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I am struggling between wanting to do a photos-only post and a long, detailed rant about all the problems I faced in this quick and beautiful, but quirky as hell knit. If you’re as delighted as I am that it’s done, the photos are for you. If you’re planning to knit this pattern, do look at the detailed pattern notes below.
Here is the waistcoat lying flat on its back:
See the lovely shaping all along the back:
With me encased in what has turned out to be a forgiving corset:
Pattern: "Provincial Waistcoat" from Interweave Knits, Winter 2006, designed by Mari Lynn Patrick. (I knitted the smallest size, 30")
Yarn: Queensland Uruguay Chunky in Teal, 73 yds per skein (I used 7 skeins total)
Needles: size 9 bamboo (and size 8 bamboo for 10 rows of the waist)
Gauge: It’s a long painful story. But somewhere in the neighbourhood of 5-5.25 spi.
Modifications and notes:
- First of all, this pattern is quite complex, but amazingly enough, there are NO errors, at least in the smallest size that I made. Hooray for that!
- A lot of people have found that their waistcoats turned out too big. I too started with the 40" inch bust size, then moved down to 35" one, and finally knitted the 30" – with nearly 9 inches of negative ease! The ribbing pattern makes it stretch LIKE THE DEVIL, so when you’re picking a size, do not be afraid to pick the smaller one.
- You can figure this by gauge, you say? Well, the pattern mentions the gauge (18/4 inches) to be measured over "body pattern," even though this changes rather a lot over the waistcoat, thereby changing gauge too. It’s bloody difficult to figure out where exactly to measure it. Mine was eventually 20-21 over 4 inches, and it still worked out alright with the stretch.
- I made one major modification, following Landshark: I didn’t change the waist rows to the 1×1 ribbing, but continued in the pattern and just used a smaller needle for those rows.
- Also, I added two rows to the buttonband to keep it from gaping. I might change the buttons later if I find nicer ones (these have been lying around for ages.)
- The Queensland Uruguay chunky is mighty soft and wonderful to knit with but I hope it won’t pill.
- Much as I like the fit of the waistcoat, it adds bulk and makes me feel (and look) heavier. I will definitely make this pattern again, but with DK or Light worsted yarn, and make a larger size. I would certainly recommend that to others thinking of making this – the pattern stretches, it’s true, and therefore the bulk is flattened out, but with a thinner yarn it will also be less heavy.
- All in all, I enjoyed it quite a bit – but some indication in the pattern of the amount of negative ease to be expected would have saved me quite a bit of annoyance.
UPDATE: I thought I’d add a quick clarification for anybody who’s planning on making this waistcoat – your negative ease might well turn out to be less than 9 inches depending on the yarn you choose; a springy 100% wool is the best as a guarantee, I think. The great thing about the pattern is that since it’s all in one piece, you can slip it to a string periodically and try it on around you to make sure it is stretching and fitting you well.
Also, as I’m finding out, larger buttons help keep the buttonband in place – due to the stretch these smaller ones aren’t proving as useful.
This is what the Provincial Waistcoat looks like right now, with the fronts and the back (almost) done:
It constricts my breath just to look at it – and not only because it is so pretty: it’s barely sixteen inches around at the waist! Am I actually knitting a corset?
And yet, periodic trying on through the knitting process indicates that it does indeed stretch like a hungry anaconda’s mouth and envelop snugly and elegantly my ample middle. Miracles may yet happen; I might yet finish and model this in a few days.
Anyone peer closely at the measuring ruler pictured above?
I got it as a gift, and it marks history in space (76 inches) and time (two millennia) – from Late Antiquity to Modern Times. It’s called "History: 2000 Years by the Meter." It’s a terrific, everyday example of the ubiquity European history as universal history, as simply the passage of all time. Interspersed into the broad, brightly coloured eras are smaller historical punctuations and movements. These begin with Ovid, and end with Globalisation – Modern Times includes Materialism, Revolutions, Historicism, Capitalism, Communism, and, hold your breath, Arts and Crafts. Interesting and packed times, these Modern Times! I should take it to class someday to illustrate what we mean by teleology.
