Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fair Isle Vest for KAL Complete

It's been a month since I last blogged, but I have been knitting. Truthfully, part of the reason I hadn't blogged was because of my discouragement with the vest. I didn't want to verbalize my issues and be a wet blanket for the world. Then, I was working on a very large project that kept me strapped to the computer on overdrive. I couldn't bear one more second to get on and blog. (that's right get out the violins and hats to join my pity party). I wanted to share another FO, but this post is dreadfully long. Sorry. I tried to make it reader-friendly by numbering each lesson.

I completed the vest almost two weeks ago and wore it last week. It was a great beginner fair isle project since the pattern area is relatively small. It looks decent in this photo, but just wait until I start to "expose" all of the issues!

Pattern: Rib/Fair Isle Vest, by Melissa Matthay, Vogue Knitting Fall 2005

Here are all the hard lessons learned:

1. This piece is knit in two flat pieces but fair isle is better done in the round. Thankfully, my personal knit gauge was consistent so the rows lined up for seaming, but the edges were a little messy adding time to finishing

2. Somehow my gauge for row height was off when I started knitting, which affected the pattern because it was supposed to be a deep neck "v." I think knitting in the round would have alleviated this issue. It could have also been my stranding technique that lengthened the stitches. I ended up with more a low crew neck because the pattern called for the neck shaping to start the row after the armhole decreases ended. Had I understood the construction before hand (note to self: read AND understand pattern before starting), I could have made adjustments. Additionally, because of the row height problem, the fair isle starts at point that intersects my breast. I was expecting it start and the base of the bust. I have a small bust and the intersection combined with the crew neck gives me a flat chest look.

3. The fair isle pattern was confusing. The chart is like 18 stitches, but is a repeat. However, the chart wasn't built to be one-size-friendly, meaning go the end of chart and repeat. For my size, I had to mentally figure out the motif and adjust where I started to keep the motif consistent. Unfortunately, I didn't figure that out until the back was completed, which brings me to lesson 4.

4. I like the colors I chose, but together, they don't show the motif as well as the pattern sample. The blue and green harmonize such that the pentagon doesn't stand out and then the fuchsia vibrates because it is complimentary to the green. Instead of an identifiable pattern, it looks like gratuitous color blotches in my opinion. I used this to my advantage...I didn't frog the back. I don't think someone can easily tell the pattern is off unless they are closely staring at my back, which could happen if I wear it in the ice-cream line.(I know that was real janky on my part)

5. When ribbing flat, take note of where you end so that when seaming, you don't end up with a single knit or purl column at the seam. I probably could have alleviated this by starting each row with 1 knit or 1 purl or starting the front k2 and the back p2. With my arms down, one can't tell, it will be my personal issue. I almost reseamed to make a big ole' purl column in an effort to camouflage my mistake with a design element, but what the heck, my vest in all its glorious imperfections mirrors life.

6. Don't use superwash yarn for fair isle garments. As I read more about fair isle and gained hands-on experience, I learned wool was better to use because the fibers will stick together as you knit and fill out during blocking. Overall, mine is OK because it is a small area, but had I knit a sweater completely in fair isle, I think you would see some gaps. I was really worried during blocking and actually put the vest in the dryer on air to fluff it out some. Even still, the one superwash (Lorna Laces green) is a little unruly in the group. It was beautiful to knit with, very soft, just the wrong project.

7. Use the same brand yarns. I stashed busted to put this vest together. The fair isle portion I used Lornas Laces Superwash, Cascade 220 wool and a mystery ball of superwash (I can't remember the name) They were the same gauge, but the ply looks different in all of them (this is me knit picking) which I didn't notice until after the project was done. (Note to self: Pay attention to your swatch!)

8. I used Jaeger extra fine merino aran for the ribbing. As I blogged about it earlier, it wasn't very forgiving in terms of stitch definition until it was blocked. It also lengthened more than I expected in blocking and didn't draw back up. It is piling a little after one wear as well. In the fair isle pattern, this yarn did not play well with the others.

9. I had problems with stranding, but scheherazaad gave me good suggestion on how to run my English stitches in the back instead of the front. I also watched a Knit and Crochet Today episode where the new strand is run under the old strand.

10. OK after 9 complaints, I'll end with a praise...my mother-in-law was impressed! She liked it. I worked on it one night in the ER with her and when I wore it last week, she noticed and was happy to have seen it in construction and then complete. So it was a good opportunity to connect with her. My mom liked it too, but that doesn't count because I could make a backward rag and my mom would gush with praise, that's what mom's do!


Kris said...

I think it looks pretty fantastic.

I see your points and just have to say that you have obviously learned a lot from this project.

Kamika said...

Don't be so hard on yourself (I say this as I dread bloggin about my recent project). The finished product looks really nice and I'm sure your next Fair Isle project will be phenomenal.

Virtuous said...

This knitting was a SUCCESS with all that you learned from it! (not mention we benefit from your lessons too! for me #6) Thx for being so honest!

Loved how you ended with a positive!

Sheila said...

I so Luv the vest... ... It looks great!