When a customer requested a custom knit sweater vest with a round neck I quickly found out why it had to be custom-made as well as custom designed. It is surprisingly difficult to find a vest without a v neckline in ready-to-wear or even in a knitting pattern.
There were a few measurements that I felt were critical to fit. I had my customer email me the finished width (1/2 circumference) of the vest as well as the desired length and finished width at shoulders. I usually suggest that if they have a sweater that fits well this is the most reliable way to get out new one to feel good on.
This left the depth at the underarms, the band widths and the neck width and depth up to me as the designer.
I started with a drawing and a swatch. We decided on a fairly unknown yarn from a very well-known shop. The Blarney Woollen Mill is in Ireland at the same location as the famous Blarney Stone. They have lots of wonderful knitwear but only one yarn for sale and that in only 3 colours. Fortunately one of them was exactly what we wanted for the vest so I ordered the yarn at a very good price and the shipping was free as a nice little bonus.
I did a bunch of swatches and I am very glad I washed them before I cast on because the knitting gauge before and after washing was significantly different and I had to rely on my post-wash swatch gauge for not only sts to cast on, increase and decrease but also for the length as I used row counts instead of inches. I got a little nervous a few times but I kept going, believing in my swatch and was rewarded with a finished vest that measured exactly what I was aiming for.
I have the knitting instructions all written out and sized in men’s sizes from 32″ to 60″ chest. I will probably knit it again in a more common yarn, at least a yarn with a more common gauge and tweak the numbers. It should be available to download as soon as I can get it finished and edited.