My latest retro sewing project is still bogged down in pattern alteration, although I think I’m past the worst of it and can begin doing actual sewing again.
Meanwhile . . . some of us knit retro, too. Honestly, of all of us who knit retro, I probably do it least, but everybody has to start somewhere. I started with Bernat’s Handknit Classics from 1945:
I wanted a basic v-neck sweater vest, and they had one:
Okay, yes–I know that that’s a four-year-old boy and I’m a thirtysomething woman, but the directions have sections for children’s, ladies’, and men’s sizes and knitting instructions for most of the designs, so there was a version meant for me, as well.
I had to psych myself up for this. I’ve never knitted anything more complicated than a diagonal dishcloth before, and this involved stuff like shaping and picking up stitches. Scary stuff. It also involved math, because the original pattern was mean for sport-weight yarn and I’m cheap: I buy what I can get with a 40%-off coupon at Michael’s, and they mostly sell worsted and bulky weight. I went with worsted because I don’t really like bulky and bulky didn’t come in real wool, and bulky would have involved even more math than did worsted since the worsted was closer in size to the original recommended yarn. Actually, the sizing worked out fine: I just knitted a size 12 (bust 30) with a little added length, but since the gauge was larger it came out as a size 16 (bust 34).
The yarn is Paton’s Classic Wool in Chestnut Brown, which is really more of a . . . I would say Van Dyke brown? It’s a dark and very brown brown, without any reddish cast. Earthy brown, I guess. I found it very easy to use; it didn’t get fuzzy with handling and it didn’t split on the ends of my needles, even at a relatively small gauge. I used Susan Bates QuickSilvers in US 5 for the body and Yarnology in US 3 for the ribbing. I like the QuickSilvers because they’re just enough less slippery than anodized aluminum needles, but don’t snag like bamboo needles sometimes do, and have fine points.
In addition to being cheap, I’m lazy, so I converted it to knit in the round until I had to divide to shape the armscyes. So . . . I was worried about getting the pattern to work, but not so worried that I wouldn’t cut at least one little corner. Once I got past the knitting in the round part, though, I was basically knitting in blind faith that, if I followed the directions, I would magically end up with a sweater vest, because Bernat said so.
Miraculously, I did!
Ordinarily, I’d wear this with a blouse, but I didn’t have one ironed.
I’m 85% happy with it. It’s definitely wearable, but there are a few easy changes I can make to help it fit better. Luckily, I overbought yarn to a completely unreasonable degree so I have enough to knit another one. I need to make the armscyes longer vertically to leave more room for blouse or dress sleeves; I should probably make the neck more open to better accommodate a collar; and I need to do about two inches of short rows to fit it better over the bust. It’s hard to tell, but the length in the back is fine while the length in the front is short.
Meanwhile, if anyone knows a boy or very boyishly-built woman of about 5’4″ with a 34-inch chest and skinny arms and neck who would like a dark brown wool sweater vest, email me.