Tuesday, September 8, 2015

FO: Nosegay Vest (My First Intarsia Project)

Today I have an exciting project to show you that ticks all kinds of "proud knitter" boxes. This is my first time doing any kind of color work whatsoever (and it's intarsia), my first vest, and a successful trial at major problem solving in my knitting. So sit back and get ready for an interesting tale :)
This is the Nosegay Vest pattern by Andi Satterlund which was was released just a few months ago in her Quiet Days collection she designed for Knit Picks. I loved the designs straight off so I bought the ebook and  I made the Sunshower Cardigan from the collection first for the Outfit Along. I had no immediate plans to make more from the ebook, but when Andi announced that she'd be hosting a knit along for this pattern in August I decided to go ahead and give it a go since I liked the pattern and really when else would I decide to make a sweater vest? I'm a big believer in Knit Alongs - they are a fun way to socialize and have a cute project to show at the end. I look at them as online knitting circles. This one came at just the right time - I had just finished the big project of the Outfit Along, and wanted to keep the momentum going. Anyway, all that to say that I joined the knit along, lol.
The big deciding factor on joining this knit along was if I had appropriate yarn in my stash already. As lovely as Knit Picks yarn is, I am on a tight budget now and I have a ridiculous amount of yarn so I am trying to work as much from my stash as possible. I had almost the exact colors for the rose in various wool yarns leftover from other projects (the pinks and yellow are Cascade 220 Superwash and the green is Lion Brand Wool-Ease), so the big issue became the main body color. The only wool yarn I had of the right weight that would be a good background color was some I Love This Wool from Hobby Lobby in the Winter White colorway. I had two skeins, which wasn't quite enough but I thought, "No worries, I can justify buying one more skein for a few bucks," only go to the store and find that the yarn has been discontinued! They have replaced it with a wool blend now, but the yarn is a different ply and slightly darker color. I went back to my stash and had just one skein of Patons Classic Wool Worsted in the Aran colorway that was another cream color and at first glance looked like it would work. The only problem is that not only was is a slightly different color, it has a different twist too. The Patons is more rough, and the plies are more pronounced than the I Love This Wool. I was going to have to alternate skeins on the I Love This Wool already since they were different dye lots, so I decided to try alternating the skein of Patons too and seeing how it worked out. I ended up with a very subtle stripe pattern that I think almost gives a kettle dyed look. I was hesitant at first, but a friend of mine saw me working on it at church and complimented this "technique" with no previous explanation as to my reasons for doing it, so I took that as a good sign and went with it. The colors are all so close that it really does look deliberate and like a design choice, so I'm happy that I didn't throw in the towel at the beginning.
Now for the big drama of this project - I mentioned what had happened here a bit, but here's a photo. I had deliberately only worked on the front of the vest on nights when I stayed home (not only was it a crazy tangle of yarn skeins, but I wanted to give the color work my undivided attention). After a few nights on the rose, I finally got it finished and I was elated with my progress. I posted about it on Instagram to brag about my multi colored knitting, then kept knitting from the point I left off in the pattern. I got to the point you see above on the left and knew something wasn't right. I had only just done the armhole bind off and the example photo had the rose just below the neckline - what I had knitted would've put the rose directly over/in the middle of my boobs, which I knew would look awkward. So I stopped and tried to figure out what happened. Having never read an intarsia pattern before, I didn't notice that the following paragraph of instructions was supposed to be worked at the same time as the color chart. I thought that you worked the chart, then worked the next set of instructions. When I figured it out, I was pretty upset and didn't know if I could save this project. The bind off for the arm holes was supposed to happen about 1/3 up the flower design. I had already clipped my ends and I really didn't want to rip out a week of work since I didn't even know if I would be able to figure out my place again once I ripped back. The project was already almost a wash, so I decided to try and put my problem solving skills to work. I had watched the Save Our Stitches class on Craftsy a long time ago and it taught me how to drop down to fix a problem several rows below without scrapping the entire work. Could I apply the same idea to change the sides and add a bind off and shaping? I decided it was worth a try, and I devoted two nights to just fixing this issue. It was not a pretty process. The photo above on the right was when I first started dropping down, but it got so much messier than that. It was pretty confusing to make sure I did everything where it should've been done originally, but I got there in the end.
