Oops. It’s been a while between posts. Again.
I have been knitting. A lot. Mostly for my guys school fair, but I’ll save that for another post. This post is about the Easter Show. I entered two things this year, and I think I did pretty well.
First up, my Choose Your Own Adventure cardigan, entered in the 7 ply and under category. Yikes, it won!
My other entry was a little fair isle vest. It did OK too…
What made the whole thing particularly exciting was that I didn’t use a pattern for either of my entries this year. My cardigan used elements of a number of cardigans I’ve knitted or bought over the last few years. There’s the twisted rib from Audrey in Unst, as well as that amazing short-row top-down sleeve cap. I added a bit of pouff to the cap sleeves and a simple textured eyelet lace to the front. And shaping changed to fit my long long body. I pretty much knit the thing three times before I got it how I imagined it. I’m really happy with how it all came together, and the blue ribbon was an added bonus!
The cardigan used four skeins of Spud and Chloe Fine, a gorgeous merino/silk blend. I’ve worn it a few times now and no sign of pilling (yet), I think its going to wear quite well.
I also made up the little vest. Last year, I entered a small fair isle vest for my smallest son Ollie into the Easter Show competition. Except that I didn’t finish it in time to actually submit it. It did make it into the knitting and fibre arts feature display, but I missed out on the chance to be judged. I loved that little vest on Ollie, but he’s grown (as they do) and now it doesn’t fit. So this year I decided to knit him another vest. He wanted robots this time, so robots he got.
The vest pattern is my own basic vest pattern, based on dimensions from both Ollie and some of his clothes. The robot chart is based on the Love Bytes mittens by Grace Schnebly, which I also plan to knit one day. I had to tweak the little robots a little to make the stitch count work, and one of the little bots is mine, designed essentially to fill a small gap and keep the float length manageable. The green peerie row is also adapted from the mittens. I tried to use as many traditional fair isle techniques as I could, so it was knit in the round with steeks, four in total (four!). It’s edged with corrugated ribbing, slow to knit but so effective.
The yarn is Jamison and Smith jumper weight, and its gorgeous. If I could knit in this stuff for the rest of my days I’d be a happy bunny. I didn’t have a shade card, and all those colours and potential combinations were a bit daunting, so I pinched the blue-green palette from Kate Davies Northmavine Hoodie. Aren’t the colours gorgeous?
Of course by the time I’d decided what to knit, what to knit with, and ordered the yarn, I was running out of time to actually knit the thing before the submission deadline for the show. And choosing the yarn colours based on a pattern in a newly release book meant a longer than expected wait for the yarn. By the time the stuff arrived I had precisely ten days to knit the vest. Ten days. Ten. I still had to go to work. My kids still wanted feeding and bedtime stories. but pretty much anytime I wasn’t sleeping or driving or in the shower, I was knitting. Five days in and I was setting up the steeks for the armholes and neck. Seven days and I was cutting those steeks. Eight days and I was binding off the ribbing. There was even time for a proper wet block. My hands kind of hurt but it was finished with time to spare. Go me!
I’ve been thinking about writing up the pattern for these little vests, but I’m not really sure what’s involved with multiple sizing, and I didn’t design the robot chart, I just adapted someone else’s cleverness. Also the basic vest design isn’t really that clever. I measured Ollie’s chest and height, and looked at his clothes to determine the chest measurement, body length and armscye depth. The dimensions were then converted to stitch/row count based on the yarn gauge. Of course its probably just as easily find a simple vest pattern for the same gauge and use that instead of developing your own pattern, but where’s the fun in that?!
I used MS Excel (with cells adjusted as per knitters graph paper) to graph the vest, then played with the robot and border chart to make it fit. This approach meant I had a pretty clear idea of how the finished vest would look before even I cast on. It’s particularly effective for checking placement of charts in relation to shaping, and helped me make sure I ended up with a whole robot between the armhole and neck, rather than bits of bots. Yeah, I really am that anal!
Ollie seems to be pretty happy with his new vest, and I’m happy with my new cardigan too. Hooray for happy handknits!