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a·ston·ish (ə-stŏn'ĭsh)
tr.v., -ished, -ish·ing, -ish·es.

To fill with sudden wonder or amazement. Synonyms: amaze, astound, awe, startle, surprise.

[Alteration of Middle English astonen, from Old French estoner, from Vulgar Latin *extonāre : Latin ex-, ex- + Latin tonāre, to thunder.]

I can't believe the response the vest got - thank you so much for the lovely comments. I'm working on putting the pattern together, and will try to have it up by or over the weekend...it will, unfortunately, cost a little bit - $5 or $6 - but I promise you'll get what you pay for: full-garment charts for every size, detailed steeking and blocking information, and diagrams galore.


By popular request, the inside of the vest:

The pattern reads a lot better on the inside, which says to me that I should have switched colors in my right and left hands.

And the finishing on the turned-down steeks - I just blanket-stitched them with another strand of the Tiur, all the better to help them eventually felt.

Developing the pattern

What I think of as traditional Argyle looks something like this:

alternating blocks of two sharply contrasting colors on a medium-toned background. The effect is of two contrasting, sheer ribbons woven together. I really like this look, but prefer something more graphic, with a bit more punch. The logical step, then, is a wholly two-color pattern, with the blocks arranged in a checkerboard, and the lines done in an opposing checkerboard:

I love sweaters patterned this way, but don't love the intarsia involved - instant-gratification monkey that I am, I wanted to knit the pattern using the (already quick) circular stranded Fair Isle method so I could steek (even quicker). I had a certain width to each block in mind, but wasn't comfortable with how long it would make my floats over the widest portion of each diamond shape - so I added another line of contrasting color in each block to pare the longest floats down to 5 stitches:

Why does it matter? I guess it doesn't, really, except that I like the the knitted qualities of a pattern with frequent color changes - it becomes a cushy, firm, still-drapey fabric. I know very long floats are not uncommon, but I just don't care for them - I think it makes for a messy garment, with stitches easily distorted during wear and none of the structure that properly belongs to a Fair Isle jumper.

Charting did take a while, since I was too knuckleheaded to figure out some fairly obvious math issues. Did you guys know that even and odd are different? I felt brilliant when I finally figured out 12 stitches would split in two identical groups, but that 13 wouldn't...um, yeah.

**Please note that I'm in no way suggesting that I'm the first to come up with this variant on argyle - I'm sure it's been done many, many times before**

Anyway, the final product is more or less exactly what I pictured - a very fitted, snappy little sweater vest. It's also a little bit of a sartorial wink: Western Scotland's tartan knitted with Shetland's method; old-school patterns filling a modern outline; a traditionally laborious-to-produce look done at today's right-away speed. I like it a lot.

Right Now

As a little break before I start the knitting on my next big project (so excited about this one, though I think it'll take a while to get just right - it'll give me a chance to get out some of my knotwork cable ideas), I'm working on Knitty's Shedir hat:

I detest Calmer with the fiery heat of a thousand suns, so I'm using Rowan Felted Tweed, instead. The yarn doesn't have great stitch definition (it's rather loosely twisted, and it's, you know, felted and tweedy in places), so I'm doing all those pretty cables with a twisted stitch instead of a plain knit stitch. I normally don't care for interesting yarns and texture together, but I think the overall effect of this'll be subtle and sort-of sophisticated.


I'm so glad you're making that pattern available. Can't wait to buy it!

Why do you detest Calmer so much? Just curious. It's not one of my desert island yarns, but I don't hate it.

Fantasmic! Now I suppose I should learn how to Fair Isle... and steek... before attempting *both* on this project.
I may be nutters, but I'm kinda digging the pink/black scheme... maybe pink/chocolate...

Oh, I like the idea of the modified argyle! Very eye-catching.

What size needles are you using for the Shedir? I am making one now and *hating* the Calmer, but I was totally befuddled by the needle size Calmer asks for and the needle size Shedir prescribes.

I think I stared at that last pattern too long... my eyes are crossing!

Fascinating discussion on argyle - I really like the graphic design of your vest - very updated and hit. No nutty professors around here!

no 'unfortunately' needed! $5 or $6 is a totally normal price for a pattern, and if you're including charts and even info on steeking, all the better! i'll definitely buy a pattern once it's up - just finished my first fair isle project and i'm ready for my next. and shoot, i'm so scard of steeking, i might as well give it a try ;)

*dancing around* I'm gonna make a vest! I'm gonna make a vest!

