At the beginning of January I finished the Laura vest for fellow student C..
Or rather, a combination of the fact that sewing classes started again after the Christmas holidays and I could no longer postpone it and a very big prayer gave me the courage to finish this sentimental piece.
This project had previously been started by C.’s mother for C.’s daughter, but due to her unexpected passing it was left unfinished in a bag. Quite an intimidating question to complete something like this. Not so much because I doubted my abilities, but rather because I was afraid that something would go irrevocably wrong while working on it.
The status of the project when I received it was a fully finished back piece and the front piece cast on on straight needles.
My first job was to read the pattern and compare this with the back piece I had. This showed that the pattern had been used more an an inspiration, as the number of stitches and rows was completely different. So I had to do some math and counting and try to get started on the front piece.
In the end it was quite easy to figure out how to knit the front piece. The hardest part, however, was matching my natural knitting tension with that of the already knitted back piece.
I knit quite tightly by nature, so I knew before I started that I would never be able to knit with the knitting needles provided. On the one hand, I never knit with straight needles, so I would want to use my circular needles anyway. On the other hand, I was definitely going to need a bigger needle. I knitted a few small samples, but even with my largest needle my knitting was a lot tighter. Out of necessity I decided to continue with this, hoping that things would turn out well when blocking.
To respect as much as possible of the work already done, I started with the cast-on stitches from the straight needle, but transferred them to my cable needles.
Once started the piece knitted quite quickly and I was able to cast off in just 2 or 3 knitting sessions.
But then it got scary.
My front piece turned out to be a lot narrower than expected, compared to the back piece. In terms of length it was fairly accurate, but the width was a little more difficult to fit.
After some thought and discussion with C. I decided to try to shape the front piece by wetting it and blocking it to the dimensions of the back piece. But that’s where fear started to get the better of me.
After wetting it, the wool turned out to grow a lot more than I expected, making it suddenly too big compared to the still dry back panel, which I eventually also wetted. Because the back was knitted even looser, this of course also grew quite a bit in dimension, but I was super careful with laying it out and tried to stretch as little as possible. Still, the fear was very strong. At that point there was really nothing else to do but wait for the pieces to dry and see how I could proceed.
It took at least three days before both items were completely dry and during those three days the fear of continuing to work with them had only increased.
I was so scared that I had screwed up. At that point we were somewhere between Christmas and New Year, and my ostrich decided to fold up the panels, put them back in the bag and let it sink in for a while.
However, I couldn’t keep my head burried in the sand, of course. And the longer it sat invisibly in the bag, the worse I made the issue in my head.
Because sewing class started again after the Christmas holidays and I had given myself the first lesson as a final deadline to deliver the piece back to C., I had to face the vest pieces again.
Fortunately, it turned out that I had indeed made it a lot worse in my head than it was. All in all, washing and blocking both parts had resulted in a zero operation: the difference between the back and front parts was the same as before wetting.
My strategy ended up being to take in the back a little more when sewing the side seams. Instead of putting the edges flush together, I took the back piece in by two stitches on each side. This made the side seam slightly thicker, but this is not visible on the outside.
The next intimidating part was knitting sufficient borders for the neck and both armholes, with the limited amount of yarn I had left.
I started with the neck and knitted it as high as the pattern indicated. For this I also had to take in a number of stitches in the back, because otherwise it would be too wide. I first picked up each stitch neatly along the neck, but my first round I knitted a stitch together every 3 to 4 stitches. This way I didn’t get any gaps and the result was uniform.
I then weighed the remaining yarn and made sure I only used half for the first armhole. Fortunately, it turned out that I could knit a border that was as wide as the neck.
And just like that, the piece was suddenly finished with only a few meters of yarn to spare!
Despite my doubts, procrastination and fear, the result looks quite good!
Ok, it wrinkles a bit in the neck, due to the taking in some stitches, but I hope this will not be so visible when worn.
But the most important thing is that C. was happy, so even though I found it extremely intimidating to do this, her reaction made me forget about it in an instant!