Too bad they didn’t add a few more inches for Postmodern Angst. What little eddies might that little strip include, you think? Someday, if I get into woodwork, I’ll make a subversive measuring tape – Slavery, War, Serfdom, War, Enclosures, Labour Alienation, Empire, War, Conspicuous Consumption, Environmental Destruction, Decline of Unions, Postmodern Apathy, War. How’s that for a more accurate and inclusive global measurement.
But in case you’re wondering, this wooden ruler does work very well for gauge.
I haven’t posted any Fiberlicious Friday pictures so far, because I couldn’t bring myself to photograph yarns with cutlery and food. But as I sliced a delicious, juicy pluot this morning, I couldn’t help but remember the Highland Silk yarn that came from Elann a couple of days ago for my Ogee Tunic:
Funny, they called the yarn shade "Raspberry," but the delicate pinks and the silk sheen remind me of the veins and lustre of the flesh of the pluot.
Incidentally, I thought this pluot was a fancy French fruit with a fancy French name. Turns out it’s a cross between a plum and an apricot, say what! I have been devouring it in the past month.
I cannot wait to cast on for the Ogee Tunic again! (by the way, do click on the Fiberlicious link above, there are some gorgeous photos)
Enjoy your weekend!
By now I should know that the minute I declare something here for all the world to read, its very opposite will soon materialize. And so it was yesterday, when I went to the LYS to look for some Cascade 220 for the Provincial Waistcoat, but came away instead with this lovely Uruguay Chunky (Queensland Collection) yarn instead. Dislike knitting with chunky yarn, did I say a week ago? Never, not on your life, I love this yarn, and why did I ever think that knitting three inches of the vest so damn quickly would not be not fun?
The colour is accurate, it’s teal on the bluish side. I had never heard of this yarn before – after ditching the 220 idea (single stranded gauge not okay, doubled too bulky), I looked for some Cascade Eco in some of their dyed shades. They look nice at a distance, but somehow the colours I wanted looked really gaudy and cosmetic up close.
And then I spied this one, and my mind was made up instantly. Without a swatch, even. Knitting it is a dream – it’s 60% merino, 20% alpaca and 10% silk. Pricey as hell, but I got some cash from a visiting uncle and aunt this past weekend, and I convinced myself it was worth it.
I started knitting the 35" size of the pattern. My gauge is still a little off at just over 5 spi on size 9 bamboos, but it’s really difficult to correctly measure it in this complicated pattern, and am hoping that the negative ease will eventually sort things out.
Am going to try to have this done by month’s end. Possible? I hope so, because some Highland Silk is on the way for the Ogee Tunic, part deux.
The week since my last post can adequately described as a penance. A propitiation of the gauge gods, who continue to frown on my door. This post is a desperate offering, the equivalent of 108 pradakshinas or perambulations around the temple. I wish I could say I fasted as well, but that would be a big lie.
Highland Silk Ogee
So voila my diligent and faithful swatching for the Ogee tunic. In keeping with the
enabling good advice I got, I junked the Creskeld orange and decided on some Elann Peruvian Highland Silk. I first swatched with size 4s (look at the size of it, people!), and then when it was 21 st to 4 inches, I went down to 3 (both Bates) and knit another one. This one is on the spot – 23 st to 4 inches:
I love the feel of the second swatch and the sheen of the yarn, and so Elann Highland Silk it is to be. See the 3 little knots on the leftover end? That’s to remind me it was a size 3 needle. Comes in *very* handy when you want to use a yarn again and don’t want to swatch a second time. People use punch-cards, stickies.. this is less work. If you want it to tell you what kind of needle, though, you’re on your own.
