BACK TO THE 1940s AGAIN – WOMAN’S WAISTCOAT

Thank you to everyone for all the suggestions! Elder Daughter has looked them over.

She does want a vest, and not something with a shawl collar. The retro ’70s belted sweater is nice, and something her classmates would wear, but not spot on for Elder Daughter.

Also she has fallen in love with the Tahki Saba yarn. Being a 4 to the inch bulky weight, the mass of additional pockets was not something she wants in this piece. But she does like the idea of lots of pockets with military type buttons, and has filed that away for future Mom-torture.

The Audrey sweater had promise if turned into a vest, but she didn’t like the placement of the cables and the way they ended before the shoulder. She liked the shape of the silver screen cardigan (not a knit pattern), but thought it was a bit overly dramatic for daily wear. She also liked the Lavold pattern Cul de Sac, but it would be difficult to adapt it to the much larger gauge yarn. Besides – that one is on my list to knit someday for ME. However the idea of a waistcoat instead of a horizontal bottom did stick big time.

By seeing everyone’s suggestions, she got the idea that there were other patterns available for browsing on the Web. So she made a sketch of her idea:

khaki-vest-1.jpg

and we went looking.

Lo and behold, we found something that is pretty darn close:

13022-large.jpg

This pattern is from a 1940s vintage Jaeger troop knitting leaflet made available by the Victoria and Albert Museum as part of an on-line exhibit on knitting. In addition to the other items from this booklet, there are several more of similar vintage. There’s a link to a contemporary Rowan freebie there, too.

The original was written for worsted weight wool, and is presented in only one size, with a 33 inch measurement around the chest. But doing the math, working at 4 spi rather than 5 should yield a garment close to our target measurements.

Elder Daughter likes the broken rib texture of the original. It should work well with the texture of this particular yarn. BUT she’s still stuck on the idea of the cable running up the front on either side of the button band. I’ll oblige her, but I’ll play with it somewhat. Instead of forming the V by ending off at the neck edge, I think I’ll put the cable immediately next to body edge, moving the decrease point to inside it. The cable should then continue uninterrupted, and the wide ribs of the body should dead-end at the cable as it traverses them. Depending on how much the ribbing draws in, I might also add some kind of under-bust dart, narrowing away one rib at the narrowest point at the waist, then slowly reintroducing it above that point.

So there you have it. Another adaptation of a historical pattern. I’ve swatched and she’s busy casting on for the thing now (I promised her I’d let her work on as much as possible, given the restrictions of matching our gauges). I’ll do the back first and use it to confirm fit. If that goes well, I’ll noodle out the transformed front and go for it.

Oh. Should you wish to knit this one up yourself verbatim from the pattern instructions, you should know that the yarn, notation and needle sizes are true to the historical period. The yarn called for – 8 ounces of “Jaeger Spiral Spun” appears to be a standard worsted. I’d substitute Cascade 220 to get the pattern’s native gauge of 5 stitches and 7 rows per inch. The needles called for – #5 and #9 are old UK sizes. UK #5 is equivalent to 5.5mm, and #9 is equivalent to 3.75mm. Amusingly enough, 5.5mm is a US #9 and 3.75mm is a US #5. So you’ll still need a #5 and a #9, but you’ll need to flip the references to them where they appear.

Another feature of this pattern rarely seen today is that all of the edging bands – the buttonhole band and armhole edging included, are worked separately as strips on the smaller needle, and then seamed onto the finished piece. This is a rather fussy finishing detail that if done neatly makes a significantly more professional looking treatment than does picked up and knit out ribbing. We both like the look and I’ll try to do it properly.

More on this as we get deeper. Again thanks for all the hints!


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One response

  1. Hi Kim,

    I’ve been on the lookout for good vest patterns, too. I came across this today, just after reading your blog:

    http://www.alpacawithatwist.com/patterns/Cabled%20cornrow%20vest.pdf

    Freda

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