Cowichan vest errata — and how to work those edgings!

Cowichan vest errata — and how to work those edgings!

This weekend, I sat down with my trusty Knitters Graph Paper Journal to rechart the Cowichan-style knitalong vest to my revised row count, try out some shaping tweaks, and see how it looks with the motifs boiled down the way I’m planning. (Will I really like it with just the main flower/snowflake motif and the two checkerboard stripes, or will it look too much like a wallpaper border? Still undecided!) In the process, I realized there’s a problem with the charts. Not necessarily an error, but a detail or discrepancy that requires a heads up—


The image above is of the left front and the back, with their selvages lined up, as if you’re about to seam them together for the left side seam. When you work standard mattress stitch, you lose one full stitch at each edge. The side seam should look just like the center of the back — with a vertical column of MC stitches and just those two little contrast stitches connecting the big flower shapes in the middle. If you mattress stitch these two edges together, the flower “petals” and the horizontal bars will meet. The fact that the needed joining row is depicted at both edges suggests to me that the Japanese would seam this differently — working through the center of each stitch instead of on either side of it, so you wind up with the left leg of the edge stitch from the left front panel meeting up with the right leg of the edge stitch from the back panel. If you knit it as pictured, that’s how you’ll have to seam it. Otherwise, you’ll need to add one stitch either at each edge of the back, or at the side edges of each front. (Augment either the front panels or the back panel — not both.) And if you do that, you’ll also need to invert the checkerboard stripes on one or the other so they match up correctly as well. The easiest/safest thing would be to seam through the centers of the stitches as they appear to expect you to do.


It’s also been pointed out (thanks, Francis) that in the page 2 diagram of the front panels, for the garter stitch button band, it says “4 rows” where it should say “4 sts.” That’s 4 stitches wide.


As noted on Instagram over the weekend, after watching the float-trapping videos Kathy shared for Friday’s links post, I decided to try it. I’ve been attempting to get used to a different way of holding my yarn anyway, and weaving floats like this meant learning multiple new tricks as well as purling continental, which I’ve never managed to do. I’m doing it! All of it. And having a blast. But like I said on IG, it felt like learning to knit all over again. It also totally looks like beginner knitting (more than my beginner knitting ever did) — it is a lumpy mess on the front, while being amazingly gorgeous on the back. But I’m fine with it. It’s fun to be a beginner, and blocking will no doubt help.

BUT, I have a different problem, which Meri also asked me about, which is how to work the solid-color edgings — the garter-stitch armholes and button bands — without the edging looking ratty. I polled the great knitters of Instagram and the consensus was that the best way to do it (other than skipping it and working the edgings separately!) was to do an intarsia-style twist when switching from the colorwork section to the solid edgings. You can see all of the input here, and I found this SweetKM intarsia twist video to be super helpful.


PREVIOUSLY IN #fringeandfriendskal2015: How to read a Japanese knitting pattern (full series here)

7 thoughts on “Cowichan vest errata — and how to work those edgings!

  1. yikes… just ordered my yarn so I could play along. Appears I will be learning ALOT. Have to admit, this is scary – intarsia twist? I’m not even sure why the “rattiness” would occur on the original pattern?

    OMG and the “discrepency” paragraph really has me worried – maybe it will all make more sense when my yarn arrives and I actually start knitting.

    I will press on and have faith that some how, some way, I WILL figure this out! Lucky to have my knitting group joining this one with me – three heads, always better than one!

  2. With this bulky yarn, it does make sense to work through the center of each stitch for the side seam.

  3. The 1 row discrepancy at the armhole occurs because you cannot bind off two stitches at both ends of the same row. You can dec 2 or more stitches only at the beginning of a row, not at the end. One alternative is to decrease one stitch each side over two rows, but that is less preferable because it gives a curved edge instead of the sharp edge that usually defines the start of an armhole. The extra row should be eased in while sewing the area above the last colored pattern stitch.

    Typical sewing of the front panels to the back would go from the bar between the selvage stitch and the body on a front to the bar between the selvage stitch and the body on the back (Mattress Stitch). The edge stitches disappear and the join becomes invisible. Sewing from center to center to join half stitches along the edge may not be as clean visually and should be checked by sewing swatches to test for bulk and appearance. While the ribbing instruction includes selvages (2Ks on the front and 1K on the back on the armhole edges), the charted pattern does not specify a selvage. Sewn by mattress stitch as written, you would only have two stitches, instead of 3, at the join of the chain and the stitches at the flower point would disappear. If are using mattress stitch for seaming, add a selvage stitch to the front panel above the ribbing. Preferably, knit the selvage in pattern, so the join becomes truly invisible. You can decrease 3 at the front armhole edge to get rid of the selvage at that point and retain the same look on both sides of the armhole.

    Note: if you intend to pick up the bands around the armhole and front instead of knitting them as you go, you will need to add selvage stitches to those edges to retain the full pattern. This change would include making the front ribbing end at K2 instead if K1 at the center edge.

    • Hi, Christy. Your second paragraph is what’s being discussed under the Discrepancy heading above. Wanted to make sure anyone who might mattress stitch this the standard way (on either side of the stitches, rather than through the centers) would wind up losing part of the motif into the seam.

      The armhole bind-offs aren’t a discrepancy, for reasons you’ve noted — that’s just how knitting works.

  4. Wow that video is super helpful!! Can’t wait to try it – this knit along has inspired me to try my hand at color work for the first time. Will knit up Laurus first to get my feet wet, but I daydream about wearing this vest practically every day so I’m super motivated!!! Thanks for all the amazing posts – I’m learning so much 😊

    • Laurus is an excellent place to start! I’m still really new at colorwork and honestly this vest has convinced me it can be fun and not just rewarding.

  5. Pingback: The Cowichan influence: a Q&A with Andrea Rangel | Fringe Association

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