft merino for the middle yellow and felt it was not going to have enough heft as a ribbed button band. Garter has that added density, and I think in this case it also contributes to the little-girl looks of it. The bone buttons came from Fringe Supply Co., and the ribbon (a gift) came from Fancy Tiger Crafts.
It’s not my very best work, if I’m honest. You can see my colorwork is a little bit bunchy, especially in the 3-color rows, and this was my first time sewing ribbon onto a button band — despite having sworn I would how many times? My whipstitching is, um, inelegant (although I kind of like that about it) and the act of lashing the ribbon onto the knitted fabric caused the bands to lengthen a bit. It’s all fine — it’s full of love! — and the imperfections just make it less precious. I’m definitely not worried about anyone wearing it and messing it up!
I just hope they can wear it. I opted not to do any math ahead of time and just let fate determine the outcome, and it came out smaller than I’d imagined. I was secretly hoping it would fit either the 11- or 8 year-old in the group and be handed down from there. But in the end, I’m concerned it may be a hair too small for the youngest, two 5-year-olds. After finishing, it clocks in at about a 24″ circumference at the chest, 11″ sleeves, and 15″ from shoulder to hem. Which is sort of a 4-5 range?
Time to send it off and see! With fingers firmly crossed.
I finished knittingBob’s sweater vest in plenty of time for him to wear it out to dinner on New Year’s Eve, and the man could not be happier! Nor could I, honestly — this vest turned out so much better than I imagined. And that’s due to two things: a highly detailed pattern paired with some very nice yarn.
You may recall I had bought a skein of this at Stitches West last winter, and Bob basically picked it off my shelf one day and said “I want a sweater out of this.” It’s Plucky Knitter’s Yakpaca in “Pinstripe” — a 50/50 blend of yak and alpaca — and there’s no way he would wear a full sweater in such warm fibers, so thankfully what he wanted was a vest. And after poking around a bit, we settled on Churchmouse’s His Vest pattern.
My gauge was slightly bigger than the pattern gauge (I knitted the yarn on US6 needles at 4.75 sts/inch) and for such a straightforward garment, it would have been super simple to just wing it. But there were so many subtleties to how the pattern is written — very fine attention to the armhole shaping, shoulder seam placement, neck treatment — that I wanted to try to use the pattern. Since all my numbers were different, that got to be a bit of a headache (and I wound up not doing their tidy little neck selvage trick) but I’m glad I did it, and if I were to make this again, I would knit it precisely to the pattern.
Apart from the slight difference in gauge, the only change I made was to tweak the length — we wanted it to hit right at the front pockets of his jeans — and raised the neck, which meant going my own way on that whole part.
It’s a really lovely, simple garment, and a perfect case of how much yarn choice can matter. The fabric this yarn creates is so soft and elegant that I had this hanging on the door to my room for about 24 hours and I just kept staring at it having that “wow, I made that” feeling, even though it’s such a simple thing! It just looks so luxurious.
It was 70 degrees on New Year’s Eve and he wore it anyway, looking perfectly dapper. Sorry I didn’t get a photo!
There are 410 finished pairs of Log Cabin Mitts logged in Ravelry at this moment, and only 7 of them are mine! There were the originals, the heather grey, the ebony and ivory, the toffee, the black-and-bluish, the mountain mist and now these, at long last. These are knitted in Pioneer from Verb (natural and indigo), one of my all-time favorite yarns, and have been awaiting their thumbs since March or April only because of the indigo dye. As much as I love it, indigo does get on your fingers when you work with it. It washes right off, of course, and sets when you block it. But it means it’s not a project you can toss in your tote to finish on a flight or whatever. Anyway, they were totally worth the wait, in their lovely indigo asymmetry.
The way we all feel about sweater season is how I also feel about fingerless mitts season. My hands are just happier when clad in wool, and these are really my favorite of allllll the mitts. I’ve been wearing the toffee pair nonstop since it cooled off, and there’s just something magical about the way the garter ridges of the log cabin patterning makes them mold just so to your hands.
Of the 7 pair I’ve finished, I’ve given away 2 and have an eighth in progress, with no doubt more to follow. I mentioned before that this collection of mitts feels like some kind of deeply personal art project I can’t explain. But I’m so happy to be back to it!