Vest to Vestment
I was born in the UK and my early years were full of vests and pants. But here in Australia, I quickly worked out it was all undies and singlets. Vests are sleeveless outer garments. And here is a recent one…a very humble looking garment in navy blue for Our Dear Boy’s winter school uniform. Its humble looks bely the great pride I feel in the garment. It is the kind of pride, I reckon all makers feel when they have made something to the absolute best of their ability.
I knitted this from a hank of cabled sports weight wool from the stash, destashed from someone else’s stash. In that colour, it was always going to be a school uniform kind of thing. It looked like just enough for a vest which was what I knew Our Dear Boy would be prepared to wear…hardly there but warm.
I constructed a schematic with chest circumference plus ease, shoulder width and depth of V neck and armhole. I estimated the gauge from a standard sport/5 ply weight on 3.75 mm needles, knowing I could check it as I worked on the body and worked out stitch numbers and decreasing rates.
The vest is knitted from the bottom up, in the round to the armholes where the work was divided and worked back and forth. The shoulders were cast off and sewn to provide stability. Stitches for the armholes and neck were picked up and knitted in the round.
I was thrilled to know stuff like,
- working the decreases one stitch in from the sleeve and neck edge, making for a really neat edge
- rough shaping rates for the arm holes (every 2nd row, four times and every 4th row, three times) and V neck (every 4th row)
- standard proportions for neck and shoulders to be able to calculate neck width from shoulder width
- picking up stitches for ribbing at a rate of 3 sts for every 4 rows to make the bands sit flat
- short row shaping for the shoulders to make a gentle, neat slope.
- casting on at the chest circumference minus 10% for flat ribbing band, increasing back to chest circumference after the ribbing
It is super plain, not a decorative flourish anywhere, unlikely to be ‘favourited’ by anyone! And yet the finished vest feels like a holy relic to me…a sampler of years of practice and of advice generously shared by capable, accomplished knitters in books, magazines and blogs. It is something useful that came out of materials at hand. But more than this, it is insurance against the day when the internet suddenly fails, written patterns suddenly disintegrate and zombies or dragons roam the world. I know I will still be able to knit.