After some dithering back and forth, ripping back the front placket and reknitting it, I present my re-worked and adapted khaki vest, mid-block:
The color variation is due to some parts still being wetter than others. I’ve used US size 1 14-inch straights as blocking wires for the vest’s points. Thanks to the texture pattern I’ve used, plus the edging, they don’t really curl, but I did want them to start life as straight as possible.
As far as the interminable edging goes – it wasn’t that bad. I knit it on as described before, then seamed down the free facing edge on the back. I did end up making the extra wide, double thick buttonhole bands, and I did end up working the entire buttonhole band/neck edge in one pass – shaping it with decreases on both sides to match. And I did end up using the Neatby Magic Buttonhole in my double-thick placket.
Why did I go back to the heavy placket when I had whined about it before? Mostly because the vest didn’t fit as well without it. The heaviness seems to act a bit like a stomacher in a 1600s gown. It lends stability and structure to the center of the piece and prevents Dread Buttonhole Stretch, even when worn (that gap-itis that happens when buttoned knitting stretches into scallops around the buttons.) I did go back and readjust the ratio of picking up and knitting, which did help a bit. So did the final seaming, which squished the placket flat (I may still go back and steam this edge to make it even more flat).
On the buttonholes – I am not comfortable explaining in detail the Magic Buttonhole working method in detail. It’s unique and it’s Lucy’s, available in her leaflets and workshops, and in the Fall 2004 issue of InkKnitters. But I will say that her method is pretzel-clever, and much easier to work than it looks. There’s a very simple logic to it, and the stitches to be grafted and the direction for each stitch to be taken are all very clearly laid out. I did do one minor modification – instead of working this buttonhole on a placket that was picked up and knit out perpendicular to the direction of the body piece’s knitting, I worked it on a band that was knit in the same direction as the main piece. The perpendicular way is a bit easier to achieve because of the side-by-side alignment of the two buttonhole-to-be strips of scrap yarn, but with a bit of patience and fiddling doing it the other way is perfectly achievable.
Finally, for those of you who asked – the kids and I had fun at the Gore Place Sheepshearing Festival this year. But it does seem to be headed away from its sheep and yarn focus a bit. There are still both hand snip and electric clipper shearers, and there’s still a sheep dog demo; but the spinning and weaving demo tent formerly staffed by the Boston area spinners and dyers guild was missing – a big loss. Also, there was only one sparsely populated wool/yarn/spinning vendors’ tent – down from two in years past. It’s possible that the threat of really bad weather kept away some of the yarn people, but I see far less foot traffic through the yarn tent than in years past. It’s possible that low sales are the root cause of the lack of vendors.
Still, in spite of low yarn availability, we did enjoy the day and I did find some nice things to buy. First, I got a couple more skeins of Nicks Meadow Farm rustic Maine style heavy worsted/Aran, this time in barn red. He was also selling a softer Merino this year, but I got the older yarn to eke out some leftovers from previous purchases.
I also got a few skeins of a small producer’s yarn that’s new to me. Swift River Farm was showing Shetland and Shetland-silk blends. They offer both off-the-sheep undyed yarn colors, and dyed yarns. I got some of their Prescott, a fingering-weight 95% Shetland/5% silk in a natural unbleached white. Prescott is labeled with a gauge of 32-35 stitches over 4 inches on US #3 or #4. It’s a lofty two-ply in that pleasing Shetland texture, but a bit softer due to the silk. My guess is that it could be knit down to 8 to 9 spi, but that it would also look good at 6.5 to 7 spi. Of course gauge swatching is called for here since without it all I can do is guess. I’m leaning towards using it to make one or two lacy scarves as holiday gifts, along the lines of the Spring Lightning scarf I did a couple of years back. But playing with different lacy patterns for both the center and the edging.
I’m not sure what I will be knitting next alongside the Galaga hat (which also progresses). In the mean time, my “upstairs knitting” has been finishing off a couple of pairs of started but not yet completed socks – each pair begun as a briefcase project to do in the corners of time at lunch at work, or on plane flights. One can never have too many socks.
The vest looks great. Will we get to see it modeled by the recipient? Thanks for your thoughts on Lucy’s Magic Buttonhole. Good to know that it worked well for you — I’ll be more inclined to pick up one of her leaflets.