WIP: Artisan’s Vest by Lisa Jacobs
The Artisan’s Vest, designed by Lisa Jacobs, published in knitscene Spring 2017 makes a powerful statement no matter who wears it. Skacel HiKoo is the perfect yarn for this project. HiKoo has beautiful tweed colors with a gentle halo. Skacel graciously sent me the yarn for this project, and I couldn’t be happier to use this yarn. Although this vest was designed for a woman, I will be knitting it for myself. “But Gus, can you change a pattern to fit a man?” Yes, you can.
To begin, I will choose a size that best fits my chest measurement. For best results, refer to the Focus on Fit: Measuring for Accuracy article found here. The chest measurement will help you select the most well fitting set of instructions, but there are a few more measurements to be aware of. I always suggest going into your closet and pulling out a sweater you own that fits you well. Check the armhole depth, neck width, shoulder width, and circumference. For expert information on finding and applying these measurements, see this Focus on Fit: Applying Measurements article. After selecting a size that suits my chest circumference, I will focus on three main changes for this article: color, shaping, and length.
First off, color. My Artisan’s Vest will be brown, burgundy, and off-white. The brown color will be the most prominent, with the other two colors acting as accents. The 3-color linen stitch that makes up the body of the vest combines all three colors fairly smoothly. The only place you’ll see solid brown is on the I-cord edge. The color choice is entirely personal and made to match my current wardrobe.
Second, I will be adjusting the shaping. Because I am a guy, and a bigger guy at that, I don’t want a lot of waist shaping. On women, waist shaping creates beautiful curves in the garment that accent their figures. On a guy, the same waist shaping can look unflattering. Take, for example, an Italian-cut suit. This suit has a lot of dramatic shaping and tight curves, which look great on guys who are thinner, taller, and leaner. Put this suit on a bigger guy, and it starts to look constricting and frumpy. So, I will be removing the waist shaping from this vest, turning the garment into more of a rectangle.
I know what you’re thinking! “But Gus, you are a designer yourself, so of course it’s easy for you to take out the shaping. What about us? How do we do it?” Well, it’s easy! When you reach the part of the pattern where you start decreasing for waist shaping, simply disregard it. Instead, keep working “straight”—that is without increasing or decreasing until you reach the desired length to the underarm.
Third, I am adding length to the vest. In the original pattern, the vest measures 11½” from the cast-on to the underarm. At this length, my vest will be a crop top. And I can totally rock a crop top vest, but that kind of look isn’t business-friendly. To compensate, I am knitting the body until it measures 14½” from the cast-on to the underarm. These extra 3 inches will put the hem of the vest closer to my waist, by my belt. Adding length is as easy as it sounds. When the instructions say, “work even until piece measures 11½” from cast-on”, just keep knitting until the piece measures your desired length. The pockets for this pattern are placed in relation to the hem of the vest. I will keep the pockets in the same place as the pattern dictates and add my extra length after the pockets. If you are planning on adjusting the length, I always suggest getting an extra skein or two of yarn. It can be tough to judge the exact amount of extra yardage you’ll need, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Many sweater patterns are at their core unisex, with shaping and color tipping them toward male or female wearers. As knitters, we have the power to create our garments to fit us and the people around us. You already know how to change the color of a sweater to suit its wearer. Understanding the basic design differences between men’s and women’s garments allows you to break the rules and create the perfect fit.
A final tip: Remember to mark up your pattern when you’re making changes. I noted the changes to shaping and extra length, so I will remember to do the same on the back and the fronts of my vest.
Still don’t believe me? Stay tuned for the finished project.
Yours in yarn,
Gus C. Baxter
Rock your own vest with knitscene Spring 2017