Melissa Finally Gets Her Vest

For several years now Melissa has been hoping for a knit vest. And as many of you knitters know, as soon as someone wants something, even if it is someone you love very much, you lose all interest in that sort of project. So Melissa has been waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

But the waiting is over. Here is her Reversible Cabled Vest, knit using a pattern from Andrea Knight-Bowman.
Melissa's vest
This was a straightforward knit, and the cables kept it from becoming mind-numbingly boring. I also learned how to knit backwards on this project—something my BKFF Chris has been urging me to do for years. I still turned the work to knit the cables from whichever side I was on, but after the first few inches, I started knitting all the return stockinette rows backwards, instead of purling them. What surprised and delighted me is that my knitting is much more even when I alternate forward and backwards knitting than it is when I alternate knit and purl rows. If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see the spot (about 4″ from the bottom of the vest) where I began knitting backwards.

And here’s a close-up of the cables.
Cable detail

One issue that I had with this pattern was that it contained a number of errors of the sort that an experienced knitter can catch pretty easily, but that might throw a beginning knitter. Early on the Ks and Ps for the cable are reversed in one line, which would insert a single row of moss stitch if not caught. And in several places I had to redo the stitch counts. I was knitting the size 40, so I don’t know if that’s the case with other sizes, but—trust me—you’ll be happier if you double-check the math before moving into new sections.

This observation about needing to double-check patterns instead of just following them takes me back to Woodbine, which I’d begun knitting last spring. I had, in fact, begun knitting it out of the yarn that is now Melissa’s vest, so clearly it’s been frogged.

Woodbine is knit top down, so one works X number of rows and then separates sleeve and body stitches before moving to working on just the body. The gauge for this sweater is 24 rows per 4″. The top half of the sweater is worked in a stitch that has a six-row repeat. The instructions for my size said to work 7 repeats of the six-row pattern for a sleeve depth of approximately 10-12″ inches. Well that math just doesn’t work. Seven repeats would equal 42 rows, which would equal only 7″ if one is knitting to gauge. And 7″ doesn’t equal 10-12″. It just doesn’t. Can’t. I emailed the designer who assured me that the arm hole would stretch out some and/or I could increase the number of rows worked before separating body and sleeve stitches. Yes, I could have. But that did nothing to address that glaring difference between gauge and instructions. I thought for a while about continuing to work on it, putting it on waste yarn every few rows to try it on, and knitting it to fit me—but that’s a lot more work than just following a well-written pattern, and I didn’t feel like doing all that work. So Woodbine is no more.

One of the lessons of Woodbine is that one is better off choosing a pattern that lots of folks have already worked and that is well-represented with commentary on Ravelry. When I began Woodbine there were (I believe) four projects listed on Ravelry. There are now eleven. None of them mention this issue with gauge. But I suspect that if 30 or 40 people had knit this sweater that issue would have come up, and I could have considered it before deciding to cast on. Similarly, when I cast on for the Reversible Cabled Vest, no-one had worked it and posted their project on Ravelry, so I had no-one to warn me about double checking instructions and math. Bottom line: I’m now a lot less willing to cast on for a pattern that’s newly published; there’s too much risk of frustration.