At last the waistcoat is complete. In fact, in the best crafters' tradition, it went right to the wire. I actually set off to meet friends in London wearing the long-sleeved Tshirt, but with the front band of the waistcoat still to do. Quite what the other passengers thought as I ran in the last ends and put on the item I will never know.
I am really pleased with how this turned out. The Fair Isle pattern is from Sheila McGgegor's book of traditional patterns, but I made up the rest as I went along.
The blue yarn is a hand-dyed skein from Susan Heath, using a base yarn described as 4-ply from Sue Blacker. But it must be a heavy 4-ply as the grey yarn is an acrylic Aran weight, and the two knit together very well.
I decided early on to have a plain ribbed back but this did not stop me trying several alternatives: the front pattern done as a texture with purl stitches, the grid from the front done as intarsia... but in the end I stuck it out and used plain rib. A seven-hour car trip helped. Of course, rib and Fair Isle have quite different qualities, but it took me a longish while to realise that the number of stitches at the shoulder was going to be so different that I would need to reknit the fronts from the armhole, increasing the rate of decrease - or decreasing every third row.
I had tried a simple garter and rib edging, but had used the same needle size, so there was some fluting. To resolve this I unpicked a row above the edging , picked up the stitches and knit the edging back out on a smaller needle. This was definitely worth doing. I had put a three stitch moss stitch band along the front edges, but this looked very feeble. I decided to treat this as a kind of facing, and picked up stitches around the front edge to make the same sort of edge as the lower edge. Around the armholes I used an applied i-cord, just to neaten and stabilise the edge.
In my button box I have some decorative Norwegian Pewter hooks and eyes, bought on holiday there in the early 1990s. These should work on this project.
I did wonder about adding a tiny amount of an accent colour - acid green, perhaps - but in the end I was too timid. I did learn a great deal from the project - or was reminded of things. One of these is that heat and acrylic do not mix. I did press the fronts using a damp cloth to settle the stitches, which worked well. Pressing the shoulder seam with the iron catching the rib of the back resulted in my having to rip out a section and reknit it with new yarn to restore the texture.
So it might now be obvious why it took me so long to finish - but why do I want to cast on for another straight away? I have this dark grey, like a deep olive green, and some variegated orange....