KTFO-2016.6 : black Anna Vest

FO : black Anna Vest

When I cast on this sweater in this yarn, as you know, I didn’t give it a ton of thought. I’d written the pattern for Tolt’s Farm to Needle book and sent off the sample, leaving me wanting one of my own. I thought the vest would be a great wardrobe staple in black, and I happened to have enough black Terra in my stash (purchased as part of a class at Squam in summer of ’14 for a different vest I never knitted). So I cast on! The minute I saw how amazing the yarn looked in this stitch pattern, I was in love. But even then, I had no idea how dreamy it would turn out to be in the finished garment. As noted in yesterday’s discussion, the weight and drape of this vest in this yarn is absolute perfection, which was basically a very lucky accident because omg I love this thing.

I’m never taking it off.

Difficult to photograph in this blackest black, but so easy to wear. I didn’t intend to only photograph it with sleeveless things — that just happened because it’s my favorite way to wear a vest, and this is what I wore the first three days after it was finished! (Included are my blue dress and my linen dress.)

The only modifications I made were to do one pocket instead of two, and knit the body to one inch shorter than the pattern calls for, anticipating that this yarn would likely grow when blocked (and/or worn), which it did. So in the end, it’s exactly the pattern dimensions for the second size. Knitted on US8.

Pattern: Anna Vest by Karen Templer
Yarn: Terra by The Fibre Co. in Coalwood
Cost: my own pattern ($0) + concave horn buttons $10 + yarn $112 (from stash; expenditure made in 2014) = $122

It’s not too late to join the Anna Vest Knitalong! Just use hashtag #annavestkal wherever you post.

All posts on this sweater: On the blog | Instagram | Ravelry

How to seam on a button band

How to seam on a button band

I’ve preached a lot about the merits of the vertical button band over the years, even though I’ve only actually done it myself a couple of times. But when I was writing the Anna Vest pattern (and knitting its predecessor), I knew with absolute certainty it needed to have a vertical band. The opposite of this would be a picked-up button band, where you pick up stitches along the front edge(s) of your cardigan and then work those stitches in garter stitch or 2×2 ribbing or whatever the pattern might call for. That’s simpler and faster to do, but it also creates a less firm band and contributes to the problem of the band gaping when it’s buttoned. Vertical bands, by contrast, are knitted on small needles in 1×1 ribbing, which is very dense and thus creates a nice firm band. There are a couple of downsides. The first is you have to knit it, and if you think 50-ish inches of 1×1 ribbing doesn’t sound that bad — I mean, it’s only 11 stitches wide, in this case — let me point out to you that’s a full 50g skein of yarn. It’s a lot of knitting, I’m being honest here. Second is you have to seam it on, and again, that’s a long stretch of seam. But as I believe anyone who’s completed their Anna will tell you, it is 100% worth it.

STEP ONE is to get the sweater ready for its band. You need to have knitted the fronts and back, blocked all of the pieces to the pattern dimensions, and seamed them together, so you’ve got a finished neckline. (If you’re doing a crewneck cardigan with two separate, straight fronts, you could feasibly do those without having seamed the shoulders together. Arms or armhole edging can be done either before or after the band — they’re not relevant to this process.) You want to make sure to block the pieces first because you want the length of the pieces to have been finalized so you’re matching your band to the finished dimensions. Also, while blocking, pay extra attention to the neckline edge stitches — the flatter you can get them to lay, the easier this will be.

STEP TWO is to knit the band(s). In the case of a V-neck sweater like this, you’ve got one continuous band that runs up one side, around the back of the neck, and down the other side. A vertical band like this is a lot like a bias strip in sewing — it’s stretchy and can be manipulated to match the length of the fabric you’re attaching it to. So my recommendation is not to knit to a finished length, but rather to knit to within range of the end and keep those stitches live for the moment. You can finish it up once the rest of the band is seamed on so you can knit it to the precise length your knitting and seaming calls for.

How to seam on a button band

STEP THREE is to line them up, ready to seam. Because we’re leaving the exact length of the band TBD, it’s necessary to start with the lower right front edge of the band, so you can knit the button holes for that side of the garment, then carry on with plain 1×1 for as long as it takes to fit the edge. I’ve also written Anna so that the first stitch on each RS row is slipped with yarn in front, then knitted on the wrong side. This creates a really nice, attractive, smooth edge for the side of the band that remains visible (see top left photo above). The opposite edge of the band is in stockinette (as is the body edge it’s joined to), for the sake of easy seaming. So the band has a definite right and wrong side, and you want to make sure you’ve got it lined up that way.

How to seam on a button band

Note, too, how the buttonholes line up with the right front piece, above. I’ve left a removable marker in each front piece where the shaping began, and you can see the top buttonhole sits just below that spot.

How to seam on a button band

STEP FOUR is to start seaming! When you go to pick up that first bar in the bottom of the band, make sure you’re between the edge stitch and the adjacent knit stitch. You should be able to count five full knit stitches (five V’s) to the right of your tapestry needle, plus the slipped edge stitch. Try not to use black yarn your first time! And do this sober and in good light.

Now here’s the trick. This is plain old mattress stitch. (There are good tutorials at Kelbourne Woolens, Purl Soho and Knitting Help, if you need it.) However, typically with mattress stitch you’re joining two pieces of identical fabric, as you  are in Anna’s case at the side seams. Normally, you have an identical number of rows of knitting, and they’re of the same gauge, blocked to the same dimension — so it’s a direct 1-to-1 equation. With a button band, that’s not true. You’ve specifically knitted the band on smaller needles, which means tighter row gauge — more rows per inch than what you have on the body pieces you’re seaming to — so it’s no longer 1-to-1. What that means is you have to lay them flat next to each other, use your judgment, and work back and forth picking up whichever bar is directly across from the one you just picked up, which most likely will mean skipping one every few rows along the straight parts of the front, and easing them together as makes sense along the slopes. (The outer lane of a racetrack is longer than the inner one. So you’ll need to allow more band fabric along the front curves.)

Getting started is the hardest part, and you should expect it to take several tries before you find your rhythm with it. The beauty of mattress stitch — especially at the start of the seam — is that to pull it out, all you have to do is yank on one end. As long as you haven’t split the yarn anywhere along the way, it slides right out!

How to seam on a button band

If your ratio is off, and you are in effect joining too much band fabric to the corresponding body fabric, it’ll shove out of alignment like you see in the top photo above. Try again, picking up fewer rows and keeping them adjacent rather than sequential, and you’ll wind up with the bottom version.

It definitely requires some patience and persistence, so just be mentally prepared for that and not in a hurry. Once you get past those first few rows or inches, you’ll pick up speed and see your joinery improving. When you get to the back of the neck, where you’re joining the band horizontally to vertical stitches, you want to run your needle under both legs of each stitch (the whole V). And when you reach the lower left front, where you left off knitting your band, you’ll have a much better idea of how close you are to the right length. Knit a little bit, seam it on; knit a little more; until you’ve got exactly the length you need.

You may get so much better as you go that you decide to start again and really nail it. Because, after all, you’ve put this much effort into knitting this garment and this band. You’ll never regret taking the time to get it right!

p.s. There’s no schedule for the Anna Vest Knitalong, so join in anytime! Just use hashtag #annavestkal wherever you might post!

p.p.s. This yarn is Terra from The Fibre Company/Kelbourne Woolens


PREVIOUSLY in the Anna Vest Knitalong: A sampling of Annas

A sampling of Annas

A sampling of Annas

This little Anna Vest Knitalong has been just as low-key and casual as advertised, and I’m loving seeing some finished or nearly finished vests appearing on the interwebs. You can see them on Instagram under #annavestkal, and there are a few on Ravelry as well. But I also wanted to highlight some here:

TOP: Rebecca Seifert (@ascending.rain) captured her WIP at such a great moment of evolution — one armhole finished, and the band pinned in place to check the length.

MIDDLE: Ding Ren (@halfcrystalline) opted to knit a version of the vintage waistcoat pattern that inspired my Anna pattern, modified for a seamed-on band, and I love her choice of charcoal grey.

BOTTOM: Anna Dianich (@toltyarnandwool), for whom the pattern is named, put a shawl collar on hers!

The Tuesday Morning Stitch Circle at Tolt also all knitted Anna together, and this photo of them in their finished vests made my heart go all puddly. I especially love those contrast pocket linings.

I’ve answered several questions about button-band seaming along the way, and it’s been my intention to do a blog  post about it when I’m seaming my own band — it’s just taking me longer to get there than expected! As noted, I don’t have enough yarn to finish, and I also interrupted it briefly for the blue thing … but I finished the principal knitting of ol’ blue last night and have more black Terra on the way for my Anna, so I’ll be picking up where I left off posthaste. My pieces are all blocked and will be seamed this weekend, so with any luck I’ll have a seamed button-band tutorial for you next week!

