March 23, 2006


I thought I'd have the opportunity to blog while I was away in Florida, and keep up with reading other knitters' blogs, and be a good e-mail penpal to everyone I correspond with. Our previous trips to Pittsburgh, Mexico, San Antonio had all afforded me plenty of time on the computer. But on this trip Scott was in meetings every day -- and he took his laptop with him. The nerve.

It's all good, though. I focused on my Number One Knitting Priority, my vest that I'm designing and plan to submit for Level II of TKGA's master knitter program.

When we left for Florida, I was only two or three rounds into the armhole, so I had about 10 more inches of vest to knit, plus finishing the ribbings. In a moment of foresight, I'd brought with me extra yarn in all three colors (Lilac for the main color, Natural White for the contrast color, and Hyacinth for the tipped ribbing). I was into the next ball of Natural White before we even landed in Florida; the ball of main color I was working on was, likewise, a fresh one.

I felt super-motivated to get as much of the vest knitted as possible, because I was teaching a mini-class at Seattle Knitters Guild about Fair Isle knitting the evening of the same day we came back home. My initial goal was to get the vest entirely finished, and be able to wear it to the presentation; this goal was revised for the more realistic goal of getting the body finished so that I could demonstrate how to cut steeks. I thought this would be an even more valuable lesson than simply looking at somebody wearing a Fair Isle vest and wondering, How did she do that? I think that, just looking at a finished garment, it is a mystery to the uninitiated about what the steeks look like, or what the garment's shape is.

In Florida, I carried the vest around with me everywhere, and knitted at every opportunity. I didn't have a proper knitting bag, but carried the WIP around in an opaque green shopping bag that I got from the hotel's gift shop.

By the time it was time to pack for the trip home, I had knitted almost to the top of the shoulders, and had only a few rounds more to go. I carefully put into my carry-on a spare ball of the white yarn I'm using for contrast color, and a spare ball of the darker yarn I'm using for the tipped ribbing -- this latter just in case I might happen to get any of the ribbings at armhole or neck finished off during the flight. I popped into my carry-on the opaque green bag with the WIP. But I put into my checked luggage the spare hank of Lilac, the main color.

After we'd boarded the plane, in that long wait for takeoff, I pulled out the vest-in-progress from the green shopping bag, ready to settle in for the transcontinental flight and the hours of knitting ahead. And I just about shot out of my seat to debark the plane, run down to the cargo hold, rummage around for my suitcase, rummage around in that suitcase for the spare hank of Lilac. The ball of Lilac I had with me was only about an inch in diameter. (Because the shopping bag was opaque, because I was stranding the yarn through my hands without removing the balls of yarn from the bag so as to keep them clean, I had never even looked to see how much Lilac was left.) I did not know if I had enough to finish the several rounds at the shoulder, let alone bind off the shoulder seam. Certainly it wasn't going to be enough to even think about picking up for any ribbings at armhole or neck.

I took a deep breath, and knitted one stitch at a time, one round at a time. I had enough yarn for nine rounds. Miraculously, this ended me right at the center of a motif. Even more miraculously, the armhole was now about 10 inches deep -- it was the perfect place to stop.

After I'd knitted that last round and bound off my steeks, I had about two yards of yarn left. I didn't know if that would be enough to bind off at the shoulders, but I was really pushing to get as much done as possible before teaching the class that night. I pressed on with the shoulder bind-off, and was able to complete both shoulders, with about 12 inches of yarn left over.

L2Vest 002.jpg

(The brown threads you see through the center steek in the photo above are to mark the place where I want to cut open the steek.)

So, I knitted half a vest in 5 days! It felt like ages since I'd done so much knitting. I got to that zenlike state, beyond being excited about knitting the vest (my own design!), beyond being bored with so much knitting on and on of this one project (couldn't I sneak a few stitches into one of the four other projects I'd brought?), past all of these to where it was just knitting.

What's the status of my Number One Knitting Priority now, one week later? Sometime during that trip to Florida, I started thinking of this vest as a prototype. I see about four things that I think I can improve. . . .

You see, this is the kind of path you go down when you enter the Master Knitter program, and the directions tell you to "send in your best work."

Posted by Karen at March 23, 2006 12:48 PM

The vest looks beautiful. I love the design you've chosen.

Posted by: Jewel at March 23, 2006 02:54 PM

Ooh, it is so pretty! That chart looks really hard to do without making a mistake. The colors are very even, and it looks amazing. Make another one...for me! Honestly, are you going to write a pattern? I want one! I promise to buy the yarn from!

Posted by: Anne at March 23, 2006 09:21 PM

looks great :-)

Posted by: vanessa at March 28, 2006 07:07 PM