What better way to celebrate my new website and brand than with the release of a new design? Meet the Wellspring Vest, a classic Fair Isle garment destined to be a wardrobe staple.
If you can believe it, this design has been in the works for nearly two years! I remember dreaming up the initial Fair Isle pattern 2 summers ago, when I was wanting to create a garment with a dash of “university chic,” if you will. (Hence the name of the vest – Wellspring Market was a favorite college hangout cough 20 cough years ago…)
I realized that this would be the perfect time to incorporate steeks in one of my garment designs. There are several ways of working with steeks but, in general, steeks enable you to knit a garment in one tube rather than in pieces that have to be seamed together. When the knitting is done, you cut the steeks open and secure them so that (a) your garment doesn’t unravel around the edges that you have just cut; and (b) you can finish the openings in the tube (i.e., put ribbed edgings around the neck and armhole openings) to complete the garment.
As I was designing the look and feel of the vest, I also remember thinking that steeks are usually knit in alternating colors, creating a vertical stripe pattern. But the steeks, after being cut, are hidden from view in the finished garment. So wouldn’t it be interesting if the finished vest intentionally incorporated a stripe feature as a nod to the technique used to create the vest? Voilà!
A lot of thought (and a bit of math) went into the positioning of the colorwork pattern and the stripes. The vest features an allover, easy-to-memorize Fair Isle pattern that is balanced on the front and back, with the downward “v” centered on the front to echo the shape of the neckline. The stripes are centered underneath each armhole. All of these details add up to a garment that is both visually pleasing and flattering to wear.
For the most timeless result, I recommend knitting this vest in two solid, complementary colorways. For the more adventurous knitter, this vest would be a great opportunity to show off a variegated yarn by pairing it with a solid neutral colorway. (Just be sure that your variegated yarn, especially if it’s handpainted, either (a) won’t run into and/or stain your neutral colorway at all; or (b) will color/stain your neutral colorway evenly so that it looks intentional! Long story short: knit a very big swatch! And always wet-block your swatches!)
The yarn you see featured here is one of my perennial favorites, Pashmina by Madelinetosh. A sportweight blend of merino wool, silk, and cashmere, this yarn is an indulgence for any project. It creates a soft fabric with a flattering drape and comes in a glowing palette of color choices. And for the reasons mentioned below, it’s a good fit with the knotted steek technique.
Speaking of the steeks, the vest is knit in the round from the bottom hem up to the base of the armhole and neck shaping, at which point the steeks are added so that the body can be knit in the round to the shoulders. The shoulders are seamed and the steeks are cut and secured, after which the armhole and neck edgings are knit. What have I discovered after designing, knitting and cutting up a garment with steeks? YOU CAN DO IT. Steeks are logical, straightforward, and (when secured properly) not at all frightening.
After researching the most popular steek techniques, and considering the yarn that I was using (namely, a yarn blend that is not 100% wool but is a combination of wool and cashmere with more “slippery” silk fibers), I settled on the knotted steek technique, which I first discovered through this excellent tutorial by Tom van Deijnen. (Even if you never want to knit a steek in your whole life, this tutorial is a great read to expand your knitting knowledge!)
The knotted technique has multiple advantages for this particular design: (1) after being cut and secured, the knotted steek produces almost no bulk on the inside of the neck and armholes, which is useful in a close-fitting garment; and (2) the knots help secure more “slippery” yarns that crochet or machine steeks might not be able to hold permanently in place. If you can use a pair of scissors and tie an overhand knot, you can use this method. While it takes longer than other steek techniques, because you have to weave in all of the cut ends, you are left with a professional finish that is easy to achieve!
Designed to have a classic and smooth fit with room for a layer underneath, the Wellspring vest pattern comes in six sizes, covering bust sizes between 32″ – 54″. In addition to being available for purchase here at DCD, the pattern is also available on Ravelry.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Amy Gunderson for her keen technical editing and layout skills in bringing this design to completion. Thank you, Amy!
I hope that you love this design, the first to be released under my new brand. I think it represents an auspicious beginning. If you’d like to see the vest up close at the upcoming TNNA Summer show in Cleveland, just visit me in booth #741 on Saturday morning the 16th!
Happy summer knitting,