Project Diary: The Montague Vest

My friend Mimi recently knit a beautiful, chunky vest—the Montague Vest from New England Knits by Melissa LaBarre and Cecily Glowick MacDonald. Here's her project diary.

Knitting the Montague Vest

I was in the mood for a quick project, so I searched for something knit from bulky yarn. This vest was the perfect project! It's designed by Melissa LaBarre, from the book New England Knits (which is one of my favorite books, by the way!).

Mimi's Montague Vest

The yarn, Tahki Montana, is a super bulky roving-type yarn. I choose the color Ebony, which is a dark gray, as you can see. The funny thing is that the yarn has bits of white fibers in it that look exactly like my dog's shedded hair. I spent quite a while picking those hairs out of the first skein, thinking the dog had got hold of it and rolled on it or something. When I looked at the other skeins, I figured out that it was part of the yarn.

The Montague Vest is a pretty easy knit. I memorized the lace pattern after the first couple of repeats on the back. Each repeat makes up about three inches, so you can see the lace developing really quickly. That's the fun part!

I added a repeat to the back to make the length from underarm to hem 17½ instead of 14½—I wanted the vest to cover my backside. Since there's waist shaping on the back, I added the repeat before the waist shaping began so I could work the decreases in the correct place to hit my waist.

Another modification I made was making the ribbed edging wider. The largest size for this pattern is 51 inches, and I wanted a decent amount of cross-over on the front, which meant I needed about 53 inches, so I made the ribbed edging 6 inches wide instead of 4 inches wide.

Mimi's Montague Vest,
back view of the lace pattern

Since I added length, I had to fudge the picked-up stitches numbers that were called for in the pattern. I used my usual method of picking up three stitches, skipping a stitch, and picking up the next three stitches, and it worked out fine. I miraculously had the the correct number to accommodate the K3, *p2, k2* ribbing pattern, which was what I was worried about.

The sleeve openings didn't call for any finishing, and I felt that they were a little too loose, so I worked a row of single crochet edging around them and they ended up fitting well.

One thing to note is that seaming with this yarn isn't easy because it breaks when you pull on it with any vigor. I ended up using a dark gray, plied and tightly spun worsted yarn for seaming, which worked just fine.

I added a button hole, which you can't see in the photo because it's under the shawl pin, but I haven't found the perfect button yet. I love this shawl pin, though, so maybe I'll just keep the vest button-less.

This is one of my favorite knits; I'm really pleased with it. Every time I wear my vest, people ask me where I got it, and when I tell them I made it they're both impressed and dismayed. They were hoping they could buy one just like it!

—Mimi McClellen

Doesn't Mimi look great in her vest? I love it, and I plan on borrowing it very soon!

Mimi mentioned seaming with the yarn used for the vest. Here's what designer Melissa LaBarre has to say about the subject:

Tahki Montana yarn

"Roving-type yarns, which may be called "softly spun" or even "unspun," can be difficult to use for sewing seams. Because the fiber isn't spun tightly or plied, these yarns break easily under the strain of the pulling involved with sewing. Save yourself some aggravation by lightly felting the yarn you'll use for seaming.

Cut a length of yarn you plan to seam with and dampen it with water. Roll the strand of yarn between your hands vigorously to create friction, which locks the fibers together. Allow it to dry. You'll find the yarn sturdier and more durable for seaming.

You could also use a lighter-weight or plied yarn in a similar color for seaming; a lighter-weight yarn will also reduce the bulk at the seams."

Felting the roving to use for seaming is an easy knitting technique to use if you don't have any other options, or if you really want to seam with the yarn that you knit the project with. Mimi went with the last option, using a different yarn, which worked well for her. You can see in the photo at left how lofty this type of yarn is (and the "dog hair"!) and why it might be difficult to use for seaming.

The Montague Vest is just one of the beautiful patterns in New England Knits. Get your copy today and knit yourself the Montague Vest!


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