After my fixing, this is what my front piece looked like. The fact that this project is seamed together was it's only saving grace. Since I essentially had to remove big rectangles of stitches from each side, I wound up with really long loops of excess yarn. The edges of the shaping I added looked like a hot mess, but I was hoping that I could fudge it when I weaved the ends in after adding the arm bands. I looked at this all as a big gamble, but I figured it would at least be wearable which two days before I almost lost hope of. I kept on knitting, and I was actually able to make it work :) Moral of the story - use your brain and good things come of it, lol. At the very least, this was a big mistake fixing confidence builder, and I know I won't be quite so worried about issues in the future now.
The other issue I had with the sweater was a bad call on my part. I technically need two sizes merged in Andi's patterns, and I know this because I've made 5.5 of her sweater patterns now. I use the size large shoulders, bust, sleeves, etc but I merge up to the size extra large waist. This vest is designed to be worn with 0-2" positive ease so it fits comfortably on top of a blouse or dress, so I went up a size overall to the extra large but still went up an additional size for the waist. It fits well in the top portion, but it's definitely a bit large in the waist. I tried to make sure I didn't stretch it out width-wise while blocking, but it still didn't help. The waist looks ok, but I wish I had gone smaller to give me a little bit of visual waist definition (even if my actual waist isn't very defined). Also, since I didn't really know how to read the pattern, and since the pattern was worked form the bottom up, this baby ended up really short on me. I do have a long torso, but I didn't know where the flower started compared to my size since no one had made this pattern before (meaning there are no exampled to view on Ravelry). The vest is supposed to sit at your natural waist, but on me is came out just below the my boobs. This thing looked like  a strange knitted bra top before I blocked it, lol. I could get a decent stretch just when i twas dry, so I decided to stretch it as much as possible while wet blocking. I managed to get an additional 2 inches out of the length so it at least looks reasonable on me now. Also, it's a total side thing since obviously the model in the photos is quite a bit smaller than me, but I'm really surprised at the proportion difference as the size goes up. The flower is the same size regardless, but on the model (and on some of the other smaller gals who knitted this at the same time as me) the flower fills the entire width of the bust line. I don't think it looks too small on me or anything, but it definitely gives away that there is a decided size difference. Good thing I won't be standing next to any of the size 2 ladies wearing the same project, lol.
Anyway, here's a mannequin shot and you can really see how loose the waist is. You can also see that I kept up with my alternating skeins of the background color even on the neck and arm bands and I'm really happy with the continuity (again, I think it helps look like a kettle dyed yarn). Isn't it crazy how much lighter just one skein was than the others?! And that was one of the two skeins that were the same yarn.
And here are the crazy insides, lol. Normally I'm a huge stickler for hiding all my ends inside since I'm worried about it unraveling or tickling me while I wear it. Knowing this would literally never be worn against my skin, I just didn't care. It felt like I weaved in 100 ends with all that color work, but it really did help to make the tension more even and close up any little holes in the color changes. I left the tails hanging out of the back of the work about 1/2" just to make sure they wouldn't pull through to the front as it's worn and I used fray check on everything. At the arm holes, I did the same thing. I did weave in the ends along the seam between the band and the body, but I left them hanging out after that just so it didn't feel brick hard from all the layers of yarn. I made sure the ends were short enough that they will not hang out when the vest is worn, and called it a day :) In all honesty, I kind of amazed myself that the inside even looks this good, lol. No one will ever know but me when I wear it, so it's like all that drama never happened.

Realistically, this piece does have its flaws, but no non-knitter will ever be able to tell. I think I like this project better just from all the grief it gave me, and I will be reminded of my improved problem solving every time I wear it. Let's be real here, I live in Florida ... we have very few wool-sweater-vest-wearing days here, so this will not likely be worn all that much. At least I learned a ton, put some stash yarn to use, and got to participate in a fun knit along :)

Yarn: 1.5 skeins of I Love This Yarn in Winter White - $5.75; 0.62 skeins Patons Classic Wool Worsted in Aran - $3.25; small lengths of Cascade 220 Superwash in Salmon, Strawberry Pink, and Daffodil - $1.00; small length of Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Avocado - $0.25
Pattern: Nosegay Vest by Andi Satterlund - $2.00
Time: 3 weeks
Total Cost: $12.25

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