I can't wait for your pattern to be released. And 5 or 6 dollars is totally reasonable for a pattern - you should get something for your hard work.

(And I thought I was the only one who hated Calmer!)

The inside of that vest makes me think of what you see when a serious car collector (yes, I do know one) opens the hood of his or her prized '57 Chevy: perfect, clean, perfect, an exalted version of the usual dirty engine. I may exagerate, but it's very nice.


Haha. Don't be so ambiguous about Calmer. Tell us what you -really- think of it!

Eunny, you have just motivated me to try fair isle. I am so nervous, but you have done a most beautiful job over the past few days/weeks both educating us on the various and sundries involved with complicated sounding processes AND creating your own pattern to showcase your talents. How can I not partake?

YAY! I'm so happy you're going to offer it up! Count me in as a buyer..

Oh no and I have a bag + of it (Calmer) and the pattern book waiting in the wings. I should have tested it out first I guess.

I have tried many knitterly things that I feared- but I have not yet tried Fair Isle. Why?

Well, for one, the pattern was always multiple colour combinations, all that didn't look good on me!

I would want to try the pattern, but since it would be my first foray into colour knitting, I wouldn't want to botch it by thinking "oh, these colors would look great together" and then when they didn't, I would cry.


The reason I am unburdening my heart to you, Miss Eunny, is because you have inspired me to Fair Isle. Your sexy librarian sweater, in fact. I will gladly try color knitting, if the end product looks like this. And with only two colors- well, even a newbie to fair isle like me can't screw that up! Thank you Eunny, I would gladly pay 5 or 6 dollars for this pattern!

Emms :)

That's interesting, because Calmer is actually the ONLY cotton yarn I've ever tried that I enjoyed knitting with, because it's so stretchy. I admit I'm not crazy about the finished product, but I definitely enjoy the actual knitting. Go figure!

Yay! Can't wait for the pattern. 5 or 6$ is totally reasonable, and so worth it. Thanks also for those steeking chronicles, now I'm going to have to learn that skill so I can make the vest!

Going to have to buy that pattern from you, although, since I'm not buying yarn this year, making it will wait, but it is beautiful!

I can't wait to get the pattern! I was just telling someone how I needed to find something to steek, and hey, I haven't tried argyle yet...

Perfect timing, my dear. Although I think my recent fascination with steeking is all your fault ;)

I too would like to know why you hate the Calmer. It's not available at the only shop that sells Rowan here, but I've heard other people rave about it so was thinking of ordering some.

Fair Isle is something that's been on my to learn list for at least a good six months now, but I haven't been inspired by a project or an idea yet to make me want to drop everything else I'm doing and give it a try. Your vest, however, is doing it, and I'm not usually taken with vests. I'm so glad you're going to sell the pattern, and I definately think you should charge. "Sexy Librarian" sums up the look and the appeal of it perfectly. I love the deep v-neckline, the cinched waist, and, of course, the argyles. Now I've got all these possible color combinations dancing around in my head...can't wait.

I love the vest...excellent job! I will most certainly be investing in the pattern when it comes out. I have to laugh though, because of all the times that I looked at the photos of the finished object, it never occured to me that the pattern was diamonds intersected with diagonal lines until I saw your sketch from today. I always just thought that it was diagonal lines dividing diamonds that were then each split into four smaller diamonds. Oh silly me. Still, fantastic job!

Thanks for the "behind the scenes" shot.

i looove shedir. i knit one up and unfortunately gave it away for christmas to my brother. he loved it and appreciated the amount of mind-bending cabling that went into it, so i felt fine letting it go. but since then i cant shake the urge to make another for myself. i'm excited to see how it looks in felted tweed. have fun!

I love, love, love, the sexy librarian thing this vest has going on. Fantastic!

I love it! I swear when I saw the first on, my first thought was "when will she have that pattern for sale?" I'm keeping an eye out for this, this is the first project that has even made me want to try steeking...

Now to find something yarny to make it out of...

so glad you're offering this pattern! I am really looking forward to knitting this vest.

Please please please publish the pattern...I'll buy it as fast as I can.
This would be perfect for my first colourwork knit ;)and steeking too!

I think you might be an evil math and knitting genius. You scare me a little bit, but in a really good way. I can't stay away from your blog. Are you, in fact, an evil math and knitting genius? If so, I hope you continue to use your power for good.

Good counsel does no harm... Salamon

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