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Jaime's Cowichan-Style Vest

Karen Templer over at Fringe Association did it again--another awesome Fringe and Friends Knitalong that I couldn't resist joining. I hadn't planned on joining because I had a lot of projects in my queue, but once I started seeing people's swatches and vests I had to join. I mean, how long can a super-bulky vest take anyway?! 

Pattern: Cowichan-Inspired Geometric Vest by Pierrot Yarns available for free here
Yarn: Quince and Co. Puffin in Sabine (3 skeins), Audouin (1 skein), and Caspian (1 skein)
Size Made: 32"
Modifications: made in a 12 st to 4" gauge to make smaller and added a zipper instead of buttons

The answer is not long at all! I did get sidetracked with a hat in the middle of this project and all in all it took about a month. This is the second Fringe and Friends Knitalong. Last year I was on Karen's panel for her first KAL. Both of these KAL's have taught me so much and introduced me to new techniques and skills so I love the challenge in them. This one was challenging for me for a few reasons. It was my first time using a Japanese knitting pattern which is a fully charted pattern without much written instruction. The vest is made for one size (39") so there was the challenge of how to make it fit. The vest is colorwork back and forth so I got a lot of practice working stranded colorwork on the wrong side which was new for me. I also learned a lot about what Cowichan knitting is. I love learning about different knitting traditions of the world. This post on Karen's blog has a lot of great information about Cowichan knitting. 

Traditional Cowichans would have been knit in an un-dyed superbulky single ply handspun yarn. While I used a commercial yarn that is actually dyed, I wanted to keep in the Cowichan style of using all neutrals. Puffin is a single ply and not necessarily super-soft, so I thought it would be a good choice for this pattern. I did some calculations to figure out a new gauge to get the 39" size the pattern is written for to fit me. I ended up needing 12 stitches to 4" to get a 33" bust which meant a less-bulky yarn than the pattern called for. Puffin fit the bill and I was able to get gauge just using one strand - it was a win!

I made a few other modifications to this pattern. I knew I wanted to put a zipper in after seeing Karen's so I followed her lead and only had 2 edge stitches on my front pieces. I had never used a zipper in knitting so I was scared to sew it in, but it turned out great. I hand sewed the zipper using thread and a sewing needle through the knit edge and the zipper and it went in without any problems. 

I also modified the armholes a bit. Instead of knitting them along with my vest, I left the edges raw and then picked up stitches around the armhole after I seamed the vest. I just picked up and knit one round and then bound off for a very small edge. The arm was on the verge of being too wide so this seemed like a good solution. 

Overall this was a super fun knit. Colorwork keeps me interested and you can't deny the enjoyment of using a quick-knitting bulky yarn. I loved learning so many new things on this project. The best part of this and all knitalongs is the knitting-along. Check out all the amazing vests on Instagram using the hashtag #fringeandfriendskal2015

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