Pattern: my own; I’m calling it Savile Row for the moment, for the obvious menswear inspiration in the herringbone pattern and vest shape
Size made: me-sized
Yarn used: Cascade Ecological Wool in 8020 Gunmetal, about 1.16 skeins (290 grams/555 yards)
Needles used: US size 9/5.5 mm Knit Picks Options
Date started: No idea, actually–sometime in early February, but I forgot to write down the day I actually cast on.
Date completed: February 25, 2009
Mods: You would think there wouldn’t be any “mods” in a self-designed pattern, but I accidentally messed up the math when I was doing the decrease rate for the v-neck. I started out with a certain number of stitches on each side and knew I had to get to a width of about 3 inches at the shoulder strap, and the math was all neatly worked out until I got to the desired number of stitches when I was still a few inches shy of my shoulder, and realized I’d forgotten to take the underarm bindoffs and decreases into account when I was calculating how many stitches to decrease. So I just worked straight from that point upwards and it’s not too noticeable.

Notes: I cast on for this as part of the Vest-uary knitalong started by PrairiePoppins on Ravelry: knitting a vest during the month of February.  Also, Jenny and Nicole talked lots about vests in the See My Vest! episode of Stash and Burn, so I was inspired! Especially by the part where you don’t have to knit sleeves.

It was a fun design challenge. I knew I wanted to use the beautiful herringbone stitch on the front of the vest for a few reasons–the look of it, of course, but also the dense, stiff, and sturdy texture, which makes it perfect for a tailored piece like this.

However, the herringbone stitch was a little challenging. It has stitches slipped over multiple consecutive rows, and the direction of the zigzags reverses every 10 rows, which was a pain in the ass because 1) I kept getting confused and going the wrong way when I wasn’t paying enough attention (the pattern reverses on a WS row), and 2) it takes a LOT of rows of herringbone to equal a single row of stockinette, so the front of the vest felt interminable.

I knit this in two pieces and seamed them, which meant I had to be pretty sure about my row gauge in order to match the shaping properly, since there was a large difference in the number of rows on the front and back. I did the waist shaping at the side seams, one stitch in from a garter st selvage, and seamed using mattress stitch. The shoulders are shaped using short rows, with the herringbone stitch maintained all the way up. This wasn’t the best idea–it was fine on the back, but got a little confusing in the front, with the combination of multiple slipped pattern stitches and wrapped stitches for the short rows.

I tried to think of a way I could knit this in the round, but due to the differing row gauge, I couldn’t think of a feasible way to do it. The best idea I had was to keep swatching on different sized needles until the row gauge in stockinette matched the row gauge in herringbone, and knit it in the round on two circulars of different sizes… but then I would have twice as much to frog if I screwed up. At least by knitting flat and seaming, I would only have to frog one half of the sweater if I totally messed up.

After seaming, I finished the neckline with applied i-cord, which took a really really long time. (I used the method with the extra YO as shown on the Purl Bee.) I went on and finished one armhole with applied i-cord. But then when I tried it on, I found that the applied i-cord around the armhole made it kind of flare out weirdly, like a retro-futuristic airship hostess uniform, so I ripped it out.

This was easier said than done. Nobody ever told me that removing applied i-cord was such a pain in the ass. It seemed like it should have been easily froggable, but somehow the process of applying the i-cord (I guess passing the stitches over) kind of welds the i-cord into the body of the work, and it probably took me just as long (about 2 hours) to remove the i-cord, with Lizbert‘s patient help at knitting night, as it did to put it on in the first place.

I replaced it with a crocheted slip-stitch edging, which was faster and seemed to work much better, and crocheted around the bottom edge as well.

The yarn I used, Cascade Ecological Wool, is wonderful. Sturdy but fairly soft, with good stitch definition, and very economically priced at about $15 per skein… the skeins are 478 yards each, so this is a much better price than you might initially think.

For this project, I accidentally cannibalized the yarn I had earmarked for finishing a jacket that’s been hibernating for about two years. I guess maybe it’s a sign that I should really either frog it or finish it. There’s still a bit of yarn left, so I might be able to finish the jacket with at least 3/4 sleeves…

Or I could buy more. The thing about Cascade Eco Wool, I learned from a chatty Cascade rep when I was trying to get a dyelot match at Yarns Unlimited for the first skein of Eco Wool I’d bought, is that since it’s undyed, there aren’t really dye lots per se–according to her, the fiber is sorted into different color numbers based on its inherent natural color, if that makes sense. So rather than trying to recreate a certain color by dyeing the wool, they compare the wool they have (whatever color it is) to a color card and decide what existing Eco Wool shade it’s closest to, and throw it in that bin, so whenever you buy a skein of 8020 Gunmetal, it should always be pretty much the same shade (or as close as possible) as any other skein of 8020 Gunmetal. I have only tested this on two skeins (bought on opposite sides of the country), but they do look the same.

The only gripe I have about this yarn is that the suggested gauge on the ball band seems pretty far off. They call it a chunky yarn, but it knits best at an aran or worsted gauge. On size 10s it looks very loose indeed.

OK, ready for some pictures after all that talk? It was about 15 degrees out today so despite the sunshine, it was so cold it hurt to take off my jacket and scarf so the vest would be visible. The Selbuvotter mittens look a little ridiculous with the rest of the outfit but I couldn’t stand to take them off. Too cold! We snapped a few quick pictures in Vilas Park and then I bundled up again. The close-ups were taken inside (due, again, to the cold) so the light isn’t the greatest.

Herringbone goodness:

Thin ice and giant mitten hands!

The back is plain stockinette and scoops down a little:

A closer view of the front:

and the back:

Applied i-cord at the neck:

Crocheted armhole edging:

And more herringbone: