Cowichan-style Knitalong FO No. 3: Karen Templer

Cowichan-style Knitalong FO No. 3: Karen Templer

In keeping with tradition, I’m interviewing myself today about my finished vest for the Cowichan-style Knitalong. But first, I want to say I am crazy about the sweaters that have come out of this so far. I knew there would likely be a lot fewer sweaters than last year, this being an odder choice, but those y’all have knitted have been amazing in so many ways. I’ve said there will be prizes and I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to sort that out just yet (see aforementioned comments about biting off too much in October) but I WILL! I’m really excited to highlight some of the stellar contributions, and will do so soon. And of course, we have two panelists still knitting, and new people casting on vests all the time. So keep watching that #fringeandfriendskal2015 hashtag. It’s never too late to join in! OK, here we go—

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You knitted your vest with three strands of worsted (Quince’s Lark) at a tighter gauge than the pattern called for in order to get the size down a little. How’d that work out?

It worked out perfectly! I think the density of the fabric is sort of Cowichan-like — outerwear grade. I also cut 14 rows out of the pattern (the first 14 rows above the ribbing) in order to make it proportionally shorter. It is quite fitted, just what I was after, so not very Cowichan-like in that regard, but I love the fabric and the shrunken fit.

Your one trepidation going into this was working the colorwork flat, and specifically whether you’d remember to read the charts back and forth. How did it go?

This vest turned out to be an amazing learning experience. I not only worked the colorwork back and forth, but I decided I wanted to learn the Cowichan method of trapping floats (I watched the videos linked in this post) and it really was like learning to knit all over again. I was not only holding one yarn in each hand — as I always do with colorwork — but I really had to get the hang of the left hand, to the point of purling with that hand, which I’ve never grasped. But learning the four different ways to work a stitch, depending on whether you’re knitting or purling, trapping the right-hand or left-hand color, was such a fun challenge. I actually enjoyed it so much I want to do it again really soon, so as not to lose track of that new skill. Plus I just really want another one of these.

Here’s the funny thing about my fear that I wouldn’t read the charts right: I recharted the front left panel to work out my motif changes and my shaping changes, but when it came to the right front, I didn’t want to take the time to draw another one. So I actually wound up reading the left-front chart backwards in order to knit the right front, and by some miracle it wasn’t confusing at all! I felt totally brilliant.

In the Meet the Panel post, I think you said you were only going to work the checkerboard stripes with the main motif in between, and skip the rest. What changed?

Once I had worked that much of the back, I realized if I didn’t add in the upper motifs, it would look too much like a wallpaper border wrapped around me, and not at all like a Cowichan. I wanted it to be funkier and not pretty, so I went ahead and added the stripes and chain-link motif on the upper part of the sweater. I still think it’s a little on the pretty side.

You said you recharted for the sake of your shaping changes — what’s that about?

I initially was planning to do the squared off armholes like the pattern but decided I really wanted them to lay nicely given my shrunken fit, and same with adding shoulder shaping. I also decided to not knit the garter stitches at the armhole edge. (My plan was to pick up stitches to work armhole edging but I haven’t done anything at all with the armholes yet, and may never.) So at the armholes, I bound off 2 sts for 2 rows and then 1 st for 6 rows. And for the shoulders, I bound off 5 sts each for the last 4 rows, then bound off the neck sts.

That was for the back. The fronts were slightly different because I added a selvage stitch at each edge so I could work mattress stitch as normal, rather than through the centers of the stitches as the pattern seems to expect. So then I just bound off 3 sts on the first armhole row instead of 2.

What else did you change?

The biggest modification I made was to do a zipper instead of buttons. In looking at some zippered Cowichans online, I decided to do the front edges as a slipped stitch plus one stitch worked in garter. Instead of a 4-stitch buttonhole band overlapping a 4-stitch button band, I needed it to be a total of 4 sts — 2 per side instead of 4 per side. That meant I had to make up those two stitches in each of the collar flaps, which was no big deal since, as written, you skip the increase a couple of times. So I just increased more often until I had the right number of stitches. You can kind of see the shaping and edging changes in my chart, which I’ve included a photo of below.

Installing the zipper was another chance to learn something new, and I’m thrilled with what the zipper does for the vest. I now want to put zippers on everything. I found this awesome tip about how to stabilize the edges and probably would not have completed the task were it not for that. So thank you, Splityarn.

Watching all of the vests appear on Instagram over the course of the knitalong, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

I really love all of the dark ones and kind of wish I’d used black as my MC and the grey and ivory as the CCs. Or that I had used a natural/undyed light grey, which would have been a little more rustic looking. I also love @wendlandcd’s oversized version with the mega collar and want one like that. But I also can’t stop thinking about Andrea’s black side-bursts. I think my next one — and there WILL be a next one! — will be a slightly less fitted, oatmeal-colored, with spare black motifs, one of which might be Andrea’s bursts.

The other thing I’ll do differently on the next one is learn the true Cowichan way of forming the collar. I can’t wait!

Cowichan-style Knitalong FO No. 3: Karen Templer

PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendskal2015: FO No. 2, Meri Tanaka (full series here)