Last year I took on a consignment vest. I hate to say, it was to be a Christmas present. Delays came for one thing or another, and the customer said it was okay to miss Christmas. Oops. Not a good thing to tell a procrastinator! Our own Holidays, then barn fixings, lambing, Shepherds' Extravaganza... reasons but not excuses. The design is entirely original, so there were the inevitable rippings and re-knittings. The customer supplied yarn from her own alpacas in three colors. The yarns were slightly different thicknesses, so added another challenge... and on and on.
Well! The vest is finished. Done-done. All the seams are complete, ends woven in, washed and blocked. Earlier this spring, the test fitting went well (very well! for all my worrying and nail biting)
So, without any more ado, here it is:
Design constraints were to use all three colors of the alpaca yarn, and there was a limit to the amount of each available. It was to be "warm" but not too warm, and was for a heavier, shorter woman (hmmmmm. Her measurements were very similar to mine!).
I decided on lace rather than colorwork, since alpaca is a very warm fiber, and diagonal lines to move the eye up and down. Collar and facings would just add bulk and heat, so I left them out. I kept it a bit conventional - no zebra stripes, the customer isn't a wild dresser ;-)
I wanted an easy (for me) to remember lace pattern, so chose this leaf design from... now I don't remember where! Knitty? About.com? Then followed the diagonal lines with a deep vee neck and vest points. The back also drops below the side seam for added "wrap me in it" warmth. I chose to make the back in the medium brown color in stockinette stitch, and the front in the offwhite. The offwhite and lace give a light and airy effect to the front, with good stitch definition. The darkest (coffee brown) was used to outline all the pieces and edges in 3 stitch I cord. The I cord stabilizes all the edges really well. The lower back, though, still wanted to curl (as stockinette is known to do!), so it took some care during blocking to counter the curling effect.
I chose to knit only full "leaves" or half leaves, so had some areas of plain stockinette along the neck and armhole, after trying several pattern options.
The buttonholes are a bit unconventional. I used I cord loops for the buttonholes - two on each side, just to hold the edges together. (The buttons supplied didn't work. They were very pretty and matched well, but were weak and broke with any stress. Soooo, the customer will add the buttons.)
I like the effect, although it is a little awkward to button, alternating sides. I think I'll play with this design effect some more.
This is the largest 100% alpaca piece I've knitted. The internet, again, was valuable for looking up blocking techniques. They said "don't wet block". Hmmmm. The yarn had a residue (from spinning) that was unpleasant to my hands, so I knew I had to wash it. So, I gathered the completed vest, placed it into a lingerie bag, and soaked it in warm water and a bit of Dawn soap. The water became quite cloudy. It took several rinses for the water to be clear. Then, I placed it in very hot water, followed by very cold water to give it a shock. Supposedly that will help the stitches hold their shape.
It seemed to work. After I got the vest all patted out and flattened on the towel, it was close to the proper measurements. It was a challenging and enjoyable project and I hope it is well loved.