Meanwhile, it’s never too late to cast on! Just use hashtag #annavestkal wherever/whenever.


PREVIOUSLY in the Anna Vest Knitalong: How to make it match

Queue Check — March 2016

Queue Check — March 2016

All I’ve done since my February Queue Check is knit my deliciously black Anna Vest and sew most of a black sleeveless top. The vest parts are all blocked and dry and ready for seaming, but I know from experience that knitting the button band will take me a while! The top I quickly, uh, self-drafted and sewed at a Saturday Night Sewing Party with a bunch of friends, where there was both professional supervision and wine. Let’s just say mistakes were made, but it’s going to be great once I fix it. So I should have both of those done soon.

Nothing has changed with my grey Sawkill sweater (above) or my two hats-in-progress, none of which is urgent at this point. So when Anna is done, either they get some attention or one of two things will happen:

1. I’m pretty determined to cast on the simple slouchy V-neck cardigan I’ve been talking about forever. But will it be the Linen Quill version? The Lettlopi version? The Shibui version? The Knightsbridge version? … A decision must be made.

2. Likewise, Channel Cardigan will be cast on (once again) the very moment a yarn decision is made, and maybe you can help. I want it to be CAMEL, and the options are frustratingly few, that I can find. It must be worsted weight (or I can get behind doing it at aran gauge), 100% natural fiber somewhere in the middle of the softness:ruggedness continuum, and an actual nice camel shade — not too yellow-orange or apricot. The leading contender is Quince Lark in Camel, which I’m sure would be just dandy, but I’ve knitted with Lark a lot lately and would rather it be something new to me, but still/also with good roots. I would also love it if it weren’t a totally flat camel but had some tweedy-fleckiness-heatheredness to it. Any ideas?


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: February 2016

Hot Tip: Make it match

Hot Tip: Make it match

When you’re knitting a sweater in pieces, it’s sometimes more critical than othertimes that the parts match up exactly. If you’ve got a pronounced stitch pattern or stripes or a colorwork motif, it’s just that much more important for the rows to align properly at the seams — as opposed to solid stockinette, where nobody will ever know if you fudge it by a row or two. A knitting pattern will generally tell you to knit to a certain length before beginning the armhole shaping, then to another length from the armhole shaping to the shoulders. It’s always more precise to count rows than to measure — measurements of knitted fabric being inherently squishy. (Which is why a trick like this one is so handy.) But if your stitch pattern in pronounced, as with this Anna Vest, not only is it more important to be accurate, it’s a million time easier! A stitch pattern like this makes it incredibly simple to count rows or ridges or repeats, and to make sure you’re doing things on the same row from one piece to the next. Same with a charted stitch pattern or colorwork motif: Knit to the prescribed measurement on the first piece, mark which row of the chart or repeat you were on, then make sure you’re working to the same row in subsequent pieces.

If you want to take it one step further, you can knit matching or mirrored pieces simultaneously on one needle, as pictured above. Not only does it save you from start-over-itis, but that way you can be 100% certain you did things on the same exact row, because you’re literally doing one and then the other. Two at a time: It’s not just for socks!

With this particular Anna, I began both the neck shaping and the armhole shaping on the k1/p1 row of the Andalusian Stitch pattern. Andalusian Stitch happens to be a 4-row repeat, and the neck shaping also happens every 4th row (at first), so if you use that as your starting point, it’s easy to remember that when you’re on the k1/p1 row, it’s a decrease row. Anytime you can use your repeat or chart to track occurrences of anything, do it!


PREVIOUSLY in Hot Tips: Weigh it

How to account for gauge differences

How to account for gauge differences

Over the weekend, I got a gauge question from someone planning to join the Anna Vest Knitalong, and since it’s a universal question, and a conundrum that I see people struggling with a lot, I thought I’d write it up for the blog. The question is: If you’re knitting at a gauge that’s different than pattern gauge, how do you figure out how big the garment will turn out?

Long-time readers know I rarely, if ever, knit a sweater at pattern gauge. We have it drilled into us as knitters that you have to match pattern gauge or your finished object will not match the pattern dimensions, which is absolutely true. If your stitches are bigger, your garment will be bigger; if your stitches are smaller, your garment will be smaller. So we swatch, and we measure. (See How to knit and measure a swatch.) And if our gauge is off, we dutifully swatch again on a different needle until we “get gauge.” Unless you’re like me, and you rarely use the recommended yarn, and you’re more interested in getting a fabric you like than in matching the pattern gauge, in which case you swatch to get your desired fabric and its measurements. However, going rogue means you’re going to have to do some grade-school math. (Watch for my upcoming post: Does getting gauge mean never doing math? Not if you care about fit.) (Actually, see How to start knitting a sweater for that.)

So Jennie swatched for the Anna Vest and she likes the fabric she’s getting on size 6 needles, which is giving her 22 stitches per 4 inches instead of the pattern gauge of 20 sts. She’s a 34″ bust and would have chosen to knit the size 34 vest (for a zero-ease fit), but given her smaller stitches, knitting the 34 would result in a garment that’s too small. The next size up is 38″ at pattern gauge, but what size will it turn out if she knits it at her gauge of 22 sts?

There are a couple of different ways to look at it:

1) Stitch count ratio: 20 divided by 22 is .909 — we can round that to .91 and say that Jennie’s stitches are about 91% the size of pattern gauge, so her sweater will be 91% of pattern dimensions. If she knits the 38, she’ll wind up with a sweater that’s about 34.5″ circumference. (38 x .91 = 34.58) Perfect!

2) Actual stitches per inch: 22 stitches per 4 inches is 5.5 stitches per inch. (22 divided by 4 = 5.5) The back piece of the Anna Vest in size 38 is 97 sts, 2 of which are selvage stitches (i.e., they’ll disappear into the seam at the end) so really it’s 95 stitches across. 95 sts divided by 5.5 sts per inch = 17.27 inches. Double that for the circumference of the garment = 34.5″. (That number being the cast-on count, it is the hem circumference. In this case, the body is straight-sided — no waist shaping, A-line shaping, etc. — so it is the same circumference at the hem and chest. If you’re working with a shaped garment, you’ll need to read into the pattern to find the stitch count at its largest point in the bust, usually right before armhole shaping begins, and use that number to calculate your adjusted chest circumference.)

Easy, right?


To be thorough, don’t just look at the chest circumference. I’ve given a very detailed schematic in the Anna pattern, for instance, so take the time to calculate the changes in all of the widths and make sure there are no other areas of concern, such as shoulder width, neck width, etc. (Especially if you’re knitting a garment with sleeves — make sure they won’t wind up too tight or too loose.) If you decide to adjust stitch counts anywhere, bear in mind any necessary matching of stitch patterns at the side seams or stitch counts at shoulder seams, where it needs to match up with the back piece.

And there’s the matter of ROW GAUGE, the most critical factor in knitting that gets the least attention. Presumably Jennie’s row gauge is also tighter than pattern gauge. In the case of the Anna Vest, it’s not a significant concern. The lengths for the body and armhole are both given in inches rather than number of rows, so she’ll still just knit to those lengths — it will simply take her more rows to get there. All that will be affected is the few rows where the shoulder shaping occurs, which will be slightly shallower but not enough to make a meaningful difference in the outcome. Her neck shaping on the fronts will also be completed a little sooner than it would at pattern gauge, leaving her with a few more work-even rows at the top than she would have had otherwise, but that’s not a problem. For a pattern with more instruction given in rows than inches (or where a stitch chart is involved), there could be some concern about the armhole depth getting too shallow. If there were a sleeve cap involved, that might be cause for concern, as sleeve cap shaping happens over a greater number of rows, and you could wind up with a cap that’s a bit shorter than the armscye it’s meant to fit into. So just be on the lookout for anything where a difference in row gauge might be cause for adjustment.

And the number one thing to look out for if you’re knitting at a rogue gauge is if your row gauge is bigger than pattern gauge (fewer rows per inch). Shaping is nearly always distributed evenly over the length of an area, such as a body or sleeve, and nearly always given as “work the inc/decrease every Nth rows, X times.” If your row gauge is bigger — it takes fewer of them to make up that length — you’ll have fewer rows in which to complete those inc/decreases. So tally up the rows and shaping and make sure you can fit it all in, or recalculate the shaping according to your gauge. (See the Sweater math section of this post.)

It’s a big subject and I’m trying to not write a novel here, so I’m happy to answer further questions in the comments!

(Pictured is my original gauge swatch for the Anna Vest, along with the book Farm to Needle and Thirteen Mile Worsted. Bento Bag and wooden gauge ruler from Fringe Supply Co.)

