I am an avid reader of the Fringe Association blog by Karen Templer and a few weeks ago I saw her post about a knit a long inspired by a Japanese pattern for a Cowichan style vest. As you know, I am interested in all types of traditional knitwear and Cowichan is no different. I have 2 vintage Cowichan cardigans, one I bought in Shetland from a charity shop and another I got off Etsy. I have a Japanese knitting book which I decided to use for pattern inspiration and I now I have a cowichan inspired finished vest!
This pattern on the cover was the one I wanted to try and make but I wasn’t sure about the teepee’s on the pattern. Some of Karens post’s have touched on some of the issues about Cowichan knitters and culture appropriation* when it comes to the knitwear and I wasn’t sure about how comfortable I would have felt when that is not in my culture.. especially since I wasn’t using a traditional pattern (although in all respects it is a good book – even better I’m sure if i could read it..) anyway..I had a think about it and I decided to switch out the teepees for crofthouses!
I’m on a strict yarn diet at the moment so I decided to use the old J&S aran, sadly discontinued, held double, this makes a satisfyingly chunky yarn and it knit up nice and fast. And yes..I knit it back and forth so I purled Fair Isle – I KNOW, as a general rule I don’t do that, I’m not much a fan of purling in general and throw fair isle in the mix – bleuch. But actually it wasn’t too bad, the wool was pretty chunky so the horrible purling fair isle rows didn’t last too long
I shared a few pictures of my progress on my instagram, ending with the vest on the board at the weekend:
I actually quite enjoyed the construction and although the pattern and all the information is in japanese I just went for it and gave it a go, the hardest bit was incorporating the shaping and fair isle and purling so I make the top motifs a bit simpler so my brain didn’t explode. I ended up purchasing about 5 zips because I initially didnt measure it properly, so that final step was done on sunday, for the edging i just picked up 3 stitches for every 4 then cast off, the original has a crochet edging but I seriously cannot work a crochet hook to save my life so I’m pleased with how it came out.
My fourite part i think was the shawl collar, I really enjoyed the contruction of that and I understand it totally now so I will add it to more things, the weather is already cooling down a lot in Shetland so I think I will get a lot of wear out of my crofthouse vest!
Speak soon xxx
*as an aside, as a Shetlander I totally get it, there is nothing that annoys me more than seeing a design clearly just directly inspired by Shetland styles of knitting with no real care as to how that reflects on the people who’s actual culture this is. Naming a pattern after a random place in Shetland they’ve clearly never set foot on but merely googled is a sure fire way enrage me also. rant over. :)