The colour above is Oxblood, but that’s not what I’m using. I just had a skein handy and swatched with it. I ordered a shade card from Elann, thinking it would make it easier to choose the shade I wanted, but now I can’t decide between the Raspberry, the Tapestry blue and the Purple:
I am sorry about the night-time photography, but I can’t seem to find the time to photograph the yarn during the day. But the shades are all exciting and not really off – I wish I could decide! I love the yarn, though, and the price.
Provincial Waistcoat gauge
I also ordered some Elsebeth Lavold Angora from Elann in Turquoise (on heavy discount), and swatched for the Provincial Waistcoat:
I dislike working with chunky yarn (the recommended Karabella Superyak is 3.5 spi!), so I bought the worsted Lavold, planning to work my way through the maths. (Those of you who know me, please do not laugh hysterically as you read this). As it turned out, I did work it out such that a larger size + thinner yarn = my desired dimensions. But like I said above, the gauge gods are pissed off, and they did smirk and cackle.
First of all, it’s fucking difficult to figure out how exactly to swatch for the body pattern. No chart and there are so many increases and decreases per row that I couldn’t figure it out. How difficult is it to just write out two rows? After wading through line after line of the pattern, I finally found it here where a helpful soul had typed it out. The swatch was 22 st to the inch in body patt on size 6 Bates.
Second of all, I looked closely at the model, and realised that this vest seems to have a ton of negative ease, and it is stretched quite a lot against the model’s body – a quick email to a couple of others who’ve made it confirmed that. Of course, the pattern says NOTHING about this, other than the recommended yarn being stretchy. My swatch varied wildly when I measured it plain and when I measured it stretched – plus the angora being what it is, it didn’t stretch like merino would. Instead of the 40" size to fit loosely, therefore, I’m thinking of the 35" size so it will fit snugly, more like it’s shown in the pattern.
Of course, I also realised that the angora wasn’t for me – all that fuzz, no way. It obscures the delicate stitch pattern, and somehow, I didn’t take to the yarn. It’s soft, but strangely lifeless. It’s going back.
I might just get some Cascade 220 for this, or double the new Elann Superwash Merino that I got a sample of. It looks springy and clean. Maybe then the deities will stop playing hard to get and smile on me a little. About time, too.
So I thought I’d have a nice little update this week on the Ogee Tunic, which I had begun before summer, and then abandoned. I’ve been furiously working on since I got back. The back is done to the armholes, and the front done a few inches. The front has the big motif, so I wanted to get it done so the stockinette back could match. All was well, or so I thought.
I hadn’t accounted for change in gauge, that too between two needles of the same size! The gauge changes quite significantly, from 21 to 20 per 4 inches, and from 31 to almost 29 rows per 4 inches. I suspected it as I was knitting along, but of course I put it down to the fact that I was picking it up after a while. I pinned and measured it after getting to the armhole, and realised that the width has grown half an inch above the pin.
All along, the nagging feeling was that I had forgotten the needle size I began with. I am *fairly sure* it was size 4; I remember knitting with the 60" addis I had in that size, even if I didn’t write it down somewhere. But the really long addi circular is annoying to knit with, so I switched to Susan Bates size 4. 3.5 mm both; where’s the problem? I don’t know, you look at the difference in gauge and tell me. I knit the front all on Susan Bates, and here it is vis-a-vis the back:
Nearly two inches wider! I can’t figure it out. It’s the same size needle, but the gauge fluctuates so wildly. To think I wasted nearly two DVDs worth of Law & Order to knit all this! I was so excited about having it done this month, too. I love this pattern. But now my options are:
1) Frog back to pre-summer length, re-swatch with size 3s, recheck gauge and continue. Cut losses and order more L&O DVDs.
2) Let the back be; frog the front, ditch the Bates, stick with the addis, all will be well.
3) Accept the fact that this project is not meant to be in this Creskeld guernsey yarn; it’s too bright anyway. Find new yarn to make it with, maybe a merino wool blend, and think of shortening the sleeves into a lighter tunic. Retain sanity. Problem is, this yarn is perfect for a heavily cabled project.