Anna Vest KAL: How to knit inset pockets

How to knit inset pockets

Hi, all — happy Anna Vest Knitalong kickoff day! As promised, today’s post is a tutorial on how to knit inset pockets, but just a few things before we get to that:

Please review the introduction before getting started on the knitalong, as there is some pattern errata and other important details. And please also read through the Techniques section at the beginning of the pattern, which contains all sorts of useful tips. Several people have mentioned this will be their first time knitting a garment, and I think it’s a great place to start. It is not a lot of knitting, not very complicated, but will teach you some very valuable skills, especially with regard to finishing. And you get to knit inset pockets! I also think it’s helpful that this vest is knitted in Andalusian Stitch, which is a really simple knits-and-purls stitch pattern, very easily memorized, that also makes it super easy to see where you are in the pattern and ensure you’re doing things on the right row, and so on. And if you post in the comments here and/or use the hashtag #annavestkal on Instagram, you’ll have me and the rest of the group to help you if you run into any trouble!

Ok, now about this tutorial. We’re working here with the Anna Vest pattern. Pictured above are the two front pieces. On the left of the photo is the right front of the vest, which already has its pocket. And on the right of the photo is the left front of the vest, which is ready for the pocket to be created, along with the pocket lining hanging out on a DPN. So those are the two pieces we’re working with below. Note that the pattern calls for the pocket to be knitted in stockinette stitch, which gives a very subtle contrast between the body and the pocket lining. For my black Anna (yarn is Fibre Co. Terra from my stash) and for this tutorial, I’ve opted to knit the pocket lining in Andalusian Stitch, same as the body. Hopefully that will make it even easier for you to see when we’re working with the front or back of the fabric as we go through these simple steps. You can knit your pocket in either stitch, your preference, or even knit the lining in a contrasting color if you like! So here we go—


How to knit inset pockets

This pocket has a ribbed top edge, so basically we just knit the front piece of the sweater until we get to where we want to create that ribbing. In the Anna pattern, on row 23 (a RS row) I have you place markers as you work across the row, delineating the 21 pocket stitches (pictured above, top left). For the next few rows, you maintain the body stitch pattern as established, while knitting 1×1 ribbing between the markers (above, top right). Then it’s time to bind off the top edge of the pocket, i.e., the stitches between the markers (above), which is done on a RS row. Drop the markers as you encounter them, and when you’re done, double check that you’ve bound off the correct number of pocket stitches by confirming that you still have the right stitch counts on either side. (I’m knitting the second size, so I have 12 sts on one side and 14 on the other.) Note that they’re all resting on the needle, with the bound-off gap in the middle.

The next row, the join row, is a WS row, so go ahead and turn your work — and that means both the body and the pocket lining. For the next step you should be looking at the back side of both pieces.

How to knit inset pockets


How to knit inset pockets

Here’s where it’s handy if you’ve knitted the pocket lining on a DPN and just left it there, ready to be worked with. At this point, all you do is purl across the first set of stitches on the working needle, then across the pocket lining stitches, then across the second set of stitches on the working needle. (Take care to pull those stitches tight when you’re jumping from the main needle to the DPN, and back.) And voilà, your pocket lining it attached! From this point forward, you just carry on with the body in the established stitch pattern. Here’s how it looks from the front after knitting the next couple of rows:

How to knit inset pockets

Easy, right?

Note that the pocket lining doesn’t become a pocket until you sew it down. Until then it’s just a flap, flapping around on the back of your knitting. To keep it secure and prevent any strain at the join, I like to take a few removable stitch markers and just pin it to the body (pictured above).

You can go ahead and attach it if you like or, to take the more cautious approach, wait until the pieces have been blocked, and then do the seaming. To attach it, you simply whipstitch one stitch at the edge of the pocket to the adjacent purl bump on the body, and do that on every other row. Then work across the bottom of the pocket in similar fashion. As noted in the Anna pattern, the Andalusian Stitch pattern makes it easy to identify a straight column of stitches to work with, but you might still find it helpful to slide a small-gauge DPN down through the purl bumps on every other row of the body, making it easy to see which stitches you’re whipstitching into. (Or Cocoknits has a good tutorial on this using waste yarn instead of a DPN.)

Ok, let’s get knitting! If you’re doing the knitalong, be sure to use hashtag #annavestkal wherever you post, so everyone can see!

(Stitch markers and pouch from Fringe Supply Co., of course.)

How to knit inset pockets