Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Lucky Owl Sweater Vest

I wanted to make this Owl Baby sweater vest for Lucky's first winter (back when he was still a chirphead), but I had no idea how big he'd be when he was 3-5 months old.  Now that he is approaching a year old, I know that he is long and lean, and I can fit the vest to him with some room to grow without too much issue.  He is currently wearing 9 month (6-9 month) clothes so I think something labeled 9-12 months will be a perfect fit for this winter.  

I had a ball of Swish DK in Rainforest Heather in my stash left over from when I was selecting colors for my own sweater.  I had ordered swish DK in three different colors, settling on indigo heather for my own sweater.  Last year I ordered a second ball of Rainforest Heather specifically so I could make this vest.  (This becomes important later on.)   On size 4 needles my gauge was 11 sts/2 inches, a little tight so I decided to go up to size 5's.  

Lucas has a 6-9 moth size sweater vest that fits him with room to spare right now.  I liked up my fledgling vest on top of it to see how it was sizing up, and it is definitely bigger, but not TOO huge.  It is nice to have something to compare my work to!  

Notes from construction
  • Size 5 needles for the entire vest
  • 31 knit rows to hit 4" (26 rows stockinette and 5 rows ribbing).
  • WHOOPS!  I did not do the increases on round 1 (2 sts total.)  Ugh... I then made these increases during round 1 of the cable portion.  
  • Initially I had assumed that the cables went all the way around the sweater, but there are only going to be 5 owls on the front of the vest.  
  • After the owl cables, the piece measures just over 6".  
  • I joined ball 2 with a Russian join in the first row after the owls were completed.  (Thankfully this happened on the back side of the vest rather than having a slight bump over the owls.) I chose to do a Russian join rather than a knot with weaving in the ends so it would be less noticeable when the vest stretches over a growing baby boy.
    Almost down with the owl cables, this is turning out the same size as a vest that is baggy on Lucky at 10 months.  
  • WHOOPS!  Instead of joining the vest to the new ball of yarn I joined it to the tail.  At least this isn't too hard to undo.
  • After the owls, I knit 2 rows of stockinette before starting the armhole division.  The commercial vest measures 6" from the hem to the bottom of the arm edging.  At 6.5" this is already longer than the vest he has.  Phew!  
  • Back - 34 rows to get to 12" total.  
  • Front - 1 row before the "count" officially starts.  Row 1 is a WS row.  To end on a RS row it looks like a total of 35 rows will be knit (for my count below).
  • When I finished the left front, I transferred the stitches to another needle and did the 3 needle bind off before starting to knit the Right front.  I could have done a kitchener stitch to graft the two edges together, but I wanted it to be sturdier.
    After the 3 needle bind off with the WS facing together.  I knit the stitch on the front needle, purled the stitch on the back and then passed each stitch over the next.  
  • Ugh.  I just saw that I'm supposed to do this with the RS facing TOGETHER not out, so this should not have the edge I saw up above.  I undid my work and redid the 3 needle bind off.  Now it is sturdy but LOOKS seamless.  (This time p2tog two stitches, 1 from each needle, PSSO.)
I now have something that at least LOOKS like a sweater vest.  

Of course I had to try it on Lucky to make sure the fit was okay.  I've had a BLAST putting WIP's on Lucky this fall.  He seems really intrigued by the hanging yarns.  I bet he can't wait until I need his help unraveling a project to make a rats nest. 

Ugh.  The first version of picking up stitches looks like CRAP.  I think I was not supposed to pick up and knit the stitches around the neck, but pick up and work in ribbing.  The knitting only referred to the back.  Grumbles.  Time to rip it out and try again in the morning.

The following video on picking up stitches just saved my life.  I don't know why I was having so much trouble, it is like I've forgotten how to pick up stitches.

MUCH better.  

Total # of rows:  5 ribbing + 26 stockinette + 18 cable + 2 stockinette + 2 divide arms + {34 back, 35 front}.  You may wonder why I'm keeping track of the rows so diligently... well I hope to be able to do another kind of vest, but we'll see if I have time this year to make it happen!

I picked up 48 sts from the neck (there were 24 sts on back), 68 stitches from Arm 1 and arm 2.

This vest only required light blocking to keep the hems from turning.  I tried it on Lucky and it looks great! There is plenty of room in it right now so I don't need to block it bigger, but I could at a later date if it starts fitting a bit too snug.  I soaked the vest in cool water for 30 min and then laid it flat to dry on a blocking board without pins.

Ending up to be similar size to the 6-9 month vest he has.  It is VERY stretchy so it should accomodate him if he grows a bit. (and if it doesn't fit I"ll have to find a teddy bear to wear it!)  

There is a subtle dye lot shift, but since the yarn is a heathered color I don't think anyone other than me will notice where the ball change happened.  Normally I would have tried to avoid this, but I had a ball of Rainforest Heather in my stash and purchased a second ball a year later so I could make this vest.  I *should* have purchased two new balls to be "perfect" but the dye lot change is really subtle.  (Another way around this would have been to alternate balls of yarn earlier in the project to make the changes more subtle.)  

So Keith picked out the color line... but he claims that it was only because I told him to look for it.  What can you do.  

17 g of ball 2 remain.  81 g, 199 yards of yarn were used in this project.  

I just realized that if I'm going to make another vest for Lucky this winter that I really need to get cracking... and I need to get some yarn... Whoops!