4) Forget Ogee for a while. Give in to temptation, and splurge for yarn and cast on for either the Provincial Waistcoat or the Tangled Yoke cardigan, both in recent issues of Interweave.
Opinions? (Will it help if I indicate that I’m leaning heavily towards # 3 & 4?)
One lesson I am learning, and thank heavens for Ravelry and its WIP section – remember to record the gauge with the needle size before hibernating a project!
I don’t think I could ever be a vegan. I could easily give up meat, which I eat rarely anyway and didn’t eat at all for half my life, and perhaps milk and cream, but never dahi (curds / yogurt). It is one of the staples of my diet and something I absolutely adore.
Dahi Bhat or Mosaru Anna (curd-rice in Marathi and Kannada) tempered sometimes with curry leaves, mustard seeds and spice-stuffed dried chillis, and garnished with fresh coriander is a common south Indian dinner item. With some lemon or giner pickle or raw mango chutney, it is my ultimate comfort food.
Then there’s Mishti Doi (sweet yogurt in Bengali) a divine, divine Bengali dessert that’s made with reduced milk, caramelized sugar (often palm sugar) and set in earthenware pots. On a hot summer afternoon or evening, a few spoonfuls are enough to make you forget the sweltering madness around you. I had way too much of it this summer (as the scale, ahem, testifies) but it’s totally worth it. Coming back, I was seized with a longing to have some more. No earthenware pot or palm sugar, but a good detailed recipe.
Some Strauss milk, some Pavel’s yogurt, and some demerara sugar – the result was less than ideal, but it’s a work in progress.
Another yogurt favourite of mine, with which I have more success, is a beloved dessert of western India, Shrikhand. This is made with yogurt drained overnight of all the whey, and the resultant curds (called chakka in Marathi) beaten with powdered sugar, a pinch of saffron and some ground cardamom seeds, very occasionally some pistachio or almonds. This is a rather sweet dessert, and it’s often made so sweet that one dollop of the thick, thick yogurt in your mouth takes a while to work through. I often alternated dollops with some spicy pickle to balance the sweetness, much to everyone’s annoyance at the heresy. An excellent shrikhand recipe, with pictures and detailed procedure and personally tested by me, can be found at Evolving Tastes.
A famous sweetmeat-wala in Pune, Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale, came up some years ago with amrakhanda, shrikhand with alphonso mangoes. This became a raging hit in the summers. The firm flesh of the alphonso makes it ideal for blending with drained yogurt, but since I didn’t have any in Delhi this August, I used the local Dussheri variety, which are a littler juicier, but incredibly sweet:
Of late I’ve seen other fruit flavours too. Manisha made shrikhand with blackberries, which looked scrumptious. I’ve been wanting to try this dessert with anjir (figs) ever since I read her post, and since I had some lovely fig and honey icecream in Delhi. I love figs only next to mangoes, and the ripe, luscious figs in the market now tempted me even more. So this morning I made some for a visiting relative:
I wanted to try out a slightly healthier, low-fat option, so all this contained was
1) a tub of Pavel’s non-fat yogurt, 2) ten ripe, peeled and mashed figs and 3) three tablespoons of honey. It made about 6 of the serving pictured above.
Really, all you have to do is:
- Take the yogurt and pour it into a bowl lined with a large, thin cotton cloth. Cheesecloth will do, but make sure it’s relatively firm.
- Tie up the yogurt in the cloth and hang it on a hook with a bowl below to catch the draining whey. I just take a thin muslin towel and tie the yogurt over the sink.
- Leave overnight.
- In the morning, take the drained dahi into a bowl.
- Peel and mash the figs separately, then add to the dahi and keep beating the damn thing till it’s all blended and fluffy. the drier the yogurt, the better the shrikhand consistency.
- Add the honey and mix well.
- Dress with fig pieces and an extra dollop of honey when serving, depending on taste.
I’m not sure if the excising of sugar from the recipe still makes this a shrikhand recipe, or merely a desi twist on a common Greek breakfast combination. Whatever it may be, it’s delicious, and I invite you to try it!